Lee Sklar has been a prominent figure among Hollywood session bassists dating back to the 1970s and ever since. Sklar (born Leland Bruce Sklar, May 28, 1947, Milwaukee, WI) has more than 2000 albums to his credit (and still counting), and is considered to be one of the “A” players in the highly selective L.A. rock 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, and George Strait, to name just a few. And never one to remain idle, Sklar has entered the new millennium with a vengeance, taking on new projects with Willie Nelson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nils Lofgren, Lisa Loeb, and many more.

The reputation of a fine session player is not held exclusively to the record industry. Television and motion picture musical directors have called upon Sklar for his expertise countless times. He has played on TV shows such as Hill Street Blues, Knight Rider, Simon and Simon, and also on many motion pictures, including Forrest Gump, Ghost, Kindergarten Cop, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. The list is virtually endless.

lee_sklarSklar moved from Wisconsin to Southern California when he was very young and started playing piano at age four. When he entered Birmingham Junior High in Van Nuys he fully intended to continue as a pianist in the school music program but found that there was an overabundance of piano students, but no string bass players. His instructor, Mr. Ted Lynn, asked Sklar if he would consider playing bass and, if so, he would teach him. As Sklar stated it, “…my life changed. Piano took a back seat and bass was it!”

It was toward the end of the ’60s and after completing his education at California State University, Northridge, as a music/art major that Sklar met James Taylor and they started doing some gigs. They thought they might be playing together for about a month, but then Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” became a huge hit record and Sklar’s career began to gain steam. Sklar’s first sessions were with Taylor. The buzz surrounding this new bass player didn’t take long to spread around Hollywood, and suddenly there was an icon in the making.

Over the years Sklar has worked with nearly all of the top session players in Hollywood, but on the backs of album covers his name seems to pop up more frequently alongside drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Dan Kortchmar, and keyboardist Craig Doerge. This quartet would come to be known as the Section and they would record three of their own albums between 1972 and 1977 with the participation of additional select sidepersonnel. Occasionally the Section would give a subtly announced live performance, much to the delight of their esoteric followers who would seek them out and feast on their mastery.

courtesy of AllMusic.com

join_banner_leland

Comments 489

  1. emmanuel_99

    Hi Lee! Hope everything is going good. Just wanted to ask a quick question about effect pedals. Do you think it is essential to use them? And what effects do you concentrate the most on? I’m saving some money for one but I don’t know what kind of pedal is good to start with.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I rarely use any pedals. I have a couple in my gig bag for sessions and only plug it in if needed. I like the Boss OC2 octave pedal. I have an old TC chorus/flanger. That really is about all. The cleaner the bass the better everything else sounds. But, try all kinds of stuff if you can and see what appeals to you. No set rules. Just have fun.

      1. emmanuel_99

        Thanks for always answering to our questions, Lee. Wish you a happy new year and hope it’s full of great gigs (lol of course it will be for you).
        I definitely agree with you on what you said about the sound, and I’m going to look for a small chorus soon. Now I have a small question for you. If Dave Hungate decided to retire and you were chosen to fill in for Mike again, would you do it? πŸ˜€ I think your sound gave a really powerful feel to the songs and I’m really glad I got to see you play with them.
        I’m listening to the bass parts from Falling in Between Live, and it’s definitely a beautiful bass sound, but how did you manage to play Gypsy Train for that long? My hands get hurt every time I try it hahaha

        1. Leland Sklar
          Leland Sklar

          The guys asked me to do the tour but I was already committed to another tour. I got to play on a couple of tracks on the new album. Can’t wait to hear it. If David, who I was thrilled came back, decided to retire from it, I would love to play with them again. I have known the guys since they formed the band and it is like family to me. I am very busy now with a fabulous singer named Judith Owen. She is married to Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap and the Simpsons. A wonderful artist. We’ll see what the future holds. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! lee

  2. Joe Postle

    When you were touring with Phil Collins on the 1989/1990 tour I noticed you had a couple of 4 string and a couple of 5 string TRBs, as somebody who prefers to stick to the same the same (minimal number) instruments during a show, were they in different tunings or configurations? Were they stock instruments or pre-production basses? Many thanks, Joe Postle.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I had a TRB4 and a TRB5. I usually play 4 strings but when needed I have a 5. They were stock off the shelf Yamahas and the tunings were standard. The TRB and BB series are great basses. Still have them tucked away. After that tour I discovered Dingwall and fell in love with it as my 5 string. Been trading between that bass and my Warwick Starbass II both in the studio and touring.

