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  3. Sunday, 28 August 2005
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[b:j3hqtaxz]Come on y'all, let's see 'em!!![/b:j3hqtaxz]

[b:j3hqtaxz]
The more pictures and different angles the better![/b:j3hqtaxz]


[img:j3hqtaxz]http://homepage.mac.com/burningskies/.Pictures/ab1.full.jpg[/img:j3hqtaxz]

[img:j3hqtaxz]http://homepage.mac.com/burningskies/.Pictures/ab1.front.jpg[/img:j3hqtaxz]

[img:j3hqtaxz]http://homepage.mac.com/burningskies/.Pictures/ab1.back.jpg[/img:j3hqtaxz]

[img:j3hqtaxz]http://homepage.mac.com/burningskies/.Pictures/ab1.bottom.jpg[/img:j3hqtaxz]
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FrankM Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Dingbat-
I believe you are correct. The U retro deluxe (a modified version) can handle only 2 pickups, but Sheldon performed some magic in which he uses an RMC polydrive buffer to incorporate all the piezos and then somehow linked the u-reto thru the polydrive, or vice versa.
If you look at the controls on my bass, I got the usual 4 knobs for the U retro, then it has 4 sets of switches. top 2 determine magnetic vs piezos (or both), and patch-up/down, the bottom two switches control active/passive, and front p'up/both/rear p'up in passive mode).

As for how do i like the U-retro. I like and I don't like.
I like because its very musical, and versatile, I love the slap switch- it adds that extra tick to your playing. I also like having a lot of control over the mids. My biggest beef w/ the unit is- is once you dial in a great tone, you'll be hard pressed to find it again, period. Next, I don't think its has a lot of boost, meaning turning the control knobs full doesn't provide a wide range. Third- in general I find that I can't dial in great tones on the fly, I actually have to play w/ it alot.

I have a skjold bass w/ a Modified East preamp thats looks/sounds very similar to this u-retro pre (interesting how similar to a Dingwall those Skjold bass sound :shock: ). However Pete has made some changes to the mids which has made a world of difference.
So I understand why you pulled it out of your bass.
Honestly the pickups sound so good in passive mode that I play in passive as much as possible. But i'd love to make the P-p'up sound a little fatter sometimes, and thats why i have the active. The piezos were for stricky driving my v-bass
frank
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Dingbat Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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That was a major, major modification- way more than a basic U-Retro installation alone. (In my case I had to carve a lot of precious wood out of my beloved P-Bass - I've replaced it since then.)

I didn't notice the two extra switches in the picture. They were hidden behind those tall knobs.

I also didn't think about the added complexity of using the piezos for a V-Bass. I was only thinking of the piezos for conventional use. I played a fretless Tune Bassmaniac once with a piezo bridge and it sounded fantastic - like an upright bass. I wanted that in my P-Bass, too.

I agree with everything you said about the U-Retro. It's musical and versatile but it's too much to have on-board, especially if you play live. And if you used it only in the studio, you might as well use some top notch outboard gear. (East makes an external version of their pre-amps, as well.)

My first beef with the standard U-Retro was the low level hiss that was always present in the active mode, even when the volume was at zero. But it was silent when I used a direct box. John East has mentioned in a few places that his pre-amps are just as quiet or quieter than Aguilars but I don't hear hiss from my Afterburner II.

Another beef I had was that it changed the sound of my bass whether it was in active or passive mode. I lost the distinctive midrange of the P-Bass pickup, which could only be approximated with the EQ after some careful knob twiddling.

Also, in active mode the dynamic range was reduced. It sounded like it was going through a nice light compressor all the time.

The ABII sounds the same in passive as it does in active/flat mode, except that the sound is a little compressed and the treble does not get rolled off if you reduce the volume. This is probably true for all active basses.

(One of my favourite settings on a passive bass is turn down the volume a little bit - just enough to roll off the finger/fret noise and leave the tone up full.)

In general, I guess I'm not a fan of active electronics but I do like what the Aguilar bass boost does for the ABII. But the treble boost is just painful to my ears. Maybe it's useful for live players who need to cut through the band. The AB has plenty of top end without any boost.

