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John East


John East J Retro Bass Preamp for Jazz Bass

• Fits most standard Jazz Basses® without modification

• Highly flexible preamp

• Ability to dial in TONS of great tones from Reggae to Rock to Jazz

• Easy Installation

• Finest quality components

  • The J Retro Bass Preamp is a beast. One of the first preamps to be created specifically for Jazz Basses®, it’s high functionality and tone is loved by many.

    From players with $3000+ custom J basses, to others that have found excellent-playing sub-$500 basses - this preamp has taken a lot of basses to a higher level. A bassist that was in the house band of a very well known late night variety show confided to us that one of his main basses was a Fender® Squire® outfitted with a set of Bartolini Jazz Bass Pickups and a J Retro.

    Usually, it is difficult to get a 3 band preamp into a standard Jazz Bass® without modifications. Understandably, a lot of bassists want the flexibility that having an onboard preamp gives, but don’t want to route new holes or move the output jack. John engineered this preamp in a way so that we don’t have to make permanent alterations to our bass.

    A couple other features make the this preamp stand apart - Solder-less pickup connections and variable mid frequency selection.

    Solder-less pickup connections makes installation easy and quick.  The J Retro uses screw down terminals for pickup connection.

    A sweepable mid frequency selection knob allows you the ability to truly dial in which frequency peak to boost and cut in the mid range. Not gimmicky, this truly can help find a variety of great tones.

    Most Jazz® basses will accommodate the J Retro bass preamp without additional routing or intrusive modification.

    Jazz cavity plate, jack, switches, as well as knobs are included with this pre-wired and read-to-install preamp.

    In most cases, the required 9 Volt battery will fit under the control plate.

    There is a built in “color’ to the tone of the J Retro. Most players here it as immediately adding a little thickness and oomph. Not too drastic, your bass still has ‘its’ tone, but a bit thicker.

    Check out the Layout and Tech tabs above to understand the control configuration as well as the nuances of each control incorporated into the J Retro.
  • 3 Band -- 3 Knob, 2 Switch:

    Volume/Blend Stack -- Treble/Bass Stack -- Mid/Frequency Stack -- Active-Passive Switch -- Pickup Switch

  • VOLUME & BLEND  (Knob stack nearest the neck pickup)


    The Volume is controlled by the top knob of the stacked knob set.

    A low impedance signal is served to your amp by initiating the active signal post volume control. 


    Blend balance is controlled via the bottom knob of the stack.

    Move the knob counter clockwise for the bridge pickup, and clockwise for the neck pickup.  The blend control has a center detente for a balance signal of both pickups.

    Using very high quality potentiometers, the blend control is well graduated. 

    BASS & TREBLE  (The middle knob stack)

    TREBLE (+12dB @ 3 kHz, -12dB @ 1kHz)

    Treble boost and cut is managed from top knob of the knob set.  When cut, the treble controls lower frequency for rolled off, deep tone effect.

    BRIGHT (+8dB @ 7kHz)

    Get bright tone by pulling up on the Treble knob

    BASS (+15dB @ 50Hz)

    The Bass potentiometer (bottom knob) is a boost only control.  As the boost is added, the frequency band gets lower and lower.  To give a reference point, the bass control also has a center detente.

    MID LEVEL & FREQUENCY  (The knob stack nearest the jack)

    BOOST/CUT (+/- 12dB)

    The Mid Boost and Cut are controlled by the upper knob.  Flat mid frequency is set at the center detente

    FREQUENCY (150Hz - 3kHz)

    A wide range of frequencies are at hand with the variable control.  This is the bottom knob of the stacked set.


    The active/passive switch is found near the jack.  Push the switch toward the knobs for passive mode, and toward the jack for active mode.


    When a jack is plugged into the bass, the active circuit is engaged.  Be sure to remove your instrument cable to not draw power from the bass when not in use.

  • Below are impressions and anecdotal thoughts gathered over the years for the John East J Retro Bass Preamp. Some are our own and some are from customers.
    • One of the most profound upgrades to my Jazz Bass®!
    • Rich deep tone in a small tweak
    • Tonally, this preamp is extremely versatile
    • Easy Install
    • Has turned my cheapo MIM J Bass® into a killer!