Roland JP-8000 Synthesizer Memory Damaged and Fixed!

Roland JP-8000 Synthesizer
Roland JP-8000 Synthesizer

Back in 1998-1999 I purchased a second Roland JP-8000 and JP-8080 Combo at a used Music Shop called Ishibashi located in Yokohama, Japan. I still have both today and find them to be very fun to work with. I have also just about every commercial and non-commercial patch set available as I’ve been collecting everything I come across since then. It’s a great synthesizer and even as a new Roland SH-201 and SH-01 Gaia user, I still find the JP-8000 and JP-8080 a bit more useful for me. Plus it just has a fantastic sound for everything.

Well today, while checking out a used music store in downtown Nagano-city, I found a used Roland JP-8000 sitting on the shelf that the clerk just got in the previous night. He had a price tag of $120 for it. I had to do a double take because I couldn’t believe the price. In my mind I was thinking “OK, What’s wrong with this JP-8000?”. I check the condition and it was near mint. All of the buttons, knobs, and sliders felt solid. The body was not scratched and did not have any blemishes. Along with the Roland JP-8000 there was the power cord, manuals, and special JP-8000 softcase that was issued with them when I bought mine in the 90’s. Everything “looked” great.

So I asked the sales clerk if I could fire it up and give it a test run. He set me up with some headphones and I turned it on. Almost immediately I got a “Memory Damaged” message. I thought “Ah Ha!” That’s why he’s selling it cheap. He thinks it’s almost toast due to the memory message. I know this sales clerk and if it had said “Battery Low” he would have had a higher price. This was a new message and foreign to him. The JP-8000 then went into internal preset mode and I was able to play it even though there was memory damage. It sounded perfect! All of the original patches were there with some user ones garbled but understood that was because of the battery.

I then Hmm’d and Haw’d finally saying “Ok, I’ll take it” knowing full well I just “MAY” have stumbled upon a gem. When I got home I spent some time carefully opening up the JP-8000 until I finally got to the battery. I replaced it with a new one and “presto” the memory damage message disappeared and everything was working as it should perfectly. Amazing! Now I have a second working Roland JP-8000, but I’m not sure what to do with it yet. I just knew that the price was incredible and if anything I could resell it and make some extra cash. I may however, opt to have my two daughters use it to learn more about synthesizers. They both play piano and recently my eldest daughter loves listening to the song “Pop Goes the World” by Men Without Hats. I figure the Roland JP-8000 would go well with that song and provide my daughters with some synthesizer fun.

What I really like about the Roland JP-8000 besides the sound is the functionality. I find the ribbon controller, RPS, Sequencer, Split/Layer Keyboard, and of course all the knobs, sliders, and buttons to provide a treasure trove of live performance fun. The effects are decent, especially the chorus. I know it’s digital and a VA synth, but I’ve always maintained that if I had a choice between the Roland SH-01 Gaia, SH-201, or JP-8000/8080 it would be the Roland JP-8000. I’m a performance player who prefers to do everything with my hands. To me the Roland JP-8000 allows me to do slightly more with actual playing than the other two. With the Roland JP-8000, I don’t need a computer hardly at all. It’s fun and of course all the synths I mentioned above are great but the Roland JP-8000 is just special to me.

18 thoughts on “Roland JP-8000 Synthesizer Memory Damaged and Fixed!

  1. To check your OS version on the JP-8000, hold down LFO1 waveform, and bank numbers 1 and 3 under the display while powering up the unit.

    1. LFO 1 Waveform
    2. #1 button (PFM COMMON)
    3. #3 button (INDIV TRIG)

    The OS of the JP-8000 I bought above was version 1.02. I had a copy of the version 1.05 OS/Firmware update and installed that using Cakewalk Sonar. I was able to upgrade on the first go around which was great.

    This additional info is readily available around the web, but I’ll post it again here for reference.

    Reset Pitch Bender and Ribbon Controller Procedure:

    1) Turn on power while holding [OSC2 SYNC], [-12dB/-24dB] and [FILTER TYPE] to enter Test Mode. Wait until display indicates “[1] MIDI Test.”
    2) Press the [3] button to display “[3] Bend Mod.”
    3) Push the bender lever left fully and gradually return it to the center. Press [LOWER].
    4) Push the bender lever right fully and gradually return it to the center. Press [UPPER].
    5) Push the bender lever to the MOD position and then gradually return it to the original position. Press [KEY MODE].
    6) When the ‘*’ appears on the display, press [UP].
    7) From the previous display, press [4] to display “[4] Ribbon.”
    8) While pressing down on the left edge of the ribbon controller, press [LOWER].
    9) While pressing down on the right edge of the ribbon controller, press [UPPER].
    10) While pressing down on the center of the ribbon controller, press [KEY MODE].
    11) When the ‘*’ appears on the display, press [UP].
    12) Turn off the power of the JP-8000.