      1. Joe Postle

        Hi Lee, many thanks for the reply, we all really appreciate your time for Musinq. I have noticed they have updated the TRBs over the years, have you used the newer generations? I read an interview with you and Guitarist magazine around the time of Phil’s 89-90 tour and I believe you mentioned you were using Peavey amps at the time, do you still use Peavey at all? What songs did you use the Taurus pedals for during this tour and how did they compliment your play on bass?

        Sorry for the many questions, just a handful which came to mind. Again, many thanks for your time. Joe Postle

        1. Leland Sklar
          Leland Sklar

          I have been using Euphonic Audio ( EA ) amps for a number of years now. Really like them. Taurus peds were a fun addition. For sure on songs like In The Air. I used them sometimes for pedal tone while playing a lyrical line on the bass. Just fun having them there. I also used pedals called Midi Step by Fast Forward. I had a Proteus II running them. They looked like Taurus but were midi control peds.Still have all of them and hope to find a tour where I can whip them out again.

  3. GaryF

    I really enjoyed you playing with TOTO back a few years. I like your bass playing style as you make it look so effortless. I felt that you fit in perfectly and hoped that you would stay. Who knows what the future holds in store. I appreciate your talent as a musician.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      The guys asked me to do the following tours but I was committed to a James Taylor/Carole King reunion tour so had to pass. Was happy to play on a couple of tracks on the new album. We’ll see what the future holds. Really happy to see david Hungate (the original bassist) back with the guys. My heart and thoughts are with Mike Porcaro every day.

  4. andrzejpoland

    Hello Lee
    I send greetings from Leszno, a small town in Poland. It has long been fascinated by the your game on bass and music you compose. You are my master bass guitar. Very often listen to music, which you are a composer. Thank you very much for unusual rhythms that you create. Yours sincerely. Andrzej

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I have a deep tie to Poland. My mothers family came to America from Poland. Wonderful Country. All my best wishes, lee

      1. andrzejpoland

        Lee … Thank you for your reply. Poland is a beautiful country. I’d like to hear you playing in Poland. Maybe this hope come true. My daughter who is 10 years old, loves to listen to your game. When we watch the video clips she always says: O … again playing this fantastic guy with a beard. We greet you warmly. We wish you a wonderful serenity. And that wonderful smile …

        1. Leland Sklar
  5. reatsch

    Hello Lee,

    Just was wondering, did you see the last day warwick basscamp video were we said hi on youtube? πŸ˜‰
    And is there any chance you’re visiting the netherlands somewhere in the near future?

    Bye, Karl

    1. Leland Sklar
        1. Leland Sklar
  6. Nathan Navarro

    Hi Lee,
    Thank you for being such an inspiration! I had some questions regarding the Musinq/Gigg competition… I won the bass category of it, and was wondering about the day in the studio with you. I’m so stoked for it, but I haven’t received any details. I’ve been emailing Gigg, but haven’t heard back from them, and the competition ended in August. Do you know if the prizes for the competition winners will still happen?
    Thanks!
    Nathan

    1. Leland Sklar
  7. Dimitar4

    Hello Lee.
    I’m 16 and I play bass and I wanted to ask you how can I develop my improvisation skills. What was your way? And also what kind of exercises and scales did you practice?
    Wish you all the best.

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I always just played along with recordings that I liked. Would figure out the parts and try to both emulate them and expound on them. Get loose. I had formal training but did not concentrate as much on running scales etc. Just played all the time. As many styles as possible. Helps tp keep the interest level high. All the best wishes and HAVE FUN….

