Introduction: Make a Talkbox

Picture of Make a Talkbox
Have you ever listen to Peter Frampton's guitar solos and asked yourself, "How does he do that?"

Well, he uses something called a talkbox. Basically it runs the sound from your guitar into an amplifier, out a speaker, and into a tube where you can manipulate it by changing the shape of you mouth and depth of you throat. They run about a hundred dollars but you can build one for less.

These sites help me link1link2link 3

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You will need-
1 Horn Driver Here is the one I got (I might change it out for a better one soon)
* The impedance of the speaker needs to be the same as the one in your amp. I used these links to    figure out what I needed.
   Speaker Impedance
   My Amps Manual

1- practice amp (mine is a Marshal MG10 I got with my first guitar. Don't do this to your best rig.)
1- piece of 1" flex PVC pipe
3- hose clamp (got it in the plumbing department it had 1/2" threads and fits the 3/8" hose)
1- 1 PVC Coupling
1- PVC Reducer 1"x 1/2"
1- 1/2" PVC Female Adapter 1/2
1- some length of 3/8" black vinyl tubing
1 - piece of 4" wide PVC
2- 4" PVC Caps
1- 2PDT switch (I wanted a stomp switch. You could use 2 spdt switched for cheap)
3- adjustable metal bands (one small and 2 big)
1- liquid silicone (optional)
1- flat black spray paint (optional)
1- pocket full of dreams *A MUST*

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

I did this entire project with a hand crank drill!! The 1/2" bit didnt fit it so i wrapped a piece of scrap leather around it and drill it by hand!

you will need-
a soldering iron
a chisel (maybe)
drill bits
saw (hack saw worked fine)
helping hands (optional)

Step 3: Adding the Switch

Picture of Adding the Switch

First, find where you want to put your switch, drill your hole and test fit it. Take it off and start soldering.

Ok, so inside the amp you have the preamp and two wires going to the speaker. I cut those lines and put a switch on the top of my amp. One set went to the speaker and the other to the horn driver.
Remember to tin the leads on both the wires and the switch before soldering. Pull all four wired through the hole in the preamp assembly. You can use the same wires that were there for the speaker and make the wire for the horn driver 2 feet (you'll see why later).

Step 4: Pod Paining(optional)

Picture of Pod Paining(optional)

At first I was gonna take out the speaker all together and just have the tube busting out of the front screen. Instead I make a little pod for it. I drilled a hole in the side for the wires to enter, pulled them up connected them to the driver, plopped it down in there and marked the excess and cut it off. Leave enough room for the top end cap.

I then drilled a 1/2" hole for the hose to exit in the top end cap. The inner diameter of the hose is 3/8" but the out diameter is approx. 1/2".

I painted mine flat black :]

give 24 hour to dry or you'll be sorry

Step 5: Pod Mounting

Picture of Pod Mounting

I drilled holes through my metal band (WITH A FREAKING HAND DRILL!!) and screwed them to the amp. I made sure they went around the end caps to look cleaner.

Step 6: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

so attach your short leads to the speaker, attach your pod, pull the wires through, connect them to the horn driver, pull some hose through the top of the end cap, attach it to the driver, and cap that sh!t.


Last Thoughts

Soft plastic absorbs and changes the sound of your guitar. The shorter length of hose you use the better. I recently cut 4 feet off of mine and it sounds a lot fuller and less nasally. 


WhySoSirius (author)2012-12-11

If I'm using a Crate GX-15R and it has an impedence of 4 ohms and all the horn drivers out there are either 8 or 16 ohms what should I do? I found one that has a 4-8 impedence. Will this one work?

JonathanW104 (author)WhySoSirius2016-04-21

Driver should be fine. As long as the impedance of the driver is higher than the amp (solid state only, not valve) it just makes it a bit quieter.

JonathanW104 (author)2016-04-21

Hi, which driver did you use? The link shows hundreds! All 8 ohm. My amp is 4, but that should work OK. Also, the container. Can't see what you did there. I'm going to try a very simple experiment. My Roland Micro-Cube has a 5" speaker. A funnel on the front of it (maybe some sound insulation) and a tube!

