A couple of days ago I bought a used Roland Juno Alpha 2 off Ebay for a really great price. It had numerous problems, but I felt I could fix it and I’m happy to report that the Roland Juno 2 is in perfect working order now. Below are some notes about what was wrong with the Roland Juno 2 and the steps I took to correct the issues. At a glance, some of the issues were a broken joystick and bender/pitch wheel, a check battery message, a couple of dead keys, and an extremely dirty synth inside and out. I also was not sure if the output jacks, chorus, and membrane buttons were all working yet. This was a gamble purchase, but I felt the problems would hopefully be fixable.
First the Roland Juno 2 was in absolute filthy condition. I think this synth had the most dirt, grime, dust, and just about everything you can think of tucked away inside. It had never been opened and when I lifted the lid off the top of the synth I couldn’t believe it was still in operation. It took me about two hours to clean all the stuff out of it and check all the wiring to make sure everything was stable and connected properly. Once the Juno 2 was cleaned, I proceeded to change the battery.
Changing the battery proved to be much easier than expected with the exception that you have to lift out the key bed before you can slide out the CPU board with the battery connected to it. Be careful when doing this because the cpu is connected to a couple of slots under the key bed and you don’t want to yank it out and rip off an electronic component on the CPU board. Just be gentle and it will gradually slide out. The battery was soldered to the main board as expected, but unlike other synths I was actually able to solder a battery holder directly to the main board due to excellent pin hole spacing. I usually use wire leads but in this case my spare battery holders were an easy fit. I then popped a fresh battery in and later reset the Juno 2 in order to remove the “Check Battery” message.
Note you MUST reset the Roland Juno 2 after a battery replacement in order to clear out the error message “Check Battery”. This was a big problem I found a lot of people had around the web. Another important note is that I’ve seen quite a few Juno 2’s with leaky batteries. Be careful not to buy one with battery crap all over the CPU as that will likely give you a giant headache trying to repair the CPU board if that’s at all possible. I had a teeny tiny bit of leakage with my old battery and I felt extremely lucky I caught it in time. With the battery tucked under the Key bed, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to see by just opening the top cover. You may be able to poke a flash light on the side, but that’ll be tough. Be careful about leaky batteries!!
With the battery in operation, I then reloaded the factory “memory” presets into the Roland Juno 2 using my Mac iBook and Sysex Librarian. I found the Juno 2 factory sounds in sysex format in the Juno Yahoo Groups. They are easy to find there and everything loaded up just fine. Be sure to follow the instructions in the Juno Factory Kit because you must press the WRITE key at the same time as the DATA TRANSFER and BULK LOAD keys in order to transfer the factory patches from the computer to the Juno 2.
Fixing the Roland Juno 2 dead keys was pretty easy. You have to remove the key bed which is far easier than most keyboards. Then you have to turn it over and lift up the plastic strip locking the key in place. From there you can lift out the dead key pretty quickly. Under the silicon rubber piece you need to gently clean the carbon contacts with alcohol cleaner. I usually rub generously with a Q-tip until I see a light black color on the Q-tip. I stopped using the rubber eraser trick because it has failed every time with me. I have had almost 100% success with using a pure alcohol cleaner and rubbing gently with a Q-tip. Later when the keys were tested, all of the dead ones were brought back to life. The keys were fixed!!
Finally, I had to tackle the big problem of the broken joystick/pitch bend wheel. There were three things I had to do in order to fix this problem and it’s very important that you check each one.
1. Probably the most important, you need to twist the middle metal shaft with a screw driver so that the center line is “vertical” and not horizontal. In every case when the center shaft line set to horizontal, I got absolutely no pitch bend effect. Once I twisted it vertically, I got my pitch effect and modulation settings back.
2. You MUST make sure that the tiny allen screw at the bottom of the plastic pitch bend wheel is securely tightened. This is critical and leads to most problems found on a broken joystick. The allen screw is what secures the joystick to the center metal shaft. If this comes loose, the spring will become unstable and thus you’ll get an unstable joystick which likely will either not work or give you crazy results. I often read reports about goofy joysticks in the Roland Juno 2 and likely that’s because the allen screw is loose at the bottom. This a precision joystick and you MUST have everything tightly secured and in it’s proper place.
3. There are at least six contact points on the pitch bend wheel. You should clean those with contact cleaner to ensure proper flow of signals reach to and from the Roland Juno 2 CPU board. I dismantled the entire pitch bend wheel and cleaned everything which I’m sure helped in bringing the pitch bend wheel back to life.
One more note about the joystick. With mine, the top vertical stick part had broken off likely by someone who whacked the joystick against something when they weren’t looking. I can say that even with the vertical stick part broken off, the Joystick is 100% usable. Of course you can either replace the joystick plastic part with another spare from another keyboard or you can simply epoxy a stick on top if you like. The semi-circle portion of the joystick sticks out plenty to toggle the joystick with your finger or thumb. It might even be easier for you. The indentation where the stick broke off also offers a good way to grip the joystick and toggle it from side to side as well.
Modulation is easy by simply pressing the wheel forward. Unless you plan to resell a completely original Roland Juno 2, I wouldn’t hesitate at all buying a Roland Juno 2 with a broken Joystick. They are SUPER simple to fix and I now know that most problems are a result of one or several of points above not being addressed properly. Also note that the center metal shaft on the joystick is “ROUND” and not “SEMI ROUND” like on some other joysticks. I pulled one from a used Roland XP-10 for example and while it will work fine as a replacement, you will need to cut out a circular hole rather than use it’s SEMI Circle hole. Other than that, most any joystick could probably be put into the Roland JUno 2 with some slight modification.
After putting everything back together on the Roland Juno 2 I tested the chorus and membrane buttons and all worked. I now had a totally 100% working Roland Juno 2 Synthesizer. Hurray!!
The Roland Juno 2 is a pretty sweet synth. I also have the Roland MKS-50 and both are a joy to use. The Roland Alpha Juno 2 is probably the easiest synth I’ve ever repaired and if I ever found another broken one for cheap I would grab it instantly. A LOT of people have problems with this synth I found while researching the web and while it stumped me a bit with a few things, once I figured out the fix it was downhill from there. Do check out the Roland Juno 2 as it’s a very nice cheap analog synthesizer that sounds simply wonderful.
Here is a nice demo of the Roland Alpha 2 on YouTube by RetroSound.