Are all Roland JCs equally clean?

rojo412

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 23, 2019
Posts
335
Age
42
Location
Cleveland, OH
Recently, I was tasked with cleaning up my dad's 84 Roland JC77:

IMG_2288.jpg

It really came out great, which wasn't terribly hard because he got it in 86, rarely played it, and kept it covered. Pretty much, I just had to clean out the pots and shine it up.

Growing up, I really didn't like this amp. I was learning to play in the days of grunge and this amp is the exact polar opposite of grunge or dirt or anything like that. It wasn't a distortion machine and at the time, I resented that. I still dig a nasty amp and have that covered in my arsenal.
After cleaning this all up, I couldn't help running through this one with a couple different guitars of mine... AND NOW I LOVE IT!

The clean in this amp is "instant 80s" and I do love that sound for certain things. Plugged my 89 Yamaha SE1203A into it (active neck thru super Strat style) and it was absolute clean perfection with a nice crystalline jangle to it in the subtle area of the high end. It even made a Duncan-equipped Ibby RG sound awesome for clean and that is my go-to gain guitar.

Of course, this being in the family, I can borrow it as needed, so it's not like I'd need to find another amp like it, but I can't help but wonder, so I figure I should ask.

Do all of the Roland JC amps do that shimmering, ultra-clean sound right out of the box?
I realize this was kinda the little brother to the JC120, which would be heavier and louder and clean. But I'm looking at some of these newer offerings, the 22, 40, 60, 85, 90, etc. And there are also the Cube amps which apparently have similar circuitry onboard.

Is it a fair assumption with Roland, you're gonna get a nice clean sound with just about any of them? Or is there magic that seems to be only found in the genuine articles?

I figure a few people out there have tried a lot more of these than I have (I'm pretty sure it's been this and a JC120 about 25 years ago at GC, that's all), so I definitely felt the need to ask. Thanks in advance for any insight.
 

Swirling Snow

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 4, 2021
Posts
356
Location
No Dakota
The short answer is "yes".

In another thread, I said that tone is often the result of 'side effects'. As schmee mentioned, JCs are heavy and the side effect of that is their clean tone. In other words, a Blues Cube can do it, but a 120 does it better. (think, 'driving a Mercedes on the Autobahn'). Also, speaker size. 12's can make enough noise while barely moving, which really adds to "clean".
 

rojo412

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 23, 2019
Posts
335
Age
42
Location
Cleveland, OH
Awesome, this is definitely great to hear, I appreciate the feedback.

This JC77 is a 2x10 and 80w, so it seemed to be a nice mix of not that hefty and still have the power. The JC85 and JC90 share a similar spec sheet (with Eminence speakers in the 90) so if I were to see those available in the wild, it sounds like they'd compare very closely to this 77.
Frankly, I don't think I'd ever have the need for the 120, but if I found one at a steal, I'd be hard pressed not to at least buy it and try it.

I guess my curiosity on the even smaller ones (Blues Cube/80XL) would be if they can remain that clean, but maybe have a bit more in the way of the "useful gain department." My SS amp of choice currently is a Tech 21 TM60 and it can run the gamut of tones. But it doesn't do THIS clean the same way. Though I could get close with my chorus pedal engaged, there was something way more "unique" about the Roland.
Problem with the 77 is the awful gain channel, so I wouldn't want to take that to jam unless it was either remaining clean or had the proper pedals in front of it. Begs the question though:

Do any of the Roland amps actually have decent gain AND this kind of clean in one unit?

As a somewhat noob to the guitar amp fray, I'm definitely sure that there is no one perfect amp to do it all. Many amps do certain things so well that they become known for it. The JC seems to be the champion of clean, from what I can surmise. I've played my buddy's Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III and Twin and while those are very clean amps, this makes those sound muddy to a degree (that may be an exaggeration, but you get the point).

While I certainly don't play enough to justify 2 amps and an ABY box, if I were ever at that level, I'd be inclined to go with a JC as the clean half, no question about that. It's just good to know that the other ones made can do it with the same gusto.
And of course, I can always borrow or trade with my dad to see if this truly is something I can get major use out of.
 

