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East UK U-retro Deluxe

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[[email protected]]Contact ped[/email] [[email protected]]Contact East UK[/email] [url="http://www.east-uk.com"]East UK website[/url]

John East lives near me in Oxfordshire and used to live a stones throw away from my house. After meeting him for the first time at the bass bash and having a chat, I decided to try out one of his now world famous pre-amps in one of my basses.

My Vigier fretless has always suffered from what I thought to be a fairly useless pre-amp. The unit consisted of a rotary frequency selector and a cut/boost switch, and most confusing of all, a tone pot assigned only to the bridge pickup. The main issue with it however was the fact that it was quite noisy and was becoming a problem on what is one of my most often recorded basses. It could have been largely due to the output jack giving up and a whole host of other things, but the rear tone pot thing annoyed me a little.

The natural decision was to check out some new electronics in the bass, as I know the pickups themselves sound huge and the bass is otherwise lovely- so it was a sunny June day that I found myself in the car heading for Mr. East’s workshop just outside Oxford city centre.

Many will know of the ‘J-Retro’ pre amp, a drop in replacement for fender type basses, complete with control plate. You might think John a brave man to mess with what is one of the world’s most popular basses, but after having a quick whirl on his own 70’s Jazz you hear instantly why these are becoming so popular among modern bassists.


[i]The pre-amp comes in gold, black and chrome - or a mixture of the three if you ask nicely.[/i]

A pre-amp is simple though, isn’t it? It just adds or cuts treble or bass and that’s that. Why not just do that on your amplifier? Well the electronics in your bass are an essential part of the signal chain, passing on the sound from your pickups. Cheaper electronics will mask and hide sounds which the retro brings out in the bass, making it sound like a new instrument. You will hear frequencies you didn’t know existed. This was certainly the case with my bass.

I decided to go for the ‘U-Retro Deluxe’ model – essentially the same as the J-Retro model but designed to fit into a non-jazz bass shaped 4 hole body. There are three stacked knobs and one normal small knob and two switches. Here is a diagram of the arrangement with labels to show what does what exactly:


[i]The arrangement shows the J retro layout - input jack is to the left[/i]

More details on what frequencies are boosted or cut and by how much can be obtained from the East-UK website (link at the top of the page).

The unit is very impressive. There are many possibilities with the amount of flexibility it offers. Just some sounds it has opened up to me are a rear pickup nasal fingerstyle sound, a dark and woody upright tone, a wide and full sounding natural vibe and a blooming and open classic fretless 80’s cheese mode. The difference it makes is huge, and my pickups sound better than ever.

The unit itself is quite compact when compared to my previous harness, and can fit into most basses without any modification. You might have to have two small holes drilled for the switches; as it was I only needed one for the active/passive switch, but if you are against this you can hide them in the control cavity – John also does a small amount of custom requests to cater for your individual needs should you need anything in particular.

If you have a bass that you think is being held back by its electronics and you want a reliable, super quiet and neat alternative which will make you wonder how you coped before, check out John East’s electronics.

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Sound clips forthcoming - once I can set up my studio gear again!

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Cheers artisan - since being U-Retro'd it is a hundred times more versatile and useful! It is probably the bass I record with most so having the retro is a godsend!

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The U-Retro Deluxe is great, especially with the passive tone control. I find that rolling off the treble on the preamp cuts too many mids before you get to the thumpy tone. With the passive tone control, you leave the treble as it is and roll of the highs using the tone control. Much more focused sound that way.

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Exactly - I really like the sound of boosting the high eq and cutting back the tone control and panning to the rear pickup. Just gawwjus!! I realise I have not added sound clips yet, but as I have just ironed out the problem with my studio gear I will make some ASAP.
ped

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[quote name='ped' post='29129' date='Jul 9 2007, 02:16 PM']

[[email protected]]Contact ped[/email] [[email protected]]Contact East UK[/email] [url="http://www.east-uk.com"]East UK website[/url]

John East lives near me in Oxfordshire and used to live a stones throw away from my house. After meeting him for the first time at the bass bash and having a chat, I decided to try out one of his now world famous pre-amps in one of my basses.

