Stringy: The Talking Guitar

Picture of Stringy

Alvino Rey was a decent bandleader, but he is best know for his work on the Talking Pedal Steel Guitar and his visionary work in electronics.  I'd also add that it's quite impressive that he landed himself a King Sister too.  :)

When Ray was only 15 years old he had built himself his very own Electrical Guitar Amplifier.  In 1930, Rey became the first guitarist to electrify the guitar, so the guitar could be heard in a band performance setting.  He even helped develop a prototype pickup for Gibson Guitar in 1935.  Let's just say that Alvino knew knew a thing or two when it came to electronics.

That brings us to Stringy The Talking Guitar.   In 1939, Rey had figured out how to use a carbon throat microphone to modulate his electrified pedal steel guitar sound, in a unique way.  During a performance, his wife Luise (the King Sister who I referred to above) would wear the mic and stand behind the curtain and sing along with Rey's guitar lines. It was called a "singing guitar" and that is what gave Stringy his strange voice.  This setup is credited as the first-known talk-box.  What's a talk-box?  Just think Peter Frampton in the 1970's.  He loved using that thing.

Check out this video of Rey and "Stringy" performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1944.  I'm quite sure Luise is somewhere behind the curtain.  Also, please don't hold me responsible if "Stringy" shows up somewhere in your dreams.  Enjoy!

Watch: Alvino Rey and Stringy performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1944.

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