OK - got it 4" wide PVC caps. May build mine into the little amp!

VictorF17 (author)2015-09-15

hey! check my custom and handmade Talkbox /

mtorres17 (author)2014-07-02

can anyone one help me to wired and switch to the input and I put in to switch I know so effects thehorn driver to switch

Phantomn (author)2010-05-10

 Did you use a capacitor to filter out any of the lower frequencies to the driver?

James Haskin (author)Phantomn2010-05-10

 No I did not, but I'm not sure if that's necessary.

nope! if anything i'd use a highpass. talkboxes are notoriously high pitched and nasily sounding. why filter out all those badass lows?

A highpass passes the high frequencies, thus, cutting lows. Also, the more harmonics you have, the better. If anything, cut them out during production.

CBinns (author)2010-10-13

I'm just full of Q's
Can i take a 1, 1 1/14, or an 1 1/2 female adapter and screw it on the horn driver? Then put a plug at the other end of the adapter drill a hole for the 3/8 barb and connect the hose.

CBinns (author)2010-10-13

if anybody still reads this c if this is right
from left to right: 1 3/8 hose barb, 1/2" PVC Female Adapter 1/2, PVC Reducer 1"x 1/2", 1 PVC Coupling, piece of 1" flex PVC pipe( why do we need this), small hose clamp, horn driver
4" piece N' caps not shown

Sailing Barry (author)2008-04-18

By using a 1/4" output jack, instead of disecting into the the side of the amp... do you bypass the controls of the amp/pre-amp? Perhaps it's model dependent, but if not, it might make sense to make it just a plugable stand alone unit. Or if the idea is to make it so there is no sound coming from the main amp at all, then perhaps this project could be coupled with the Altoids Amp project (which I saw as a sidebar project).

CBinns (author)Sailing Barry2010-10-13

so how would u make it a plugable stand alone unit?

Scrubsfan1234 (author)2008-12-27

dont u mean ?= the thing on the other end?

NachoMahma told me when I first published this that they're called hose clamps or worm grear clamps.

AndyGadget (author)James Haskin2010-07-24

Also called Jubilee Clips after the company which first made them.

i thought you meant the part that the hose attaches to, because i didn't see it on the list.

Oh, thats a plastic hose barb fitting. They have them in different sizes at home depot. You don't have to use my design thought you just need to reduce the size. Maybe use all metal. I think the plastic absorbs a lot of the sound.


James Haskin (author)2010-04-29

 Yes, you have to use a speaker with the same resistance and power rating as the one in the amplifier.

-Syrus- (author)James Haskin2010-05-19


the Ohm's and the Watt's differ.

You can use a higher amount of Ohm then your amp delivers, but not lower.
The speaker can be of higher Watt rating than the amp delivers but not lower.

So don't go low on Ohm's, but stay high on Watt's.

Clayton H. (author)2009-11-03

arn't horn drivers in megaphones and sirens?

James Haskin (author)Clayton H.2010-04-30

 Yes, they have small diaphragms which means they do well with higher freq.s

Doctor Heckle (author)2009-08-18

I'm with these guys, need some more in depth stuff when it comes to the wiring, like wattage/Ohm count on the horn driver and the amp, how you wired the switch, etc.

jimbo112 (author)Doctor Heckle2009-12-10

As far as ohm count on the speaker, all you need is a multimeter to check the resistance on your amp driver(speaker) (4/6/8 ohm) and then match that to the resistance of the driver you buy.

the switch is wired like any 2pdt switch:
[]  []  []   Connect the leads for the amp driver (speaker) to lugs 1 and 2 on this row  
[]  []  []   Connect the input cables (from the amp itself) to lugs 1 and 2 of this row
[]  []  []   Connect the leads for the talk-box driver to lugs 1 and 2 on this row

Best to keep polarities the same (but not absolutely necessary, according to james), just in case there is an issue with the amp.  For example I think any class D amplifiers need proper polarization to work... but I might be mistaken.

greatnameless1 (author)2009-09-08

Is this a 2dpt or a 3dpt?

jimbo112 (author)greatnameless12009-12-10

Can be either.  Looks like James just had a spare 3pdt to use.  You could put an LED onto the third row with a battery and 4k resistor if you wanted a light for it, but I think it would be pretty clear when you have the talk box going.