My Vigier fretless has always suffered from what I thought to be a fairly useless pre-amp. The unit consisted of a rotary frequency selector and a cut/boost switch, and most confusing of all, a tone pot assigned only to the bridge pickup. The main issue with it however was the fact that it was quite noisy and was becoming a problem on what is one of my most often recorded basses. It could have been largely due to the output jack giving up and a whole host of other things, but the rear tone pot thing annoyed me a little.

The natural decision was to check out some new electronics in the bass, as I know the pickups themselves sound huge and the bass is otherwise lovely- so it was a sunny June day that I found myself in the car heading for Mr. East’s workshop just outside Oxford city centre.

Many will know of the ‘J-Retro’ pre amp, a drop in replacement for fender type basses, complete with control plate. You might think John a brave man to mess with what is one of the world’s most popular basses, but after having a quick whirl on his own 70’s Jazz you hear instantly why these are becoming so popular among modern bassists.


[i]The pre-amp comes in gold, black and chrome - or a mixture of the three if you ask nicely.[/i]

A pre-amp is simple though, isn’t it? It just adds or cuts treble or bass and that’s that. Why not just do that on your amplifier? Well the electronics in your bass are an essential part of the signal chain, passing on the sound from your pickups. Cheaper electronics will mask and hide sounds which the retro brings out in the bass, making it sound like a new instrument. You will hear frequencies you didn’t know existed. This was certainly the case with my bass.

I decided to go for the ‘U-Retro Deluxe’ model – essentially the same as the J-Retro model but designed to fit into a non-jazz bass shaped 4 hole body. There are three stacked knobs and one normal small knob and two switches. Here is a diagram of the arrangement with labels to show what does what exactly:


[i]The arrangement shows the J retro layout - input jack is to the left[/i]

More details on what frequencies are boosted or cut and by how much can be obtained from the East-UK website (link at the top of the page).

The unit is very impressive. There are many possibilities with the amount of flexibility it offers. Just some sounds it has opened up to me are a rear pickup nasal fingerstyle sound, a dark and woody upright tone, a wide and full sounding natural vibe and a blooming and open classic fretless 80’s cheese mode. The difference it makes is huge, and my pickups sound better than ever.

The unit itself is quite compact when compared to my previous harness, and can fit into most basses without any modification. You might have to have two small holes drilled for the switches; as it was I only needed one for the active/passive switch, but if you are against this you can hide them in the control cavity – John also does a small amount of custom requests to cater for your individual needs should you need anything in particular.

If you have a bass that you think is being held back by its electronics and you want a reliable, super quiet and neat alternative which will make you wonder how you coped before, check out John East’s electronics.

[/quote]
I'm getting a J-Retro Deluxe for my Warmoth Jazz, to go with a set of Nordstrand NJ4SE's. I'm expecting big things! By the way, Vigiers ROCK! I've got an '84 Passion, all graphite neck jobby. It has the best neck of any bass I've ever played. Unfortunately the finish is falling off and the bridge pick up doesn't work, one day I'll make her great again!

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Hey there!

Another Vigier fan eh? I would love to see some pics. Perhaps I can fix it for you ;0)

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[quote name='ped' post='138570' date='Feb 11 2008, 11:41 PM']Hey there!

Another Vigier fan eh? I would love to see some pics. Perhaps I can fix it for you ;0)[/quote]

Yeah, I love my Vigier, even though she hardly ever gets played, due to the pickup and finish issues, but anyway, here she is. TLC required!

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Wow - well that's MOJO! I am sure a quick refin and electronics sort-out wouldn't cost you much @ The Gallery - worth investigating perhaps?

Cheers
ped

P.s pics of mine on my site!

