JC-120 review by Roland

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (27 votes)
Roland: JC-120
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Price paid: $ 450

Purchased from: Craigslist

Sound — 9
I play two different electrics through this amp. My main axe is an Aria PE-Anniversary, which is an awesome LP copy with abolone trim and inlays plus Seymour Duncan pickups. My other is a black ES-335 copy that I usually use at school for Jazz Band with its stock humbuckers. The amp fits my style excellently as I'm really into jazz and progressive. I like to play metal sometimes too which the amp can't cover on its own of course. I have a Metal Zone but I'm having issues getting the sound I want, but I think its the pedal and not the amp. The first channel has some noise issues but that is because I bought it used and it's older that I am. The channel volume makes noise when turned on this channel. I don't use the first channel since it doesn't have the effects on it so it doesn't matter that much to me. On the second channel I can get very mellowed out jazz tones with the 335 especially. With the Aria I can get the very bright and ringing Pat Metheny tone, with the chorus and some reverb. The clean interludes from Metallica, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Agalloch, and more are easily and beautifully obtained. The amp has very little distortion when the volume its raised. I played it at my jazz band concert and it sounded great, but it reverbed a little too much since we were playing in a gym that is horrible for music concerts. The distortion on it is nothing to be proud of for sure and it has few uses. If you use it on the lowest settings it can be used for getting longer sustain which is a cool feature.

Overall Impression — 9
For playing jazz, progressive, and metal with some help from pedals, it is an amazing amplifier. The chorus is divine and sounds divine. I've been playing for almost 3 years now and I play more now than ever since I've acquired this. I was disappointed that it didn't come with a footswitch for the channels and effects as I could have really used it. I wish my older model had an effects loop on it too. If it were stolen I would probably cry as I don't know if I could buy a used one again for that cheap while still playing good. As I've said I love the chorus as it gives me the perfect sound I've been looking forward to for a long time. In the comment section below I commented months ago wishing I could get one of these, and I finally did.

Reliability & Durability — 7
This is where I am not quite as confident in this amp. The amp is obviously over 30 years old and looks the part but still in good condition. Nothing is broke on it and everything works with the exception of the first channel having some noise. I would use it without a backup since it is playing great now, but also because I wouldn't want to carry any more amps that I have to as its very heavy. I bought it knowing that it could break down from age but also knowing that its worth fixing and popular enough that techs know how to work on it. For the time I've had it I've never had a problem with it at all. I got a free road case with the amp when I bought it so I plan to protect it to prevent it breaking down. I give it a 7 since I'm not the original owner and its over 30 years old.

Features — 9
About a month ago I bought a JC-120 and it's an amazing amp. The serial number system is very unreliable, but my best guess is that its an '89 or at least from sometime in the 1980s. The amp provides the best cleans I've ever played with and I even prefer it over '60s Fenders my teacher owns. It is a solid state amp, but a very good one that doesn't sound harsh like other solid states can. It has 2 channels; the first is a plain channel with 3 EQ knobs and the second has 3 EQ's plus all the effects on it. The effects are reverb, vibrato, distortion, and the famous chorus. Both channels do have a bright switch, which do what they say very well. The amp does have channel and effect switching optional if you have the pedal, which I do not unfortunately. It also has high and low inputs on each channel; the high is for regular guitars and the low is for active signals like from EMG's. I use it at home for practice and it is quiet enough at the lowest volume but it also can do gigs easily as its two 60 watt amps playing through the 212 cab in stereo at once. I do wish it had an effects loop, as the newer ones do. That would help me a lot with EQing and with effects I'm going to buy in the future. If it had the effects loop I would have given it a 10 easily.

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