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J-Retro Unit

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RandallFlagg, Apr 5, 2005.


  1. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    Guys....I'm getting ready to order a J-Retro unit and was wondering if any of you guys have any experiences to share?

    Positive/Negative???

    Thanks!
     
  2. CQBASS

    CQBASS

    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    I just put one on my Brice frankenjazz. I have to say that it's the best thing I've ever purchased. Ever. I put Bartolinis on the bass and it sounded much better, but then I added the retro and it was like an entirely new instrument. It gave the bass really crisp, sparkly highs, and super punchy midrange which is totally versatile, and a huge, huge low end. I can use the bass for a killer slap tone, a more traditional jazz sound AND could play dub style on it all day long. And it's all because of the retro. There are so many sounds you can get out of it that it's almost scary, and they all sound good. I've owned alot of high end boutique basses, and the j-retro made my POS Brice sound about as good as any of them. As you may be able to tell, I'm in love with the thing.
     
  3. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    I actually got to play one for the first time just last night. A guy in my area was selling a Lakland Daryl Jones with a J-Retro in it, and he was nice enough to let me play it for a while. If nothing else, it's a ridiculously versatile preamp. I always thought that the lack of ability to cut bass would bother me (even though I can't remember the last time I actually did cut my bass on any onboard preamp), but the bass boost seemed very natural, even with the dynamic frequency center. The mids and treble are clear as a bell, and if you're looking for massive sparkle for popping, the pull-out bright boost is a monster.

    My only real issue was the passive switch. If you play in active and then switch to passive, the volume just about dies. It's to be expected, since the active circuit has gain and the passive is a signal attenuator, but it's still a big drop-off. Having said that, after cranking up the amp volume, all was well in the world again, and I thought the preamp had a great passive tone too.

    If you buy it, best of luck to you... I'm searching for ways to get a good bass with a J-Retro myself.
     
  4. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    Thanks for the help guys! I had heard several good things but wanted to get some more opinions. I placed the order today and it should be here soon. I kind of got the bug to "build" something (more like...put something together) so I went out and got a 62 RI body. I put an early 80's Japanese neck on it and added some Barts with a Baddass II. I'm anxious to hear this J Retro unit! Thanks again guys!
     
  5. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    In all current J Retros, there are gain pots mounted on the board that can be adjusted with a screw driver. When set to their minimum position, there should be only a mild difference in volume between active and passive.

    BTW, I love the J Retro. I have U Retro (J Retro for rear mount) preamps in two of my five basses.
     
  6. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    You will be totally happy with it. I bought a Jazz with it already installed. Before it got here, I went and played a few without the J-Retro. Amazing difference. I love my J-Retro, and it is never coming out of my bass.

    I love the ability to dial in all kinds of tones with it. I can get deep and growly, or dial in a sweet crispy clear high end.

    -Mike
     
  7. HiFi

    HiFi

    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    I don't think a superlative has yet been created to truly describe the J-Retro.

    Trust me, you'll be happy with it. Versatile, and it really beefs up the sound. It's like steroids for bass as many owners have said before.
     
  8. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    Thanks to everyone! I am really anxious for it to get here!
     
  9. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Wow, I did not know that. Even if I had, I wouldn't have taken a screwdriver to this guy's Lakland, but that pretty much clears up any objection I would have had to buying a J-Retro. Now, all I need is a bass and some cash...
     
  10. Eggman

    Eggman

    Dec 3, 2004
    Denver, Colorado
    I just put J-Retros in a Lakland JO5 and JO4 fretless and they are great. Plenty of output and tonal control.

    I got a great price on them at BassCentral. Talk to Grasshopper at BC. He included some quick connector clips and shrink wrap stuff that made installation very fast and clean.
     
  11. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    The quick disconnect is a "must have". I love the J retro and have been through a few of them and they are top-shelf gear to be sure.. The one thing that can get you into trouble is that the connection for the pickup leads are square-pin headers like you see on a computer motherboard. Soldering to them can be a real trick if you aren't used to working on PC mount stuff, and even if you are it can be a hassle. The issue is that if you don't have a good heatsink between the boad and the solder joint the heat can unsolder the pin from the board.

    One very good solution is to get a few 2-pin push-on connectors for those pins. I have an electronic supply joint near me that carries them in many sizes and pin configs. Maybe xyllion can chime in with a pin size and spacing? I scavenged a few from an old PC case and they worked fine.

    Pete
     
  12. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    This is also what I did. You can use a black four pin connector off any optical drive for this. Just snip the connector in half with a pair of dikes, and you're set. They cost about a dollar or two if that. Saved me loads of trouble and worry when installing mine.

    -Mike
     
  13. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Fretless rock/ MJ5150 - you guys have eased my mind of worry. I thank you. Now all I gotta do is wait for delivery and install it... :hyper:

    BTW, if any of you guys have comments about the Bartolini / J-Retro combination, please see my thread in the Pickups forum.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=174071
     
  14. Tfunked

    Tfunked

    Dec 30, 2003
    Positive, but it is a taste thing.
     
  15. Even here in the big ATL I can't find the small 2 pole plugs that the retro's use but we've all got at least a couple of them right in our own homes and that's the source for all the ones I use with my retro's - the battery's in your cordless phones!

    I usually go to Radio Shack with a pair of scissors and they give me all of their used up battery packs that I just nip off the plugs from. You would be surprised how many folks bring their handsets in just to have the battery's changed. I guarantee that RS will have at least 1 battery in their waste basket behind the counter!
     
  16. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Those pins are standard headers with 0.100" spaced pins. The connectors you get out of old PCs are exactly the right mate for those connectors.
     
  17. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    BTW, I know that John East has experimented with screw terminals instead of the pins. I'm not sure what the outcome was, but if you are buying a brand-new J Retro it can't hurt to ask if that is an option.
     
  18. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    Guys, again THANKS! for helping this old man out! Incidently, I am, indeed, using barts with the J-Retro. I have decided, however, that I am not going to risk "screwing everything up". I am going to take it to someone who knows what the heck they are doing in terms of installation! Problem is, I have the electronic accumen of a baseball bat.............


    Again, thanks!
     
  19. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    The newer U-Retros have screw terminals, but the J-Retros still have solder connectors - apparently not enough room in the standard J cavity for the soldeless connectors
     
  20. Budbear

    Budbear Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Staten Island, NYC
    I have a J Retro with screw terminals installed in an Am. Standard & it fits just fine. Snug but not pinched. The JR originally had solder connectors, but after a sad soldering meltdown as described above, I sent it back to Jolly Olde England for repair & it came back with screw terminals, an apology, and no charge. Jon East is a top notch guy in my book and so are his preamps.