that goes with it. I've had so many people over the
years ask if I played on a certain song, because they
were sure it was me, and it was. I don't really get it,
but if it works, don't fix it!”
Let's talk gear.
.. “I really only use about six basses,”
says the great man, “and pretty much do 90 per cent
of my work with three of them. I'm not a collector.
I have a personal attachment to a couple of basses
but my gear is off the shelf. If you buy a Warwick
Starbass II or my signature Dingwall, it is exactly the
same as mine.”
Followers of Sklar's career will have seen him
toting a Fender hybrid, covered in scrawl. Only
one person can lift the lid on it: “It was an idea that
could have sucked hugely, but ended up being one of
the best instruments I've ever played,” he explains.
“It was built by John Carruthers when he was the
repair guy at Westwood Music in LA. The body was
made by Charvel, an alder P-Bass body. I went to
their factory and thumped a dozen bodies until I
heard one that resonated beautifully, that was the
body for me. I had a '62 P-Bass neck but I prefer
Jazz necks, so we stripped and reshaped it into
the configuration of a '62 Jazz. I asked John to use
mandolin fretwire: he didn't think it would be good,
but I said 'I'll pay you for another fret job if it doesn't
work' - and it was fabulous!”
He continues: “The fingering feels much smoother,
you can allude to a fretless sound. John thought the
frets might wear out faster, but I've used that bass
on 85 per cent of all the work I've done since 1973
and I'm only on my third re-fret. I have a prototype
Hipshot D-tuner on the E string. This made my life
with James easier as many of his songs are in drop
D tuning. It has a Badass bridge, and the pickups
are EMGs, among the first ones Rob Turner made. I
have two split-coil pickups placed where Jazz pickups
would normally go and reversed their position.”
As for the signatures on the body, Sklar says: “In
1982, the LA Dodgers won the World Series and we
went into the studio with them and did Queen's 'We
Are The Champions'. They were signing baseballs
and I said 'Sign my bass!' That started the autographs
on it: many have come and gone over the years as it's
not coated. There are over 100 on there, from Joan
Baez to George Lucas to Eric Clapton. It's been a great
workhorse, nothing fancy and it's never failed me. I
still use it about half the time. So between that bass,
my Dingwall and my Warwick Starbass II, they keep
me running.”
Asked how his connection with Euphonic Audio
materialised, Sklar explains: “I was at a NAMM Show
in LA and there were a bunch of guys just slapping
their hearts out. Whatever! I was hearing all this and
didn't see any amps. I looked around and saw two
little boxes with a single 8” speaker in each one, and
this is what the guys were playing through. A bass
rig that could fit in a suitcase. I did a gig here in town,
and it was the smallest thing on stage, but it filled the
Santa Monica Auditorium. I was sold and have been
with John and Larry ever since.
As for basses, Sklar explains: “Sheldon Dingwall
approached me at NAMM about 13 years ago and
asked if I would check out one of his basses. I looked
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