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skilsaw

Roland JC 120 amp any good?

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My son is a budding guitarist who played guitar in the highschool jazz band.

He is getting back into it and I would like him to have excellent equipment.

I'm looking at matching the L5 CES with a Roland JC120.

 

It is a solid state amp and I understand they require less maintenance than tube amps.

 

I want to know if it has a real clean sound.

And is it a good choice to grow into?

What other solid state jazz amps do you recommend?

 

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

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I had a JC120 for years in the '80s; very very loud, cleanest amp I ever had and tough too - it fell 6ft off stage one night and still worked fine. If you want super-clean, that's it. It will not distort or overdrive like a tube amp at all but it does have a built in distortion effect as well as the classic Roland chorus and reverb. There were smaller versions - JC60 I think. Also the Roland Cube which is still out there with digital modelling. However high-end transistor amps for jazz guitar can be far more expensive these days - Polytone, Henriksen, AER and so on.

 

Regards!

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The Roland JC 120 has a very good reputation... [thumbup]

 

It is big and heavy if that is an issue

 

The 'JC' circuit is renowned for it's clarity...there are smaller amps like the Cube 30 that have the 'JC' circuitry and are much more portable and probably loud enough for many jazz gigs and easy home use... [thumbup]

 

Jazz players have their own preferences like other genre players

 

Some use Fender tube amps, some use Vox AC 30's etc

 

Some people regard the Polytone as a great amp

 

There are also some boutique hand made amps

 

One route would be to research and listen to favourite artists and check out their rigs...

 

Fusion players have a slightly different outlook to the more 'modern', 'bebop', 'latin' etc specialists...

 

The L5 can IMO be epitomised by Wes Montgomery....he used a variety of amps...

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Hello Skilsaw, and welcome to this nice forum.

 

Beyond any doubt, playing an L5 CES will call for a great amp to do her justice.

 

There's a good reason for the JC 120 reissue. The Roland Jazz Chorus series amps are among the very few transistorized amps from the 1970s and 1980s which gained the status of legends, especially the JC 120. This model was widely used for keyboards as well, in particular electric pianos.

 

Their special tone is achieved by a tricky poweramp circuit: Other than HiFi and most other semiconductor guitar amps controlling the voltage for a linear frequency response, the JC amps feature a blended voltage and current negative feedback circuitry. This makes the speaker sound more "lively" like in valve/tube amps. The latter don't allow for a high damping factor, the JC amps avoid it by design.

 

This sophisticated circuit design makes JC amps sound clean along with a clearly audible compression. Thus unwanted peaks which would sound harsh through a transistor design are avoided. Moreover, the guitar cuts through without turning it up very loud in a band context.

 

The built-in distortion is similar to the pull knob on some Fender tube amps, more of a clipping than a high-gain thing and thus not making notes sing but just sound dirty. However, it can be nice for chord playing, and blowing distorted tones from external pedals through a JC amp translates well, too. But who would play an L5 CES with a high-gain setting?

 

Finally the "C" in the name, the built-in chorus. One of the best analog chorus effects ever. Roland was the chorus pioneer then. It is also switchable to vibrato with dedicated controls, but this is seldom used I think.

 

A bandmate of mine plays his 1978 Les Paul Deluxe exlusively through one of the original JC 120 since over thirty years. He uses a Topco "The Rat" pedal for playing high-gain lead tones.

 

I think that in a jazz band your son may have much fun when playing his L5 CES through a JC 120. It could be a nice Christmas present indeed, and useful for many years to come.

 

Good luck in trying and deciding.

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Excellent post from Mr Cap... [thumbup]

 

Yes the JC circuit does have a special voice all of it's own

 

Many aquaintances use Cubes as they would a tube amp

 

One jam-mate uses a JC 120...always carried in by a roadie... :blink:

 

I am a die hard 'carry my own stuff' kind of guy

 

Regular user of Cube 80 and Cube 30...usually through the JC Clean channel

 

A personal wheeze is to hook up 2 Cube 30's in stereo to my Boss ME 70 multi fx

 

High quality 'versatile' sounds at a very reasonable price... :-({|=[thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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A JC-120 is one of "the" amps a guy can have.

 

As far as being CLEAN, it is maybe one of the only amps that you can mike a horn with and have it sound good. As already said, it has been used often by keyboard players. It has a reputation for being "clean". But I can tell you from experience, it is. Maybe the cleanest.

 

It also has a beautiful sound that is also like magic in a way. Hard to describe, because it doesn't seem to add anything, you don't get the impression it is coloring the sound by having a "sound" of it's own, but it somehow does show itself to almost always make whatever you play through it sound like a beautiful womans voice.

 

It is big, and as stated already, a guy who has one might eventually get something smaller to use. But also, it is so useful, so "good", it is one amp that will be usefull to have around and be used even as one gets other amps.

 

It's not a waste of money.

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you ask

 

"a good choice to grow into"

 

depends on his direction. The JC120's clean sound is what it's all about. so if the plan is to stick with the Jazz stuff, it's probably all one would ever need.

