J-Retro Users-Should I Get One? Sound Off!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by faulknersj, May 24, 2012.

  1. I am considering replacing the stock pre-amp in My 2007 Fender Custom Classic Jazz Bass with a J-Retro Deluxe. I am also considering replacement of the stock Noiseless Pickups with a nice set of single coil pups. Please share your experiences and offer thoughts and advice!

    Thank you!
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    My Dog Sam Eats Purple Flowers
    The j-retro preamp is an excellent piece of technology. I like it a lot. I like the Audere preamps even more.
  3. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    I might suggest a sadowsky outboard pre instead. I had a retro, liked it for a while, then went back to passive single coils. Depending on the venue size etc, you can use it or not with any of your basses.
  4. J-retro + single coils = heaven.
  5. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    get one!

    I had a Lakland DJ 4 and a DJ5 with one and LOVED it!

    still lets the piclup sound through but with a major dose of octane!
  6. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Use a J-Retro (not the luxe) on my Jb copy with Nordstrand J singles. Like it very much.

    They're a perfect match in my opinion as Nords tend to be a bit dark and JRetro quite the opposite.

    Tip: Bass is boost only (+15dB @ 50Hz) and, although there is a center detent on bass knob, the 'flat' spot is set with the knob fully counter clockwise as the preamp already boosts low end when engaged.
    From the manual: "The frequency band of boost gets progressively lower as the boost is increased".

    Treble is boost/cut (+12dB @ 3 kHz, -12dB @ 1kHz)

    The mid sweep is a fantastic feature, unique!

    The thing is, it's not a "vintage" sounding device. JB purists use to hate it as it adds 'color' and a certain 'thickness' to the tone.

    It doesn't like to be used with some overdrives IME.
    Don't know why but it simply doesn't work well with my Fulltone drive and my BJJFE BBBOD. Maybe it's just me, 'cause I don't like the way the Audere preamp sounds with those OD either.

    When I use the same basses with passive electronics they sound quite good.

    J-Retro s a really great tool and if you want a 'modern' sounding J, go for it.

    The Audere is a great preamp also and sounds more 'transparent' than the Retro. Beautifully voiced, I use it with Lollar pickups and they match nicely too.

    Hope that helps.
  7. RaginRog

    RaginRog Last guy you want to see is Employee Relations guy

    Nov 29, 2009
    Formerly Staten Island
    Please don't be mad...I've only owned a P retro...but have owned a couple of the Audere jz with tone knob. If you happen to get an Audere, I would recommend getting one with 2 volumes rather than volume balance. I don't like that the volume drops with the balance at 50-50. Great preamp, Vol, Vol, Treb/bass, tone with 3 z modes is where it's at.
  8. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Never had this kind of issue with my unit, at least I have never noticed.

    I must say that I use mine at 50/50 all the time but I tested this preamp quite a lot before I decide to keep it.
  9. southpaw420


    Aug 25, 2007
    Never tried the J Retro but I have to say the Audere JZ3's are sweet. I went with the single volume and blend for the sake of having the mid control and it is heaven. There is a very slight volume drop when the PU's are balanced 50/50 but it has not been an issue for me. I switched it out for the stock pre on my Carvin SB 5'er and have not looked back.
  10. BeSharp


    May 17, 2011
    Annapolis, MD
    I have one in my 1996 American Deluxe Jazz and it's awesome. Amazing variety of tones when active and can be bypassed for passive. I have a sadowsky outboard preamp and the J-Retro is more versatile in my opinion. Looks cool too. Built like a tank and John will answer question quickly via email if you run into any snags.
  11. I ended up putting in tbe J-Retro Deluxe. I am really digging it!! Thank you depalm for tbe tip on the bass beibg boost only! I thought it sounded a little bass heaby with tje bass knob set at the mid detent setting. My only gripe is the inability to set the pickup blend in passive mode. I am really digging the way this pre-amp brought my bass and these Noiseless pickups to life! I am still curious about how this would pair with a pair of single coils.
  12. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I have a Fender Marcus Miller 5 string that I replaced the stock preamp with the Marcus Retro. I'm really happy with this mod. The single coils with this preamp sound great. My only gripe is the lack of flexibility in passive mode (as mentioned earlier in the thread). I bet the Noiseless pickups and the J-Retro work very well together. I'd work with this configuration for a while before swapping out the pickups.

  13. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Congrats! :bassist:


    I don't know if it is possible but you should write to Mr. East asking about that. He's very quick in reply emails and maybe you can customize your unit to your taste.

  14. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Contributor- Bass Musician Magazine
    I really like the flexibility and quality of the J retro that my bass came with, it sounds great, is really well built, and the mid stack is perfect IMO. John East is great to work with, I now have custom East preamps in both of my basses.

    I use the East SP2 preamp, which is a 3 band EQ with a passive tone control. It doesnt have the built in upper midrange bump that the J Retro has (which sounds great in some basses, not in others IMO), and whats really hip: it has thumbwheel trimpots in the cavity that allows you to dial in the boost/cut frequency of each band of eq. I really love this feature, I've got it dialed so the preamp acts just like I want it to in each bass.

    John custom made me one that has the mid stack of the J retro, so the knobs are vol, blend, bass (adjustable freq), mid stack (range is internally adjustable, as it is on the Retro, with two dip switches), treble (adjustable freq.), passive tone control(pull for passive). No pull for bright function.

    And the blend knob works in passive mode.
  15. That sounds awesome!! Thanks for sharing. I love the pull for passive option! That is killer. I will never pull bright...ever. I just wish i could blend the pickups in passive mode, but luckily, my Custom Shop Jazz sounds killer in both available passive settings. Are the custom options something that could be ordered directly thru John?
  16. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    On any of the stock 2-pickup East preamps the blend control in passive mode is "disabled" and hard wired for both pickups on full. This is because the preamp uses an active buffered pan control so the pickups don't load each other down or drop in volume regardless of the blend position. I'm sure there are custom configurations available though.
  17. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Contributor- Bass Musician Magazine
    I ordered it from John, via wood&tronics, and then ended up dealing directly with John. I previously had w&t's "oem" u retro, which is slightly modified from the stock unit. John was very easy to deal with and I think you could contact him directly to configure one without any trouble.
  18. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 22, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.