AntonyB

TDPRI Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Posts
54
Location
California, USA
Yes! Roland JCs deserve more love.
They are great choices for Dry/Wet setup.

The dual speaker models always have a better dimensional chorus effect, since one speaker has the effect while the other doesn't.

This particular model, the JC-77, along with the JC-55 and the head JC-120H are the only model to use opamp, ICs.
As such they are very easy to mod.
If your JC-55/77/120H is hissy, I devised a mod here (yes, I am jazzfrog) changing only 1 resistor, that significantly reduces the hiss.
The price to pay is a bit less eq control, but it's easily recoverable with either a pedal or a boost in front.

I love my JC-77, it has a place next to vintage Fenders and vintage Ampegs.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions on that mod (but please don't ask me if this works with your JC-120...as I said above, it's only for the 55/77/120H)
 

regularslinky

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jul 22, 2004
Posts
1,912
Location
NEPA USA
I've never owned a Jazz Chorus, but I have a lot of experience with the Roland Cube series, particularly the Cube 60. They are modeling amps that have a "JC Clean" channel. The "JC Clean" is just pristine and beautiful, and takes pedals well as long as you don't push the input stage like you would a non-modeling amp. If you do that, it gets brittle. But for pure clean tone, the "JC Clean" channel on my Cube 60 is my gold standard, even better that the cleans I get from my new Quilter Mach 3, and I LOVE my Mach 3.

I also used to own a first generation Roland Blues Cube. I don't remember that amp having the Jazz Chorus sound at all. It had a more Fendery clean tone as I recall. With the Blues Cubes they were not trying to emulate the Jazz Chorus amps. They were trying to emulate tube amps, and did so remarkably well IMHO. From what I hear, that holds true for the current generation Blues Cubes as well.

EDITED TO ADD: The Roland Cube amps also have several tube amp models that will get various levels and flavors of dirt. I never found those sounds as compelling as the JC Clean, but YMMV. The BOSS (same company as Roland) Katana and Nextone series may be worth a look too.
 

Robert H.

Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 28, 2005
Posts
3,549
Location
N. Cal.
I play. Roland Blues Cube Stage. It’s about 4-5 years old. It gets a great clean sound and can be pushed to crunch - even on the clean channel. On the high gain channel you can really get some distortion. Attenuator for moving from 1/2 to 60 Watts. A great amp which has pushed my tube amps to the back.
 

rojo412

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 23, 2019
Posts
335
Age
42
Location
Cleveland, OH
@AntonyB That is an excellent how-to. I actually don't remember if I was experiencing it that bad (though my tinnitus is constant, so... yeah), but you showed very well how to fix it, should I or anyone else run into that down the line. THANK YOU!

Seems like this is all great info. Next time I'm out shopping, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for some of these to try out in person.
 

mexicanyella

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Posts
4,584
Location
Troy, MO
Watching this thread with interest; I’ve never played an actual Roland JC but keep reaching for non-chorused JC clean sounds in modelers and BandLab.
 

Lawdawg

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Posts
2,333
Age
51
Location
Atlanta
Limited experience but every JC model I've ever played (JC120, JC77, JC55) had that sound. They were everywhere in the 80s which is when I played them a bit. I always liked them because Robert Smith played a JC120 on those early Cure records. I bought my first amp, an Ampeg AX-44c, in large part because it had built in chorus like the JC.
 

Swirling Snow

Tele-Meister
Joined
Dec 4, 2021
Posts
356
Location
No Dakota
I may have mis-spoken, and referred to all the Cubes as "Blues Cubes". But yes, the ones with "JC Clean" do an admirable job.

I just tried my Katana 50 MKII, and one of the Clean settings is obviously a Fender, but the other does Jazz and the Katana has a Chorus built in, so.... and Katana's got gain. This is known. A friend of mine switched through the Crunch, Lead, and Brown settings and said, "Oh, '60s, '70s, and '80s!" Maybe worth a try? Actually, I'd go with the 100 watt model with two speakers. :)
 

Dacious

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Mar 16, 2003
Posts
10,639
Location
Godzone
JC stands for Jazz Chorus and it's fair to say Roland was looking with the first JC120 to create a Fender Twin type big clean amp. It had reverb, tremolo and of course chorus. People liked them because they had glorious big clean tones and lots of power. They stood up to touring and were not as expensive as a tube amp but big and heavy with substance.

