East Preamps

John East J Retro Onboard Bass Preamp

J Retro Preamps

Chrome - $299 - [ Add to cart ]
Black - $315 - [ Add to cart ]
Gold - $325 - [ Add to cart ]

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John East J Retro Onboard Bass Preamp

J Retro Deluxe Preamps

Deluxe Chrome - $325 - [ Add to cart ]
Deluxe Black - $340 - [ Add to cart ]
Deluxe Gold - $350 - [ Add to cart ]

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John East J Retro Darrl Jones Onboard Bass Preamp

Darryl Jones J Retro Preamp

Chrome/Black - $299 [ Add to cart ]

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J Retro Preamp Description

The J Retro 01 Bass Preamp is designed to fit directly into standard "Jazz" style basses without modification, including a PP3 battery. Its high quality circuit uses three stacked knobs and includes an active blend circuit plus a 3 band equaliser with bass, variable frequency mid, treble and bright function.

A very gentle built in contour gives immediate colour without detracting from the basic sound of any bass. The active blend circuit prevents the loss associated with many passive basses where, when both pickups are up full, the signal from one pickup feeds into the other and vice versa.

However, a switch is included to allow a passive equal mix of both pickups. A second switch - basic "get-you-out-of-trouble" passive mode is included in case the battery dies in crucial circumstances, but this mode allows lots of useful settings too.

Easy to fit, no routing or modification on most basses.

A standard PP3 battery fits under the plate in the standard cavity in most J-style basses.

Darrl Jones J Retro

Same as J Retro, but with curved plate to work on Lakland® Darrl Jones model basses. Top knobs and plate are chrome, bottom knobs are black.


Same as J Retro, but with an added fourth knob for passive tone control. This preamp is made for Fender Deluxe style basses with a side mounted jack.

Technical Specifications

Volume & Blend (Knob stack nearest the neck pickup)


The upper knob is the Volume which has two sections under the same knob. A high impedance for the passive path and a low impedance section is used for the active circuitry. When used active, this knob has active circuitry after it so that the feed to your amplifier is a low impedance drive.

Blend & Pickups SWITCH

The lower outer knob is the Blend balance for the pickups. Turn it fully clockwise for the neck pickup alone and fully anti-clockwise for the bridge pickup. The midway position, which has an indent, gives an equal mix of both pickups. The balance between the pickups is continuously variable with progressive level compensation towards the single pickup settings. Important:- The Pickups switch (by the blend) must be set pointing towards the jack for the Blend to function.

Bass & Treble (The middle knob stack)

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

The upper knob is the Treble control with boost and cut. The central 'flat' position is indented. The cut settings work on lower frequencies compared to boost to give a deeper sound when the top is rolled off.

Bright (+8dB @ 7kHz)

Pull the Treble knob for the Bright setting.

Bass (+15dB @ 50Hz)

The lower outer knob is the boost only Bass control. The frequency band of boost gets progressively lower as the boost is increased. An indent midway is included to aid the setting of this control.

Mid Level & Frequency (The knob stack nearest the jack)

Boost/Cut (+/- 12dB)

The upper knob controls the amount of Mid boost or cut at frequencies according to the setting of the Frequency knob. The midway indent is the 'flat' position.

Frequency (150Hz - 3kHz)

The lower outer knob is continuously variable and sets the Mid frequencies for boost or cut.

Active/Passive Switch (By the jack)

Towards the jack for active, the opposite for passive.


The PP3 battery is switched on automatically when a mono jack is plugged into the socket.

Tech Talk

Ordinarily when looking to replace a Jazz Bass preamplification control set, certain products will be described as being a true drop-in, but few actually deliver 100% on that promise. And then after dropping in the new preamp, you don't notice too much advantage tone-wise compared to what you had.

What makes John East preamps better are three things:

  • *True drop-in
  • *Massive tonal advantages
  • *Designed by a man who knwos audio backwards and forwards.

What does "true drop-in" actually mean?

For the bass guitar builder such as yourself, what this means is that everything can be installed without modification on most Jazz Bass guitars - even if it's a real-deal vintage Fender Jazz Bass.

For example, on many replacement preamps the situation presents itself where you have to modify your bass just to fit the battery in there. Not so with the J Retro series. The PP3 battery will fit and fit correctly the first time.

J Retro series preamps are designed to be installed easily.

Tonal advantages

It's one thing to have a preamp that installs easy and looks great, but what does it do for your tone? Quite a lot - and in ways that improves the sound rather than detracts from it.

The best way to describe the J Retro series is that you do literally get the best of all worlds. The active blend circuit along with the three-band equalizer gives you the bass/midrange/treble control you want plus an additional bright function. On top of that you also get a passive switch which serves two functions. First, when you need that traditional passive Jazz Bass tone, you've got it at the flick of a switch. Second, if the battery dies on you unexpectedly, no problem, just switch to passive and keep on playing.

Why did John East create the J Retro series?

Because there was nothing else out there for the bass that did what he wanted to accomplish.

What John wanted was a way to get as much tonal control on the bass guitar itself without the need to have a complicated outboard EQ unit. However at the same time he wanted to create something that would accomplish this without being overcomplicated. The end result was the J Retro series.

John does have "the luthier's ear", so to speak, and at the same time keeps the player in mind as well as he had played the bass guitar professionally. In addition, he has also worked on high-end audio systems such Solid State Logic desks and the Oxford OXF-R3 Digital Mixing Console, meaning John has worked with basically every fact of audio, including but not limited to filter stages, EQ, power supplies, mixer boards, everything analog, everything digital and so on. You name it, and John has probably worked with it.

What this means to you as a bass player is that you're absolutely getting pro audio stuff when you buy a John East product.

What's the deal with the J Retro and J Retro Deluxe?

Sometimes products with "Deluxe" in their name means that the "non-Deluxe" model is cheaper or not as good. That's not the case here as there is a legitimate reason why the Deluxe model exists.

The J Retro as you'll see has three concentric knobs on it, while the J Retro Deluxe has three concentric knobs plus an additional knob. But also notice that the J Retro has an output jack on the plate while the J Retro Deluxe does not.

Some J-bass guitars have the output jack on the plate while others have it as side-mounted on the body. In order to have true drop-in capability for as many J-style bass guitars as possible, both models needed to exist to accommodate for output jack location.

What does the fourth knob on the J Retro Deluxe do?

Passive tone control, the same as Fender Deluxe style bass guitars with a side-mounted output jack.

Building or retrofitting a J-bass?

You might as well do it right the first time.

I'd be lying if I said there weren't cheaper preamp sets out there, because there are. But what the cheaper preamp descriptions don't tell you are the hassles you'll encounter.

The hassles I speak of are cheaper preamps that, quite literally, aren't complete. With the J Retro series, everything you need is in the box. With others, you really can't say that; this goes back to what counts as a true drop-in and what doesn't. Sure, you could buy a cheaper preamp, but the additional time and money spent to get in the stuff missed by the cheaper option will ultimately cost you what you would have paid for a J Retro - if not more.

Yes, the J Retro series costs more. But you're getting everything you need along with what is arguably the easiest installation process. Is that worth the extra cash? You bet it is.

Special Note on John East Preamps
While we try to keep good stock of these preamps, it is hard for us to stock all of the different models and colors, all the time.

If you see the 'Please Inquire' tag next to a model/color that you want , email us. Often we will be able to have it to you just as quick as if we had them in our own stock.

Wiring Diagram

J-Retro O1
J-Retro 01 Deluxe
Darryl Jones J-Retro