  8. emmanuel_99

    Hi Lee! Turns out I bought a small Marshall amp a month ago. Seems to work great with my bass’ EQ and I’ve been exploring a variety of tones lately. I’ve been playing with a new band these last few weeks and I was looking for some advice on how I could tell them to crank it down a little bit, not because it’s too noisy, but I feel like we’re lacking some feeling and we could definitely sound more solid as a unit. I’d also like to know what’s better for gigs, plugging a Mic for the amp or using the line output?
    Greetings!

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      That is hard. Some guys are sensitive about volume and get pissed if you say turn down. I know that with bands like Toto and Phil Collins, we try to keep the stage level down as much as we could and let the PA do the work. More nuances and detail that way! Just try to have a good dialogue with the others and say what you feel. As for using the amp DI or a mic, hard to know without hearing the rig. Some amp[s have a great DI and others are an afterthought. Using a mic can work but then it is dependent on the mic itself and how loud things are if there is leakage into it. To many factors to say black or white. Try both ways and see which works best. Talk to the sound guy.

  9. Ulf

    Hi.

    I once read in an interview with Keith Richards where he gave advice to guitar players to always have an acoustic guitar laying around the house to practise on, to keep up the acoustic playing.
    Do you have any toughts on practis on an acoustic bass to improve youre electric playing?
    I have an acoustic bass that I play on daily. I think – or maybe its just my imagination – that my playing has become a bit cleaner, I fret more precise and have to be more careful on damping open strings when playing acoustic.
    Any toughts on that? Do you feel that youre acoustic playing improves – maybe just in small details – youre electric playing in any way?

    Best regards,

    Ulf Stolt, from Stockholm, Sweden.

    1. Leland Sklar
  10. SanderO

    Dear Lee,

    Last Sunday you were on Dutch national television in a documentary about the studio sessions you did recently with a Dutch artist called Waylon. Any recollection of those sessions? They spoke very highly of you πŸ˜‰

    I also wonder if you could reveal something about the recent Phil Collins rehearsals? Any chance he will go out on tour again in the foreseeable future?

    Thank you for your time!

    Sander

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      We had a great time with Waylon. Dude rocks. We were at Capitol Records, which is a studio I have loved working at since 1970. Anxious to hear the whole album. As for Phil, it is a work in progress. He may or may not tour. We are still waiting for his decision. Was great to play again and see the old gang though. Fingers are crossed. A work in progress………

    2. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Had a great time working with Waylon. Just got a copy of the CD and checking it out. As for Phil, still no idea what he would like to do. I am going to play with him for his Little Dreams Foundation annual fund raiser and will talk more then to him. It was great to see him and get together but it is still up to him if he wants to work again. Fingers are crossed.

  11. jallenbass

    Lee

    Somewhere you said that you just go for the richest sound you can and let the engineers do the rest. Are there any particular frequencies that you like or dislike when eq’ing your sound? Also, does that change depending on whether it’s a live concert or a studio recording?

    John

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      The tone is really determined by the song. But for the most part I like a rich full sound. All frequencies represented. Try to have a clean rich sound. I keep my action high so I get very little fret noise. I do not change anything between studio and live. Just have an amp live to bounce off of where in the studio most times I do not have an amp next to me.

  12. Laurent

    Dear Mr. Sklar,
    Thanks to my friends David Garfield and Neil Stubenhaus, I got to meet most of my heroes (I.e studio musicians) over the last 15 years. You are the only one missing!:-) been a huge fan for many years.

    1) back in the days, was the competition fierce to get gigs? Or was it more like a community?
    2) I am a big fan of Barefoot Servants and wonder whether there will ever be a 3rd album?
    3) do you feel musicians were ‘categorized’ by producers in the 70’s and 80’s? For instance you were first call for singer/songwriters gigs, Neil Stubenhaus was called in priority for ballads, Nathan East for R&B, etc? If so, did it take a toll on your creativity?

