Feb 4, 2013

Electro-Harmonix is definitely one of the most established names in the pedal manufacturing business. They’ve been making effects pedals since the late ’60s and continue to be one of the frontrunners in design and innovation. This time we have here the EHX Talking Pedal Vocal Formant Wah with Fuzz. The Talking Pedal brings vocal expression to the guitar player and uses the proprietary design shared by all of EHX’s Next Step Effects. I reviewed another pedal of this series, The Crying Tone, a little while back. It features the same smooth rocking chassis as the Crying Tone, which delivers control like I haven’t experienced before with “hinged” pedals. Also, free of the moving parts that plague other pedals, it should never need to burn through replacement parts. Like a wah wah, the Talking Pedal is a rocking filter-type pedal, but the similarities end there. The tone of the pedal is unlike a traditional wah’s because it passes the guitar signal through two bandpass filters that give the tone a male vocal quality and create a selection of vowel-like sounds. A fuzz circuit can be blended in with a scroll wheel located on the side of the pedal. This enhances the definition of the effect and adds growl and grind to the pedal. The Talking Pedal features a mono 1/4″ Input, 1/4″ Output, included 9v battery, 9v power adapter input, optional power adapter, Fuzz Dial, and Calibration button. Since the pedal has no moving parts you have to tilt the pedal toward the toe in order to activate it. You will not hear an annoying clicking sound with this one. The EH logo will illuminate and you are ready to start rocking it back and forth to hear the vowel-like effect. I think that it sounds much like a Talk Box effect popularized by Aerosmith and Peter Frampton. Bizarrely enough, the original Talk Box effect got part of its input from the players mouthing words into a piece of tubing as they play. This “talking” signal was mixed with the guitar input and the pedal would combine the two in a very special way to generate an electronic robotic sort of guitar effect. Although not as diverse, the Talking Pedal generates a similar sound but without the distinctive robot voice and the consonant side of it. It makes your guitar sound vowel-like with a sense of a masculine or feminine character to it. This pedal is not extremely diverse, but that’s the point. It does what it does well and the design quality is superb. If you like the concept, I strongly suggest that you check out this pedal out. It sounds particularly great when you start to dial in the Fuzz. It is a very specific sound and if you want that sound, you will want this pedal. I really like the Next Step line of pedals from EHX. The NYC based company seems to have done their homework when it comes to the rocking-style of pedal and the pitfalls of the ones with movable parts. They were actually able to improve a design that hasn’t seen much improvement since it’s inception. For this, I give EHX a goldelicious star! – Gus Green

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