Review of Electro-Harmonix Talking Pedal
Remember those talking pedals where you stick a tube in your
mouth to get a funky vocal style sound from your guitar?
Electro-Harmonix has come up with a far more hygienic solution -
the Talking Pedal. Tim Slater goes all Peter Frampton on us.
So called 'talk boxes' allow a guitarist to produce vowel-like
sounds by feeding their voice and guitar into a single pedal, with
the vocal effects commonly being produced via a plastic tube
manipulated by the guitarist's mouth. A mic, a PA and job done!
Highly effective though this system is (Peter Frampton, Jeff
Beck, Joe Walsh and Richie Sambora can all lay claim to have
recorded definitive examples of talk box work) it is rather
unhygienic, not to mention that a plastic tube connected to your
microphone stand can be inconvenient, besides which it looks very
untidy (you also look like a complete idiot using one! Ed).
The new Electro-Harmonix Talking Pedal, however, offers a
guitarist the opportunity to incorporate talking style effects into
their sonic arsenal without coming into contact with stale bodily
fluids! Rather than relying on a tube, the Talking Pedal uses two
bandpass filters to create the vocal effects, with the effects
being manipulated by the guitarist's foot instead of their mouth. A
built-in fuzz circuit can also be blended in with a small thumb
wheel mounted on the side of the pedal's chassis to add extra
The Talking Pedal belongs to EHX's Next Step range that
currently features five pedals. The range shares a common design
that doesn't use standard potentiometers, switches or any other
conventional mechanical, optical or moving parts commonly found on
standard wah and volume pedals. Instead, the EHX rocker pedal
features a flat foot plate which forms the top part of a fully
integrated chassis, the bottom half is angled to enable the user to
rock the pedal back and forth with their feet. Activating the
effects simply requires stepping firmly down with your toe,
repeating the process to turn the effects off.
In practice the design does work surprisingly well, although
without the usual four rubber feet to help the base-plate stay
firmly rooted to the floor there is a slight tendency for the
Talking Pedal to 'creep'. However, one advantage it offers compared
to a standard treadle style pedal is that the pedal will also move
from side to side as well as up and down, which offers a much wider
range of expression.
The sounds produced by the Talking Pedal are a throaty 'oooh'
and 'arrgh!' that depend on how far forward or backward the pedal
is tilted. Have a look at our video to see and hear for yourself.
Swinging the pedal rapidly from side to side induces bizarre
effects that sound like R2D2 gargling the alphabet whilst driving a
shopping trolly across a sheet of corrugated iron! Besides adding
extra bite and raunchiness to the vocal sounds, blending in the
fuzz circuit also seems to bestow the faux vocal effects extra
definition, highlighting the differences between the different
Treating choppy chord sequences through the Talking Pedal
injects a dose of instant funk as the pedal processes the input
signal; literally chewing it up and spitting it back out in a
gurgling ululation of processed verbalizations! Single notes come
out sounding similarly strange, although lead lines can also be
manipulated to sound more like some form of extreme wah, only with
a series of grunts coughs and moans substituting for the
There are some limitations. Whereas conventional mouth-operated
talk boxes or vocoders can convey actual words spoken by the user,
the EHX Talk Box only operates between the frequency limitations of
its bandpass filters, and you cannot connect a microphone to it.
Still, EHX already make a couple of very good dedicated vocal
processors aimed at guitarists who want to go down that particular
As it stands, the EHX Talking Pedal throbs with the quirky,
slightly left-of-center vibe that this particular pedal
manufacturer is renowned for. The Talking Pedal is probably best
approached as a kind of wah-but-not-as-we-know-it, but taken on its
own merits it could help make a guitarist the talk of the town.
It's a niche product, but if that's your niche, this is where to
Check out the full review inc. video of the Electro-Harmonix
Talking Pedal by Tim Slater featured in Guitar
Interactive Magazine Issue 16.