    Wishing you continuous success.
    Best regards
    Laurent

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      There was and always will be competition for gigs. Not in a bad way but there are a certain amount of gigs and a lot of players. There was a feeling of community. As for BFS, there will not be a third. We all loved it but have all scattered. Butcher is in Boston, Ben is in Nashville…..hard to get together. All still in touch and friends. And we were categorized ……… I came from a background of hard rock yet when I started with James Taylor I was only getting called for singer/songwriter projects. I worked hard to get out of that mold so that I could do a bit of everything.

  13. larryholder

    Lee, I first became acquainted with your bass playing on the early JT albums. Like you, and Rick Haynes, I do not use a pick on the bass. Do you have any idea why folks do (other than speed, or finger fatigue)? To me it takes away from the richness of the sound. As an early example, on the Byrds “Mr Tambourine Man”. I also always set my bass tone hard left. Thanks, and Rock On!

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I really like the sound of pick bass for many things. I just suck at it so do not do it. Carole Kay is an amazing player using a pick. All the old beachBoy stuff. I love the richness of finger playing and have all my dexterity in that way. I do not slap or pop either but that is because of wrist injuries over the years. Just not the control I desire.

  14. terranova

    Hey Lee finally listened to the I’d hit that podcast on a flight back from la to dc. So many good things in there, should be required listening and not just for bass players :-) Learned a lot and could relate on many levels, especially trying to get through security at LAX, what a mess. We have a neighbor that curates photo books thought I would go ahead plug it here.

    http://www.indiephotobooklibrary.org

    Best luck for the photo book , it needs to become reality.

    Your #1 Fan in Arlington, VA

    Rob

    Viva Tedesco’s Mandolin

    1. Leland Sklar
  15. SanderO

    Dear Lee,

    First of all thank you for taking the time to answers our questions, it’s cool to have an opportunity to interact with you like this. Just a short question: I was wondering if there’s any chance that you will tour with Toto again next year? That’d be really cool, I liked your playing on the the Falling In Between tour a lot.

    Thanks for answering!
    Sander

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Not sure. They asked me to work this year and I was already busy. I was thrilled when I heard that David Hungate was doing it. Saw the show and he killed it. Not sure about next year. David may continue, which I think would be fabulous. I have a lot of things that might be happening and have to wait until they get resolved first. If I was available and they sled I would do it in a second. I love those guys………

  16. danclaro

    Hi Lee – Can you tell us anything about your work on the new Jimi Hendrix movie soundtrack? The music in the trailer sounds great. Did you use your ’62 Jazz bass for that?

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      The band for a lot of it was Waddy Wachtel, who also did the original music, myself and Kenny Aronoff. We were at Capitol Studio A and went for it. The biggest issue is with the Hendrix estate. They were screwing with everything. I look forward to seeing it. AndrΓ© is amazing. When he walked in he was Jimi! The swagger, a lefty and dressed the part. He really worked his ass off. I also got to play on the new James Brown movie. Want to check it out too! I used my Warwick Starbass II on that and used my Roadworn Jazz bass reissue for the Jimi flick.

      1. danclaro

        I can’t wait to see both of these films! Did you use your tape-over-the-strings trick with the Warwick to simulate flatwound strings?

        How else do you prepare for sessions like these, where the goal is to try and sound like Noel Redding, etc.? Does it require study like the kind you did before joining Toto’s recent tour, or do you know the James Brown and Jimi Hendrix catalog so well that you can just respond in the studio?

        I think you said in a recent interview that you went to see Jimi Hendrix a lot back in the day. Did you guys try to capture a live feel in the studio by using amps, etc.?

        1. Leland Sklar
          Leland Sklar

          Waddy did the prep work for he did the music for the movie. Kenny Aronoff and I just showed up. I used my Fender Road Worn Jazz Bass. 1962 version. Added a little foam at the bridge. We had amps and played live in one room. Great vibe in the studio. Saw Jimi a number of times in the 60’s. Amazing cat!

  17. jbednarski

    Lee,

    We met in the late 70s when I was doing promotions for Peaches Records in Cleveland after the James Taylor concert at Blossom Music Center. You invited me and my wife to come back two weeks later and had us backstage before the Jackson Browne concert that ended up as the Running on Empty album and let me check out your double neck bird bass before the show. This remains one of my most cherished memories from that time. Wanted to thank you again for you hospitality. The recent article in Rolling Stone about that era I thought was right on and I loved your comments in it.