The 80s bands who went away from distortion of the Blues Rock 70s like Police, Pretenders, Smith's, The Cure were all big users on recordings and sometimes live.

The JC120 IIRC had two 60 watt power modules each driving a speaker, that's partly why they're so heavy.

It's pretty unique. The analogue chorus split the signal and provided the modulation with a true stereo imaging that sounds better than almost any other. The swirly whirly sound in person is not easy to duplicate with anything else except two amps. In the 70s there was nothing like them.

They were also used by plenty of keyboard players.

Nobody bought these amps for their distortion.

I'm pretty sure 'Brass in Pocket' from the Pretenders is an early example of use.
 
Last edited:

NoTeleBob

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
3,354
Location
Southwestern, USA
It's hard to find an SS amp that does decent gain, let alone one that does a fabulous clean channel with decent gain. Best bet is something like a JC for the cleans with a modeling pedal that will give you some amp modeling for the gain side.

The JC's competition at the time was the Fender Chorus and the Yamaha G50 & 100, Series II & III. Those could do it to. I haven't found a modern amp with DSP that comes close.
 
Last edited:

mexicanyella

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jan 26, 2012
Posts
4,584
Location
Troy, MO
It's hard to find an SS amp that does decent gain, let alone one that does a fabulous clean channel with decent gain. Best bet is something like a JC for the cleans with a modeling pedal that will give you some amp modeling for the gain side.
I have never tried a II or III series Yamaha, but I really liked the I-series G50 1 x 12 I tried a couple years ago.

To me it seemed like it wanted to do more of a warm, thick clean (and I was using a Duo-Sonic to try it) and less of the high end shimmery detail that I think I hear in JC sounds. But it was a compelling sound, and kind of an odd sensation to hear this warm thick sound that also had these immediate fast SS transients.

I liked the slightly odd, but no-nonsense aesthetics of it too.

It had a distortion control that was just weird, but might be fun for “adventurous” types with a retro bent.
 

bendercaster

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Sep 20, 2011
Posts
1,628
Location
Sacramento
I had one of the newer JC40s for a while. It was a fantastic amp and had that sparkly, jangly clean you are talking about. In my experience, it came from pushing the mid knob, which also gave it a really full sound. Super light too compared to similarly loud tube amps. Just an all-around great amp.
 

rojo412

Tele-Meister
Joined
May 23, 2019
Posts
335
Age
42
Location
Cleveland, OH
There is so much I'm learning here, thanks for all of this. The only unfortunate thing is the fact that it's just basically causing a GAS attack for one of these amps. Good thing I know where to find one... ;)

It also sounds like I need to shift my attention for learning material to more of what these were used on, because frankly, I love a lot of that music. The alternative/new wave 80s stuff is what I listen to in my shop all the time. In all honestly, I'm relatively new to guitar (bassist for 28 years). I've got the active 89 Yamaha super Strat, I've got an 85 Westone Spectrum LX... the amp would just be icing on the cake. I'll have to learn more than just the 90s power chord stuff I'd been hacking my way through on a gainier amp, but I feel like this would be a good direction to go with things.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

Tele-Holic
Silver Supporter
Joined
Aug 19, 2020
Posts
926
Age
51
Location
Canaduh
Any I have tried were flat and clean tone shape, with some adjustment to vary that. They are probably one of the most reliable SS types out there though.... and awfully heavy!
Heavy is right. I have a very early JC120 (metal corners, no bright switches, no effects loop) that I can’t lift by myself.
 

vernon

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jul 8, 2012
Posts
235
Location
granby, ct
I had a JC-120 for a couple years. Loved the cleans and the luscious stereo chorus. However, over time, I couldn’t endure the hiss… for me the amp was just too noisy.
 




Top