J-Retro vs. OBP-1 vs. Sadowsky; which to choose?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by txmulletrocker, May 21, 2005.

  1. I am getting a Lakland JO5 and I am considering putting a pre in it. I have heard great things about the J-Retro, OBP-1, and Sadowsky onboards. I currently have an OBP-1 in my main bass right now so I am thinking of using something different, but they seem to be much more affordable that the other two. What are the benefits of the J-Retro and Sad.s over the OBP-1? Which would you suggest?

    I don't know much about onboard preamps, so I am open to more suggestions.

    Also, does anyone have one of these preamps that they don't want cluttering up their house anymore? :hyper: :D ;)
  2. why do you want a preamp? The sadowsky cleans up mud, tightens the bottom, and matches impedence. The J retro shapes tone. Different purposes. THe OBP I don't know.

    I have a Sadowsky and have been using it since the last millenium. I have forgotten what my bass sounds like without it.
  3. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Andy is right about preamps. Preamps offer tonal flexibility, though they also "color" the tone in ways you may not expect/like.

    A J-retro will drop right into your JO w/o modification. Installation of the Aguilar and Sadowsky is pretty easy, too, I've heard.

    But they DO have vastly different tonal characteristics, from what I've read. I've only had experience with the J-retro. Here are some threads you should look at:



    And especially this one:
    Preamp thread
  4. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I haven't been able to try the OBP-1. Regarding the other two...

    I've been playing a Skyline JO5 with a factory installed J-Retro for a couple of years, and I actually like its colored tone. Fat articulate bottom with refined highs, along with a bit of gowl, IMHO. I particularly like the ability to cut/boost the mids with the stacked semi parametric control. I won't bother going into detail because this preamp has been covered in detail here and also at the Dudepit.

    I just bought a Sadowsky Metro Ultra Vintage 5 Jazz Bass, which I understand has the NYC preamp. What can you say about this preamp's tone? it's that signature Sadowsky tone! Big fat articulate bottom, a refined high end that's extended, but not harsh or sterile. and ofcourse there's a litttle warmth and growl in there as well. Many threads on this pre's tone can be found here with a search as well.

    I don't really favor one over the other. They're both great preamps, they just differ in overall tone. I like both. I was going to sell the Lakland when I bought the Sadowsky, but after A/Bing them for a couple of days, I've decided to keep the Lakland.

    If you want the Sadowsky tone, go for that preamp. It's a high quality piece of hardware with a unique tone. If you want a good preamp that can do a wide variety of tones and the ability to agressively cut or boost mids on the fly, go for the J-Retro. Some may be wondering if you can get the Sadowsky tone by using the J-Retro. I've tried... you can get close, but in my experience you can't get an exact duplicate of the Sadowsky tone. Rodger has worked some kind of magic into the pre of his. If you want that tone, you need to buy one of his preamps. I hope this helps.

    :D :eyebrow: :D
  5. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    Well, they're all three very good preamps, but it all depends on what application you'll be needing it for. I'd say the J-Retro and the Sadowsky are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of use and function. If you tend to like to play with knobs a lot in trying to get your exact tone, I'd say the J-Retro would be your bag as it can shape the tone drasticly. If you would rather something a bit simpler in terms of use, but will sound good right from the start flat, I'd say the Sadowsky is your best choice. For me, the Aguilar is right in the middle...it's pretty flexible tonally, yet it sounds good even if you don't do anything. It has a close low end response as the Sadowsky, yet it a lot quicker to dial up a tone than the Retro which needs some finessing to find your sound. You can't go wrong with any of these preamps really, but it all depends on function when determining which is right for you.
  6. Thanks, the other threads were helpful. I think that the Sad. or OBP-1 are sounding like the front runners. As far as application, I do prefer a bit simpler of an operation. I will be using it with my loud Texas rock band, haha.

    I tried searching for these, but I couldn't find any thread comparing them to eachother so...

    Also, does anyone have sound clips of a Lakland JO with any of these preamps installed, and without?
  7. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    One other thing to keep in mind the Sadowsky is available two ways, you want to get the VTC (vintage tone control option). And with it the Sadowsky can operate in true passive without changing the original tone of your bass. The J-Retro does not offer true passive and is always coloring tone to some extent. I agree with the other posters assessments, the J-Retro offers more variety, but the Sadowsky does sound exceptional.
  8. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    A follow up comment to Burk48237's post on the Sadowsky's VTC feature. Although it's a somewhat pricey upgrade, I think that it's a "must have" if you're doing Blues gigs. The Sad preamp is still putting out a good amount of highs when the treble control is turned all the way off. I believe that it's because that this control is all boost, so when it's dialed fully off, you're bass is actually flat and you're still getting highs in you're signal. If you're like most blues players, you'll probably want to roll off more of the highs for that smooth-sounding, fat, deep bass tone.
  9. If I remember right, isn't the OBP-1 the same, essentially, as the Sad? I've heard that the Sadowsky is actually made by Aguilar, and that is essentially a rebadged OBP-1. I had an OBP-1 in an MTD Heir, and I liked it fairly well, but the boost-only was a pain, and the frequencies were a little too extreme for my taste. The low seemed to just give rumble (I think it was set at 50hz) and the high control just added string noise. I liked that it was fairly transparent, though. My Heir sounded passive, just a bit hotter.
  10. The Aguilar preamp is NOT the same as the Sadowsky, though Aguilar himself did build Roger's preamp originally back, I believe, in the 80s.