    Use the following procedure to reset the JP-8000 to factory settings:

    1) Turn on the power of the JP-8000. The unit may display “Memory Damaged.”
    2) While holding [SHIFT], press [INIT/UTIL].
    3) Press [INIT/UTIL] repeatedly to select “INITIALIZE WRITE.”
    4) Use the [UP / DOWN] buttons to select “FACTORY PRESET,” then press [WRITE].

    1. Ha! Thank you so much for posting the bender/ribbon recalibration stuff! I replaced my battery yesterday and wept when the keyboard played as if transposed by 3 semitones. After following your steps all is now well with my JP. What a relief!

    2. Wayne

      I followedthe instructions to fix the Memory damage on the JP-8000 and it looked like it worked, but when I shut it off and turned it back on, the same thing came up on the screen [ Memory Damaged ]? Also the Low Battery came up also! Do you have to replace the battery first in order to fix the Memory Damage?

      1. HellO! Yes, you to replace the battery first in order for the Memory Damage to remain fixed. The Memory damage is actually due to the loss of battery power. Fix the battery and repeat the procedure. You’ll be fine from that point on. Thanks!!

  2. Here are some tidbits of info that have helped me tremendously with getting a better sound out of the Roland JP-8000. These came from an old JP-8000 FAQ that I no longer can find on the web, but do have a copy on my computer.

    JP8000 Crackling noise during play.
    Likely clipping the input in the amps, too much verb, bass, resonance, and amp. Need to reduce a bit.

    Distortion when playing some of my patches.
    Lower the patch volume to reduce clipping and distortion.

    Reducing clicking in various patches due to the envelopes.
    Slightly (by +1 or +2) raise the attacks or releases and perhaps decays of both the filter and the amplitude envelope until clicking is gone.

  3. Greg Madison

    The JP-8000/8080 is an >amazing< synth; the granddaddy of the DSP virtual analog set. I managed to pick one up for a very reasonable price here, which is lucky considering the walleyed state of the used synth market at the moment. Too many would-be hipsters with too much cash eating up all the classics at any price. I digress. I've done some really neat stuff with the JP-8000, basslines mostly, that I feed through a nice array of EHX stompboxes.

    1. Hello Greg! Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m curious what sort of effects you like to feed the Roland JP-8000 through. What EHX Stompboxes do you prefer? In Japan EHX pedals are difficult to find and are very expensive if I do find one. So I don’t have much experience with them although I do hear a lot about them on other forums. I’m curious about your experience using EHX or anything really with your synths and the JP-8000. Thanks! – Jim

      1. Greg Madison

        Sure thing, Jim. I’m really enjoying reading your blog – lucky finds and very interesting techniques!

        A lot of my buddies have looked at me funny about the stompboxes, saying things like “You’re playing synths, man. Those are guitar pedals. Why don’t you just use the onboard effects?” When they hear the stompboxes in full swing, their taunts come to nothing. I feel that you really can’t beat a good old-fashioned stompbox for depth of feeling, expression, real time control. A million reasons. They give my playing a very psychedelic character and, if used intelligently, some very compelling effects. I have begun to acquire some smaller, more experimental synths like the Korg Monotron and the Create Digital Meeblip. Just as dry signals, these synths can sound a little underwhelming. But, if I’m playing the Korg Monotron in front of, say, a distortion pedal, a reverb and a delay/looper, these little synths turn into big bruisers. Without the stompboxes, the little experimental synths would just be conversation pieces, but with good effects, they can play right along with everything else and still keep their essential character. Even with more conventional synths like the JP-8000, the stompboxes offer just that little bit more of flexibilty and depth than the onboard effects do. Especially on things like basslines, or any monosynth. If I’m playing the Minimoog and throw on just a little of the Octave Multiplexer, it just sounds that much better, more interesting to the ear. The Octave Multiplexer is traditionally a bassist’s pedal. It adds suboctaves and works best one note at a time. It’s brilliant for monosynths and even drum machines or virtual drums.

        I’ve basically acquired EHX boxes to suit a particular purpose or need as I think of it. I needed a phaser, I picked up an EHX/Sovtek Small Stone. I needed a delay and looper, I picked up a Deluxe Memory Man with Hazarai. And that’s pretty much how I use them, too. I’ll think “Something’s missing” and I’m off to the pedal boards. At this point I have, in chain order:

        Octave Multiplexer suboctave generator
        MicroPOG polyphonic octave generator
        Frequency Analyzer ring mod
        Big Muff Pi distortion/sustain
        Deluxe Stereo Memory Man w/Hazarai delay looper
        Holy Stain reverb
        Small Clone chorus
        Small Stone phaser

        Any one or combination of these sound great with either my conventional synths like the JP-8000, Juno 6 or Yamaha SY-35 or any one of the dozens of virtual and experimental synths I’m working with. I haven’t run into a bit of trouble with any of them. I’ve bought most of the EHX pedals on the secondary market, so some of them are quite old and of questionable parentage. I can’t help thinking that my Sovtek/EHX pedal was actually at Stalingrad! But they haven’t let me down, either. The EHX pedals are also extremely collectible and fun to look at in that way that good stompboxes are.

