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Staff Picks: Studio Spies

Oz Noy joins the Premier Guitar staff in playing voyeur by admitting their musical heroes they'd want to observe working in the studio.

This month Israeli jazz guitarist Oz Noy joins Premier Guitar staff in playing voyeur, because who wouldn’t want to watch their musical heroes in action? And since you’re reading this, you’re likely obsessed with guitar and will totally relate to our “current obsessions.”

Oz Noy -- Guest Picker
Which band/musician would you give anything to see work in the studio and why?
I have two. The Beatles, just to see how they were able to go around all the technical limitations of recording at that time and came up with all these brilliant-sounding records, especially the later years. And Peter Gabriel—I want to see how they recorded “Sledgehammer.” To me, that is the most amazingly produced song of all times.

My current obsession is: Trying to play jazz standards, especially Thelonious Monk songs with Travis-picking style.

Andy Ellis -- Senior Editor
Which band would you give anything to see work in the studio?
Daniel Lanois and Black Dub. I want to discover how Lanois can take a pulsing live-in-studio band performance and transform it into a psychedelic soundscape using effects and remixing techniques. If you haven’t heard Black Dub, check out “Ring the Alarm.”

My current obsession is: Putting nickel-wound strings on my flattops instead of the typical phosphor bronze acoustic sets. Heresy, perhaps. Except that Tony Rice has done this forever, and after he handed me his Santa Cruz signature model dreadnought during an interview (yes, that was amazing), I became a convert. Nickel-wounds offer a sweeter, less shrieky treble response with a tad less finger noise, and compared to the identical gauge of phosphor bronze, they feel more supple.

Joe Gore -- Senior Editor
Which band would you give anything to see work in the studio?
Duke Ellington’s 1939 band, with Barney Bigard, Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams—plus Jimmy Blanton, arguably the most important bassist ever. You might have even spotted young Billy Strayhorn fine-tuning the charts.

My current obsession is: I’m jonesin’ for germanium! I bought a thousand transistors in bulk—enough for 1,000 Rangemasters, 500 Fuzz Faces, 333 Tone Benders—or one big-ass Fuzzilla. Most “mojo” stompbox parts are bunk, but germanium truly has unique tonal properties.

Tessa Jeffers -- Managing Editor
Which band would you give anything to see work in the studio?
Frank Zappa. His Utility Muffin Research Kitchen had to be like going to the theater. I’d be mesmerized by his art-mock vocals about dental floss, unfathomable guitar work, his eccentric genius for off-the-wall sounds like kazoo, and that facial hair!

My current obsession is: Experimental guitar ideas in soul, hip-hop, and R&B songs like the opening fuzz riff on Miguel’s “Simplethings.” (And every time I think about Zappa, I get more obsessed.)

Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
Which band would you give anything to see work in the studio?
Phish's Joy album simply because of how fresh it must have felt in the studio after their lengthy hiatus. Plus, I would totally try and get the scoop on why Trey digs that vintage Ross compressor.

My current obsession is: I simply can't get enough of the mandolin masters like Chris Thile and Sam Bush. The sound of the bluegrass “chop” is inspiring my wife and I to get our mando chops together this summer.

Colton Wedeking -- Director of Marketing
Which band would you give anything to see work in the studio?
The Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl is by far my favorite musician. He's an amazing songwriter and has killer chops. When 2011’s Wasting Light was released I was totally hooked. I'm pumped to see what they do with their upcoming album this fall.

My current obsession is: Flashy guitars. I've been crushin' pretty hard for a Gretsch Sparkle Jet or some kind of funky looking semi-hollow from Gretsch. I've also had my eye on the Eastwood Airline Map. I think it'd be fun to jam on something less common than what you normally see onstage all the time.

On her new record with her trio, Molly Miller executes a live-feeling work of structural harmony that mirrors her busy life.

Photo by Anna Azarov

The accomplished guitarist and teacher’s new record, like her lifestyle, is taut and exciting—no more, and certainly no less, than is needed.

Molly Miller, a self-described “high-energy person,” is fully charged by the crack of dawn. When Ischeduled our interview, she opted for the very first slot available—8:30 a.m.—just before her 10 a.m. tennis match!

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On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

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Featuring enhanced amp models, a built-in creative looper, AI-powered tone exploration, and smart jam features.

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Donner andThird Man Hardware’s $99, three-in-one analog distortion, phaser, and delay honors Jack White’s budget gear roots.

Compact. Light. Fun. Dirt cheap. Many cool sounds that make this pedal a viable option for traveling pros.

Phaser level control not much use below 1 o’clock. Repeats are bright for an analog delay. Greater range of low-gain sounds would be nice.


Donner X Third Man Triple Threat


A huge part of the early White Stripes mystique, sound, ethos, and identity was tied to guitars and amps that, at the time, you could luck into for cheap at a garage sale. These days, it’s harder to score a Crestwood Astral II, or Silvertone Twin Twelve with a part-time job in the ice cream shop. Back in the late ’90s, though, they were a source of raw, nasty sounds for less than a new, more generic guitar or amp.

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