    I use the Sadowsky as an outboard (the original belt clip model) on passive basses which means I can use the same preamp with a number of basses, and a passive tone control is not an upgrade!
  11. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
  12. Also, I am a broke college student, hahaha. I know that I can get the OBP-1 for $100, and the cheapest that I have found the Sad. for is $200. Is it really worth the extra $100. Unfortunately I have never got a chance to play a Sadowsky, so I don't know, throught personal experience, wheather or not it would be. If the Sad. is really that much better, then I would totally be willing to pay it.

    As far as the VTC upgrade is concerned, I really like my controls as simple as possible. That is one of the things that I didn't like about the J-Retro's design. I have a guitar boat on stage, so if I want a different sound, I can just pick up a different bass.


    I would like to appologise to anyone that was offended by any remarks that I might have made. If this is you, then you know what this pertains to, and I am sorry. :( :)
  13. First of all I would recommend considering an outboard (footpedal) Sadowsky Preamp....it is the EXACT same preamp as the onboard and you can use it with ANY bass without having to modify anything. It also gives you a mute, true tuner bypass, and a VERY GOOD DI for about $250.00 shipped....to dispel the often quoted but not quite true story about Roger's preamp...It was originally DESIGNED by Roger and Mr. Aguilar himself but the 2 are definitley different:


    9 VOLT Supply
    +13 db boost at 40Hz
    +13 db Boost at 4K Hz


    18 VOLT Supply
    "up to" 18 db boost at 40 Hz
    "up to" 18 db boost at 4K Hz

    It is not simply a question of "is 5 db more better"....what components are in the circuit? Why 18 VOLTS instead of 9? What are the tolerances? What does "up to" REALLY mean? "Up to" 18 db at 40 hz or 4K Hz or at some proximity to them?

    You REALLY have to listen to them to see which one you like...I have and I prefer the Sadowsky (the Aguilar is VERY good....BUT they DO NOT sound anywhere near the same to my ear) I would not say that one is clearly better than the other for all people I just think the Sadowsky is cleaner and "sounds" better to me...

    TRY THE OUTBOARD...you won't regret it.....


  14. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    I've come close to pulling out the plastic for one of these numerous time, but can never get this question answered: Is it possible to operate a Sad on-board pre at 18v?

    My bass is already wired for 18 (seperate dual battery box to boot) ... I guess I could rewire the batteries in parallel for an extended time between battery changes, but running at 18v would keep it consistent with my other basses.

    TIA for any input ...

  15. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    there's one on Ebay right now that's bid up to $122.50, with 4 days to go.
  16. The one on Ebay is outboard, I am really looking for an onboard.

    If anyone has one for sale, please pm me. :help:
  17. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    I own all three preamps. They are VERY different. The J-Retro is the most versatile by far and offers a mid control. The OBp-1/DB924 have the same frequency centers but manipulate sound differently.

    The aguilar system adds more bottom than the sadowsky. Not necessarily better or worse just more depth. On the other hand the Sadowsky adds a more balanced bass sound sound. I think the Sadowsky has a more balanced overall sound thanb the aguilar.

    I use all three, but if I had to pick one and the bass sounded good already, I would probably choice the sadowsky OUTBOARD. I would recommend the outboard model of whatever you get if the overall tone is good already
  18. So the Sadowsky outboard is sounding more and more like the way to go, BUT, I run a wireless system and my other bass already has an OBP-1 installed. Do the Sadowsky outboards have a true bypass option so that I can run it in-between my wireless reciever and my head, and not have it affect my tone when I am running my OBP-1 equiped bass? I think I have seen this option on some of the Sad. outboard pres that I have seen, but not all. What is the difference between the two? :eyebrow:
  19. The Sadowsky outboard preamp does, indeed, have a pass through bypass switch...highly recommend it!!


  20. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    The J Retro appears to have lots of flexibility,good quality components and based on all that-seems like a good value for the money. I think the other onboard pre-s you metioned are over priced for what they do and what they actually consist of. Flame on.