I really like the sound of the FD-3 pickups in passive mode, too. The neck position sounds like a tighter P-Bass and the bridge position is a tight sounding Jazz bass - somewhere between the sound of a current Jazz Bazz and 70s Jazz bass. (The 70s Jazz Basses were more growly because the pickup was closer to the bridge.)

The bonus is with the FD-3s is that, because they are the same pick-up, they blend well. too. This is not true on many P-J basses that I've played. Often the individual pickups sound great but together they're bland and generic sounding.

This brings me to a question I have for you, Frank or anybody who cares to chime in. Even without trying a Super J, I think I probably want one. But I don't know if I would get it with two J pickups or a P-J set.

I leave this question here and pick it up as a new topic.
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Franco Bollo Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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OK, let me jump into the U/J-retro subthread here. I have four basses with John East preamps, so clearly I like them a lot. I have no problem getting the sound that I like out of them. Basically I listen to the sound I'm getting, and if I need more mids I turn a knob (or two), if I want more highs I turn another knob. Pretty simple concept actually.

The lack of a John East preamp is about the only think I do not like about my ABII. Don't get me wrong, I like the tone of the ABII, but I have a difficult time adjusting the tone on stage. This is primarily due to not being able to boost mids. There is no mid control, the bass and treble are boost only (so I can't cut both to effectively boost the mids), and the EQ switch seems to cut the mids as well. I find I need to adjust the mid on my preamp or Alembic SF-2 rather than make adjustments on the bass.

BTW, the newer East preamps are much quieter than the older ones (at the expense of battery life, however). Perhaps not as quiet as the Aguilar, but much better than the old retros.
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Dingbat Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I like the East pre-amps, too - just not on my fretless Precision Bass because I already liked its original sound.

I thought I could have that sound and all the benefits of the Retro EQ, which to me, is like having a channel strip from a great mixing console right inside the bass.

I'm not afraid of twiddling knobs but I knew that if the sound was not even there in passive mode, the best I could ever do with the EQ was an approximation of the original sound. I was able to get that but, I thought, why am I struggling to get a classic P-Bass tone out a 32 year old P-Bass? Easier to just go back to passive electronics and maybe find another bass for the U-Retro. I know it can do wonders for a bass with less "character", but for now, I don't have another bass that needs it.

I also like that the Retros can cut as well as boost because you can often get better results by cutting the things you don't want instead of boosting the thing you want.

The EQ switch on ABs is a mid cut. I think its main purpose is to quickly get that scooped mid-range tone that is popular for slapping technique.

As for the hiss, my U-Retro was new when I got about seven months ago. So, I think I had the improved specs already. I was running on one 9 volt battery. I understand that using two 9-volts improves the dynamic range. I wonder if that helps the hiss also.
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Zac Hammons Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Here is my modified ABI. I added an OBP-3 last year and it kills. This bass has been my mainstay for the last three years.

The controls are (left to right) volume, blend, mid, mid frequency switch, active/pasive switch, and stacked bass and treble. Pickups are FD-1.
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Mark L Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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This is Afterburner #3733. I had Sheldon cap the heel and headstock with wenge, and I also had him give it a darker finish (less sunburst). I think it turned out really nice. The neck is thicker than on my Voodoo, definitely feels different, but is still quite thin. It slaps like an angry wife, and is as light as a feather. The best thing, though, is that it will save wear and tear on my precious Voodoo Zebra. Thanks again, Sheldon, for making my AB vision a reality. I'll post again after the Friday night gig with my impressions.


Mark
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BurningSkies Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Hey Guitarded...it looks great! Do you have any detail pictures of the neck heel laminate or the headstock? I'd like to see how they came out. I also think that burst looks pretty freakin' cool. too!
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Zac Hammons Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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That's a cool idea and makes for a very unique looking bass. 8)

I know it will serve you well. Mine has been trouble free for 3 years now, and it always sounds perfect no matter what the situation.
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Smallmouth_Bass Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Very nice!
It looks kind-of weird with the wenge cap on the butt end of the neck since I am so used to seeing it with the maple colour.
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Mark L Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="Smallmouth_Bass":3dmzlz6u]Very nice!
It looks kind-of weird with the wenge cap on the butt end of the neck since I am so used to seeing it with the maple colour.[/quote:3dmzlz6u]


Keep looking - you'll get used to it :wink:. I think this "option" may be something we will see more of on ABs, but then again, maybe I just caught Sheldon on a good day when he agreed to do it. The labor and hours involved were quite high due to the fact that this is the first AB (that I know of) that has had the neck capped. Sheldon told me that there was a considerable learning curve in doing this neck because it's tricky capping a drastically curved surface. Now, I would have been proud to have it the standard way, but I have a thing about wanting something a little different. IMO, the maple showing on ABIs kind of makes them look unfinished and downmarket, and for $2K, I wanted something that looks a little different from the ordinary.