    Joe

    1. Leland Sklar
    2. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I remember the peaches there very clearly. Those were magical times. Miss them but glad to still out here plowing the fields. Wishing you all the very best!

  18. Hartzj

    Hello Lee,
    My name is John Hartzell from Wisconsin. I’m a 69 year old bass player and have played for 52 years. in 1979 I worked in and was part owner of a music store in Eau Claire, WI. The store was a Music Man dealer. In 1978, I was at the Chicago NAMM show and while at the Music Man Booth, I watched Carol Kaye Demo the Music Man Stingray Bass. As I was a Music man Dealer, I was able to speak with her at length about her bass which had a special neck made for her. She let me play the bass and long story short, six months later I was the owner of her bass as she had a new bass made for her. I was never a fan of the stock Stingray neck and the neck on her bass was closer to Fender Jazz which I was happier with. In the middle of 1979, Musicman was working on the double pickup Sabre bass and the Musicman rep asked me if I would be interested in evaluating three prototype Sabre basses each with a different neck style. If I remember correctly he told me that Lee Sklar, Carl Radle and I were the bass players who would be evaluating these necks and that our ideas would go a long ways in deciding which neck would be the stock Sabre neck. Well I about wet my pants when I heard my name mentioned in the company of Lee Sklar and Carl Radle. Do you recall having done this for Musicman? I know I did and Musicman sent me the Prototype Sabre bass I liked best for elvaluating the Sabre necks. I would be interested in hearing about your experience with the Sabre neck evaluation if you participated in it. Thank you

    John Hartzell

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I do not remember that but during that period I was doing a bunch of evaluating for a number of companies just trying to help them along. NO commitments……..So, it could have been me. I know that a 62 Jazz bass neck is my neck of choice.

  19. terranova

    Hey Lee working on a bass transcription for Laith’s Complete Disgrace from the video you posted on Facebook, thanks for the post and thanks for the great concert with Judith in DC, a comedic triumph for the ears ! My question for the forum is this, lately am running into trouble hearing the tonality of my bass in rehearsals, especially with musicians playing electronic drum kits or with a lot of electronic mish mash. I tried boosting mids but the bass feels too loud, got plenty of headroom to work with. Any suggestions ?

    1. terranova

      Complete Disgrace is up at terranova77.wordpress.com, bass players and human beings please feel free to fire away with any constructive feedback. Thanks !!!

    2. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Really hard to make a suggestion without hearing what you are up against. Just tell everyone else to get a better tone and turn down. Just be near the door so you can make a quick exit!!!!!!!

    3. Leland Sklar
      1. terranova

        Thought you were killing it on the Complete Disgrace track Lee, think you even threw in some fast triplets a la Doctor My Eyes, try as I might I can not get those dang things to sound as even and clear as you do, light touch , three fingers, secret move, billy sheehan stunt double ? You are always a big help and thanks so much for responding twice, better tone was the answer I needed to hear, was beginning to think maybe I needed to start doubling bass parts with an octave pedal or something but too much sound is coming from useless gear from the “guitard center” as it is, need to spend more time with musicians as opposed to playas’

        1. Leland Sklar
          Leland Sklar

          Gear is secondary! Most of it is in the hands, ears and heart. A few pieces of outboard gear is fun but end up usually using nothing but a clear tone. Goodies when required!

  20. danclaro

    Hi Lee,

    I’m not sure if you subscribe to Spotify (or want to), but I thought I might share this playlist I made. All songs, as far as I can tell, feature you on bass. I was inspired by the list of recommended tracks in the recent Bass Player article, and also by the YouTube videos you share on FaceBook. Obviously, your catalog is so deep that one playlist could never cover it all… Spotify doesn’t have everything either. But I tried to include as much as I could from the 70s to the present and it’s been a lot of fun. My wife and daughter are fans too, so it’s been a bit of a soundtrack for us lately. If any other fans on this page can enjoy my list as well, then that’s great.

    http://open.spotify.com/user/danclaro/playlist/5U4OCuhUh55sotnYqyYJtA

    1. Leland Sklar
      1. danclaro

        Thanks Lee! If the link doesn’t work, a search for “Sklar” in Spotify works to pull up the playlist as well. Here is the song list. It’s a bit lengthy!

