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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217 Visitor comments
Sonic boy
March 21, 2012 @ 12:36 pm
All i have to say its woo. The most underated synth on earth. Like the Sh-201, the JX-3P needs some time to get the sweet pot. After that is really great for pads, strings, , basses, effects.
The ignorants bashing all the time this particular synth and i dont know why.
This has more possibilities than the Juno 6-60. I have them all i my studio.
Really great synth. Dont listen the dummies, this is a super analog synth easy to find in the second hand market.
Jupiter 5 we can call it. Great pads.
March 15, 2012 @ 11:00 pm
I just purchased this off craigslist 2 days ago. Wow - I have finally migrated from software synth land to the real deal. I am already making great music with it - even replacing my software patches, and able dial in without the controller. I almost can't believe anyone would want to sell it. This synth will undoubtably go up in price, but I don't care, cause I'll never sell it. If you see one - and don't want to break the bank - get it!
March 11, 2012 @ 2:38 pm
Just traded my acoustic guitar with jx3p an hour ago. Used condition but works ok. Im now hookin my tenori to sequence jx3p via midi, IMO, it does sound warm, analog, lo-fi with pretty much deep low & mid low tone. Just wondering how great it would be when using with pg 200.
March 2, 2012 @ 11:38 am
chachi longbow
February 22, 2012 @ 11:30 am
the programmer is definitely not a must.. i just sold mine for $350 on ebay and programming is still a breeze without it. after enough time programming with the slider you'll start to memorize parameter numbers, and you won't have to refer to the diagram very often. i thought the chorus on mine was a little noisy, but i realized it just gets distorted when the VCA level is cranked all the way.. turn it down and it's easy to get lush, noise-free chorus sounds. if you're after jupiter'esque sounds at a fraction of the cost, this is the synth for you.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.46 (1221 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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