John East DJ Retro



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

In Production

John East is making these. We will have more of these within 2-4 weeks. Order it now, to reserve your place in line and we'll ship it the same day we receive it from John East.


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Control Configuration

  1. Volume/Blend Stack
  2. Treble/Bass Stack
  3. Mid/Mid Stack
  4. Blend & Pickups Switch
  5. Active/Passive Switch


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.The J Retro 01 Bass Preamp is designed to fit directly into standard "Jazz" style basses without modification, including a 9v battery. Its high quality circuit uses three stacked knobs a passive tone control and includes an active blend circuit plus a 3 band equalizer 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.

Technical Specifications

Volume/Blend Stack

  • Volume

  • 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.

    Treble/Bass 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/Mid Stack

  • Mid 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.

  • Mid Freq: (150Hz - 3kHz)

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

  • Active/Passive Switch

  • Towards the jack for active, the opposite for passive.

    Question: Where Can I Buy a John East DJ Retro?

    Answer: You can buy this from Best Bass Gear by Calling 877-839-3531 or Emailing us at or chatting with our Bass Techs


    Rate and Review this item
    Verified Buyer
    Excellent preamp, it actually is worth the money
    By Hagler
    First of all, this is an amazing preamp. I've had some experience with cheaper Ibanez preamps, music-man systems, G&L systems, and an Aguilar preamp. This may be a matter of personal preference, but I truly find this preamp to be the best I've used.

    Which is good - because it was also the most expensive preamp I've ever used.

    I was a bit skeptical when I got it, and really bought it primarily because I didn't want to have to modify my DJ bass in any way. I also didn't want to drill holes in my existing control plate to accommodate other preamps. Well, after using the preamp for a while, I can say that I'm truly impressed. It allows me to dial in the heft that I find is missing from a passive J-style bass that really helps when playing rock or heavy blues music. Though I love the feel of a J-bass, the sound never sat in the mix for those styles of music nearly as well as my Precision. Now I have options.

    A couple things I was particularly impressed with: Treble response is present, but super-smooth. I find the treble response on most basses to be so harsh that I nearly always cut treble, using EQ or passive tone. With this preamp, I actually find myself BOOSTING it, using the "bright" toggle by pulling the treble knob out. It adds a presence to the tone without any of the harshness, and it's addictive.

    The sweepable mids is the main selling point for me - I can boost those all important lo-mids (around 150-200hz) that really help the bass punch through. No single frequency mid control that I've ever seen on any onboard preamp can do this. Some preamps have a switch to go between lo and hi mid, and that's nice, but having a full sweep really is the best.

    The build quality of this unit makes you feel like you're getting your money's worth. This is a very expensive piece of kit for what it is - an EQ that you can only use with one instrument. However, having all the tone control I need attached directly to the bass makes things a lot simpler for me, and means I'm in total control of my sound.

    Lastly, although this is a "drop-in" replacement, and although I've swapped pickups on basses dozens of times, this install was a bit more complicated than I anticipated and does require some soldering despite what some reviews have said. Given the price of the unit, I elected to have a professional install it for me. Set me back 40 bucks. Perhaps someone you know will do it cheaper, but you may want to factor that into your decision and price considerations.
    Verified Buyer
    East DJ-Retro
    By william bernhard
    Really love this preamp in my Lakland DJ5. With the controls set at the detents, my bass sounds just like it would if I were to tweak the controls on an amp head.
    Verified Buyer
    By Michael Conn
    J-Retros are the best preamp on the market if you want to have your tone on your Bass. If you set your your amp "flat" and drive your tone via the bass then you must have one of these. From passive to active, from classic vibe to hi-fi with just a pull of the slap contour knob. Any style is obtainable via your bass. It eliminates the amp knob twisting. Great upgrade and i have instaled many here in Raleigh. I highly support this product and have 5 of my 12 keepers dressed with a "J".