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J-retro users

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by phatbass30, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    i made a post about Sadowsky users asking who has j-retro installed as their preamp, and nobody responded. i guess nobody has one. so i just want to be in general now. all guys here who has a j-retro or had a j-retro, please tell your experience and what you think a bout it, good or bad.

    thanks a lot guys!!!
  2. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I have a J-Retro in one of my Status neck Jazz basses (the fretted one, with Nordy NJ4SE pickups). It's a very good pre-amp, I really like it and wouldn't switch it for anything else. Here's my take:

    - Basic "tone" of the pre-amp sounds good to me. It does change the tone of the instrument somewhat - for the better, imo - but it can be switched out (but see below).
    - The EQ is really well thought out. For example, the treble control boosts at one frequency and cuts at another, both of which are perfectly chosen for what I want a treble control to actually do. But in addition to this, I also like the pull switch for bright option which provides a boost at a different frequency to the treble control - it's great for a very quick change to a nice clicky slap tone. The sweepable mids option is surprisngly really useful to have in an onboard pre and I find myself using that quite a lot too. The bass boost I use pretty sparingly, for dialling back in some low end when I change pickup blend to favour the bridge pickup to get those Jazz bass mids. Bass control is boost only, by the way, no cut.
    - You can use the trim settings (during installation) to set the output of the bass really hot if you need to. I like this as I always prefer to have the volume set below max so that there's a bit left in reserve.
    - Battery life seems to go on forever.
    - John East is a really friendly and helpful guy who offers first rate service and support, should you need to contact him. But I should mention that I've only ever done so to ask questions, I've never had to resolve a problem. I'm sure that in the unlikely event of a problem occurring (no issues with mine at all in over 3 years) he'd be equally helpful.

    - In passive mode, the ONLY tonal control you have is switching between 50:50 pickup blend and bridge pickup only. Not a major issue as I very rarely turn it off, but if I could change one thing about this pre it would be to give it a blend control in passive mode.
    - As with any pre-amp, some extreme settings of EQ can get a bit hissy. Unavoidable in my experience.
    - It's quite a pricey bit of gear (even more so in the US, I believe, with the exchange rate as it has been; not sure about Thailand!). But it's certainly been worth the money for me. If mine failed I'd get it repaired or replaced rather than switch to something different.

    So, there you go, I hope that helps when you're picking a pre-amp. There's some sound clips of the bass with the EQ set flat in this thread:


    I should point out I have no connection at all with John or his business other than as a satisfied customer. :)
  3. badboy1984


    Mar 27, 2007
    United Kingdom
    I got one install on my Classic 60 Fender. Same as what the bassybill said about the preamp. I wouldn't change my out for anything else. What i find myself use alot in this preamp is the sweepable mid and the mid control since the preamp give the bass a good low end already so control the mid to cut in.
  4. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    thanks guys! that sounds good to me!

    anybody else? :)
  5. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    I sold a Sadowsky NYC5 to a bassist from Singapore and he wasn't impressed with the sound. He added Nordstrand pickups and a J-retro pre-amp and now he's in heaven. I use a Lakland DJ5 with a J-Retro pre-amp and it brings me a smile every time. Passive mode is no good at all, though...
  6. chardbass


    Oct 21, 2005
    I had a J retro dlx in a Lakland JO5 SL. It is a very well thought out piece of kit and my online experience of John East is that he is an A1 guy and always willing to advise etc.
    My problem was that there were too many options fir me with the brightness and sweepable mids, and I found the flat setting not flat enough when compared to the passive setting.
    The inability to use the bass fully in passive mode was the clincher for me.
    I have ended up with a Sadowsky pre w/VTC which is more to my taste (I needed a battery compartment routed)
    John's system is fairly complex/versatile (as is the Audere) but it's ease of fitting is superb.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I love the J-Retro! It's a bit more colored than the Audere, but it's a good color to my ears. Bassybill just about summed up everything with his post. They're fantastic sounding preamps.
  8. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    thanks to all of you guys who responded. i already ordered the Marcus Retro from John East himself. i have a Sadowsky MS5 and the Marcus Retro even without a plate won't fit because of the different knob spacing. John is a great guy and he offered me a mod. he will make my Marcus Retro without the circuit board, more like the U-Retro deluxe, on wires. and best of all, its a FREE mod!

    i'm really excited about this!!!:hyper:

    thanks again guys!!!
  9. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    John East is excellent! I love his preamps.....and he provides the best customer service I've ever come across.

