John East Retro Jazz for my Lakland DJ5?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by MaglorOnBass, Feb 6, 2018.


  1. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    View attachment 2905132 I have been playing bass on and off for 25 years, and have recently been on a quest to find my perfect 5 string sound, since I started playing with the church band.

    I’ve bought 3 basses in the last couple months. A Warwick Corvette Rockbass (which I returned), an Ibanez SR605, and a Lakland DJ5.

    The Ibanez has an incredible amount of punch to it that really cuts through the band, but has a sterile or canned quality to it - almost like a synth bass. Not a huge fan of the styling either (one comment was: “what a beautiful bass - wait, that is a bass, right?”) And the string spacing is a little cramped.

    The Lakland, is badass. Love the feel and look of it - major cool factor. The tone is great too, much more rich and natural. But it lacks the punch of the Ibby. I bought an RC Bass Booster preamp pedal to try to make up for it and it just doesn’t. I try to crank the bass nob to mimick the Ibby, and it just distorts. Boomy not punchy.

    The Lakland is a passive bass, and I’m considering getting a drop in preamp. From what I’ve been reading, the John East Retro Jazz seems like a good option.

    With all the above considered, do you think this will get me where I want to go? Great Lakland tone, with a strong modern punch?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I haven’t kept up with Lakland basses, but the East preamp used to be a stock option for the DJ, so it’s probably a pretty good way to go.

    P.S. Great looking bass BTW!
     
    MaglorOnBass likes this.
  3. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    Thanks!

    I just realized that East makes a DJ specific preamp. I like the black detail for my bass.

    DJ-RETRO - BASS

    Any more feedback folks? It’s a big investment for me, so your thoughts would be appreciated. :thumbsup:
     
    Mr_O'B likes this.
  4. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    This might be a stupid question:

    Does taking the electronics out on a fairly regular basis to replace the battery strip the holes?
     
  5. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Technically, yes. Removing and reinstalling a screw will cause a little bit of wear. But...As long as you take some care and don’t over tighten the screws, you should be able to remove and reinstall the control plate dozens and dozens of times. Then, if you do encounter loose or stripped screw holes, repaires are relatively easy.
     
    MaglorOnBass likes this.
  6. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    What’s the DIY repair for the stripped holes?
     
  7. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    The quick and easy way - Put a toothpick in the hole with a little glue and break or cut off the toothpick to length. The toothpick provides some new wood for the screw to “bite” into. Sometimes glue isn’t necessary, but I would use it for a screw that’s intended to be removed and reinstalled every once in a while.

    A repair that is really built to last, and a little more involved, would be to install threaded inserts.
     
  8. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    Thanks! Just regular wood glue?
     
  9. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    That would be fine.
     
    MaglorOnBass likes this.
  10. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    DJ is an incredible bass, the Korean Skyline I had was the best J bass I ever played, but an Indo Skyline I played a couple years ago had the same tonal qualities and Lakland playability. A fairly thick, modern reinterpretation of the classic tone. Never played one with an East preamp, so I’m not sure how it’s gonna work out, but the flexible mid control is a promising start for punch, imo...

    Before you spend the cash on the preamp, I’d encourage you to fully explore string and setup options. I wonder if you just need to find the right combination to bring out the punch? Not that preamps cannot help, but electronics swaps can be expensive gambles...
     
    wmmj and MaglorOnBass like this.
  11. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    The East preamp has a mid sweep nob.

    (My DJ5 is MIK.)
     
    sikamikanico likes this.
  12. MaglorOnBass

    MaglorOnBass

    Jan 23, 2018
    Well, I’ve tried a 10 band EQ and a compressor in addition to to RC Bass Booster. Being able to bump the low mids with the EQ made a huge difference. I also use a pedal to have a master volume.

    I have also tried various string gauges and manufacturers.

    After all of that, I finally ordered the DJ Retro preamp last night. It was after a performance where I realized I wasn’t crazy about monkeying around with so many pedals simply to mimick an active bass.

    I will likely need some installation pointers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  13. bassmanmicah

    bassmanmicah

    Jul 19, 2012
    Indiana
    Old thread, but I came across it and thought I would contribute to the discussion. I own a DJ-5 which I really like. I had quite a bit of noise out of it, so I thought about swapping the pickups. However, I had always been interested in trying out the East preamp designed for it. I have a handful of other basses with East preamps, so thought it was worth a shot. It seemed counter-intuitive at first, as I asked myself if the preamp would only amplify the noise I was hearing. I was very happily surprised. The majority of the noise must have been in the stock wiring, as the pream was a HUGE improvement. Super easy installation, much more control, and brought the noise down considerably. My only "complaint" would be that there is quite a bit of difference between active and passive, so you do lose the passive characteristics when switching to active. The East colors the sound a bit, but I really like how it sounds. Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to color it as much as another J bass I have, which has the East J-Retro Deluxe paired with some Bartolini dual coil J-pickups.

    All that being said, there is a new option to consider as well. Though the DJ-Retro is ideal for ease of installation, I recently acquired one of John's "J-Tone" preamps, and love it. I put it in one of the new Fender Adam Clayton basses, and it is a beautiful preamp. Does not color it as much. Retains passive characteristic much better, and switching back and forth from active to passive is much more seamless. It took an already killer sounding bass to the next level. And, it is less expensive than the DJ-retro.

    In my opinion, both are a great option. If you want to play your DJ in active only, then the DJ-Retro would get my vote because of the tone shaping capability, and how well it looks on the bass aesthetically. If you want to retain more of a passive tone, and also have the ability to go back to passive as needed, then the J-tone gets my vote. Having both, I think they are each great at what they do, with subtle differences between the two. For reference, I also have a Uni-Pre in one of my custom basses (with Nordstrand Big Rig pickups), as well as a MM-Retro in my Flea bass (with a Lane Poor MM style pickup). Out of all the preamps, the J-Tone retains the passive characteristic the best.

    Hope this helps a bit if you are still looking.

    ~ Micah
     
    gscroggin likes this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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