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[quote name='ped' post='139977' date='Feb 13 2008, 11:29 PM']Wow - well that's MOJO! I am sure a quick refin and electronics sort-out wouldn't cost you much @ The Gallery - worth investigating perhaps?

Cheers
ped

P.s pics of mine on my site![/quote]

Yeah, definitely will get her sorted at some point in the not too distant future. Too good a bass to have sat around collecting dust. I e-mailed Patrice about a year and a half ago to see how much a refinish would cost and he quoted something rediculous like 700 quid! Maybe he couldn't be bothered at the time and was trying to put me off. It worked if he was. The good people at Overwater said they could sort out the electrics, but at the moment I need to finance a new amp and finish off the Warmoth Jazz, neither of which the wife is too happy about!

Your babies are fine, by the way!

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I remember when my friend Eubassix was restoring a series 1 Arpege bass (on sale here somewhere) he asked Patrice about refinishing it but the price was quite expensive. I think someone local would definitely be a good and cheaper option. What is the problem with the 'lectrics? Just the bridge pickup? Patrice was lots of help with the Arpege re-wiring so perhaps a couple of good pictures emailed to him will yield some results?

Cheers mate let me know what happens!!
ped

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I use the J retro 01 Deluxe and it is an awesome pre-amp. If your bass sounds good already, wait until you fit one of these babies...!!!!!

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I have the J-Retro Deluxe fitted to my Sei bass, and have to sat that the variation and quality of the unit is incredible, great warmth, definition at both highs and lows and nothing that is harsh on the ears. I have no difficulty dialling in the variety of sounds that are required in most, if not all musical situations today!!

I had some PUP problems with the Sei in terms of generating buzz and noise so I gave John, who was most accommodating a call to see if he could help out. Without any hesitation and unknowing that it was the PUPs, and at really very short notice John invited me over, made me a cuppa, made the mods to the PUP cavities and also some soldering repairs, all I must add had nothing to do with the J Retro. Gave the pre amp the once over and a clean bill of health was given....

Now, in my mind, you would need to go a long way to find such a service, and Such a product. So all you basschatters out there, give the J-Retro some serious consideration as you'll not be at all disappointed.

If you are reading this John , thanks again for all your help and especially at such short notice.

Steve

Edited by supabock

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I'm going over to see John tomorrow to have some of his filter circuits installed in my Alembic Bass.

Jazzyvee

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[quote name='jazzyvee' post='1017733' date='Nov 9 2010, 04:05 PM']I'm going over to see John tomorrow to have some of his filter circuits installed in my Alembic Bass.

Jazzyvee[/quote]

Well what can I say, i'm smiling all over the place. I went over to see John East today to get him to install some of his circuits into my Alembic Europa 5 bass.

Got home and put some new strings on it and plugged into my Mesa boogie Rig.
I am absolutely astounded by how wonderful this bass sounds. Before the change the alembic circuits always sounded fantastic but I always felt it needed one filter circuit for each pickup as I do on my signature alembic basses.

Now with the upgrade to ACG/East electronics I have a low pass and high pass filter for each pickup. I have had a play with it for about an hour and the sounds I am now experiencing from the bass are nothing short of incredible and a far wider spectrum that before. I couldn't say with any degree of honesty that the quality of the sound is any better than alembic but it certainly offers more scope and at a incredibly more affordable price.

I've never played or knowingly heard a series II bass so I can only imagine that the sound is very similar to what I have now especially as it's in an Alembic bass.

I had a good chat with John about the filter circuits and he said that the idea was to encompass the whole spectrum between the low end of the Wal 70Hz and that of the alembic which goes from 350Hz-6KHz then by adding the high pass filter we can get access to higher crisper frequencies.

I was considering ordering a new Series II bass recently and decided to try these filters out first to see what was available to me at a lower cost outlay.

Money well spent.

It's been given the audio equivalent of a dose of strong mentho-lyptus...!!!!


