Those, who have been in the music industry for a long time, will remember the legendary JC-120 from Roland. It was one of the first solid-state amplifiers that had outstanding quality in terms of sound. This specific model made such an impact on the musicians that most virtuosos implemented it in their rigs. And since all this magic was happening back in 1970s, Roland came out with a newer, more compact model that is supposed to deliver the same performance. JC-40 is an extremely versatile amplifier that can create and reproduce almost anything. It is definitely a proud descendent of its bigger and older sibling and is a perfect example of the brand’s quality. If you want to travel back in time or you are simply looking for a decent jazz amplifier, you are in the right place. Just keep on reading to get to know everything you will need on your way to the magic world of jazz chorus.
I have mentioned already that JC-40 offers an extensive set of features. It is packed with various useful qualities that define the character of the amplifier. First and foremost, this little fella can bark up 40 watts of power, which is bisected between two 10” speakers. For this reason, it creates a stereo sound that will stand out in the mix no matter what. The design of JC-40 promises to be durable and long-lasting. It is built with a hardened fiberboard which is topped with corner protectors. It is open on the back and has a silver check grill covering on the front. More importantly, this combo has mono and stereo inputs, allowing you to plug in a stereo pedal from the panel and add even more layers to your sound. As for the on-board effects, we have distortion, reverb, vibrato and that legendary chorus. JC-40 has an in-built effects loop which can be utilized in series or in a parallel mode. It is also compatible with a foot controller (must be bought separately) that activates distortion, chorus, vibrato or reverb. Finally, it has mono and stereo inputs, phones jack for silent practicing, Line Out outputs for recording or connecting the unit with a PA system, Send and Return sockets for the effects loop, as well as three inputs for the footswitch (distortion, reverb and chorus/vibrato).
The controls of JC-40 are well-organized and laid out beautifully into two separate sections. The first one is responsible for the EQ, distortion and reverb, while the second one takes care of vibrato and chorus. Let’s continue our article and discuss all the knobs in depth.
The first thing you will encounter on the front panel is the Bright switch that boosts mid and high frequencies and delivers a crisp sound. Further on we have Volume knob, which alters the overall level of the unit. Treble, Middle and Bass adjust the amount of high, middle and high frequencies. Distortion and Reverb change the amount and depth of these two effects, respectively. Then we have Speed and Depth knobs, which are quite self-explanatory. The final encoder Vib/chorus allows you to choose between these two effects, set the manual mode to control their parameters and select the fixed mode to utilize the factory settings programmed by Roland.
Right off the bat, I have to mention that Roland JC-40 has certain distinctive characteristics that differentiate it from other models. It can easily deliver some niche tones that are hard to replicate with other amplifiers. It produces pristine clean sounds with transparent nature, so that the chords you play and the notes you strum maintain their true qualities. This way everything you perform comes out as organic and extremely authentic. But the real magic happens as you dial in some chorus. Due to the dual speakers and stereo inputs, wet and dry signals are created simultaneously, and then mixed together. As a result, you receive a multi-dimensional chorus that is like no other. It has full body and ethereal swirls that get on with your sound like a house on fire. The vibrato and chorus have fixed functionality, which means you could employ the custom settings of Roland and experiment with the sounds the brand has to offer. The distortion on JC-40 is warm and defined, more like a tube overdrive. The reverb is extremely spacious and expansive, as well, with just the right amount of saturation. The ability to connect stereo pedals allows you to enhance your capabilities even further and create something extraordinary. But you could always utilize the effects loop either in series or parallel mode and add the desired effects before the power amp. It is clear as a day that the versatility of Roland JC-40 is out of this world. It offers all the shapes and sizes of different tones and forces your creative juices to flow interminably.
On the whole, Roland JC-40 does an extremely good job at being a jazz amplifier. Even though it is not equipped with tubes, it does not lack sweetness and warmth. The quality is outstanding, both in terms of sound and construction. It is capable of producing a wide range of wonderful tones with simple twists, which makes the whole process even more enjoyable. If you do not believe me, you can always search for the demos and listen to the sounds of this amplifier. And trust me, its tone speaks for itself. Good luck!
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