Fender Stratocaster directly into the JC-40.
  • Chorus: All tone controls at noon, reverb at 11 o’ clock, bright switch off, Vib/Chorus control on “fixed.”
  • Vibrato: All tone controls at noon, reverb at 11 o’ clock, bright switch off, speed at 2 o’clock, depth at 2 o’ clock.
  • Distortion: All tone controls at noon, reverb at 11 o’clock, distortion at 1 o’ clock.
Just because an amp lacks glowing glass tubes doesn't mean it can’t deliver iconic and immensely inspiring tones. Take the Roland Jazz Chorus. It has come in many shapes and sizes over the decades’—the big JC-120 is perhaps the most famous. But the latest model, the JC-40, offers a lighter, more compact option to players seeking the JC’s classic clean solid state sounds and airy chorus and vibrato effects.

The JC-40 is clean machine that delivers wonderfully three-dimensional sound by splitting the dry and wet signals between the two 10" speakers. The range of the vibrato and chorus controls can move between subtle warbles reminiscent of Mike Stern’s and John Scofield’s old recordings, to twisted, psychedelic modulation when the effects are maxed. As you will hear in the clips on the online version of this article, the distortion control might not replace your favorite overdrive or low-gain distortion pedal. But few buy a Jazz Chorus for its dirt tones. And even if the JC-40 can, at times, seem like one-trick pony it does that clean, rich modulated thing so very well.

Test gear: Fender Stratocaster, Les Paul Custom

Ratings

Pros:
Plenty powerful for club gigs. Rich, versatile chorus and vibrato effects.

Cons:
Distorted tones are a bit thin.

Street:
$599

Company
rolandus.com

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