Roland Jc-120 distortion question

September 22nd, 2013, 03:05 PM
Hi all,

I have heard varying stories regarding the Roland jc-120's built in distortion, from people saying its not bad, to others saying its utter crap.....So my question how bad is it? Can you nail a calssic 70's punk rock tone with it? The guitar i would be using with it is a stock fender classic series 50's esquire.
I realize that there are better amps with distortion out there, but i also like to play reagge hence, the reason i am contemplating a roland jc-120.

September 22nd, 2013, 06:18 PM
If "classic 70's punk rock" means Crass... then yes. You could always add a pedal for distortion tones.

September 22nd, 2013, 08:15 PM
You'd be far better off playing a distortion or overdrive pedal through the clean channel.

Octave Doctor
September 22nd, 2013, 08:19 PM
Adrian Belew used JC120s for years and didn't use the built-in distortion--that ought to tell you something.

September 22nd, 2013, 09:31 PM
I was never entirely happy with the built in distortion on my JC-120.

Jim Dep
September 23rd, 2013, 02:04 AM
I worked with a guitarist for a year back in the 1980's that had a JC 120.

He didn't get a OD sound he liked from the distortion channel. It sounded harsh, no matter what. He played a Gibson 335. Very Larry Carlton influenced.

When he ran a distortion pedal through the clean channel it sounded good. I don't remember what his pedal was.

September 23rd, 2013, 02:10 AM
I had a pair of JC-120's...True glutton for punishment moving those things around all of the time... The only thing I ever used the built in distortion for was a mild volume boost for solo's (set distortion at 1-2.5 and have at it).

September 23rd, 2013, 06:38 AM
I used it to get a lo-fi fur onto the otherwise pristine sound.

September 23rd, 2013, 07:09 AM
I have a Yamaha G50 112 from the late 70's with onboard distortion. I would not recommend it for a Tele, since it enhances the upper odd-order harmonics. My Supros, on the other hand. have extremely dark sounding pickups, and the amp distortion provides a great lo-fi grind. That might be why the opinions on the JC-120 distortion are varied.

September 23rd, 2013, 08:38 AM
Hahaha! I love this Roland Corp video with Johnny Demarco where at 5.20 he says: "Go ahead dial in some distortion." It's like he is addressing the demo to the multitude of negative statements about the onboard dirt on the JC-120. I think it sounds ok here:

September 23rd, 2013, 10:45 AM
I had a JC120 in the 80's.

Great clean amp.

The distortion was very harsh. Harsh and nasty. I had to use a pedal. I. Can't imagine a none using the Distortion knob on the JC120.

September 23rd, 2013, 10:50 AM
I have read some owners of the smaller JCs (JC-77?) saying the distortion was better on their amp than the JC-120, but really, there are so many stomp boxes to choose from for dirt, there's no reason to accept only what the amp can do.

September 23rd, 2013, 11:07 AM
I had a JC-77. Great clean amp, and maybe the distortion was better than a JC-120, but nevertheless, get a pedal.

September 23rd, 2013, 06:18 PM
I've tried the distortion on the 120s and 77s. Yep, get a pedal!

Jim Dep
September 23rd, 2013, 10:08 PM
I had a JC120 in the 80's.

Great clean amp.

The distortion was very harsh. Harsh and nasty. I had to use a pedal. I. Can't imagine a none using the Distortion knob on the JC120.

Hey John, did you mean a "can't imagine a nun" using the distortion knob?

I didn't think I could either but I did get a quick visual ...and then she went right back to the CLEAN channel. :smile:

September 23rd, 2013, 11:14 PM
True. Nothing but clean.


October 1st, 2013, 04:30 PM
I have JC120 and JC50, the distortion is pretty poor whatever guitar I use. Its not as good as the worst od/distortion pedal, its a very edgy fuzz rather than a distortion.
Fantastic amps but the 'bee in a can' fuzz is not one of the best features.
My advice is take the knob off to keep as a spare so you are not tempted to use it. ;-)

October 2nd, 2013, 08:30 AM
Try it with the guitar plugged into the 'low' input. It sounds more like a boost/compressor and has its uses.

Granted, if you're plugged into the 'high' input, it's absolutely abysmal.

October 2nd, 2013, 08:37 PM
Its a complicated distortion, to me My strats will sound usable with a little distortion on for some bite and a slight boost in gain but there's a limit as there is with any other pickups I have run through this amp.Humbuggies is a totally different animal.And the volume control on the guitar and the amp come into play no matter what I have used.
As mentioned plugging into the low input was a little friendlier.
Im convinced now that any pickup that is at a strat or lower output will be a little more useful I have been using my amp since the early 90,s.
If your after certain recorded sounds a pedal or pedals is the only way.
Ill be honest I love this amp I always run it in tandem with my other amps it fills in the gaps.

October 2nd, 2013, 09:06 PM
I used a JC120 at a jam session and would say that the OD was not the sound I wanted so put a pedal in front.

Also have a Cube 60 COSM - the Cube 60 has better OD but the JC120 is better clean of course - probably due to 2 x 12 speakers.

Bottom line is I would rather use my sf twin than any of them...