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
January 9, 2012 @ 4:42 am
Sleepdawg - 'thin and reedy' - maybe you are not programming it correctly. You can get some really subby bass - especially from the square wave. I got more sub than from a prophet 5 rev3 I borrowed. I have just got one and am using it more than any other synth at the moment. I also have a juno. They are both very different. The juno I would say is smoother and a little sweeter but the jx does much more with the 2 dco's and can emulate some MUCH more expensive synths quite convincingly. Very under rated and I would give it a 5 stars - especially for what you get for the money. pg200 a must.
January 7, 2012 @ 8:54 pm
Thin and reedy. OK string pads and bell style patches, but nothing that the Junos don't do with superiority. I used it on records in the mid 80s mostly for filling out a frequency while midi'd to Jupiters. Treated as a supplemental module to the Jupiters, it's ok. It doesn't deserve the 4.5 star rating it's getting here, mostly due to trendy nostalgia. Should not pay more than $399 for this.
December 25, 2011 @ 1:39 am
It's apples & oranges comparing this to Junos. I have a Juno6 & an alpha-Juno2, and had a 106 years ago, so my opinion is based on experience. The JX3P is a true 2-osc synth, with selectable waveforms and tunings, as well as sync and x-mod. With some minor encouragement (meaning opening it up & tweaking the filter resonance pots after tuning the filters) it can mutate into a mean [beep] of a machine. The sequencer is loads of fun and is a great tool. PG-200 isn't a necessity whatsoever, especially if you're used to any digital, late80s/early90s era synths. I only wish the midi spec was better.
December 16, 2011 @ 2:52 pm
Did you know that Harold Faltermeyer used this synth on Axel F, the Beverly Hills Cop theme?
...Along with a Jupiter 8, a DX7, a LinnDrum, and a Moog Modular.
December 16, 2011 @ 3:18 am
The JX-3P is a Juno 6-60 with more options anyway, except the arpeggio and the sub oscillator that is missing. Sounds huge, you can have pads, bells, strings, basses, effects. Noisy Chorus unit its a minus but i'm working with a modification.
Its very well built, very solid in metal case. Keep in mind that will make this synth a modern beast with arpeggio in/out and full midi control.
Owners with the kiwi upgrade should post some videos with demo's and all the new possibilities.
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Rated 4.46 (1217 Votes)

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  • 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

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