Forgotten Artifacts: Purple Disco Machine’s Expansive Roland JX-3P

Forgotten Artifacts explores the vintage gear found in studios around the world. This time, disco house baron Purple Disco Machine gushes over the big, bright, and retro sound of his Roland JX-3P.

3 min
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Mar 13, 2020
Purple Disco Machine

A friend of mine from Berlin had a JX-3P, and I jammed on it for the first time around 15 years ago. I always wanted to have one of these amazing classics. At that time, I just had the JX-8P but still felt the 3P sounded more analogue and was also more agreeable to programme compared to the 8P or 10. In the last few years, I’ve been working a lot with the plugin from Roland, which sounds quite similar, but I never stopped dreaming of getting my hands on an original! A few years ago, I finally bought one on eBay, and now I’m using it for a lot in my songs. Especially for leads, bass, and pads.

The JX-3P is MIDI equipped. As far I know, this synth was Roland’s first synthesizer to incorporate a MIDI interface, which was a massive evolution at that time in around 1983. It also features an onboard 128-step sequencer. It comes with amazing analogue filters and VCAs and has two oscillators per voice. The only negative thing, in my opinion, is that you will need the optional PG-200 programmer if you want a real hands-on experience with the JX-3P.

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I have a couple of other analogue synths like this, but this one has the most vintage sound. The sound of the JX-3P is close to Juno 106, in my opinion, but still different enough for it to have its own distinctive character. For me, it’s a hidden treasure — but without the cult status of other similar synths which can be found at bargain prices. It’s a fantastic synth to consider when looking for those classic early ’80s vintage sounds. That’s why I love this synth.

In addition to using it to create leads and pads, the 3P is also great for crafting bright basslines. Almost every track on my new album has got at least one element from the synth. I also used it in the break of my single “Dished“. The lead synth and the pad in the background all came together thanks to the lovely Roland JX-3P.

Purple Disco Machine’s latest single “In My Arms” is out now via Positiva.

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