On a shelf in Amp City, we have a trio Roland Jazz Chorus JC 120 amps from Grammy winning artists. These musicians were quite different genre-wise, but they all loved the sound that the legendary JC 120.
The unit on left was an amp that guitarist Steve Howe used with his bands Yes and Asia. This amp is part of a recent acquisition of performance-used gear that came in from Steve. (See our blog “A Crusty Old Tape Echo”). The center amp was owned and used by legendary blues artist, Bo Diddley. His tone typically had chorus and tremolo, both sound great on this amp. Lastly, the purple Jazz Chorus with the grille cloth removed, was owned and used by Bernie Worrell, keyboardist for Parliament Funkadelic, Talking Heads and Bootsy Collins.
The venerable Roland Jazz Chorus, or JC 120, has become a prime example of a clean, powerful and luscious guitar amplifier. First released in 1975, the JC 120 quickly rose into favor because of its reliability and reasonable cost, but also due to the stunning chorus effect built within. This ‘Dimensional Space Chorus’ effect was output in true stereo, giving a wide and open sound field. Throwing that magical chorus switch makes the amp sound six feet wide, it is quite an open and 3D sound.
Interestingly, the heavy metal community embraced the Jazz Chorus to provide their clean yet powerful tones. Since the JC 120 is solid state, it doesn’t overdrive the signal as a tube amplifier might. This makes it a great candidate for a crystalline, strong amplifier for on-stage use. James Hetfield from the band Metallica, is a Jazz Chorus user, as well as many others in the metal community.
Roland still manufactures the Jazz Chorus series, which shows its viability, especially after four decades of manufacture. If you get a chance, fire up one of these bad boys and take it for a spin, you’ll be impressed!
Written by Drew Raison, photography by EMEAPP