Convert Your Pygmy into an Electro-Larynx
They've been around for quite a while now — about six years. Iron Butterfly and Steppenwolf used them. Todd Rundgren used one on "Breathless" and "Range War". But the two people who finally sold the public on these were Joe Walsh ("Rocky Mountain Way") and Peter Frampton ("Show Me The Way" and "Do you Feel Like We Do"). Yes, I'm talking about those gizmos with a rubber tube that you stick in your mouth so your guitar (or other instrument) sound comes out of your mouth and you can say words with your instrument.
Any of you who have been stricken with this fever and checked into prices on these units probably changed your mind rather abruptly. But, yes, dear friends, PAIA has once again broken the price barrier with a $5. modification kit which can be installed on the PYGMY to convert it into a voice processor for electric instruments. The modification kit includes a replacement speaker bezel which concentrates the sound from the speaker and emits this higher pressure signal from a small hole. The sound pressure is fed into a 6 foot length of rubber hose which terminates in one's mouth. Thus, audio signals fed to the input of the Pygmy are acoustically deposited in the human resonant cavity most suited for formant processing.
FURTHERMORE, we have a special deal for those of you who haven't gotten a Pygmy yet. During February & March of 1977, if you buy a Pygmy we will include the Electro-Larynx modification free. Now really — where else could the average George Leroy Tirebiter find such a fantastic deal on such a nifty development of modern space(d) technology?
Seriously, this device is a lot of fun to work with and mechanically easy to operate. As with any type of unit that radically processes a signal, artistic control will be the hardest factor to master. Too much of an effect can ruin its impact.
In use, the free end of the rubber tube should be taped to a microphone such that the end of the tube is about 3 inches beyond the mike. When the talking effect is desired, the tube is placed inside the mouth, and the sound is picked up by the mike and amplified on the PA. Only certain phonetic sounds can be produced, and some sounds (like b, m, t, and l) will sound about the same. Try not to use your own vocal cords, and avoid using your breath for such sounds as S, P, or K. This is a good way to make your soundman an enemy. Work with the unit a lot to gain better understanding of what can and can't be done. Try saying as many words and sounds as possible. You'll soon get the hang of it!
When used in a performance situation, your guitar signal will need to be "split" with a Y cord so it can be fed to both the Pygmy and the larger stage amp. The Pygmy should be set near maximum volume. This will produce a lot of distortion, but the high order harmonics of the distortion greatly increases the intelligibility of the talking effect. Also, most performers will want some method of eliminating the stage amplifier when the Pygmy Electro-Larynx is being used. This will avoid having the talking effect "masked" by the higher volume amp signal. The easiest way to achieve this is illustrated in figure B. After the guitar signal is split, the line going to the stage amp is first fed through a volume pedal such as the PAIA/De Armond #1600. In this set-up, sound will continually be fed from the tube on the Microphone, but the tube is pointing away from the mike and should cause no problem. When working with the talking effect, try running the instrument through various types of processing prior to the Pygmy Electro-Larynx. You may end up with a wa-wa voice, or an echo voice, or any number of combinations. Have fun with this one!
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