Known for his distinctive long flowing beard, Leland Skar is one of the most respected and in-demand bass players on the scene today. Lee has contributed his skills to literally thousands of albums, soundtracks, films and television shows with such diverse artists as Clint Black, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffet, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Doors, Vince Gill, Ricky Martin, Diana Ross, and of course, James Taylor.
Give us some background on how you got into session work?
I never really thought about being a “studio musician” since I was always a band guy who liked to play live. When I met James Taylor in 1969 and “Fire & Rain” (Taylor’s first single) went through the ceiling, I started getting calls to do records. (Drummer) Russ Kunkel and I were paired as a rhythm section and started working together. That’s turned into a long career for me without really having had to think about it. I feel very blessed by this. I was at the right time and in the right place, as they (whoever ‘they’ are) say!
What do you bring with you to a session?
I bring several basses, a few effects, a DI box, and an amp (No rack!), and a lot of enthusiasm!
Do you tailor what you bring according to the session?
Not really. If I know in advance of any special needs, I’ll take care of that. But in general, I’m prepared for almost anything that might be asked of me.
Is your stage rig different from your recording rig?
Yes, but not by a lot. I probably have less with me on the road than I would in the studio. I generally bring 2 basses on tour. One is a backup for that “just-in-case” moment. I use the same amp I use in the studio, but would probably add a second cab depending on the venue. I’ve been using Euphonic Audio amps and speakers for several years now. In the studio, I use a Iamp800 combo. On tour I would use a Iamp800 head with a 2X10 cab and a 1X12 cab. I was using a GrooveTube Brick or my Tubeworks DI, which is what I normally use in the studio, and a Yamaha Sub-Kick in front of the 12” cabinet as a mic. It’s an amazing sound. That piece of gear is normally used by drummers on their bass drums, but I tried it once on my set up and it’s killer. I don’t us any pedals live, except perhaps a Boss OC2 Octave pedal. I try to keep the bass as pointed and clean as possible so that the house mixer has something to build the rest of the instruments around.
For more of this interview, go to the book excerpts page on my website.
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