    I have 3 of his preamps installed in 1 bass.....see avatar.

  10. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    I dislike them for fretted basses. I have 3 of them, two are in a cardboard box, one is in a fretless.

    The built in coloration is not acceptable, I want it flat with the controls in detent.

    Sometimes I want bass cut, this unit has only bass boost.

    The midrange Q (frequency selection) is too broad. I want to pinpoint mid stuff more not a general mid wash.

    In a fretless J style bass all of the above complaints turn into positives. A beautiful thing to behold.
    baileyboy1 likes this.
  11. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    Holy molly!!!!!!!!!!!!! :eek:
  12. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    I whole heartedly agree with Bassybill and the quote above...

    I love the set up.....gives alot more versatility to the J sound...some say the J-retro takes some of the growl away....I do not think it does...you can "dial" the growl back in...
  13. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member


    Well sell me one then!! They are my favorites. What a waste to be in cardboard boxes....when they could be in one of my basses making me smile!

    Holly molly is right....an absolute tone monster! I have 1 preamp per pickup (see my avatar), John East did the whole setup for me. It's also going thru his 4 channel mixer....all installed in the control cavity.
  14. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    well i got my special wired Marcus Retro yesterday and had them installed by my guitar tech today. it looks really cool, beautiful knobs and the circuit board is really neat. and most of all it sounds GREAT!!! well, don't ask for a review or clips. first, i suck at reviewing things, i just know if i like what i hear or i will sell it! for this one, its a keeper for sure! clips, i'm quite busy at the moment and it won't be fair because i didn't make any clips of the old sadowsky pre so i can't compare it to the Retro. i will test drive this baby tonight and see how it goes on a live situation. and to all the guys who replied to this thread, thank you all!



  15. Rota


    Jun 11, 2007
    Mesa, Arizona
    These preamps do sound amazing. My local shop The Bass Place has a beautiful red American Jazz Bass with one of these installed and it just pounds out the lows.
  16. badboy1984


    Mar 27, 2007
    United Kingdom
    The preamp is well worth the money to invest on. My fender jazz with this J-Retro kicks my warwick corvette ass badly. no offense but i still like my warwick, but just i like the fender with retro better.
  17. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    my first gig with the Marcus Retro. i played tonight in a worse sound system of my life! and yet... my bass sounded awesome!!! like all you guys said, this is a great sounding preamp, worth every penny!!! i am very happy now!!! and oh by the way, i sounded like Marcus in a crappy small combo amp! wait til i play it on a big rig!!! :hyper:
  18. chardbass


    Oct 21, 2005
    I know you said you suck at reviews but can you try and explain what you didn't like about the Sadowsky pre compared to the East pre?
    How do you think the natural sound of the pre amps differ?
  19. phatbass30


    Dec 24, 2006
    Bangkok, Thailand
    Groove is in the heart!!!
    i didn't said i don't like the Sad pre, i'm just looking for some more flexibility and trying to experiment a bit with my Bass and the Tone.

    both pre's are good. the only advantage i guess is the added mid frequency and mid knobs of the Retro. that made it more flexible than the Sad pre. the Retro has a bit of color when engage, and i like it. and my Retro is Marcus Retro, it has more Lows and Highs i guess, to get close to that Marcus bottom and sizzle. i usually play with my bass with the preamp always on, that's why i bought an Active Bass. if i want the Passive sound, i'll buy a passive bass.
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I have a j-retor in this bass here ... it is my favorite bass these days ...


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