In a SoundOnSound article from Nov 2006, The Future Sound of London talk about the creation of their song "Papua New Guinea". Garry Cobain talks about the melodies in the track, and mentions using the Roland JX-3P Synthesizer: ""'Papua New Guinea' is a very good example of the way we were working back then," says Cobain. "When you look at that track, the melodic sensibility of it was mine. I wrote, sequenced and played the JX3P top-line synth part live, I did the same for the strings — a one-note pad in the sampler, triggered from the 1040, with each of the chords being three notes worked out and played — and an engineer we were working with also gave me this one-note harp sample, that, basically, could go from C-0 to G-8 right across the keyboard" The original article can be read [here](http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov06/articles/classictracks_1106.htm).more
"But now I've got an Emulator and an Emulator II, two DX9's, an Oberheim, a Prophet, a Roland JX3-P and so on, and I'd say at this point that the synth has a generic sound of its own; when I wrote parts for the synths I used to write "woodwind" and "brass" to indicate the kind of sound, but now I tend to just write "bass synth" or "wind synth" because they have sounds of their own. And even when you think you're hearing an acoustic instrument on the albums there's a synth doubling it an octave below, which gives you a bigger bottom end."more
Now if you want to talk guitar, ask Dave Gregory. He was crushed that he couldn't take his entire guitar harem (over 20) with him for Oranges and Lemons, but he made do with his faves: a 1953 Gibson Les Paul gold-top; a Schecter Telecaster-style ("quite versatile"); a 1963 Stratocaster; a semi-hollow 1964 Epiphone Riviera with miniature humbuckers, heard on the "Pink Thing" solo ("It has a nice Beatley sound"); and one of the first 25 Rickenbacker 12-strings shipped to England in the wake of A Hard Day's Night. Gregory uses Ernie Ball strings "out of force of habit," but creates his own gauge set: .011-.013-.016-.024-.038-.050. He has a Roland JC-120 amp "for those rare occasions that I go out of the house," and a Japanese Fender Sidekick 30 amp for home practice. Effects include a MIDIverb and D1500. For keyboard dabbling he keeps a Roland JX3P with MSQ-100 sequencer, and "an old acoustic piano."more
Eric Persing has had a unique and influential relationship with Roland Corp for two decades. He started as a product demonstrator in 1984, showing some of Roland's first MIDI instruments. He quickly became involved in the R&D side with Roland Japan, earning the title "Chief Sound Designer", and began contributing his design ideas, real-world studio experience and sound design expertise. Persing's skills have left their mark on countless classic Roland instruments. He is the originator of many legendary Roland sounds that have become part of the vocabulary and lexicon of musical sound. These include the Factory D-50 sounds such as Fantasia, Soundtrack and Digital Native Dance, a majority of the JV/XP/XV series Classics, all the Factory JD-800 sounds, the original Juno "Hoover" sound and thousands of others. Here is a partial list of the Roland instruments that Eric has contributed his sound design, sampling and design consulting skills: Juno-106 Alpha Juno 1&2 JX-3P JX-8P JX-10 Jupiter 6 Super Jupiter D-50 D-550 D-110 D-10 D-20 D-70 MT-32 U-110 U-20 U-220 Sound Canvas JD-800 JD-990 JV-80 JV-90 JV-1000 JV-1080 JV-2080 XP-10 XP-50 XP-60 XP-80 XV-3080 XV-5050 XV-5080 Fantom JP-8000 JP-8080 S-10 S-220 S-50 S-550 S-770 S-760 S-750 MC-303 MC-500 MC-505 VP-9000 MSQ-700 MSQ-100 MKS-20 MKS-30 MKS-50 MKS-70 MKS-80 R-8 R-5 DR-660 DR-770 R-70 V-Drums V-Drums expansion board SRV-2000 DEP-5 RSP-550 R-880 SRV-330 SE-50 SE-70 VS-880 VS-1680 SR-JV series expansion boards SRX series expansion boards Sound Canvas Project series CD-ROM libraries Archives series CD-ROM libraries Composers series CD-ROM librariesmore
I’ve owned so many Roland synths, I’ve lost count. But this JX-3P, which came out in 1983, has stuck around the longest. Obviously, you have to get the PG-200 controller, but between its Juno-60-like analogue strings and brass, and its funkier Juno-106 bass flavour, it really is, in my humble opinion, the most underrated gem of the 80s Roland polysynth family.more
"On track three there's a rhythm track, just to get something going along with the drums, on keyboards. I bought a JX3P. I tend to use the preset piano sound, but I take the chorus off and have to tune it in with the programmer a bit to make it sound more piano-like. They've relied on their chorus to make it sound like a piano."more
The album's an unusual one enhanced by text relating the essence of Steve's experiences. Already another album is in the pipeline and the equipment used on 'Journeys' has been replaced by some of the latest in technology — a Yamaha DX7 and Roland JX-3P permanently MIDI-linked, a TEAC 38 8-track and mixer and a selection of wind instruments — minus the Lyricon which has been retired in favour of the more traditional expression of flute and sax.more
Donovan started his musical life on the piano, and still prefers piano keyboards to those on any synthesiser he has played. Throughout the time he was learning piano, he looked forward to the day he would acquire his first synthesiser. That was a Roland JX3P and it was quickly followed by a Yamaha DX7. In retrospect he sees these two purchases as the best investments of his life - six months later and he was recruited into the band. However, neither synth is retained in his current line-up.more
still very much underrated, for me the jx-3p is one of the nicest affordable analog synths for creating spaced out pad and string sounds. it sounds a lot "cleaner" than e.g. a juno-60 or korg polysix but still organic and vital. the two DCOs are very stable compared with the VCOs of the JUNO, the filter is not as aggressive and dirty as that of a juno or jupiter - so the synth is always a bit more controlled and precise. though it sounds cleaner, you can still do a lot of hypnotic stuff by detuning the oscillators. a perfect machine for warm glowing aphex twin-ish ambient pads.
