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 12, 2012 @ 11:24 am
@phil Granted the 3P had MIDI with but the 106 brought more than note on and off, you could send and receive all CC info. And this allowed for repeatable performances when paired with a sequencer. This aspect of recording is now taken for granted but back then it was unprecedented.

The speed in which a tone could be adjusted, one-take synth-parts, and a very useable sonic footprint in a studio @250/hr in 1984 meant more songs could be recorded in less time.

I am not sure how much session work you have done but you lose work when something or someone comes along which saves money.
October 10, 2012 @ 4:10 pm
@J-106 I can't answer why the later JX's had poor MIDI spec but in the JX3's defence it was the among the first synths to include it at all. Don't forget there was only 1 Juno that had MIDI.

P6's 2nd post (below) may explain in part why the Juno's succeeded - simpler in structure and a palette of decent sounds. The JP6, D50 and JD800 all need time to get something worthwhile out of them. Not all synths give instant satisfaction. The JX3 isn't any harder to program than any Juno.

I can't picture myself in a scenario where time is so tight that I can't work up a patch on a 2 DCO synth.
October 10, 2012 @ 8:07 am
That was supposed to say "why the JX series ".

Equipment that relies on extra's to be functional are just to make money. My W-30 came 8 outputs, U220 6 outputs, How many come with that many outputs standard now?

So as far as I am concerned, you can keep those JX's and every other piece of gear that impedes progress when you are trying to get your ideas down. Writing music requires equipment that can get that potential "hit :-)" down quickly before it is lost or morphs into something else. My 106 gives me what I want quickly and has done so for almost 30 years, purchased new in 84.
October 10, 2012 @ 7:46 am
It is always interesting to see these comparisons. But can someone tell me if the JX series including the JX-10 had such bad Midi implementation in comparison to the Juno? If the Juno was designed as an "entry-level" only synth why is it superior for both performance and recording? The last thing we wanted in the studio "in my day" was an instrument that required excessive amounts of time to dial in a "useable sound"; time was very expensive and Juno's always delivered 6, 60, 106 didn't matter. Thousands can't be wrong, Juno's cost more because there were designed with the musician in mind.
October 5, 2012 @ 8:38 am
JX series was an offshoot and JX-10 was a flagship at one point. Junos were never flagships!

JX was an attempt to allow more of the jupiter features in a cheaper format.

The only reason the Juno 60 ended up costing more than the JX-3P was due to costs of parts (sliders!!!) nothing to do with features or market. 3P was and still is a bargain. With PG-200 it cost more than any Juno ever did!

The fact a JX-3P without the cost of sliders (Bare JX-3P) still cost ALMOST as much as Juno 60 shows you the quality, parts and features were there! Don't let the sliders fool you! 3P does way more!
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.46 (1224 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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