Roland JC-120?

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deadeno
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Roland JC-120?

Post by deadeno » Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:06 pm

I've considered getting one of these for my project studio, mostly to record keyboards and clean guitar.

I've noticed LOTS of them listed on craigslist, which worries me.

I know the built in distortion on these is crap, but is there some other fatal flaw?

just wondering if anyone had an opinion good or bad.

thanks!

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Post by mattsamoto » Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:19 pm

This would probably be a great keyboard amp. I think JC 120's fell out of fashion as they have a very distinct sound, very sharp high end and jangly. A very popular amp in the 80's - kind of has that sound.

I think a lot of folks these days would say they are too shrill and not terribly warm (being solid state and all).

I actually like the built in reverb and chorus - but again don't expect a wide range of sounds out of this amp.

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Post by Paul Fury 161 » Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:10 pm

These amps contain internally in full the Boss CE-1 chorus ensemble unit - in stereo. GREAT chorus. I think that they sound quite warm for a solid state amp. But they don't take overdrive or distortion pedals so well, they are best used straight in for clean/chorus. Gonna get one at some point to go with my 70's silverface twin reverb, should make a great pair for big clean guitars ;-p

They were made famous by Andy Summers (Police guitarist - but he used it with a Marshall JMP 100 half stack) , and Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp of King Crimson (mk four) - Belew used them as his only amps for ages, but Fripp always had a Marshall or Hiwatt as part of his rig for the dirty tones. Bob Mould had one after husker Du (not during though) and throughout Sugar (he had two of the head version). HARD to exactly nail his sound - quite odd.

Still a cool amp I reckon. The smaller JC50 1x12 combo is also common,
almost as good - for a home setup it might be better (less space /weight/money etc)

Hope this helps,

paul
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Rodgre
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Post by Rodgre » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:35 pm

I was one of those kids using a JC 120 as my main amp through the 80s... I had (still have) the head version, which I ran through a few different cabs which were a major upgrade in warmth and downgrade in "Icepick" from the 120 combo to my ears.

Anyway, I think the reason you see a lot on Craigslist is because they've gone so far out of fashion in this day of the holy grail tube amp.

I have been noticing a resurgence of them lately though. A lot of new bands have JC120s right next to their Triple rectumfryers.

I recently powered my 120 up run through two Marshall 4x12"s and I was amazed at how good it sounded. I even started to love the crappy distortion! The chorus was really the selling point of this amp, and it is a lush sounding chorus, basically a Boss CE-2, (not a CE-1) circuit on one of the power amplifiers. Without the chorus on, it still can be a solid sounding amp, expecially through the right speakers.

Now, as an investement for the studio? I don't know. You're not going to gain too much out of it that you couldn't get by going direct and turning the treble all the way up :)

It's a little lacking in the "tweeter" range for keyboards, and it's a little noisy for clean guitar parts that you could do direct anyway.

If you do pick one up though, I suggest getting a smaller JC77. There's no need to have 120 watts in a studio!

Unless its a bass amp.

Roger

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Post by mjau » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:39 pm

As an aside, you'll often find Steve Drozd (Flaming Lips) using one in conjunction with another amp.

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Post by hammertime » Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:53 pm

I owned a JC-120. I was sort of glad when I got rid of it. It would be a good amp if you are playing rhythm in a Kool and the Gang cover band or something. It was really popular with funk rhythm players in the 80s. I once saw Sting on Saturday Night Live, and his guitar player was playing Purple Haze if I recall through a Jazz chorus. If you can track it down, you'll see why I don't really like this amp.

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Post by Paul Fury 161 » Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:41 am

Rodgre, It IS the CE-1 Chorus - you've got the choice for chorus /vibrato - I have a ce-2 , AB it, it's much closer to a CE-1.

Great amps to have around for certain stuff though.

Take it easy

paul
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Post by Rodgre » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:04 am

Paul Fury 161 wrote:Rodgre, It IS the CE-1 Chorus - you've got the choice for chorus /vibrato - I have a ce-2 , AB it, it's much closer to a CE-1.

Great amps to have around for certain stuff though.

Take it easy

paul
Hmmm, I could swear that I read in the Boss Book that it was a CE-2 circuit. I'll have to check it out. Perhaps you're right. You would figure, though, that if they were making those amps up until even now, with the CE-1 circuit in it, that they'd have no problem reissuing the original CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, so we wouldn't have to pay $300 for them on Ebay!

By the way, the choice of Chorus or Vibrato is actually a preset setting for chorus, and a variable Depth and Rate for the Vibrato. Unfortunately, I never found that the rate went fast enough for a real vibrato effect. I just used that setting for "instant Seasick".

Another interesting note is that the Chorus effect has the wet effect signal only on one speaker, in order to achieve the stereo effect. I found that out the hard way the first time my amp was mic'd up for a gig and they mic'd the chorused speaker and all that came out of the PA was said seasickness.....

The reverb is an acquired taste as well. Kind of cold and not very lush sounding. Kind of odd. The EQ is pretty subtle. That is to say, you can turn the bass up all the way, and still not get any real bottom end out of the amp. I actually kept the treble all the way off and the hi-treble just barely on when I gigged with mine, it's such a bright amp.

Roger

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Post by MechaGodzilla » Tue Jul 11, 2006 2:23 am

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Post by covert » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:37 am

They are incredibly good at what they do, which is a clean sound, with chorus or not. Contrary to the opinion presented above, I think they do take pedals pretty well, but they will reveal the bad sides of pedals mercilously. The single speaker versions are useless, as the chorus only sounds good with two. The distortion circuit is notoriously bad, but turned on and not up can be useful.
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Post by mjau » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:51 am

I used one in the studio to record bass through, and even played a few live sets with it. Not bad for a really clean, modern sound.

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Re: Roland JC-120?

Post by @?,*???&? » Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:59 am

deadeno wrote:I've considered getting one of these for my project studio, mostly to record keyboards and clean guitar.

I've noticed LOTS of them listed on craigslist, which worries me.

I know the built in distortion on these is crap, but is there some other fatal flaw?

just wondering if anyone had an opinion good or bad.

thanks!
I had one back in the '90s. The other fatal flaw is noise- as in hiss. The onboard chorus effect is noisy. Mic on-axis and enjoy a sea of noise!

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Post by vvv » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:46 am

For a long time it seemed as if every jazz guitarist had a JC-120 or a cube...
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Post by bluesman » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:16 pm

Albert King's live amp of choice. Listen to "Blues Power" live. It has that Ice Pick Through The ForeHead sound. Albert sounded great no matter what he played through. I always considered them to be pretty harsh. This would not be my choice for anything in the studio.
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Post by scott anthony » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:25 pm

I like JC-120s for reamping drums and micing the room sometimes because they are so clear and full bandwidth. They were popular with the guitar synth (Belew) crowd for this reason too. It'd be a good keyboard amp for ya...

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