another big plus is the easy to use built-in step sequencer, so it works great with the usual tr-606/808 setup.
the additional PG-200 controller ist strongly recommended, this gives you direct access to all parameters.
This was my first synth. I saved up all summer doing work to be able to spring enough cash for the $1,200 to get it. Decent synth, and much better with a dedicated programmer.
Despite its shortcomings in the vintage synth market, this piece of music history is nothing but amazing analog. Its like having an even more powerful juno despite not being able to program it without the pg 200. Fat basses, smooth pads and sharp electrical leads. It really can do it all. Lack of an arpeggiator is a disappointment but for everything else this synth can do, its a fine loss. Ignore the reviews of juno only players, having heard both the jx and the juno 106 side by side they both have their own pros and cons (a juno 60 sounds better than both of them however), but the jx seems to sound more present. The juno uses chorus to pump up its sound but the jx's second oscillator per voice really thickens up the sound in all the best ways. One thing great about it as well is it has no reliability issues if treated right. Great synth overall for many types of sounds. Worth it to get the kiwi upgrade as the midi implementation is awful, which is one solid reason you don't see this synth in many modern studios.
I've only had this synth for a few weeks, so I still have some exploring to do, but let me talk about a few things that I have come to know already. 1. YOU DO NOT NEED THE PG-200 PROGRAMMER TO MAKE CUSTOM SOUNDS. I bought this with the expectation of buying the PG-200 down the road, but ended up realizing how much I don't need it. Want to edit the release? Hit Bank B, then number 16 and book you have a very nice slider to edit the parameter with. Don't believe anyone that says its useless without the programmer. 2. It's beautiful. The classic bright 80's colors that line it, make it a charmer. 3. It's 1/3 the price of a Juno, with 2x the oscillators. While I love the Juno, and would have one if I wasn't so poor, the JX-3P definitely feels the void for that vintage roland sound. 4. The polyphonic sequencer is so nice and useful.
BUY ONE :)
Played for a while, a real good machine. It features a couple of good preset analog sounds like organs a beautiful EP and a lot of synth sounds
Good filters and does more than the box tells it to. Has that nice Roland sound of the eighties. I use it often for arps as it has a sequencer with a trigger-input, but it works just as well for organ, brass and sometimes bass-patches.
TLDR: I'm fortunate enough to also own a Jupiter 6, a Juno 60, and a pair of SH-101s, but the JX-3P has been my favorite of the lot for many years. It'll fill in the midrange of your arrangement in a way that fits effortlessly and it rewards absent-minded knob twiddling with a diverse palette of funky strings, pads, organs, and lush atmospheric tones... more so than even the (more robust, but more architecturally-constrained) Juno 6/60/106 or the (far more powerful, but with narrower sweet spots) Jupiter 6.
(I can't speak for the Jupiter 8 in this regard, but you could buy at least 14 pairs of 3Ps + PG-200s at the Jupiter 8's current market value)
The First Date: At my Craigslist-facilitated visit to the seller's home, I loved the 3P from the first keypress, but when I got my new prize back to my place, it (initially) sounded a bit anemic when compared directly to the Juno 60. A lot of this can be pinned on the very modest presets it ships with, but the fact remains that the 3P just doesn't have the soaring highs, window-shaking lows, nor quite the same fluid musicality of the 6/60's oscillators and filter. Sadly, and stupidly, the 3P was relegated to my "to sell" pile shortly thereafter. I'm guessing many buyers/owners were originally turned off by similar expectation-laden comparisons to it's (physically) larger Roland siblings. The Jupiters and Juno 6, 60, and 106 set the bar for entry-level analog polysynths pretty damn high.
So why did I rescue the 3P from the pile and give it a second chance? Well, someone on the internet opined that the anonymous(ish) folks behind Drexcyia, Arpanet, Elektroids, etc feature JX-3P all over their releases, and those acts definitely had my respect. I was shocked to hear this synth I had deemed to be "too anemic" was a go-to for a bunch of acts that certainly had a good arsenal of analog classics at their disposal. I plugged the 3P back in listened with fresh ears. I stopped waiting for "those Juno tones" to appear and just listened to what was there: which is a whole lot, with it's own inimitable vibe... and with a hell of a lot less historical baggage.
So What's this synth like in use?