        Daryl Hall & John Oates – Sara Smile – Remastered 2003
        Rod Stewart – Three Time Loser (2009 Remastered Album Version)
        James Taylor – Your Smiling Face
        Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
        Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rich Girl
        Phil Collins – Don’t Lose My Number
        Mike Post & Larry Carlton – Theme From Magnum, P. I.
        The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
        James Taylor – Woman’s Gotta Have It
        James Taylor – Her Town Too
        Rita Coolidge – We’re All Alone
        Neil Sedaka – Laughter In The Rain
        James Taylor – Music
        Judith Owen – Under Your Door
        Alfie Boe – Trust
        Linda Ronstadt – All My Life [with Aaron Neville]
        Crosby & Nash – Page 43
        Rita Coolidge – Now Your Baby Is A Lady
        The Section – Baby Lame’
        Dolly Parton – Detroit City
        Mike Post & Larry Carlton – Theme From Hill Street Blues – Theme from Hill St. Blues
        James Taylor – I Was A Fool To Care
        Randy Newman – Roll With The Punches
        Barbra Streisand – We Must Be Loving Right
        Arthur Alligood – Shouldn’t Be That Hard
        Livingston Taylor – There I’ll Be
        Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes
        David Cassidy – Goodbye Blues
        The Section – Bullet Train
        James Taylor – Brother Trucker
        Jackson Browne – Jamaica Say You Will
        Jackson Browne – A Child In These Hills
        Linda Ronstadt – Sail Away
        Carole King – Still Here Thinking Of You
        James Taylor – You’ve Got A Friend
        Phil Collins – Heat On The Street
        David Crosby – Find A Heart
        Olivia Newton-John – Coolin’ Down
        Merle Haggard – I Still Can’t Say Goodbye
        Mike Post & Larry Carlton – Theme From The Rockford Files
        Judith Owen – Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox
        James Taylor – Secret O’ Life
        David Crosby – Through Your Hands
        Diana Ross – Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)
        Warren Zevon – Johnny Strikes Up The Band – 2007 Remastered
        Steve Postell – Catch The Wind
        Steve Lukather – Judgement Day
        Richard Marx – Superstar
        Billy Thorpe – We’re Leaving
        Lyle Lovett – That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)
        Vince Gill – Pretty Little Adriana
        Alfie Boe – Many Rivers To Cross
        James Taylor – I Will Follow
        Phil Collins – One More Night
        Faith Hill – Cry
        Steve Lukather – Creep Motel
        The Jeff Pryor Band – Love In Limbo
        Amanda Marshall – Birmingham
        Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles
        Lisa Loeb – I Do
        Toto – King of the World
        Phil Collins – Separate Lives – Live feat. Bridgette Bryant
        David Cassidy – I Write The Songs
        Daryl Hall & John Oates – Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Heart?
        James Taylor – Never Die Young
        Suzy Bogguss – Aces
        Lyle Lovett – Don’t Touch My Hat
        Phil Collins – I Don’t Wanna Know
        The Section – Forward Motion
        James Taylor – If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight
        Carly Simon – Waterfall
        Judith Owen – I Would Give Anything
        Daryl Hall & John Oates – Don’t Change
        Phil Collins – Saturday Night And Sunday Morning
        Lyle Lovett – I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You
        Jimmy Buffett – Love And Luck
        Arthur Alligood – One Silver Needle
        Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise
        Crosby, Stills & Nash – If Anybody Had A Heart
        Kate Taylor – Handbags and Gladrags
        Barefoot Servants – Dog Days
        Judith Owen – You’re Not Here Anymore
        Crosby, Stills & Nash – Delta – Remastered
        Eric Carmen – Heaven Can Wait
        David Sanborn – The Water Is Wide
        Carole King – It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
        Diana Ross – It’s My Turn
        Bette Midler – Make Yourself Comfortable
        James Taylor – How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
        Bonnie Raitt – Crime Of Passion [Remastered version]
        Phil Collins – Find A Way To My Heart
        Carly Simon – Slave
        Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
        Billy Cobham – Stratus
        Mike Post & Larry Carlton – Theme From The Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)
        Helen Reddy – I Am Woman
        Phil Collins – We Said Hello Goodbye
        Dominik Hauser – The A-Team – Theme from the TV Series

