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
September 13, 2013 @ 2:51 pm
A stock JX-3P is a very capable instrument. It is also pretty easy to program without a PG-200 as the panel is very well laid out. It possible to get some very lush detuned pads from this synth, I paid just under £300 for mine and consider it a sound investment.

That said I could not resist the Kiwitechnics upgrade. This significantly entrants the sonic possibilities. However at a price, the complex possibilities now make panel programming difficult. But for a total of around £600 you get a great sounding six voice dual oscillator beast.

Get one while they are still unfashionable.
resting dime
September 11, 2013 @ 11:34 pm
Have to agree it can sound sharp and thin but with my Roland srv2000 reverb those tones become unique haunting leads & strings are nice. I've hadn of fun with jammin the pg200 but my juno6 is more immediate and now that its MIDI-fied & restored the juno is winning all my time :)
Ebola Virus
September 3, 2013 @ 7:14 pm
Comparing jx3p/pg200 to juno6 (& sh101) over time, it holds its own in a large number of areas. Its bass can really compete with the others when you hit the sweet spots. Sync/5th/tune drifting dual oscillator sounds are where it also shines & I have made awesome pads that beat the juno hands down. My main issue is with the slow lfo and lack of 2nd envelope & arp, all of which can be resolved with the kiwi upgrade. Regarding the filter, yeah its more surgical than the juno's & not as squealy at high resonance, but still has mojo and warmth, & resonance can be tweaked via internal pots.
August 8, 2013 @ 1:55 pm
A lot of early Italo-Disco artists used this synth. My guess would be because of its approachable price tag. Lee Marrow used it heavily, and it appeard on the video "Dont Stop the Music".
July 16, 2013 @ 4:36 pm
I agree with the comments about the 3P sounding sharp, piercing highs, sharp, ect ect. Can't comment on the sequencer yet. I now own a JX-3P and JX-10 (aka "Super JX"), and have to rank the 3P higher since it has good string and brass and a much faster snap to it's sound (3P has a faster envelope).
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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