Analogy 1: If the Juno 6/60/106 and Jupiter 6/8 can "sing" well across the bass, baritone, tenor, countertenor, etc ranges, one could say the JX-3P does it's best work in the upper baritone and tenor ranges, a "lighter" voice, but no less essential, and it can give you far more within the limits of this range than the aforementioned synths can (the David Byrne to the Juno's Roy Orbison). That said, I LOVE some of the basses I've made on the 3P, basses I can't duplicate on any of my other synths, and it's "high highs" are pleasing, they're just not as crisp and/or screeching as the Junos and Jupiters. Boo-hoo... must every instrument do everything?
Analogy 2: In guitar-land, Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters were the only 6 string Fenders the market consistently wanted until the late-80s/early 90s grunge and college rock boom(s). Guitarists started picking up old, funky Jazzmasters, Jaguars, and Mustangs in a search for something a little left of center (and cheaper). Nobody is going to tell you that a Jaguar can do everything a Strat can... but those "offset" fenders have returned to production and desirability because they offer a unique feel, sound, and tonal palette relative to the ubiquitous chocolate and vanilla of Strat and Tele. The 3P is like a Jaguar to the Juno's Telecaster and the Jupiter's Stratocaster: a little more comfortable to play, a little smaller, more funky switches and sound shaping potential (compared to a Telecaster, at least). And, like the Jaguar, it's comparatively lacking some of the overall power in the highs and lows, but not in an unpleasant/unmusical way... it's just a less "weighty" sounding instrument, but this lightness let's more of the synth's ragged, primitive, digitally-slaved analog character come through.
In Use: Whenever I'm twiddling the 3P, the world is a wonderful place.
With the PG programmer, the ergonomics of this instrument are so on-point. I remember reading years back that Legowelt felt the 3P+PG-200 had the best layout of all the synths in his museum-sized arsenal... thus far, I have to agree. Having everything you need tidily organized all in the right hand corner is ergonomically convenient. It's also worth noting that the 3P is probably 75% as big as a Juno 60 (which is huge, too huge) and probably not even half as heavy. The 3P is, for me, the prefect size for a 61 key polysynth.
Sonically, this thing came out the same year the DX7 started taking over the world, so it's got (among other interesting touches) a "metal" setting for the cross mod control, which (I believe) is someone's attempt to enable some DX/Synclavier/PPG-style chime within the classic Roland analog palette. Thankfully, the 3P fails miserably at sounding anything like the DX7 or any of the other early digital synths. (analogy alert!) If the DX7 is the TI Graphing Calculator of synths, the 3P is more like a TI Speak & Spell: much simpler, more colorful, and more charming... and the 3P is definitely that much more fun and approachable than the DX synths... in fact, with the PG-200 attached, I find it more fun and easier to get lost in (the good kind of lost) than any other instrument I've lived with. Similar to the Junos, it has a wide sweet spots that ensure things never really sound all that wrong/abrasive, but with it's 2 oscillator per voice architecture (Juno's are just 1-per) you've got a bigger box of crayons to work with... those crayons may be a bit smaller a little more muted than the Juno's big bold primary reds, blues, and yellows, but you can explore the joys of detuned oscillator pairs AND a bucket of classic Roland chorus at the same time: timbres a Juno inherently just can't produce... and let's not forget that none of the Jupiters of this era have built-in analog chorus. Yes, I'm grossly over-simplifying what makes the 3P unique; you'll just have to try one.
Also, while I have nothing against them, I currently have no interest in the later JX-8P/10. I'm sure they're great string/pad synths, but in my experience, they don't have the rough-edged, slightly unpredictable tonal charm of the 3P. The first JX (the 3P) is my pick of the litter for the JX product line: it always gives back a little more than you put into it.
Consider This: Every knob position on a Juno 6/60 or 106 is electronic music history, some artist's classic patch from some classic track... this can often be a great thing, there's a reason everyone used one, but I sometimes struggle to forget all about the weight of that history and just serve the music I'm trying to make in-the-moment. You'll have no such historical struggles with the 3P; it plays/mixes beautifully with all Roland gear of that era, but every new patch I dial-in feels like it's my own voice, filtered through a lot of classic Roland flavoring... which is pretty much what I was hoping for when I bought it.
I was so happy to see Roland include the lesser-known 3P in it's initial trio of "Boutique" hardware reissues. I read a majority of the pro and end-user review of those Boutique boxes, and a surprising # of people from both camps said that the 3P was their favorite of the 3. When going head to head with great DSP-reproductions of a holy grail Juno 60 and Jupiter 8, the lowly, less-famous, less-soaring, less-bass-quaking 3P was the one that kept getting the nod as the reviewer's personal favorite of the 3... think about that for sec...
So... If you want a Juno, get a Juno. If you want a 2-OSC Juno 6/60, maybe get a Jupiter 8 (not the 4 or 6, but that's a different review). And if you want a bone-simple, approachable, inspiring, funky, 2-OSC polysynth from a different, forgotten planet within the same early-80s Roland universe, go 3P + PG-200 (or Boutique JX-03, or Roland Cloud JX-3P VST) and never look back.