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FMT vs J Retro Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adrian garcia, Dec 29, 2002.


  1. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    I finally got my hands on an FMT- for a little while anyway- i liked it a lot- nice fat bottom- the Marcus sound and all- the b was fine- not a Roscoe lo b , but it was fine.
    Now- the question is, has anyone had both an FMT and Jretro'ed Jass bass to compare which one was fatter? rounder?
    i like the fact that i have a choice in finish and scale if i go with a USA Custom Guitars J bass- i can go 35 in scale and get a nat quilt maple top or nat ash- but if i go J retro- i want to make sure it will be at least as fat as the FMT- any feedback is appreciated- peace!- A.
     
  2. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    I've tried both a jazz equipped with the J-retro and a FMT 5.

    The J-retroed sounded fatter to my ears but it was a really quick try and it was in a store so...just wait for more TB feedback :D

    JP
     
  3. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Adrian and fellow TBers,

    You may recall that I had an unfortunate experience with a great looking FMT 5 couple of months ago. It had a defective neck which needed to be replaced and Fender would not commit to replacing it within a specified period (they said that I had to just wait till they get around to it). Then the dealer told me that Fender told them that the FMT 5 would be discontinued. So, having had my $1,600 already tied up for several weeks, I got pretty disgusted with the whole thing and just went and got a full refund.

    I only got to spend a couple of days with the FMT before I sent it back (the rest of the time it was either in transit or being worked on by the authorized Fender guitar tech here in Hawaii). I just bought a Skyline Joe Osborn 5 with the J Retro; I've had it for a week and played it "wide open" at a couple of jam sessions so far. So please be advised that my comparison is based on limited experience with each.

    The FMT's active electronics are very good; IME, better than the active electronics in most factory manufactured basses. The bass, mid, and treble are centered at desirable frequencies and provide you with the ability to make significant tonal adjustments. In my opinion, the J-Retro is superior to the FMT's active circuit in both features and tone. The J-Retro has sweepable mids (150hz to 3k), active/passive switch, and a somewhat unique pick up selector switch. For my personal taste, the tone of the J-Retro is more desirable. It's got slightly more lows than the FMT, and you can a get a thick, fat, clean, ultra low end if desired. The mids and highs have a refined quality, but you can pretty much dial-in just about any tone that you desire from fat-middy growly Jaco, to a warm traditional vintage Fender played fingerstyle, to fat booty & glassy high-end Marcus Miller. Also, I gotta say that the sweepable mid control is great, I really enjoy having it at my command.

    For those that keep their Bassplayer mags, there is a nice review on the J-Retro in the Oct. 2000 issue. and here's a link the to John East's J-Retro site.

    http://www.j-retro.co.uk/
     
  4. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    well- its good o hear because i an pretty set on building a USA custome guitars jass 5- with ash or mayber ash with a maple top body- and maple neck and board- i plan on using ther j retro- the bass will be less expensive than an FMT and im gonna do it in 35 in scale to go with my Roscoe- thanks for the advice and opinions- looks like it will be a j retro at this point- peace! A.
     
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Brad Johnson has an FMT and IIRC he has a MIA JD 5 that has a J retro installed.
     
  6. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Adrian, I would just suggest that you go with J-Retro Deluxe, which also has passive tone control. Could come real handy if battery decides to die, or if you want to go passive now and then.
     
  7. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I second the J Retro Deluxe idea. That's what I have.
     
  8. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    thanks fellas- j retro deluxe it will be because i do dig goinng back to the passive sound every now and then and i hate to be out of commisison over a dead battery--
    woodchuck- you gettin that big Marcus tone with the j retro?_ peace, A.
     
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    That's right, Jeff. Up until last week I had both here, for a long time. I took the J-Retro out when I sold the MIA JD5 last week.

    Everything that's been said about the J-Retro is true. It's a lot more tweakable than the stock 18V system in the FMT. It has a passive mode which, if you're one who sweats batteries, is probably important. I don't.

    I still recommend the J-Retro as a replacement pre, it's simple to install, sounds great and is very flexible.

    So why did I sell that bass and keep the FMT?

    The FMT is IMO perfect for me. While the ability to tweak is nice, I don't have to, it sounds exactly like I want it to. It sounded very good with the stock Fender Nickel strings (amazing IMO) and sounds even better since I restrung it with strings more to my liking. I didn't set the action as low as I normally do, not because I couldn't... because after experimentation I found I like the sound of digging in a little harder on this bass. The playability is excellent whether set super low or slightly low, where I have it.

