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Questions about J-Retro Preamp

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Mud Flaps, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I'm not very familiar with electronics and stuff so here we go...

    Could you put a J-Retro Preamp in an MM/J bass with a coil splitter? Would it sacrifice anything and still be good for playing with the back pickup only?

    Why do J-Retros sound better than most other pre-amps? How do companies make preamps sound better?

    If you could get a J-Retro in an MM/J, could you get a coil splitter option with it?
  2. Besides the comments you get here, you might wanna check out the dudepit and the Jetro forum. Its a place of J retro knowledge.

    The j retro has 2 independent buffered pickup inputs, and sweepable mids. You can adjust so its all rear pickup or all front or any cmbo of th etwo. I would suspect the coil splitter would have to be wired independent of the preamp so it soundn't effect the pre.
    As to why it sounds better, Its your judgement which sounds better. Its anothe rpreamp choice
  3. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    Yea, that's the response I was expecting, but hoping not to recieve.

    What I really mean is: A lot of people really like the sound of a J-Retro pre-amp in a J/J bass (Les Claypool and Marcus Miller to name two).

    But my question is really would it get the same tone quality from a MM/J bass like my Lakland. I think the most likely thing that would be sacrificed would be growl. Anyone have any experience with this?

    Edit: And what's a U-Retro, by the way?
  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    My DP Custom has J-Retro and MM/J combo. Coil Splitter (Single Coil/Series/Parallel) is wired between the MM pup and the J-Retro, and works OK. It sees that MM pup is VERY sensitive to where you place it. If it's not close enough to the bridge, you don't get much tone variety with the splitter, at least not as much as I expected.

    I tend to keep it in Series mode 95% of the time.
  5. I'm a little confused by your question. Essentially you've asked why people have described the J-Retro as a goodpreamp and when pointed out that it's a subjective call as to "what sounds better" you don't particularly like the response??!:confused: Man, that's all he COULD have said about it.

    And since you have exactly zero idea of the tone capabilities of the J-Retro from a hands-on test, how can you make the assumption that "most likely thing that would be sacrificed would be growl"?

    My point is that this is a VERY tweakable preamp. I own a J-Retro and a U-Retro and they are among the top preamps available today. They work with ALL pickups in nearly any combination you can imagine. The sweepable mid frequency and gain will be able to enhance any tone you want as long as it's coming from the pups in the first place.

    Because these units are so flexible, it's impossible to make any subjective call as to whether you'll like it or not. You should notice who plays them and what their tone is and make the judgment for yourself.

    BTW, A U-Retro is the same preamp circuit-wise but it's pots aren't surface mounted to the PCB. They are on ribbon cable to allow use in retrofits, and custom knob arrangments.
  6. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    I have a reasonable point and arguement, but I'm having a hard time explaining myself, I'm just not writing very well.

    What I mean is, what makes a preamp sound good? Keep in mind, I don't have a J-Retro, but I've heard them A LOT. I've never heard good growl come from any of them. I'm not trying to argue! I'm trying to ask a question!

    Edit: Also, what does that last paragraph mean? I don't understand any of it?
  7. Jeez-o-peet :rolleyes:

    It should be obvious that the players you've heard don't have that "growl" as part of their personal tone! That isn't saying the preamp CAN'T do that, it's saying that they haven't set their controls for that. Besides, there's gobs of tone to be had from the style of bass, it's woods, the fretboard setup, the players hands, the brand of bass, the pickups. See?? It isn't just the preamp that controls the tone.

    2/3's of my first post was directly about the tone of the J-Retro and how tweakable it is. That should have been enough to lead you to believe that there's probably a tone in their for you.

    So, to put it bluntly, your assumption that the J-Retro can't get that holy grail "growl" is patenty wrong. It can, it does, and it does it regularly for players that want that.

    The difference between the J-Retro and the U-Retro are that the J is designed and built to be housed under a standard Jazz toneplate AND have room for the battery too. Its circuit board is very small and the wiring to the knobs is short and highly compacted. The U is different in that though the same circuitry is used, but the knobs are connected to the printed circuit board (PCB) by slim, flexible ribbon cables. This allows the freedom to put the knobs in any group of holes without regard to them being nailed to the circuit board. Great for putting one in a older bass that already has holes in it.

    There, I can't do any better than that.
  8. Mud Flaps

    Mud Flaps

    Feb 3, 2003
    Norton, MA
    That's plenty good enough for me, thank you.

    Does anyone think the J-Retros have any weaknesses?
  9. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Let me chime in again... re. growl, as Hambone rightly pointed out, it's up to the player to dial it in. On my '75 Fender Jazz with a J-Retro and Fender CD'60s pups, I have it set to growl like crazy.

    For me, the only potential 'weakness' is that it only has bass boost, and at a frequency which is a bit lower than I would like. It really is not a big deal, because I can handle that on the amp side anyway.
  10. I don't quite know what your saying here. The Retro's have bass cut AND boost same as the other 2 bands. Each has a center detent in the pot travel.
  11. according to the website, the treble and mid are cut/boost, but the bass is boost only. and i quote: "An indent midway is included to aid the setting of this control." guess they couldn't find pots without it.....B+)
  12. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Bass is boost only. Also, as you increase the boost, the frequency which is boosted gets lower.

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