1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

U-Retro 01 Warwick Thumb install

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jez79, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. jez79


    May 2, 2004
    My Warwick thumb 5 NT has always had a great interesting mid-dy sound, but since getting rid of the MEC stock guts its output has been lacking energy. Very quiet bass plugged in.

    I replaced the MEC stock with bartollini passive Js, and added an EMG BQC tone control. Even running at 18V or 24V, the output of the bass seemed lower than average, though the tone was always pretty good (and difficult to work with sometimes). I had always been bothered by the volume dip at 50/50 on the pickup blend knob (kept the MEC stock vol/balance/DPDT, and this passive volume/blend system was meh)

    Decided to get a U-retro 01, for the presumed better overall sound quality and especially for the active blend circuitry.

    The install was very easy! Everything was pre-soldered on mine. I had to cut the 1/4" jack that came wired and soldered those leads on the 1/4" jack that's in the warwick. The pickup leads fit nice into screw-terminals on the board. No soldering!


    This preamp came wired with two switches (blue squareish in cavity), one that disables the blend knob and defaults to 50/50 neck/bridge. The other disables the active circuitry. I probably will never use these knobs, so I tucked them in the cavity and avoided drilling any extra holes in this beautiful piece of wood.


    The sound is very very good. Amazing definition across the spectrum. There is no bass rolloff, only bass boost, it's odd not to play at the center detent (too much added bass by then). The treble knob can be lifted to add treble boost, which is nice for bringing out harmonics. Standard parametric mid. There is still a drop in character at 50/50 blend, but it isn't as bad as before. As soon as one pickup is singled out slightly, all sorts of character comes out, but dulls out a bit at center detent.

    The output on this thing is ridiculous! I feel like I should play at 80% volume or something. I lowered the pickups to try and compensate. There are trimpots for gain adjustments on each pickup input on the preamp, but they are +gain only and were set to zero. Not sure why this is so hot. Might lower the pickups further, or do a full setup (sigh) and find my bridge saddle a little higher....

    Hope this is useful info for someone!
  2. kennyrodg


    May 5, 2008
    Hi there,
    Thanks for posting this, very useful for me !!
    I have a 4 NT and have been considering fitting a U-retro but have held off wondering if the end results are worth the investment. I fitted a U-Retro to a Lakland Bass I had and there wasn't much in the way of any improvement.
    My problem on the Thumb is that the D and G sound quite thin, obviously the G moreso. Do you have any idea if the U-Retro would help and whilst I'm here.... My bass has the MEC's, were the Barts an improvement and in what regard.
    Many thanks once again for taking the time to post and looking forward to hearing back from you.
    Cheers for now,
  3. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    This all depends on what type of sound you are looking for. The majority of your sounds, with regards to electronics, will come from your pickups. I too had a U-Retro installed in a Thumb. Sounded great! However, it is a bit on the darker side. I don't know that the Barts will give you more of an even response. The MEC's should be just fine in that regard. You could try raising the pickups to be closer to the strings so that there is more magnetic inductance. However, the U-Retro will definitely give you more power than the MEC preamp. However, I'm perplexed because if you have a Thumb NT, you have the 3-band MEC preamp which is a great preamp! I don't think those have any volume problems. Plenty of output. But, YMMV.
  4. kennyrodg


    May 5, 2008
    Hey buddy,
    Thanks for the reply.
    I'm getting plenty output from the pre, no problems there as such, there just seems to be a bit of an balance issue across the strings, especially on the G. I've raised both pickups so they're at the recommended height. The D isn't too bad too be honest but I could with a bit more beef outa the G, it just sounds a little thin.
    I'm using 45 /105 Sit Silencer strings btw.
    Thanks again.
  5. bongostealth

    bongostealth Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Hmm.. interesting. Maybe it's the strings? I've heard really good things about the Ernie Ball Cobalts. They're alleged to have more output. But anyways, best of luck with whatever you decide to do. Warwicks are phenomenal!
  6. kennyrodg


    May 5, 2008
    I finally decided to bite the bullet, U-retro and a set of Barts incoming.
    I'll post the results once I have it all fitted. Fingers crossed for the desired result !
  7. kennyrodg


    May 5, 2008
    Job done, out with the old and in with the new.
    It's no small thing to say that the Barts and Jon East U-retro have totally transformed my bass. The D and G are sooooo much more in the mix now that I can't understate it enough. Thin and weedy before, now they have beef and cut through so much better than they did before. The overall tone is a lot clearer and more defined whilst maintaining the character of the instrument.
    One small challenge though, when I brush the Pickups with my fingers the brushing noise is being amplified, it's fairly loud as well. The MEC's didn't do this so I'm wondering if something is slightly amiss.
    Overall, well worth doing and thanks to jjclr for the initial thread.