It also doesn’t hurt that it sounds incredible. It has a shimmer to it, a heat haze glow that is unique among the '80s polys. Aluminum vapor. Summer days and gleaming fiber optics. Holographic alchemy. Magic, in other words.
If I remember correctly, the JX-3P was actually born from the GR-700, a guitar synthesizer. It had reached a certain state of development when Roland realized it could be spun out into a keyboard synth as well, and so the PG-200 can be used with both the 3P and the GR-700. The fact that the 3P came from a different R&D team than the Juno and Jupiter is reflected both in appearance and sound. Certainly it looks like nothing else in the Roland catalog, and when you think of the sound as something that would mix well with guitar—swirly, chimey, toppy—the thinnness of it starts to make sense.
My keyboard and programmer arrived in great shape, with very little sign of wear and tear on either of them. It even had the original sheet music stand. No programmer case though. Opening it up, it looked like maybe I was the first person inside since it left the factory in Hamamatsu. Not bad for $400.
Technically, there was very little wrong with it. I squirted a little DeOxit into the switch housing for the pitch bend range, as the low setting wasn’t engaging cleanly. I also doused the hold and sequencer start/stop tact switches with some of that magic elixir. I had planned to change all the tact switches but apparently the JX-3P uses proprietary ones. I bought two just in case and they weren’t cheap so I’ll save them until I really need them. I can’t imagine what a full set would cost—assuming I could even find that many of them.
this YouTube video and they sound great. They really show off what the JX-3P can do.
The JX-3P is a deep synth that rewards exploration and experimentation. The sequencer is weird and wonderful, and I love using the mute button to lower the volume of the lower notes when using the hold button for drones. It even has hidden parameters. I swear, it’s synth alchemy. Yes, it’s on the thin side but I just accept that as its defining characteristic. It sits on top of my Poly-61 and together they sound like hot-buttered heaven.
As for whether the JX-3P or the Juno-106 is better? There’s no need to compare when you have both. To my ears, they’re apples and oranges. They complement rather than compete. Elementally speaking, the JX is air to the Juno’s earth. Ether to gold. Radiation to magnetic particles. JXno.