The J-Retro

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by GuzBaas, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. GuzBaas


    Oct 10, 2008

    Im thinking about getting the J-Retro Deluxe, so I started to read about it and I read lots of people complaining/praising the color that it gives to your tone...

    I was talking to the TB user who told me:

  2. I love my J-retro in my Ibanes lawsuit jazz os much that I bought one for the Squire VM fretless I just got.
    Remember, some people would [email protected] if you hung them with a new rope. The guy who told you it was no good probably doesn't like that Mexican reporter chick's butt either. :D
  3. GuzBaas


    Oct 10, 2008

    But did found the J-Retro suck your tone?
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The J Retro Deluxe is the single greatest product I've ever purchased in my entire life. Check my signature.

    It is a fantastic preamp and you just have to put it in and see what you think. (That's... what... she... said... :rolleyes:)

    Seriously, I have never been happier with any of my gear that I've had. I've owned almost every preamp out there with a big reputation and the East beats every last one of them for tone control, quality, function... It's worth every last penny.

    It doesn't color the tone in a bad way. The only people I've heard complain about them are people who are so infatuated with their pure, passive tone and aren't quite comfortable with electric alterations.

    I'M NOT KNOCKING THAT... I'm just saying, if you love your old '64 J bass tone, DON'T put a J Retro in it!!! ;)

    If you want to be able to shape your sound at the turn of a knob in a way that can emulate/nail/exceed some other bass's tone... TRY A J RETRO DELUXE... you just may fall in love, like I did.
  5. GuzBaas


    Oct 10, 2008
    That's a strong argument... :bassist:

    I'd like to ask if you can nail the "vintage" with J-Retros?
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    I have a used J-retro that I can sell you. Low mileage.
  7. GuzBaas


    Oct 10, 2008
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?
    The sweepable mids is a nice feature. You can scoop out the mids for a good slap tone, or boost the mids for a snarlly growl. The solderless pickup wire connecors are nice also.
  9. Kipaste


    Jun 27, 2006
    Helsinki, Finland
    I really like mine. Yes, it has a slight treble and bass boost when set flat. I have the four knob version too and the passive tone control is what makes it great imo. I don't really touch the high control, instead I use the passive tone (which works in active too) to roll of the highs. The sweepable mid control makes it super versatile, from really nasally jaco type burp to big low mid oomph.

    To be honest, the only knobs I'd actually need are the stacked mid control and the passive tone, I pretty much always leave the treble and bass controls flat. I usually have a slight mid boost all the time (I play a lot slap and I hate the "scooped mids and boosted highs" tone with a passion) and it's pretty easy to nail the frequencies that sound good for both fingerstyle and slap.

    The J-retro also brings some fatness to the tone which for me set the J-retro apart from other midssweepable preamps.

    You can get vintage'ish tones out of a J retro, but as vintage sound is essentially passive sound, I'd recommend the audere on board pre instead if that's what you're after. It's very transparent when set flat. I had one of those too and it's a brilliant preamp, just not for me. If I'm going to bother with an active preamp controls and batteries, the preamp has to bring something else than just an eq to the table. The J-retro generally has the "on steroids" thing going on.

    Only real downside I can think of is the lack of total passive pickup blend control. If that was available, I'd probably install retros to all jazz basses I play even if I kept them passive 90% of the time.

    edit. I also tried the standard three knob version but didn't like it as much. Turning down the treble knob achieves a bit differend kind of tone compared to the passive tone control.
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I really think it does. You have 2 ways to do it, too...
    1) Go to passive mode and use the passive tone for a rawer, straight signal
    2) Find the mid frequency you want to emulate (boost or cut) and dial the PTC to perfection.

    I've played dub, stoner rock, funk, jazz, hard rock, blues... it always sounds right to me as the type of sound I want for the situation.
    Stoner rock, for example, it does MAGICAL things to. I can get John Paul Jones tone easy. I can make it so muffly that it just throws BASS at you. Never feel like it has a limit when it comes to this genre and sounding "vintage".
  11. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada/Motown
    Greetings from the North,

    Not to hijack this thread but if you like the what the J-Retro does to a J you will be astonished what John East's new P-Retro does to a P. Plus you can run it passive and keep your 'pure' P sound uncolored too. John East knows what he's doing.

  12. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    If I could only own 36 basses what would they be?

