Roland JX-3P

Roland JX-3P Image

The JX-3P is something of a hidden treasure – there is more to it than meets the eye. It came out about the same time as the venerable JUNO series, but represents a shift away from the traditional analog synthesizer interface and towards a less hands-on format. The JX-3P was mostly aimed towards players looking for those great stable Roland sounds of the time, but with immediate Preset-based access to them, and only the most basic and newbie-friendly of on-board controls to adjust them. (Note the space reserved on-board for holding sheet music in place.)

That is not to say this is a dumbed down synth, but rather, the digital technologies being explored by Roland at the time allowed for greater programability while simultaneously reducing the need for dedicated hands-on controllers per parameter - a path most synth manufacturers walked down during the eighties. This means that sliders and knobs were being phased out in favor of push-buttons, fewer sliders and a powerful programming interface tucked away “under the hood”.

The JX-3P shares the same great analog filters and VCAs as the JUNO and even the JUPITER series. Just like the JUNO, it’s a six voice polyphonic feeding digitally controlled oscillators (DCOs) through analog filters, envelopes and amps. However, the JX-3P has two oscillators per voice instead of the single osc. found in the JUNO synths, and while that does allow for greater flexibility, the onboard programming interface is a lot less fun and hands-on than that of a JUNO, no doubt contributing to the popularity the JUNO series enjoys over the JX-3P. You will need the optional PG-200 programmer if you want a real hands-on experience with the JX-3P.

Roland JX-3P Image

Surprisingly, the JX-3P is MIDI equipped, in fact it was Roland's first MIDI synth. However, its MIDI was limited to basic note on/off information only. Synths like the JUNO 106 had far better MIDI implementation. But the JX-3P also featured an on-board 128-step sequencer and came in a (slightly modified) rack-mount version called the MKS-30.

Roland JX-3P Image

Although the JX-3P may not be as popular as a JUNO, it makes a great vintage synth capable of creating some lush, classic analog sounds. And without the cult status of other synths similar to it, they can also be found at bargain prices, making them a definite synth to consider when looking for those classic early eighties Roland sounds. And aftermarket upgrades (like the KIWI-3P) can make it just as good, if not better, than any other polyphonic analog synths out there! It has been used by The Future Sound of London, Astral Projection, Vince Clarke, Orbital, Luke Vibert, Stevie Nicks, Asian Dub Foundation, and Thomas Dolby.

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216 Visitor comments
November 20, 2011 @ 7:51 pm
Does anyone have factory patches for this? I'm looking for an mp3 or audio file of the factory sound banks to load into my JX3P.
November 5, 2011 @ 5:44 am
Just rebought one of these to relive the past (took a deal at $225 great condition). I learned to edit the sounds and OK sequencer in an evening. The PG200 may be good for live-time tweaking, but editing is truly easy. The keybed is nice, it's quite portable and light, and looks real slick. An online manual helps to clarify the useful edit map on the keyboard. The 106 is fatter and muddier, and the jx3P is more piercing and narrower. It's possible to get crisp on a 106, but the JX has a cleaner bite. The 106 has more breadth to it, but they are different birds. Its cool, but dont overpay.
Keith N
August 30, 2011 @ 4:28 pm
Funny thing is the PG-200 DID cost a similar price in the 80s to what it now goes for, and in 80s money that was actually a lot more! (of course it was also a new item) but do agree they are fetching silly money and better off modding it so you can use a generic midi box like a BCR that can do far more (control other synths)

Prefer the 3P vastly to the 8P, the 3P sounds like a real analog synth with bite and character. 8P/10 sound subdued and fairly digital with very weak filters.

JX-3P and Korg DW-8000 are the 2 best buys on the market - both under-rated.
August 23, 2011 @ 5:11 pm
Great synth for low cost although prices seem to be going up, I suppose good ones are becoming rarer. I paid £150, saw one on ebay including the PG200 for £650 starting price. What's that all about?
The programmer seems to be absurdly high priced compared to the synth itself, so the crazies should stop spending loads of money on them and hopefully the prices will drop to a more reasonable level for the sane. Personally I wouldn't pay more than £50 for a PG200, yeah I know it's rare but the synth is really easy to program without it.
August 19, 2011 @ 5:24 pm
This was my very first synth so I have a soft spot for the JX3P. I have since replaced it with another one as I used it almost to death, and found one at a really good price in near mint condition. 2 things I noticed with the new one - the key action was much nicer and I swear it sounds better - crisper, a little more depth. I think there is much to be said for keeping gear serviced & in good condition. The PG 200 is well worth it if you can find one for a decent price, i've managed to coax even more sounds out of it using that and its just more "tweakable". Definitely an unnderrated synth.
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Rated 4.46 (1218 Votes)

  • 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 - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 DCO's per voice
  • Memory - 32 preset, 32 user
  • Filter - Resonant Low pass and High pass filters
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Arpeg/Seq - 128-step Sequencer
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Control - MIDI (no velocity except with a special ROM upgrade)
  • Date Produced - 1983
  • Resources & Credits
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    Review updated January 2012

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