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Virtuoso Guitarist Oz Noy Details his Inspirations, Celestion and… the F-Word

Christian Wissmuller • News • December 16, 2021

Fusing deep jazz scholarship with rock and R&B sensibilities, Oz Noy is the clear the heir apparent to guitar greats such as Al DiMeola, Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, and George Benson. Having enjoyed a professional career as a teenager in his native Israel, he arrived in New York City in 1996 and quickly found himself collaborating with the best musicians in the business on their projects and his own studio albums. His tenth, Snapdragon, features Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, and Zappa alum Vinnie Colaiuta on drums; Will Lee and John Pattituci on bass; and the late Wallace Rooney on trumpet. He recently spoke with Celestion to discuss his influences, love of live music, and lifelong relationship with Celestion speakers.

Oz Noy begins by recalling early setups. “When I was growing up, Celestion speakers were always around,” he says. I had a Marshall with a 4×12 [cabinet] that had Celestion G12-75s in it. That and a Fender Twin Reverb were pretty much my main amps in Israel. But the Marshall with the 4×12 was always the main thing.”

Noy also describes various amp configurations based on the Vintage 30, a speaker he says “sounds great inside pretty much everything. … You kind of can’t get away from those speakers and that sound. For me, they work in any context.”

Because he records most of his creative output in his home studio — partly due to Covid and partly due to the challenges of living in New York City — he has also been known to transplant Celestion speakers between his amps and cabinets to get the tone that fits the moment. “I have a bunch of speakers here,” he says, “and sometimes I mess with swapping them between different cabinets. Celestion made this new one that looks like the Alnico Blue, but it’s gold and handles a higher wattage. I’ve had it in my [Fender} Princeton on and off.”

Though the interview is a treat for any gearhead, Noy doesn’t only talk about gear. He pushes back at why “fusion” — a term that may accurately describe his playing — has gotten short shrift in recent years. “Some people call it fusion, but that’s kind of a loaded word these days.
At a certain point in the ’80s, some fusion started being executed in a way that was synthetic and sterile,” he notes. “The soul got sucked out of it. When you think about it, fusion is Miles, it’s McLaughlin, it’s Weather Report, it’s Return to Forever, all those bands — really soulful stuff.

Noy waxes even more passionate about the importance of playing live in an area of countless musicians pursuing online followers by posting shred videos. He calls the latter “a lonely existence” and admonishes aspiring guitar gods with the following advice: “What will really make you a better player isn’t staying at home and shredding over existing tracks. It’s being creative on the spot with other human beings.”

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