Roland celebrates its 50th anniversary with limited edition JC-120 Jazz Chorus, refinishing the ‘King of Clean’ in a cherry wood finish

Roland 50th Anniversary JC-120
(Image credit: Roland)

Roland has released a special edition of its longest-running product, the JC-120 Jazz Chorus guitar amp, to mark its 50th anniversary, giving the iconic amp a super-smart new look and turning a studio stalwart into a collector’s item.

Only 350 of the amps will be made. Each arrives with a natural cherry wood veneer, classing up the utilitarian aesthetic that we know and love, with a hand-engraved serial number and commemorative badge on the front of a dark gray grille cloth. 

Otherwise, this is a JC-120, which having been in production since 1975, making it officially Roland’s longest-running product, will be familiar to most guitar players, having made its name with some of the finest clean electric guitar tones on the planet.

And that’s before you get to the chorus effect. With the stereo spread of the onboard chorus, the JC-120 is one of those amps that brings up words such as “lush” and “immersive”, and all the familiar tasting notes that you might have for industry standard chorus effects.

There is nary a recording studio across the globe that doesn’t have a JC-120 kicking around somewhere, and over the years it has been pressed into service by the likes of Johnny Marr, Billy Duffy, Andy Summers, Adrian Belew and Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter. 

The JC-120 is the amplifier that Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield looked to, first using it for their clean tones on …And Justice For All.

It is the amplifier that helped Duffy find his signature sound, pairing the Roland’s solid-state sound with a tube amp – typically a Marshall – with both sounds blended together.

“The signature sound of the first two Cult albums was the Gretsch and a Roland JC120,” said Duffy on his website. “That amp had a very nice, clean chorus sound. Looking at pictures of me live from around this time, I went for a double amp setup – there was always a valve amp to give everything some balls. The Roland is great for the early, chimey stuff, because of that chorus sound – which I can really only get out of the combos. Some guys get a great sound with just one amp, but I’ve never been able to do it.

“Basically has an amazing clean tone – a great chorus sound. It’s unbeatable. It’s become kind of a signature. You can definitely hear it on Dream Time and Love a lot. If you listen to Sonic Temple , it’s featured there as one of the layers of the sound.”

The JC-120 is a Class D solid-state combo with 120-watts driving a pair of 12” Silver Cone speakers. It has two channels, with Hi/Lo inputs for each, and each channel has its own three-band EQ and a Bright switch. Channel 2 has controls for Distortion and Reverb. It has an onboard vibrato and chorus, a section controlled by Speed and Depth knobs, and a three-way rotary dial for selecting vibrato, chorus or neither.

The chorus was so good that Roland exported it onto the Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, one of the most-popular chorus pedals of all time, a bona-fide pedalboard essential.

The 50th Anniversary JC-120 Jazz Chorus is available to pre-order and will hit gear stores in February, priced $1,999. See Roland for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.