Electronic music pioneer Alvin McBurney, known by his stage name Alvino Rey, created the first electric guitar in 1927 when he attached electrical wiring to his banjo and played it through a radio speaker. In 1935 Rey produced the very first electronic pickup for Gibson’s ES-150.
In this video, Rey, using his steel guitar, appears to be creating the singing voice for bizarro “Stringy The Talking Guitar.” In fact, it was Rey’s wife Louise, in tandem with Rey’s guitar sounds, that created the effect. Louise was backstage with a carbon throat microphone attached to a piece of plastic tube running to Rey’s amplifier. She would provide the words and Rey would alter them by sliding the steel bar along his guitar strings. Rey and Louise were able to create some otherworldly sounds using this technique, including the weird voice of Stringy. Rey’s invention eventually evolved into the talk box, appearing to mindnumbing effect on the Frampton Comes Alive album.
Rey recorded with Esquivel, Martin Denny, The Surfmen and played on many “exotica” albums as well as film soundtracks, including Elvis’s Blue Hawaii. He died in 2004 at the age of 95.