Jen Electronics SX-1000 Synthetone

Jen SX-1000 Image

The Synthetone SX-1000 is an old Italian basic mono-synth. It has a single analog DCO with three waveforms: sawtooth, square, and PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). There is an analog filter (12dB/octave) with cutoff, resonance, and LFO modulation. There is also a simple ADSR envelope for shaping your sounds. In addition there are also white/pink noise generators a glide effect and a vibrato effect. It's known for fairly stable tuning too. Probably its best sounds are the lead ones, the basses aren't that deep but it sure can scream!

What it doesn't have is MIDI, CV/Gate or any other form of control. MIDI retrofits can take care of this however. Unfortunately there is no patch memory, and there is no way around this limitation. Its knobs are boldly colored and well layed-out for easy hands-on access; but you'll need a Polaroid camera if you want to store your patch settings! Also lacking are an arpeggiator, sequencer, pitch/mod wheels, and effects. Nevertheless, this Italian vintage synth is a very cheap entry-level analog synth that has some unique sounds and characteristics worth checking out if you find one. It's been used by Future Sound of London, LFO, Nexus 21, Altern 8, Eskimos & Egypt, Fillmore, Man Machine, Tim Simenon, Broadcast, Plone, Luke Vibert, Ladytron, Prodigy and Herb Legowicz of Gusgus.

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43 Visitor comments
August 20, 2010 @ 5:25 pm
That'll be me then :) More info here if you're curious:
I do still have a couple of ready-built modules. Its not too difficult to fit - any decent synth service tech should be able to do it in an hour or two. And it supports pitch bend and mod.wheel (usually routed to filter cutoff).
The stuck pitch problem sounds like the glide oscillator has stopped working. Without it the M110 chip can't change pitch. Turn the glide control a few times, and if that doesn't work you need to open her up and try re-seating the 8-pin chip closest to the glide pot.
And yes, those M110s are very rare. I only have working pulls from conversions I've done. Even VintagePlanet hasn't got any. Unlikely to find an NOS these days.
Nice little synths. When set up properly they have a great sounding filter. Mostly standard parts (other than aforementioned M110). Easy to service and easy to mod as well.
July 16, 2010 @ 8:08 pm
It was my first synth in the 80's I sold mine last year.
The two earlier posts sound as though they need a bit of a clean these synths don't like sitting collecting dust the key contacts and the pots suffer and very strange things happen.
When they work they sound pretty good for a cheapy. The only drawback is lack of pitch bend and mod wheels. good all rounder especially when played through effects
I modded mine to use with bass pedals like a moog taurus.
I loved mine but it was not being used so I sold it.
Beware if you are thinking of buying one of these of ebay the oscillator is a single M110 Ic now impossible to replace.
There is a guy on the net who makes a replacment circuit to clone the functions of the chip plus add midi but it is a diy project and not for beginers all that said if I could get another one cheap I would but it would have to get the mod treatment
robert gardner
April 25, 2010 @ 8:55 am
Adam, the very same thing happened to mine, the only way i've found to stop this problem is to keep the portamento pot set to 1, then it seems to work fine.
however my jen has totally given up the ghost now, when i turn it on, all it plays is a single tone, without me even touching a key.
March 31, 2010 @ 9:21 am
Hi Adam,

I had one of these synths many years ago - it sounds like yours is faulty!
I would love to have another of these synths, I do keep my eye out for one on ebay.
When I had one (early 1990's) analog synths were very unfashionable, I couldn't give it away.
I was using it without reverb or delay - I would love one now to sit beside my Moog and Prophet to remind me of the old days.
The Jen is what taught me about ADSR and tweaking sounds!
Great little keyboard - get yours serviced, you will love it - or I'll buy it!

March 31, 2010 @ 3:18 am
I just bought one of these and I can't get the keys to play different pitches. Is it broken? Or am I missing something?
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - One DCO (sawtooth, square, pulse-width modulation); 4-octave range (32', 16', 8', 4'); white and pink noise generators
  • LFO - 1 LFO; Vibrato
  • Filter - 1 Low-pass filter, 12dB/octave, with ADSR
  • VCA - 1 ADSR
  • Keyboard - 37 keys
  • Memory - None
  • Control - None (Kenton Midi Retrofits available)
  • Date Produced - 1978 - 1982
  • Resources & Credits
  • Image from the collection of Daniele Marziali found at the Jen Synth Pages

    Thanks to Jesper Odemark for providing some information.

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