    I really like the Audere 4 band prdamp. The only down side is it has no passive mode.
  13. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I'm a bit confused... The 4 and 5 knob U-Retro Deluxe (not the U-Retro 01 Deluxe or the J-Retro Deluxe) seem to have the passive blend:

    Strangely, I don't see this model on East's own website... Any idea what's up?
  14. Back to the Audere; imho, if you want versatility, this thing does it! Now, I had an AWESOME passive jazz tone with AERO Type1 pickups. But I have two J5's that way. So I installed an audere in the "less vintage" of the two, a Valenti. (The Lakland is ash/maple, and it shows through.)

    My observations.

    1.) Yes, no passive mode, so if you dig your passive sound JUST like it is au naturiel, you wont be satisfied. The Audere does not, imho, emulate the passive tone well. Its close, but its colored somehow.

    2.) Pickups can be unbalanced with less hum. This is key as when you do wildass things like put the neck pickup in highZ mode and add mids and bass, SHAZZAM, its a P bass. And I mean, if I could record this thing well enough for y'all, you;d swear I was slapping a P5. So the ability to go 90/10 can be impotant. Another reason I chose blend over V/V.

    3.) While install is easy, you need to ensure that lowZ mode is set right. I had a bugger of a time, thinking it was my hot Aero pups. To that point, Aeros Type I's are a , um, strong charactered pickup. I'm thiking that the more sanguine Nordstrands that came with the bass might fit the changeling charateristic better. The Aero passive tone is one that really shouldn't be screwed with. Period. Or if so, maybe something like a Pope very natural character, but... with good pups, I find pre are superfluous, not being a pro player. Anyway, set the lowZ mode before you start making observations, as it can really overpower the pickup.

    4.) The mid control is most awesome.

    5.) The functions can be customized to your liking. The Valenti came with a blend, and I do prefer that to V/V. Esp for showing different stripes via pickup selection.

    6. ) Rickenbacher, Warwick, modern, you can really make this J5 sound like a different creature. I dont find the tone" unnatural" as some might say. But it does not emulate a pure passive signal well. For a amatuer like me, for most giging work, it dont much matter.
  15. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    It appears as though he may have found a new stacked blend pot that functions in both modes. It used to only work in active, and the second switch functioned as selecting both or bridge only in passive mode. The 5-knob U-Retro Deluxe used to be the only one where the blend worked in passive mode.

    As for the coloration of the preshape, it improves the tone. John can and will build you a unit with no preshape if you wish, but it sounds great with the very slight coloration. The East preamps RULE! Nothing can beat them, IMHO. You can't go wrong!
  16. John East

    John East Commercial User

    Jan 10, 2002
    Oxford UK
    Owner of East Tone UK Ltd
    To clarify this:

    Yes, I now have a stacked pot to take care of passive volume & blend. I've not fully incorporated it into any products yet, but I have supplied some 4 Knob Deluxe units to Best Bass Gear where the stacked vol/blends are hand wired, and not circuit board mounted.

    And smeet, you're correct in that the original J & U Retro Deluxe products, with the same knob layout, retain an active blend currently.
  17. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Hey John, I couldn't find anything on exactly what the preshape is on the U-Retro Deluxe. Do you have any specs on that?

  18. ptidwell

    ptidwell Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 13, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Owner LoPHAT Cabinets & Amplification
    So John would that be the equivalent to what I have in my Skjold (with the East/Skjold Deluxe) I am looking to put a 4 knob deluxe in my Nordy Classic VJ5 where there are no switches, but rather hand wired.
  19. chris lykins

    chris lykins Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    phoenix az
    I just put a retro deluxe in my nordy and love it! The only gripe is the bypassed passive sound is lower in ouput strength which is typical for active pres but is REALLY noticable in the retro! That being said the jretro sounds so good I dont want to bypass it. This does not seem to apply to his p retro pre however! That preamp is amazing and didnt change the passive tone of my p at all!!
  20. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    J-Retro is a great sounding preamp. I use the no tone knob model with a pair of Nordstrand NJ4. (they match just perfectly)

    That said, sometimes I think in mod it to get a more flat tone (I've write to Mr East a couple of times about that), it could sound warmer, specially when I play with headphones. But most of the time my J sounds so incredible good that I end up by give up modifying it.

    I also have another J with an Audere, sounds very, very good too but in a different approach. It has the versatility of an active preamp without loosing the warmth of a passive bass.

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