        All of that said, though, a man in Japan could probably forgo EHX for some of those fine old Roland/Boss pedals. And do quite well with them. Most of them do the most of the same things, although the Roland/Boss stuff doesn’t quite cover the extensive range as EHX. They are also collectible, too, in their own cool utilitarian way, with those color schemes and typefaces!

      2. Wow! Thanks very much Greg for the very informative post. You gave me some great ideas. Actually there is a Small Stone Chorus right down the street at a used music shop I frequent which is priced really well. I may go check that out today perhaps since I don’t see them much around here.

        A couple of Stomp Boxes I have my eye on right now are from Behringer which I know are a cheap company, but they have two analog pedals I’ve heard nothing but great things about. You can get them both in Japan together for under $50 bucks.

        I have always wanted a Boss DC-2 and apparently the Behringer CC300 is a clone although not built well.
        CHORUS SPACE-C CC300 – Boss Dimension-C DC-2

        Behringer’s VD400 supposedly is a very nice analog delay clone of the DM-2.
        VINTAGE DELAY VD400 – Boss DM-2 Delay

        The MXR Carbon Copy Delay sounds great too.

        I currently have the MXR Phase 90 which I like very much.

        BOSS PQ-4 Parametric Equalizer sounds great with my synths and use it quite a bit.

        I’m also trying to figure out what to get for a good Wah Pedal but I’m not sure yet. Likely it will be a Dunlop, but there is also Vox which seems to be good. There are just so many varieties of Wah Pedals out there.

        Thanks again Greg for a glimpse at your pedal board. Like yourself, I have no problem using guitar effects with synthesizers. I think they sound great and do add substantially to the sound in many cases. I may create an article shortly about Synthesizers and Effect Pedals which I think would make for some interesting future discussions.

        Best regards, – Jim

  4. Finally I got my Windows 7 and Midi problems solved. I downloaded and installed a great utility called MIDI Mapper that allows me to tell Windows 7 what default MIDI device I want it to use for both MIDI In/Out. I installed the control panel utility and now my JP-8000 and other synths communicate well with Windows 7.

    For info about Midi Mapper you can check this link.

    There are three main Software Librarians and Editors that I know about that can be used with the Roland JP-8000/8080.

    1. Roland WinJPLib 1.0
    2. Emagic Sound Diver 3.0.x
    3. Midi Quest XL 10.5

    I have all three and so far prefer Midi Quest XL. Sound Diver is also good while WinJPLib only has a Librarian but no editor.

    What does everyone else like to use?

    1. Greg Madison

      My setup is actually a little on the primitive side. I don’t do much in the way of MIDI sequencing per se, but I do use a relatively inexpensive M-Audio MIDI USB controller for playing the virtual synths. I typically play and record it live using Sony Sound Forge. My JP-8000 is a relatively new acquisition, so I will probably be thinking of ways to edit and store my patches offboard at some point.

      My new machine does not have a standard MIDI interface, just USB, although I’ve worked with them in the past. I honestly can’t remember what I used to use back then.

  5. Elaine Howard

    Thank you for your very helpful post. Just this weekend, my JP-8000 started displaying the dreaded “battery low” message.

    I was able to buy the CR2032 battery, install it and recalibrate the pitch bender and ribbon controller. I felt like a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist, but it all worked. Long live the JP-8000.

    By the way, I have a Sequential Cirucuits Pro One and I use a Zoom G1K guitar pedal to enhance its sound.

    Anyway, be well.

  6. antoine

    hi, very interesting article about the jp-8000. i have one too, but i have a problem. I use logic 9 and send midi out to the midi in of jp-8000, the midi sync of the jp is turned on, but when i play arpeggio’s and use the hold button, after a few meters, the arpeggio start to delay of the metronome of logic. Is it something that i miss? Any help please, is it because when i turn the power on, there is a battery low message?

  7. Hey Jim, nice blog dude! Great find! I love Ishibashi too but I mostly use it for used drum gems.

    Lately, my JP is acting up. The Range knob (OSC2) is all wonky. I think it’s either dirty or needs to be serviced. Do you know of a place I can send my JP in Japan? I live in Osaka.

    Overall Osaka is a pretty dusty place so maybe it’s just dirty inside but I’ve never soldered anything before and I don’t want to try with my lil blue baby.


  8. I stumbled upon your blog looking for an answer regarding a “bug” my JP 8000 has developed:

    When I press the keys located under the bass>treble> ….delay knobs, the EDIT mode jumps on the screen by showing the “*” and my patch just changes.

    I have NO idea what it could be, I imagine that something inside is getting pressed or making contact with something else because it only happens there and when I press the keys or the actual carcase of the synth.
    Any ideas anyone?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s