    Where this bass really shines is live. The bands I work in are used to seeing a bevy of fairly cool basses come through, the FMT really got everyone's attention both sonically and visually. Depending on the room I might bump the Bass control and it really adds to the character of the B string. The highs kill, without a boost. I leave the mids flat, there's no mud and no reason to cut. Fingerstyle pumps. I think the bass was a bargain at $1500 and I saw it selling for less after I bought mine in January 2002. The only issue I've heard of is QC, which is a pretty stupid way to cloud the reputation of one of the best basses Fender has ever built IMO.

    I don't know what's up with Fender's QC, in the past I've defended them based solely on my experience. My FMT is excellent and I would still put it up against any super Jazz I've laid hands on. Others haven't been so lucky.

    In any event I have a bargain priced boutique Jazz that sounds great and plays like a monster. If you can get the same thing building one, my hat's off to you. The FMT has "it".

    I'll stop now:D
     
  10. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    well, Brad- i hear you- i really dug the FMT i played yesterday- i cant find one for less than $1500 if that- to tell the truth- i wasnt knocked out with the looks- but were talking tone here- all that gold wasnt my bag- and i wish thgey offered a maple board- im gonna try to get that tone with a custom bass- if not.. you know what happens-- bassgear.com!! unless i find an FMT at a bargain price- now youre confusing me because i get the feeling you like the FMT more than the j retroed bass- sure wish i could try them side by side- oh,well!!....
     
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    but...but...but...the neck's not a composite!! how do you deal??!? i mean, DEAD SPOTS!!! :eek:
     
  12. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    hey, john- dont go starting flaming wars!!:eek: :D
     
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    oh, sorry. :D
     
  14. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Adrian, they do offer a maple board. As for the Marcus tone, I've never gone for it. I'd just do it a big injustice! Calvin, OTOH.........

    Dude: That's not the same Calvin, but they do favor each other.




    JT: I'll be calling you today.
     
  15. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    i was told the maple boards were only on the four strings--
     
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Trust me, I'm not into gold either, it sounded so good I didn't care;). I do get lots of compliments on the bass, on both sound and appearance, from contractors so it all works out.

    They offered a Maple neck only with a four... how dumb was that? I honestly don't understand the logic.

    I'll clear up the confusion as far as which one I liked more... the FMT. It's like Goldilocks... this one is just right.

    I took it to a local used gear shop for the usual bassist meeting and let lots of people try it. Most of the people said they didn't like Jazz basses, here's how that usually went:

    "I don't really like Jazz basses"
    "Try it anyway"
    "Well... ok"

    twenty minutes later:

    "Umm, can I have the bass back?"

    I let the guy who just bought the JD5 that formerly had the J-Retro in it check out the FMT (he had played the bass while it still had the J installed). He wanted it bad. I understood but I'm hanging onto this one.

    I still think the J-Retro is a great preamp and I did my best to spread the word about them. There are a bunch of them installed around here and AFAIK everyone is still very happy with them.

    BTW I have a low mileage J-Retro Deluxe sitting here if you need one;)
     
  17. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Here's a thread I started with an mp3 of my Retro equipped Jazz bass with TI Jazz Rounds:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=69884

    It's certainly fat enough. I'm pretty sure that is all of the tone controls set flat, too, if I remember correctly.

    One thing, though. I might have missed something, but it appears that the thought is that only the Retro Deluxe allows the bass to be played in passive mode. This is incorrect. The standard JRetro works just fine in passive mode if the battery dies.

    Also, if you go the Deluxe route, you'll need to make sure your bass has a side input jack, as the deluxe has a fourth knob where the input jack goes on the normal Jazz Bass control plate.

    At some point, I'm going to rewire my Retro so the pickups are reversed. That way, when I'm in passive mode, I have a choice between both pickups full, or the neck pickup soloed, instead of the standard bridge pickup soloed. I tend to use the neck pickup more than the bridge pickup, by itself.
     
  18. ebozzz

    ebozzz Supporting Member

    May 17, 2001
    Denver, Colorado
    That's true. You don't have the passive tone control and both pickups are in use.
     
  19. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Actually, on standard J-Retro, you have a toggle to set the passive mode with either both pups on, or just the bridge pup. However, you could always connect your pups in reverse, and have both plus bridge pup only.

    In my post on J-Retro I only mentioned that the Deluxe version offers passive tone control, never said it didn't have a passive mode. For someone who wants to use the bass in passive mode, as opposed to using passive in an emergency because of battery failure, passive tone control would be important IMO.
     
  20. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    ok, im confused by the neck only- bridge only thing- there IS a blend control ,no??