Mark
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Funkshwey Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Guitarded & Sheldon. Your ABI-5 really looks better w/the wenge cap. Even if that wasn't feasable to start doing all ABI-5s that way, painting or staining that area black would go along way astetically.
Gitarded, it appears in the neck pocket area that the treble side of the neck sticks up slightly above the body while the bass side is actually sunk in to the pocket slightly. Is that the case or is it an optical allusion?
Beautiful ABI-5!
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Mark L Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="Funkshwey":2zlgwjre]Guitarded & Sheldon. Your ABI-5 really looks better w/the wenge cap. Even if that wasn't feasable to start doing all ABI-5s that way, painting or staining that area black would go along way astetically.[/quote:2zlgwjre]

I agree. The maple showing was the only thing that bugged me about ABIs, so... maybe we will see this as the standard on ABIs someday. Thanks again, Sheldon. :D

[quote="Funkshwey":2zlgwjre]Gitarded, it appears in the neck pocket area that the treble side of the neck sticks up slightly above the body while the bass side is actually sunk in to the pocket slightly. Is that the case or is it an optical allusion?[/quote:2zlgwjre]


It's an illusion. Sheldon removed wood equal to the thickness of the veneer, then added the caps. He did a fantastic job.


[quote="Funkshwey":2zlgwjre]Beautiful ABI-5![/quote:2zlgwjre]


Thanks, Funk. I get to try it at the gig tonight. Can't wait!



Mark
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Mark L Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="BurningSkies":1aupyfqt]Hey Guitarded...it looks great! Do you have any detail pictures of the neck heel laminate or the headstock? I'd like to see how they came out. I also think that burst looks pretty freakin' cool. too![/quote:1aupyfqt]

Here ya go, Burningskies.


Mark
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Dingbat Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Ooo... that does look good.

I agree with the opinions about the light coloured necks showing on the front of dark bodies. I don't like the look either. It looks like the bass isn't finished or that the neck doesn't belong to the bass.

Fortunately, the neck and the top on my ABII are both bubinga so they blend together nicely.

I guess putting on those veneers must cost in labour, but i think it's worth it.
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Funkshwey Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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Is that a wenge headstock overlay? That is very nice!
The maple "block" on the ABI has a tendancy to draw your eye to it, distracting from the over all look of the bass. The all maple ABI looks fine however w/the maple "block" showing.

Very nice gitarded!
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Smallmouth_Bass Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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I'm not sure I like the heel and headstock wenge caps. Maybe because it's the same wood as the fingerboard. I would have prefered a different wood or matching the body paint/flame top.

It still is a nice bass though! :D
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Mark L Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote="Smallmouth_Bass":2yrpfg0i]I would have prefered a different wood or matching the body paint/flame top.

It still is a nice bass though! :D[/quote:2yrpfg0i]


I guess you could, in theory, have whatever wood you desire.

In fact, I initially wanted the heel and headstock painted like the body, but Sheldon wouldn't do it. The wenge caps were his idea. I would have eventually had the neck painted to match, but I think Sheldon had a better idea. You gonna argue with a genius? :wink: Mine's the first, but I imagine that it won't be the last AB we see customized like this, judging from the reaction in the other posts.


Mark
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fookgub Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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[quote:1wen62r8]
[img:1wen62r8]http://www.dingwallguitars.com/forum/files/picture_2985_666.jpg[/img:1wen62r8]
[/quote:1wen62r8]

This is the first time I've had GAS since I got my ABI. Damn you, guitarded!!! :evil: :)
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It has a ABII vibe on an ABI. Surely a one of a kind!
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Here is another ABII 5-string to add to the collection. This came to me by my good fortune off eBay this week, and it is a true delight. Serial number #3678, built probably late 2005. FD-3 pickups, OBP-1 preamp, immaculate condition.
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  1. more than a month ago
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