Roland JC-120, a representative of domestic guitar amplifiers.
Roland is a representative Japanese electronic musical instrument brand. Following KORG, they have been manufacturing and selling monophonic and polyphonic analogue synthesizers since the dawn of domestic analogue synthesizers, and they have released famous machines such as System100 and Jupiter8. The TR series, released in 1980, was revolutionary and a huge hit as a rhythm machine.
Roland also commercialized the world’s first GR-500 guitar synthesizer in 1978. It was possible to obtain a synthesizer sound while playing on an electric guitar, and although it was monophonic, its revolutionary concept and sound were favoured by prominent guitarists, along with the background of the times when new music was born. After that, the GR-300, which succeeded in making it polyphonic, was released.
Other manufacturers around the world have developed guitar synthesizers as well, but Roland’s reliability continues to be unrivalled. Even after moving to digital, Roland has been actively manufacturing hardware synthesizers. BOSS, a brand of effector for guitars and basses, is also one of Roland’s brands.
Roland has a strong image as a synthesizer brand, but from the 70s to the 90s, instrument amplifiers that could monitor the sound of electronic instruments were the mainstream. Among them, the guitar amp made by Roland is the JC-120 guitar amp that represents Japan.
JC is an abbreviation for Jazz Chorus, and you may be familiar with the nickname “Jazzko”. The JC-120 does not use vacuum tubes, which are standard in guitar amps, and is composed of transistors and ICs. As a unique point, it is a stereo equipped with a 60W + 60W power amplifier and two 12-inch speaker units. When you turn on the built-in chorus, dry sound comes from one side of the two stereo speakers. Instead of forming a chorus with an effector that outputs a wet sound from the other side, the sound output from the speaker is mixed.
The clear and beautiful chorus was later released as a stand-alone effector “CE-1”. Known as a masterpiece of the chorus, its sound has been inherited by the current BOSS CE (ChorusEmsamble).
Because it does not use vacuum tubes that require regular replacement or maintenance, it is extremely durable, and it is nicknamed as effector, it has become a standard amplifier in rehearsal studios and live houses in Japan, and has been installed permanently in Japanese studios. It is a standard amp found in every Japanese studio.
The JC-120, which has become a standard amplifier, has also released detailed models such as the JC-60, JC-160, and JC-200. Many Japanese musicians love it, and you can hear the sound of the JC-120 in some of their most famous works. An effect loop was installed later, and a wide range of sound creation is realized by making full use of the effector.
The speaker unit has also changed since the early days, but the aluminium centre cap that stands out is still eye-catching. Unlike speaker units designed for vacuum tubes, the efficient unit optimized for transistors produces a clear and beautiful sound that can only be produced by the JC-120. Many guitarists say that they use the JC-120 for recording clean sounds, even if they use a vacuum tube amp for distortion.
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