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Aguilar OBP-3 vs. J-Retro???

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jokerjkny, Jan 3, 2004.


  1. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    hey all,

    i'm thinking of swapping out the onboard pre on my parts jazz w/ Dimarzio Ultra Jazz, and wanted to know what your opinions on these pre's are.

    i have the J-Retro on my bass, but was wondering how the Aguilar pre would sound different.

    in a perfect world, i'd have Roger Sadowsky outfit his pre along with a variable midrange selector. but he's not down with fooling the mids on a bass. :(

    but, the Aguilar's frequencies are voiced similarly to the Sadowsky, especially to the all important 40Hz at the bass.

    any opinions?
     
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'd have to say obp-3.

    The J-Retro win's the flexibility and ease of install vote, but the obp-3 wins the sound vote to my ears.

    I find the bass boost on the Aguilar units to be fatter and tighter, and I like that the preamp is transparent with bass/mid/treble controls flat. The U/J-Retro has a slight pre shaped eq added to the sound even with eq controls flat.
     
  3. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    yea, i found that too. a really marcus, woolly low endy sound, where i have to bump up the mids to cut thru. awesome for slap, tho. but i'm moving to something else.

    OBP-3 it is. thx guys!
     
  4. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    I really like the Aggie OPB-3 the best of all the preamps out right now. By the way, wasn't Aguilar making the pre's for Sadowsky at one point? There's definitly a similarity between the OPB-1 and the Sadowsky. And why doesn't Roger have some sort of midrange comtrol on his preamps?
     
  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Jokerjkny, when you're selecting the wiring diagram, make sure you check out the wiring on the PDF file on the Aguilar site because it has a page that isn't included with the diagrams that are shipped with the preamp. The missing page is the "mid switch options" page, which includes a pot to change the frequence to 800Hz, 400Hz, and any spot in between rather than just the switch.
     
  6. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Are you agreeing that they're bunk, or that you've never heard one that sounds as good with mids flat. Or both?
    I have to disagree there. The OBP-3 sounds, to me, completely transparent with mid eq flat.

    To some extent I agree with Rogers point: which is that doing mid eq'ing on the bass can reduce flexibility available to the house sound guy.

    But about 50% of the gigs I play round NYC have a house rig and the places are small enough that they only put vocals through the PA. Given the short changeover times available between bands, I choose to do all my toneshaping on my bass/pedalboard and run the amp eq flat. This way I can get plugged in and pretty much have my sound straight away without having to learn the different amp controls each time.
     
  7. jointus

    jointus

    Sep 20, 2003
    SATX
    Just a note that 'bestbassgear' has the OBP-3 with the different 'configurations' so you will get the correct potentiometers and switches you will need. They also can prewire the unit to the potentiometers and switches. Hmmmm, which configuration will I get? :confused:
     
  8. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I've got an OBP-3 in my new 6-string, but will be swapping it for a U-Retro tomorrow (the J-Retro is the version that comes on a J-plate, the U-Retro is the universal version... :D )

    I like the sound of the Aguilar - it's clean, and the tones are good at all extremes, but it's not as flexible as the Retro - I LOVE the sparkle push/pull thing on the treble pot of the Retro, and the Sweepable mid offers really diverse tonal options. I love the way the EQ curve is different on the boost from the cut on the treble control.

    Bear in mind that I wire mine with a passive volume and pan control, so that the active on/off goes to true passive. It's not very hard to do, and I'm sure if you emailed John East who makes the J-Retros he's tell you how to do it, or point you to a repair man who could...

    So for versatility and tone, I'm going with the Retro... I've already got one in my 6-string fretless, and will one day have one in each of my basses... love 'em

    if you need more tips on the Retro, check out the Retro forum at www.thedudepit.com - John East answers questions there...

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  9. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    hey steve,

    yea, i'm a little afraid of losing some versatility, cause this is my "who knows whats at the gig" bass. but to be honest, i've rarely used the brite pull switch, and if i do use the sweepable mids knob, its usually to its extremities.

    i guess i'll keep it for another bass, but i'm gonna give the OBP-3 a try.
     
  10. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    hey all,

    btw, are there any problems with fitting the OBP-3 in the cavity of a top routed Jazz?
     
  11. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    It's certainly going to be snug, especially if you don't have a side mounted jack.

    As well as the size of the obp-3 itself, although it's small you have all the 18-ish wires coming out of it.
     
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I've owned 3 J-Retro'd Jazzes and have played a few OBP-1 equipped and one OBP-3 equipped Jazzes. IMO it's a toss-up, depending on what you like. I didn't need the mid control on either but it didn't bother me that it was there. The J-Retro is definitely a "hot" sounding preamp and you'll either like it or you won't IME.

    My Brubaker Spalted Maple/Ash K5B Xtreme has among other things removable preamp modules. One is an OBP-3 module. While it sounds fine I find myself preferring the Bartolini NTMB module more often. The Bart coupled with the heavy Ash body gives me a very distinctive sound and I find the bass and treble controls usable all the way up to the extremes. YMMV.

    This bass will be at the NAMM show (I won't) so anyone who wants to do an a/b with these modules or a Bassline might want to stop by. My singlecut Ash Teal K5B Custom will be there along with the K5B Spalted Maple/Catalpa fretless 5.
     
  13. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    Yeah, it definitely varies with the wood/basses. My first Bart experience was with 2 band preamp in my Warwick Thumb. I hated it, very woolly - I ripped it out.

    But on my Elrick and MTD's, the Bart pickup/preamps sound amazing. Part of it is that those basses have the three band bart preamps, so I can thicken up the low end at 250.
     
  14. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    I have to agree with the Bart pre working well with Elrick's and Roscoe's as well. Those two so far have been the basses where I have really liked the Bart electronics. It has been so-so in others.
    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know at what frequency points Duncan uses for their 3 band? Is more similar to the Bartolini or Aguilar setup? I've played basses, and owned one Warick witht he Basslines electronics, and the only thing that I wasn't crazy about was where the mid frequency was centered. I wasn't really crazy how the mids sounded on my Warwick with it installed, but then again, I have played other basses where it seemed to work pretty well.
     
  15. Armchair Thief

    Armchair Thief Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Houston, Texas
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The cool thing about my Brubaker Xtreme is that I can get a direct a/b with it, the only variable is the preamp;). Takes a few seconds to swap.
     
  17. MascisMan

    MascisMan

    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Given the talk about how different woods can affect the way the preamp sounds what do you guys think for an alder Jazz bass. I need the versatility to play anything from hard rock to soft ballads. Anything from the round J-type tone all the way to a 'similar' P-bass tone.

    In fact what preamp/pickup combo would you recommend to do this in a Jazz bass with only 3 control knobs.
     
  18. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    well, the beauty of getting such a versatile swiss army like onboard pre like the Aguilar or the J-Retro is the fact it can morph your bass to sound like whatever you want.

    i like having that versatility of a 3 band with a sweepable midrange, so i can still craft a good sounding tone thru whatever crappy amp's at the club. or better yet, be able to give the producer, singer/songwriter, etc. whatever tones they wish from my bass.

    with that said, these preamps can fit a variety of basses. with a 3 knob setup like my jazz bass, a "stacked" knob allows you have many more knob options.

    what it comes down to is taste, and if you dig how the onboard pre's is adding to the overall tone of your bass.
     
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'd recommend no preamp. Seriously. Get a good Jazz and learn how to use it. If you really want an active one a Fender Jazz Deluxe is a good way to go.
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I still haven't heard ANY onboard preamp that can do this. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure one doesn't exist.

    Seriously:D