Jazzyvee

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Before I say too much, I should declare that I'm a huge fan of John's work, having a J-Retro in my Overwater J5, a combination of his mid-stack and BTB controls in my self-built P5, and having a spare J-Retro that's destined for one of my next build projects.

I recently traded a Musicman Stingray 5 for an Overwater Perception Deluxe 5 with our own Rumple (I should also say I'm a huge fan of Overwaters). Whilst this bass was great, it was almost too polite for me. I had deliberately gone for a Perception rather than a Progress as I know from past experience that I don't get on with thru-neck basses, but still the Perception didn't appear to have the 'grunt' of my J5 and no amount of knob twiddling on the stock Overwater/East three-band circuit could rectify this. A quick call to John and a talk through my requirements resulted in an order for a custom U-Retro, five knob no switch variant with an active blend control.

The preamp duly arrived last Saturday and I immediately got to work installing this in the bass. The installation was slightly more complicated than a straight swap as I had to open out two of the existing pot holes to accommodate the fatter shaft of the dual-concentric pots but once this was done, the rest of the install was very straight forward. I should also say that I adapted the control layout to suit my personal taste (top row is now volume, bass/treble, mid/mid frequency, bottom row is pan and passive tone).

Anyway, once installed - wham there it was, the missing oomph! I know that both the stock J-Retro and the U-Retro have a in-built bass & treble boost and having opted for the stock U-Retro, albeit with an active pan control, as against a flat response U-Retro that John also offers, I was expecting an improvement but the new preamp has blown me away.

Something that really has surprised me is the passive tone control. I have an old 1980's Ibanez RS fretless that has a similar two-band active circuit with passive tone, and this never seems to do much on that bass. However, on the U-Retro, it gives you a quick 'tweaking' control meaning that you don't have to adjust your basic tone setup mid-gig to either highlight or remove a bit of additional top end. Very useful control to have, and one I can actually see myself using frequently in a live gig situation.

All in all, I'm over the moon with the improvement the U-Retro has made to the Perception. Its turned this bass into a keeper and plans are already afoot to have her professionally refinished to make the most of the wonderful flame maple top and back ;)

[b]Edit 27-Jan-13:[/b] I gigged the Overwater with the custom U Retro on Saturday night. With the pan slightly favouring the neck pickup, the bass rolled off a little from the centre detent (still a boost as the bass is boost only) and the passive tone about halfway open I found my personal tonal nirvana! Big solid bass with a lovely musical mid-range that helped me cut through the rather noisy on stage sound. The gig reinforced my earlier assessment and showed just how useful that passive tone control is in partnership with the active bass, mid & treble.

Edited by JPJ

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Rather than start another topic I thought I'd leave some thoughts here. I bought a Sandberg TM5 a few months ago, and although the bass and pickups are everything I was hoping for, the pre-amp just didn't do it for me at all. The bass boost in particular seemed to to be a low-mid control, and boosting the bass just didn't sound good to me.

I have a John East MM pre-amp in my Musicman, and I really like it, so it seemed like an easy choice going for a john East for my Sandberg. I would have liked the Uni Pre, but there just wasn't space in the jazz to fit it, and routing seemed extreme, so I went for the J-retro deluxe. John kindly fitted a third switch to the control plate for my coil tap, o could have done it myself, but it's nice that the switches match.

First impressions were great, just as expected, I find some of the passive pan options a bit odd, but I love the eq section. The big surprise for me was the passive tone knob working in active mode,I read it on his site, but didn't give it much thought.

I play in a wedding band, and I try as best I can to sound at least a little like the bass on the original tracks, but as a band we tend to leave little or no space between songs, so I can't do much fiddling. That's where th passive tone is so useful, I set the active eq where I like it, leave the tone fully open for more modern stuff, and use the passive tone to roll off the top end as needed.

The whole things sounds great, and the same as the John East in my Stingray 5, it has transformed my bass. I think a Sandberg TM5 with a J-retro deluxe might be my bass-for-life, though I still want a VM5 too.

Edited by EmmettC

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