Of all the tools in the modern guitarist's arsenal – and as we all know, we've got heaps – no one has quite cracked the ability to transfer synth tones to our six-stringed instrument of choice. However, TC-Helicon's Talkbox Synth Pedal gives it a solid effort, and for the most part succeeds.
The Talkbox pedal is designed with singing guitar players in mind, offering the chance for them to get in on the Vocoder action that synth and keys players get to enjoy on the regular. After all, why should they have all the fun? If you've ever dreamt of knocking out the Vocoder hook to California Love on a guitar, then you've come to the right place. And in this humble reviewer's opinion, that's worth the price of admission alone.
More than just a novel effect however, the Talkbox Synth offers the full gamut of classic and new sounds – ranging from that iconic 'house-in-the-mouth' sound you've heard countless times to chewy, classic sounds that are a hallmark of 70’s R&B and funk.
There are four Talkbox styles to choose from, along with four synth styles. The classic setting gives you that gritty, honky tone - think Bon Jovi's ‘Livin' On A Prayer’ and you'll be on the money. The alternate modern setting offers a cleaner iteration of this sound, without the vintage dirt and honk. Both classic+ and modern+ offer the same tones, albeit unmuting your guitar so that the effect is only activated when the microphone is used.
Moving through to the synth settings, the effect will track a selection of usable sounds to the guitar – although it works best when you're playing single-note lines. From Moog-esque lead tones to glitchy square synth sounds – it'd certainly come in handy for integrating these sounds into a band setting without actually having a keys player on deck.
Capping it off, TC's Talkbox Synth actually has a bunch of useful features within it that come in handy even when you're not using the effect in its primary function. TC-Helicon is well known for their studio grade reverb sounds, and the Talkbox offers both hall and room sounds alongside EQ, compression and transparent auto-chromatic pitch correction – nudging your pitch the nearest semitone. Whether you'd like to use these added features or not, they do set this pedal apart as something more than a one trick pony.
While this effect won't come in handy at every gig you play, there's more than enough versatility to make it something worth returning to. If you're looking to add some extra spice to your sound and embrace a little synth in your life, the Talkbox offers a practical way to get involved without having to learn a new instrument or actually fork out the cash for some keys. Plus, you'll sound like a shredding robot – which is always a good thing.
Hits and Misses
Versatile selection of Talkbox and Vocoder tones
Tracking of notes is impressive and expressive
Added features make for a more versatile effect than you first think
Not something you'll use for every track you play on