February 26, 2024

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Leland Sklar has been a prominent figure among Hollywood session bassists: Video

28.05. – Happy Birthday !!! Leland Sklar has been a prominent figure among Hollywood session bassists dating back to the 1970’s and ever since. Sklar has more than 2,500 albums to his credit (and still counting), and is considered to be one of the “A” players in the highly selective L.A. music community where the competition for recording dates is fierce, and where only the strongest will survive.

His very recognizable bass playing style has been heard on hits by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Clint Black, Reba McEntire, Billy Cobham, and George Strait, to name just a few.

He’s a bass icon “ as famous for his foot-long beard as he is for his rich, deep-pocketed grooves. Since the ’70s, Lee Sklar has been in constant demand for both studio sessions and live performances. His résumé reads like a Who’s Who.

Lee didn’t rise to the top of the bass world by spraying notes all over songs “ although he can surely do so when called upon. Lee considers himself a minimalist, both in gear and groove. “I really try to find the part that works the best for the song, and if it comes down to just whole notes, then I’ll play whole notes. And some of those are my favorite tracks, because it’s all about what’s right for the song. Trying to show how flashy you are is just meaningless to me. Whenever I’ve been called on to do a solo, I’ve always said no. I’ve never enjoyed bass solos. I mean, I saw Jaco, and it was mind blowing, but in the time it takes to play a bass solo, I’d rather hear the band play another song.”

Lee’s approach to gear is similar. “I’m not one of these guys who you’ll see in the studio with a pile of boxes on the floor. To me, the most important thing I can do is provide a pure, clean bass sound.”

That said, Lee has bonded with one effect that he won’t leave home without: the BOSS OC-2 Octave pedal. “I can’t function without it,” he tell us. “It’s indispensable. I never show up to a session without it. I just love the sound of it, and none of the other boxes sound as good. I have several of them, in fact, so I always have backups.” Lee will be taking the OC-2 along on the upcoming Phil Collins world tour. “I use it on ‘In the Air Tonight,’ ‘Take Me Home,’ a bunch of songs. I recorded ‘Another Day in Paradise’ with the OC-2.”

Which begs the question: What other songs has Lee recorded with the OC-2? “God, there have really been a lot. I did a track on the last Lisa Loeb record with it. One of the best records I’ve worked on in years is Willie Nelson’s The Great Divide. There are a couple of tracks where the OC-2 is absolutely featured. We did one with Rob Thomas [of Matchbox 20] and one with Kid Rock, and I used it on those, and it’s really prominent on that record. We just did a new Graham Nash/David Crosby record that will be out later this year, and I used it one that as well. I always have it handy, and I slip it in whenever I can. I especially love the sound of it with fretless. It also works fantastic with my Hofner bass, because the Hofner has almost no overtones. It’s such a fundamental instrument, and the OC-2 is a perfect compliment.”

Lee just took delivery of a new BOSS OC-3, a souped up OC-2 which he’s just starting to experiment with. He’s also been exploring the Roland V-Bass with his band Barefoot Servants, featuring singer/guitarist Jon Butcher and multi-instrumentalist Ben Schultz. “It’s a ferocious band,” Lee enthuses. “It’s like a contemporary version of Zeppelin meets Hendrix meets ZZ Top. Barefoot Servants was the main reason for me wanting to get into the V-Bass, because I really wanted something unique for this group, although I’ll end up using this on other applications certainly. For the last three tracks we cut, I ended up using the V-Bass on those, and absolutely loved it. We just did a song called ‘Dog Days,’ and I was able to detune down into a C tuning and use the Subsonic setting on the V-Bass for this super low-octave stuff going on. The sound is monstrous. Just fabulous.

Then we did a track after that called ‘The Bells of St. Mary’ where the only thing I used was the Subsonic setting, and did three octaves of bass. So it suddenly has this absolutely unique sound that almost sounds like a weird upright. There’s very little center to it, but it’s a pervasive bass sound, which is what we were looking for. Thus far, every time I scroll through the V-Bass, there are sounds all over the place that I love on it, and it tracks great.”

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