        1. Leland Sklar
          Leland Sklar

          Always kind of freaks me out when I see stuff like this. Have had the pleasure of playing on about 26,000 songs during these years. Just happy to still be working my ass off! Got to keep adding to the list.

    2. Leland Sklar
      1. danclaro

        Cool. The list is a bit longer now! Over 8 hours! It’s pretty fun because there’s so much variety. By the way, if the link doesn’t work, a search for Lee Sklar pulls it up in Spotify.

  21. danclaro

    Hi Lee,

    When using your two pickup basses, do you have favorite ways to set the balance between pickups? Or do you favor neck or bridge pickup depending on the song or mix? Has what you like to hear changed over time?

    Also, do you like lighter gauge strings because of the feel, the sound, or both? I’ve always used a 45 at the G but I wonder if a 40 has characteristics that make it sound better in the mix. Your bass always sounds fantastic so any insights you have about pickups and strings would be great to have!

    Thanks so much,
    Dan

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I always turn everything up all the way and then back off the neck PU a few cents for a touch of edge. I love the .40 for the G string because I enjoy the wiggle I get from it for vibrato. I have never noticed it lacking in depth being a bit lighter. Just became a preference thing over the years.

    2. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I usually turn up both pick ups and then back the neck one off a few cents, just for clarity. But, again, it depends on the song. I have loved the lighter strings forever. .40 – 1.00 is my usual. Just dig the feel.

  22. chrispearson

    Hi Leland,

    How important to you think it is to able to mess around with you bass setup – especially on tour? And to what degree?

    Love your playing by the way!

    Regards,
    Chris

    1. Leland Sklar
  23. Rhyno

    Leland,

    I remember the rig you used for the Billy Thorpe Tour and you recently showed a picture of it on FaceBook. Can you tell me the amplifier set up and the speakers, tweeter and horn you used. I remember how massive it was and how it gave some ladies a nice thrill during rehearsals.

    Your Friend and former Roadie, Rhyno

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      It was a Klipsch system that was built for movie houses. Great for movies like Earthquake and the like. The 2 bass bins were W folded cabs that took at least two guys to move. Then there were four mid cabs and four horn cabs. Used 2 Altec 1000watt power amps for the 2 bass bins and 4 Yamaha P2200’s for the rest of the rig. Had an old SVT as the preamp. Used a Bob Easton 360 bass synth system modified so that if could transpose down 4 octaves. I loved working with Billy and was so broken hearted when he passed away. That little tour was just insane but so much fun…..”Children of the Sun”

  24. NathanYorkJr

    Hey Lee! Long time listener, first time caller…
    I’m located in the LA area and would like to get better at being a studio bassist. Particularly with making it feel great and being able to accomplish “the take” in a shorter amount of time…
    Any tips/exercises that would help me out (perhaps with the metronome)? I’m always looking for new ways to become a better musician.
    Thanks so much for all you do, hope I can meet ya one day

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      LISTEN as much as possible and let the song tell you what it needs. I do not do exercises per say. Always hope for a great drummer for the time but been very lucky in that department. Just play as much as possible and listen to lots of different styles of music for studio makes you play them all. Best wishes, lee

  25. danclaro

    Hi Lee – I just found the James Taylor Flag concert from 1979 on YouTube. What a great show! What bass is that you’re playing? Were you using GHS strings by that point? Bass has a great trebly growl. Is that the bass you used to record Your Smiling Face?

    Here are links to the whole video so everyone can enjoy! Lighting is a bit dim but the audio is good.

    Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqPykwHBOs8
    Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTTXdY9CDiY
    Part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajaR7JwtjL0
    Part 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H8cN83owsI

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      That was a one off Yamaha that they brought to LA in the very early 70’s for me to try out. Kind of a P-Bass idea. They made a bunch of different basses for evaluation and gave them to a lot of players to check out.
      It is the bass I played on Smilin Face. Probably had GHS on it at that time. Used Roto Sounds before then.

        1. Leland Sklar
  26. emmanuel_99

    Hi Lee! It’s been a while since I saw you play with Toto in Queretaro, Mexico! Just wanted to tell you that I started playing bass a few months after that. I was practicing a lot but one day some thieves broke into my house and stole it along with two guitars, so my practice kinda stopped and I’m still a bit of a beginner lol. I got an Ibanez SR300 recently and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it (of course it’s not as great as your bass guitars haha), and get some advice on a good Amp for practice and some small gigs. I hope you guys don’t get mad if I post here too often! Lol greetings!

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      I have not played Ibanez basses but I know they are very popular. I would imagine yours is a fine bass. As for amps, just try as mantas you can and fine one that suits your needs. I use Euphonic Audio amps. Small yet powerful. Easy to carry! You can’t post too much. That is why we are here. All the best, lee

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      We are going to get together for 3 weeks to see how it feels and if it is as good as we all hope then plans will be made to do it again. There are no plans other than these 3 weeks of testing the waters as of now. Will keep you posted!

      1. Dave Jansen

        Thanks!! It would be great actualy to see you guys performing again. I loved it to see Phil playing on the Yamaha cp 70 electric grand piano . They should use these vintage music instruments more in todays music !!

        Dave

        1. Leland Sklar
          1. Dave Jansen

            Hi Lee,

            Will those rehearsals be in L.A or Zwitserland? . Maybe this is to much asked but will you be able to make some pics of those rehearsals or even some videos :-). I love it when you post videos on facebook and giving us a small peek of what you are doing πŸ˜›

            All the best,

            Dave

          2. Leland Sklar
            Leland Sklar

            Neither place. All secret as of now. I’ll play it by ear and see what the powers that be have to say before posting anything but will be using my camera for sure. I’ll keep you posted.

  27. danclaro

    Hi Lee – I recently came across Carole King’s Thoroughbred album from ’76 and it’s become one of my favorites. Did you play these songs a lot before recording or were these written and recorded quickly? Your bass lines are really fun to listen to. Kind of a lead voice in the mix. Was that your Jazz bass? Here’s one of my favorite tracks off the album, “It’s Gonna Work out Fine.” Thanks so much.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj0LAfgxviU

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      We did not play anything before the recording sessions. I used my Frankenstein bass on that album. Most everything I did since 1974 is that bass. Have not heard the album in man-years. Thanks for the heads up!

  28. danclaro

    Hi Lee – how are you finding the EA micro rig on tour with Judith Owen? When I saw you in Philly – such a great show – I was hearing both your amp and the front of house mix and your bass sounded awesome. Such great songs.

    1. Leland Sklar
  29. reatsch

    Hello Lee,

    I read you use a tube works 4001 tube di on stage. Do you have any experience with the A-design REDDI?
    Do you also have experience with the EA Wizzy speaker? If so could you say something about how it stands up on a bigger stage?

    Thank you, Karl

    1. Leland Sklar
      Leland Sklar

      Just got my hands on a Reddi, but have not used it yet so no idea but will be checking it out soon. My old Tube Works has been with me in the studio for a long time. I love that it just moves signal and does not color the sound. Too many of the new DI’s have way too much going on. Avalon’s, Evil Twin, etc. You have to be very careful with them for they can overload very easily and you really have to tweak them. I am using a Wizzy on tour right now. Have not used it on a big stage. Using on intimate small shows and it is working great. I use my Iamp800 and different configurations of speakers for larger venues. Used that amp and an EA 4X10 on James Taylor/Carole King tour. Same rig with Lyle Lovett and will be using it with Phil Collins again.

Leave a Reply