An interesting addition to this would be a foot controller with an LED indicator, which you could make using similar principles, but add a controller cable, using an electronic switching system and a 1pdt momentary switch on a box that you connect to the rig via a simple switch-cable-jack-e.switch.

jimbo112 (author)2009-12-08

You sir, are epic win.
Please consider the following a certificate, valid at any time, for the redemption of a week of my internets.
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|           THIS CERTIFICATE IS VALID FOR ONE (1)             |
|                  WEEK OF  Jimbo112's INTERNET                     |
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|                       AWARDED TO: James Haskin                       |
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|    Feel free to redeem this voucher at any point in time   |
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Also, great job on the ASE/Ultra mod for the DS-1

EshKuno (author)2009-08-13

im a noob, i am having difficulties following how to wire this bad boy up. i have tried using 2 different switches and i get the same results, just the normal sound out of the amp. it doesnt seem like the horn is getting any juice. what am i doing wrong and exactly which wires go where???

slick205 (author)2009-06-16

Exactly to which terminals to you place the wires? I ordered the same switch but am not sure which wires go to which terminals. Thanks.

enterthejordan333 (author)2009-03-03

how do u put the pvc thats on the horn driver together and whats the piece at the end

I use my hands in conjunction with my brain... most of the time.

Bradlez92 (author)2009-01-31

dude what about the tube to fit in your mouth? im sorry, but i dont see how this is a talkbox at all. im a little confused :-\

pedrowsky (author)Bradlez922009-02-23

the sound goes into your mouth and it is modified because of the shape. A good modification would be to put a microfone in the tube, then connect it to the speaker, just like peter frampton

James Haskin (author)pedrowsky2009-02-23

actually Frampton just has the tube mounted on a mic stand NEXT to his mic so his mouth it right next to a mic when the sound going into it and comes back.

pedrowsky (author)James Haskin2009-02-24

sorry, i was referring to that... it would be NEXT to the mic...

Bradlez92 (author)pedrowsky2009-02-23

oh, THAT'S how they do it? cuz im like, if it goes in your mouth, how does it go through the amp? but that frampton trick answered my question. thanks bro.

James Haskin (author)Bradlez922009-01-31

Read the instructable from start to finish and click on all the links. I give you plenty of information.

Bradlez92 (author)James Haskin2009-02-01

cool thx :D

shamca (author)2009-02-05

Is that a Love the colour.

James Haskin (author)shamca2009-02-07

No man, it's a Danelectro Dano Pro.

Bradlez92 (author)2009-01-31

what'd you need the slilicon sealant for?

James Haskin (author)Bradlez922009-01-31

I just used it to provide some shock support for the driver. I didn't want me treating this thing like a practice amp to hurt the horn drive so I just gooped about an inch or so inside the tube.

Bradlez92 (author)2009-01-31

by "helping hand," do you mean PHYSICALLY hands? or those spiffy alligator clamps?

Bradlez92 (author)2009-01-31

wait so does anybody know what "?" is actually called? cuz i know the converstaion below me mentions it, but there are to many words, all about plumbing... ?

coggie (author)2009-01-09

lol nice marshall how many watts 15 or 25?

James Haskin (author)coggie2009-01-09


coggie (author)James Haskin2009-01-09

kk it looked bigger in the pic lol wat type guitar u have i have a ESP!! there wicked!!

James Haskin (author)coggie2009-01-09

I have a schecter blackhawk that I refinished swapped out the stock pups for blackouts, a green Dano Pro, Alverez MD-70, and a old 70s Yamaha that belongs to my uncle. I'm in the process putting together an African Korina explorer body an a neck from an Ibanez roadstar 440 but I have to strip the body and refret the neck. What ESP do you have?

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