 

The minute you try to take it any place else, (hard rock for example) it might not be the best option.

 

But as the other guys say, it's got more clean headroom (meaning LOUD and CLEAN) than anything I've ever seen or heard.

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As stated above, the JC-120 is a great amp for jazz, and still the industry standard in many respects, but.......

 

In today's world of high-tech electronics and miniaturization, it's complete overkill in size, weight, volume AND price. Many features and attributes of The JC-120 have carried over to the Roland "Cube" line of amps. The "Cubes" are packed with features and are great for that clean, pure, uncolored "Roland" sound.

 

After experimenting with many amps (vintage, new, tube, solid state), the Roland Cube 30X has become my amp of choice for playing my L-5CES. I think the Cube line goes up to an 80 watt model, but in a jazz big band, or combo setting, I have never played the 30 watter past half. Jazz bands generally contain acoustic instruments (woodwinds, brass), and the "blend" volume is governed by them. If the performance, or environment, dictates the entire band mix needs to be louder, microphones will have to be setup for the acoustic instruments, and therefore the PA gear is available to put a mic in front of a small guitar amp.

 

Most guitar amps are designed to "color" the sound by emphasizing certain frequency ranges of slabwood guitars. This tone shaping is part of the design and construction of the guitar in the case of a quality archtop. So in amplifying a high-end archtop, the whole point is to maintain the natural sound of the guitar, just make it louder. This doesn't necessarily call for a big, heavy, loud, or expensive amplifier.

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The JC120 is excellent equipment, it has a GREAT clean sound, and is definitely an amp your son can grow into. It was my first amp back in the mid-80's and it was real and it was spectacular! As other posters have noted, it has a "huge" clean sound and the chorus is to die for. I didn't care much for the distortion or vibrato, but I was new to playing / amps so that may have been me. I have no experience with any other SS amps so there may be other / better / cheaper / lighter options available. But at the right price I'd buy one again.

 

A few months after I bought it the Guitar shop called me - Stanley Jordan was playing the local arena and his contract called for a JC120. I had the only one in town and was treated to backstage passes, the sound check, and front row seats for the Stanley Jordan / Bobby McFerrin show in return for letting him use the amp. Great show, BTW.

 

Epilogue: I sold the JC120 and moved into Fender Tubes amps, from which I've never recovered...

 

EG

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This doesn't necessarily call for a big, heavy, loud, or expensive amplifier.

 

very true

 

I've heard a few polytones that are smaller than a dorm sized microwave oven, they sound incredible.

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I have a JC50. Still very powerful but not ludicrously loud as in the JC120.

 

But whatever, they are great amps.

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Another point about the JC-120 and the size: Sure, it is often more than you will need. In fact, it's one of those things where ideally, something smaller will be the BEST amp for the gig.

 

BUT when it comes to clean, unlike rock and roll or blues where you need a smaller amp to be able to turn the amp up to get the appropriate type of sound, the JC 120 works VERY well played at lower volumes.

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Thanks for the feedback.

Sounds like a good choice, even if it is heavier and louder than other Rolands.

 

The JC 120 is the only Roland my local music store carries. (dozens of Marshalls and Fender amps) If I go for a Cube, it will be over the internet.

 

I've given myself until November 1 to make up my mind. What ever I order then should be in by Christmas.

 

Thanks again.

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I own a Cube 80XL, and I like it very much, esp. for cleans (JC120 clean), plus I use the looper that works for almost 2 minutes. The modeling effects are pretty useful, IMO, but there are many who are not big on them. The Cube XL series no longer exists and has been replaced by the GX series that is supposed to be the same but with added interfacing capacity.

 

I still prefer tubes for their warmth and character, but the Roland amps I've heard are very good, and has been stated, the JC120 is lauded by many jazzers.

 

Seems to me that Searcy has posted pictures of his JC120. Maybe he'll chime in.

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The deed is done. Yesterday I went to the music store and put a downpayment on the L5CES and Roland JC120.

I'm excited now for it to be delivered. And then the wait until Christmas.

 

All is well.

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The deed is done. Yesterday I went to the music store and put a downpayment on the L5CES and Roland JC120.

I'm excited now for it to be delivered. And then the wait until Christmas.

 

All is well.

 

Good luck with your Roland. I'm using a Henrikson Jazz Amp and also own a Polytone. The other guitarist in our trio uses a Roland and swears by it.

 

Personally I prefer the Henriksen but interestingly there is a resounding endorsement for your choice from everyone above in this thread. And the people commenting are very experienced so you should feel comfortable with your choice. Good luck to your son.

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Good luck with your Roland. I'm using a Henrikson Jazz Amp and also own a Polytone. The other guitarist in our trio uses a Roland and swears by it.

 

Personally I prefer the Henriksen but interestingly there is a resounding endorsement for your choice from everyone above in this thread. And the people commenting are very experienced so you should feel comfortable with your choice. Good luck to your son.

 

great amps. Very heavy, very loud, superb clean sounds. totally robust.

 

Something to watch for is that on some of them the chorus can be a little noisy, whilst others are super quiet.

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