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
October 5, 2012 @ 8:36 am
Phil is correct. Junos were marketed AND priced to be the 'entry level' synths in Roland's poly range! Indisputable fact! This is ALSO why they have such a limited range AND such a limited feature set! (to hit a target price hence not having many features - because of need for sliders) and to ensure the beginners they were aimed at didn't have problems making 'nice sounds' - LIMITED RANGE = ALWAYS NICE SOUND! that is your entry level! that IS JUNO!
October 5, 2012 @ 8:30 am
@Krinor > you need to do your research. The JX-3p cost MORE than the Juno6 when released! it wasn't a bloody 'home use' keyboard or entry level! Even the DX7 had music stand holes and was one of the most pro synths ever built? your point?

Inside better built? they are both well built as are most Rolands, I've had more junos than I care to remember and there is nothing in them intrinsically 'better built' than the JX-3P! the 3P is SOLID, it doesn't having dying voice chips like the 106 for a start!

Seriously you are making this stuff up! I laugh at you.
October 1, 2012 @ 8:06 am
The JX was designed by Roland's guitar engineers rather than the typical synth engineers. Hence the different design and capabilities and crossover with the PG200 being used with the Roland GX MIDI guitar setup. The Juno's were the entry level instruments in actual fact - think of the JX as a left-field entry rather than a linear entry into the line of succession to the Jupiter 8. The 106 was also released with built-in speakers btw - does that make it an entry level instrument as well? The JX3 is under rated. The 106 and JX3 compliment each other rather than one being 'better' then the other.
October 1, 2012 @ 7:00 am
@P6 Not so. I have owned both JX3p and two Juno's. The JX failed and was unreparable, or at least not worth the cost compared to the value of the synth. The Juno's are much easier to service - partly because of their size obviously, but also because they are of much higher quality. The Jx3p is obviously an entry level instrument (music stand holes anyone ?). It has ONE apparent quality though, which should not be overlooked: the string sounds it can produce are very nice. I am not trying to buy one of these or to sell a Juno. I've had more than my share of humdrum DCO polys.
October 1, 2012 @ 5:23 am
@Krinor > you're talking crap mate. JX-3p is ultra reliable and twice as advanced as any Juno. It sounds far better than 106 which is thin and under-powered. Either you are trying to sell a juno or you are trying to buy a 3P. Your lies are transparent my friend.

JX-3P is the most under-rated Roland synth of all time just because it doesn't have built in sliders.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.46 (1221 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
  • Resources & Credits
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    Review updated January 2012

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