Bass Guitar Placebo

When you’re good at something, it’s OK to know it.

When you know what something needs and someone else is fumbling, it’s OK to not say anything if that’s your role in the setting.

It’s also OK if you know something, and someone else is in charge, and they’re asking you a kind of pointless question, to say, “Yeah, I agree, how’s this,” and then not do much of anything but let them think you did to keep things moving forward. 

Serve the greater goal. If you’re good, you’ll get them there. Even with a little, artfully applied placebo. 

Lee Sklar is one of the great session bass players. You’ve heard him on James Taylor songs, or backing Carole King, and thumping along to Jackson Brown, amongst others. Even if you don’t know him by name, you know him by feel.

On one of his signature studio basses, he installed a special switch. He calls it his “producer’s switch.” The switch switches… nothing. 

And that way if I’m doing a session, I’m playing and the producer doesn’t like the tone, and he asks me to get a different sound – I make sure he sees me flip this switch. And then I just change my hand position a little bit, and they LOVE it. But there’s no wires or anything that go to this switch. It’s a placebo, and it’s saved me a lot of grief.  

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