J-Retro and Fretless on an MIM jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jherrera, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Jherrera

    Jherrera Guest

    Sep 25, 2004
    I've been considering, because of my love of the fretless sound, purchasing a fretless replacment neck from Warmoth. Does anybody have a reason why I shouldnt. If I do what woods would you recommend for best sustain, duarabiltiy, etc. I was also thinking about getting the J-Retro Active Preamp, does aynone here have one? Like it? Hate it? The reason I'm doing this is because I'm on a tight budget and cant afford a new bass as I was previously planning. Would anyone recommend or ask me to stray away from these upgrades im planning. Note: The guy at a local music store said "Theres only so much you can upgrade on a turd" I then handed him my bass and told him to play. For some reason my MIM sounds considerably better than most and lacks the cheapness in build that most MIM's have. I've played plenty and mine is awesome for some starnge reason, dont ask becuase i dont know. So I'm not upgrading a TURD im upgrading a good sounding bass.
  2. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    The J-retro is an incredible preamp.

    It's also around $350, which is probably not much less than your MIM Jazz bass is worth. Something about putting a $350 preamp in a $400 bass just seems odd. :eyebrow:

    There are outboard preamps you might try -- Sadowsky makes one for around $200 that you could use with any bass.

    Another option would be to get a Sansamp bass stomp box, which would give you more "oomph" and tone options, particularly since your Jazz is passive. I've been really thinking about getting one of those, and since the programmable model is due out this month, many people should be dumping their Sansamps on ebay to get the new model. You could almost certainly get one in excellent shape for under $100 shipped. Do a search for "sansamp" in the effects forum here for more info -- a lot of people SWEAR by them, calling it their most important bass upgrade.

    MIM Jazzes vary greatly. Some are outstanding, others are pretty shoddy. You must have gotten lucky. :D The main area which is a problem is with the neck. As for getting a new Warmoth fretless neck, a lot of people have done that, though I haven't played one of them. Hopefully someone else can help you on that.
  3. Wayner


    May 7, 2004
    Maryland, USA
    Bartman hit the nail on the head -- MIM j-basses are very variable. I have one, and think I completely lucked out in getting a nice piece of wood and a decent neck.

    As far as fretless goes... I yanked out my stock pickups and put in 60's vintage ones, put on a badass bridge, and jaco'ed my stock neck (yanked frets, filled em back in, etc), sanded the back of the neck (smooth wood is better than orig. finish). It's ratty looking but it sounds pretty nice!

    If you're gonna buy a new neck, find one that doesn't move and has an ebony board. Rosewood is warmer but ebony's better.

    Haven't tried j-retro/east (hear they're nice though), but it's hard to go wrong with a sadowsky outboard if you've got a passive j-bass.

    Happy hunting!
  4. lonotes

    lonotes A place for everything, & everything out of place

    Oct 15, 2003
    Port Richey,FL
    I have a MIM Jazz fretless with a J-Retro installed, and I absolutely love it. As far as the "polishing the turd" thing goes, I had originally planned to build a bass from parts, i.e. Warmoth, but I found this Jazz at my local store. It played and felt great, but I didn't even plug it in to an amp in the store because I knew that all I was interested in was the lumber. It was cheaper than buying the body, neck and finishing separately. With the exception of the tuners,they are the only parts left from the original. I installed a Badass II bridge, Tusq nut, Dunlop Straploks, sheilded the cavities with copper foil, DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pups, and a J-Retro. This bass was a pretty good example of how good a MIM Jazz can be, but now it is awesome! I still want to replace the tuners ( maybe Hipshot Ultralites ) and epoxy the fingerboard , so that I can go back to roundwounds,then it will be perfect.The J-Retro is expensive, but IMHO it is worth the price.
  5. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I've had a J-Retro in a couple MIM jazz basses. They sound fantastic and are very versitile. Yes, they are xepensive, but worth it.

    It's not polishing a turd. It's taking a bass that feels good and plays well, kicking it up a notch and getting a bass that's better than an MIA Jazz for less $$.
  6. Jherrera

    Jherrera Guest

    Sep 25, 2004
    Thanks guys for your insight. I'll defiently be getting the Ebony Fretless and im between the Sadowksy outboard and the J-Retro. Any significant diffrence's betweeen the two in terms of cpabilites, not how they work.
  7. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I have a J retro on my MIA. It is god. I want a U retro for my thumb.
  8. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    It's an idea that I've toyed with time and time again. But since I got my new bass, I have NO money for a J-Retro in my MIM Fretless. First is the pickups, then I'm looking into electronics.

    I'm very impressed with it on other basses so far though.
  9. Jherrera

    Jherrera Guest

    Sep 25, 2004
    Hey lonotes,
    What pickup sizes did you get for the MIM. I measured mine and I have the feeling that both the pickups arae the same size, is this normal becuase I heard that one should be longer then the other. If they are the same size, what kind should I buy. neck or bridge kind. I was just at bestbassgear.com and was looking at the J-Retro, The dimarzio ultrajazz pickups, and then getting the fretless neck at warmoth.
  10. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Prior to 2001, MIM Jazzes had the same size pickups. Unforunately mine's a 98, so it looks like Dimarzios or Fender CS 60's for me.
  11. lonotes

    lonotes A place for everything, & everything out of place

    Oct 15, 2003
    Port Richey,FL
    I haven't measured the pups, but both are the same size. I'm no expert, but I think that the two different size deal is only applicable to certain vintage US made basses.
  12. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I actually own both and a Aguilar DB924 (which you might want to check into also)
    With the J retro you add a sweepable mid control. The J retro's bass frequency is around 50hz and the Sadowsky is 40hz. The Sadowsky treble is at 4k and I think the Jretro is around 3k. Plus it has a treble bright switch at 7k.

    Sonically they are very different. The retro is definitely more "hifi" sounding than the Sadowsky. The Sadowsky is very natural sounding. Really not adjusting your fundamental tone, but just amplifying the sound. The Sadowsky offers less color to your sound and what you are hearing, IME it is the sound of your bass not the electronics.

    The Jretro definitely adds something to your sound. Even in bypass mode it still adding some coloring. With the Sadowsky, you get a good sound and a useable di with a true bypass swith and a mute option.

    Depending on what you're looking for, either could be the right choice. I have a MIJ fretless with EMGs that add a certain color that I love on THAT BASS. The same system does not work for me on a fretted bass.

    Personally I would recommend the Jretro or the Aguilar DB924 which has the same frequency center as the Sadowsky, but it is not as subtle as the Sadowsky.

    In terms of flexibility the J retro is the best way to go.