This month I picked up a used Roland JX-3P with PG-200 programmer pictured in the photograph above. The JX-3P Synthesizer is an absolute sweet synth to work with. When I pulled it out of the case, I noticed it was rather light weight which was a nice surprise. The Roland JX-8P which I also have is rather large and heavy. I found the PG-200 Programmer to be built very solid and it had a kind of magnetic base to it which allowed it to adhere to the top of the JX-3P nicely. Overall, the Roland JX-3P is a very solid and cool looking retro synthesizer with the colorful red, blue, and green stripes.
What I absolutely love about the synth is the on board sequencer. It has 16 steps and it’s extremely simple to program cool basslines, melodies, and all sorts of arpeggiator like grooves. In fact, the JX-3P does not have an arp, BUT I find the sequencer is almost better because you can program your own. You can also transpose the sequencer up and down the keyboard using the transpose button. You simply have to press down on this button while hitting a key to trigger the sequencer in a different key. Sure it’s one extra step and may requires an extra hand, but otherwise it works exactly like an arp. Another brilliant aspect about the sequencer is that while it’s running you can solo or play notes over the top of the sequence. You can’t change or adjust the sound without affecting the sequence, but it is musical and useful enough to have the ability to play over the top of the sequence. Oh boy, is it fun too!
Another great feature is the LFO trigger which is not quite close to the keys, but still manageable. You can adjust the LFO parameters using the PG-200 and then press the LFO trigger wherever you want the effect applied. There is an on board chorus which sounds great as well. There looks to be a whole bunch of other interesting features I’ve yet to experiment. Overall the Roland JX-3P is a joy to play and dare I say a bit more fun than my Juno synths including the Juno-60. If you sync a drum machine with the JX-3P via the Sequencer trigger input and jam over the top of your sequence on the JX-3P, you can create some really great 80’s Italo Disco oriented grooves with ease while only using one synth!! Couple the JX-3P with either a JX-8P, Juno, or other analog synth an you have a nice setup indeed.
If you are into Analog synths, I highly recommend the Roland JX-3P. I definitely recommend the JX-3P over the MKS-30 module because it doesn’t have the voice chip issues that the MKS-30 and Juno synths have. In additon, I do feel the PG-200 is required to get the most out of this synth and it raises the fun factor as well. If I had a choice between the JX-3P and the Juno-106, I think I’d take the JX-3P. The reason is that while the Juno-106 might be better in sound slightly, the JX-3P with the sequencer just adds more “stuff” to work with in a musical performance. In fact, the JX-3P with the sequencer reminds me more of my Roland SH-101 than anything else in functionality but without the tuning issues I often deal with on the Sh-101.
The Roland JX-3P is a solid performer with a lot to offer. If you are looking for an old Roland analog synth that is fun, versatile, retro looking, and overall a good sounding synth, then you can’t go wrong with owning a Roland JX-3P. Snap one up while you can because I honestly feel these are getting harder to get and the prices will likely rise.
Here’s a great video showcasing what the Roland JX-3P is capable of. The Roland JX-3P simply ROCKS!!