J Retro preamp

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by funkdaddy, Feb 21, 2002.

  1. I've heard some good things about the J Retro preamp. Can someone tell me the advantages of having a J Retro installed in my Jazz bass? Is this just an easier way of tweaking my tone without having to fool around with my amp between songs? Do most people that use such onboard preamps generally keep their bass amp EQ set flat, and make adjustments to the EQ from the bass? Does the J Retro sound "hi-fi" in active mode, kind of like Marcus Miller's sound? Or does it retain the organic tone usually associated with Jazz basses (just with more tone-shaping flexibility)? Any hiss associated with the J Retro? Thanks in advance for the info!
  2. I've got a J-Retro and not only does it sound "hi-fi" like Marcus Millers bass - lots of guys are using them to replace the preamps in the Marcus Miller Fenders.

    Advantages are that you will now have ALL of the tone control you would want. The sweepable midrange frequency is especially useful in dialing in the growl you always thought you had with a passive system. The preamp will make even stock pups sound great without coloring the natural tone of the instrument. If you happen to use good aftermarket pups, you will find even more tone. Bottom is smooth but defined and highs are crystal clear without being to sharp. If you want to hear more about them in use go to www.thedudepit.com and get into the J-Retro forum.

    As for shaping tone from the amp or instrument - No sense in putting tone in the loop with the preamp just to have the amp controls counter it. Set up your amp to the best passive tone you can then use the preamp to really make it punch.

    I literally can't say enough about these units.
  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I have yet to see anything posted about them that is anything less than superlative.

    Which is a good thing given the price.
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    None that I can hear, even with the treble maxxed out.

    Now, go buy one :D
  5. I have a J-Retro that is going into my Roscoe Beck V. By design, the RB5 pickup output is really anemic, and I want the Retro to kick it up.

    The other benefit is the J-Retro isolates the RB5 passive pickups and prevents impedance loading and subsequent loss of tone, from the volume and tone pots. This will let each pickup deliver its maximum tone.

    The downside is the battery, about 300 hours of usable life. The Passive switch lets you work without a battery in an emergency, but without the tone controls. The downside in the RB5, is I have to remake the pick guard to support the J-Retro hardware, as it is *not* a drop-in for the RB5.
  6. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    Does anyone know how much the J-Retro costs? I have a thread asking about it but I haven’t gotten many responses. I have done a search and I still havent found all the answers to my questions. I really want to get one of these, I just want to make sure Im making the right decision. If anyone wants to help me out heres the link:

  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    between $250 and $275, depending on the model / options you want.
  8. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000

    it's "really pricey". but it worths every penny. you can take a look to bartolini active electronics too, they are awesome too.
  9. Well, I've got to say that with my particular rig (Yamaha PB-1 preamp, Pyramid 600w stereo amp) I have plenty of hiss. This is a very strange thing cuz my other 2 active basses are as quiet as can be. When playing, you don't hear it but when alone it is quite evident.

    I'll probably get back to the Dude on this one.
  10. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    No you don't! What about the U-Retro? Same preamp, and you can just install it under the pickguard, because its the same size as a regular preamp. No need for the J-Retro.
  11. I already own the J-Retro.

    The pickguard has to be remade due to the different number of control pots and removal of the 3-way switch from the stock RB5 electronics.

    Drilling additional holes in the existing pick guard will make it useless should I want to return to stock, and/or sell the bass.

    I can easily fabricate a replacement pick guard that will allow me to keep the J-Retro on its own plate, so changing the battery will not require removal of the entire pick guard.
  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I built my own 5 string jazz bass. Black body with a maple neck. I was never happy with the tone. I tried different pickups, and different pots in it and it never quite sang. But recently I put in a j-retor preamp and it rocks ... the sound has some of the organic warm jazz bass tone and some is more hi-fi preamp sound. It gives you the best of both. I am going to add a battery box to my jazz bass to make battery changes easy.:bassist:
  13. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Holy ancient thread revival, Batman! Moved to Pickups.
  14. ive ben thinking about adding a j-retro to my geddy jazz, which has model J's on it. anyone familiar with this setup? how easy/hard is changing the battery? is this set up more for slp or does it work well with fingerstlye also? thanks for any info!!
  15. ecufunk


    Nov 19, 2007
    the retro pre works great both both styles slaps and fingerstyle the mid-frec is very use full for finger style if you want abig deep bass sound or a growly thin sound...the brigth pull knob is awesome for slaps sound sharp and loud
  16. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    I tried a J-retro, sold it, and got an Audere. I found the J-retro to be too much hi-fi for my tastes. The Audere is plenty powerful, but it has much more versatility/usability throughout it's range. Its also less expensive than the J-retro and it was easier to install.
  17. ecufunk


    Nov 19, 2007
    ja ja ja i got that problem but it was to dark but the problem was that i wasn´t using the tone control mid-frec and the eq in the correct settings retro is great but you have to study all the knobs very well....audere is a really good pre but retro has more color
  18. bassness


    Jul 16, 2006
    Chicago area
    I agree with this post. I just put an Audere in my Geddy last week. I had a J-retro previously. The J-retro was too sterile for my tastes and I could never get it dialed in to a sound that I wanted. I just couldn't get a decent growl out of it and I have had it for over a year. Within an hour of installing the Audere, I had a sound I was very happy with. I really like the Z mode switch also.

    Ease of installation is a wash between the two since the J-retro now offers solderless connection.

    I'm still deciding if I'm going to keep the J-retro and put it in one of my fretless basses or sell it.
  19. ecufunk


    Nov 19, 2007
    well every body has their own point of views i have retro pre on my darryl jones and on my 4-94 with nordstrand and belive me they sound anything sterile...of course i have really great pickups on my basses...but as i said before that´s only my point of view
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    The bass that I put the j-retro preamp in has a set of SD 1/4 pound pickups and an oil finished maple neck with a maple fret board. The bass has a nice growl and bite and low end. :bassist: