Obliq Museum: Roland Super JX-10 Restoration

In the early 1990’s I was in my first band called Neurotricity.  My band partner had an amazing synthesizer studio and the heart of the studio was the Roland Super JX-10 synthesizer.  We used that synth for both sounds and also central MIDI control for recording into the computer.  I have fond memories of using that synthesizer.

Throughout my synth hunting over the last 20+ years I have kept an eye open for this synth to pick up for my studio.  I had a lead on a beat up one several years back, but the person wanted more than I thought it was worth given its condition as it had been gigged a lot.  Several years ago I found a Roland JX-8P with a PG-800 programmer and I picked that up.  The JX-8P is basically 1/2 of a Roland Super JX-10 and I’ve been enjoying the synth, especially programming it with the PG-800 accessory; it is difficult (but not impossible) to program in the little window and alpha-dial that this vintage of synthesizer provided.  I was content with this JX-8P and figured if I found a JX-10 that would be great; but didn’t think I’d ever run across one so I had the next best thing.

Several months ago I happened upon a Roland Super JX-10 in excellent shape.  The person I bought it from never gigged with it; it was basically a home studio toy that had been put away in a closet for many years while the owner explored other hobbies and interests.  There was one dead key, but otherwise it was fully functional.

In researching what it would take to fix the dead key, I came across several really great websites that explored the Super JX-10; there was one that caught my eye–Fred Vecoven’s site–where he reversed engineered the firmware and rewrote it fixing bugs and added new features.  One of the features was an arpeggiator, and I decided I must upgrade my JX-10!

The video below shows how I fixed the keyboard contact and how I installed the new firmware.  With the PG-800 and the new firmware, this Roland Super JX-10 is a beast of a synthesizer that I can already tell will provide tons of enjoyment in sound design!

Obliq Museum: Roland HS-60 (Juno 106)

I purchased a Roland HS-60 Synthesizer a little while ago and am currently integrating it into my home studio.  One thing I noticed was the front panel interface is the EXACT same as the Roland Juno 106 (it is the same synthesizer after all) and there was no way to mute the internal speakers based on the front or back panel controls.

Roland HS-60 Synthesizer

I ended up reading the manual and buried in there was the answer.  Seems like this could have been a little more obvious, but now that I know you have to plug in a cable to the headphone jack to turn off the speakers I am good to go.

Turn off Roland HS-60 Internal Speakers

From the Roland HS-60 Manual, here is the trick to turning off the internal speakers. Note that the Juno 106 does not have this speaker option.

Read more about the HS-60 from my original posting.  The original owner’s manual is located here.

Roland ProForm Series [TR-606 & TB-303] :: Obliq Museum

Was doing some cleaning and found this ad from an old Roland Users Group brochure.  I had no clue these were from the ProForm Series of musical instruments.  What is lost with time…they don’t talk about what the TR and TB stand for… Transistor Rhythm and Transistor Bassline.  Everything is COMPUTER CONTROLLED !

I love the tagline at the end… Roland :: We Want You To Understand The Future.  I guess they hit that nail directly on the head!

Roland ProForm Advertisement TR-606 and TB-303

Roland ProForm Advertisement TR-606 and TB-303

The new Roland ProForm Series is a group of interrelated products, each providing a specific musical function.  Like individual members of a band, each of the ProForm products can sync with others in the series to produce a totally programmable musical performance.  The first of the products in the ProForm Series are the TR-606 Drumatix and the TB-303 Bassline.

TR-606 Drumatix

The Drumatix is a totally programmable drum synthesizer sequencer.  The Drum sounds available on the TR-606 include: Bass, Snare, Lo and Hi Toms, Cymbal, Open and Closed Hi Hat.  Each sound has its own level control for total mix flexibility.

With the Drumatix, you can program 32 different Rhythm Patterns which can be arranged to play up to 8 complete Rhythm Tracks (songs).  After the Track has been programmed, the TR-606 can easily sync to other ProForm products, or many other products to play the complete drum track of the composition.

TB-303 BassLine

As the Drumatix is to the drums, the TB-303 is to the Bass, a fully programmable bass synthesizer sequencer.  The remarkable stable synthesizer section features full voice flexibility with dual waveforms and controls for Tuning, VCF Cutoff, Resonance, Envelope Modulation and Decay.  The programmable Accent and Slide functions bring true bass technique capabilities to the TB-303.

With the facility to produce up to 64 different Bass Patterns, the TB_303 BassLine allows you to arrange these into 7 different Bass Tracks, which can then be synced with Drum Tracks you’ve programmed into the Drumatix.  The BassLine also can be easily synced with many other products by the DIN Sync jack or the CV and Gate outputs.

The ProForm Series is bound to appeal to any creative person for writing music, practicing, or simply communicating ideas to other musicians.  Each of the products (and their are more to come), is battery operated with AC adapter capability, totally portable, furnished with a carrying case, and also contains a built-in headphone amplifier which lets you plug in a set of phones and write and practice music anywhere.


We Want You to Understand the Future

Music News: Freq Modif Active

Been a while since my project Freq Modif has been active; but that sleeping beast awakes. Right now there is a Facebook page and a Soundcloud page. I have 25+ tracks ready to go online; I’m going to add them a few at a time–much like a glacier melts–so does the Freq Modif archive to create a constant stream…

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/users/44238971″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


And the patch above was my dad’s; he was a Radarman in the Navy.  I love the patch and it hangs in the studio with all the electronics equipment!

Roland HS-60 / SynthPlus 60 / Juno-106 :: Obliq Museum

Roland Home Series Synth Plus 60

Roland Home Series Synth Plus 60

I found this locally from a really cool guy near town this week. Ended up heading up during a blizzard and was stopped on the interstate due to multiple wrecks…ended up getting led off the interstate by turning around and going the wrong way to the nearest on-ramp…I thought the synth was gone as the seller said there were other interested parties…but the next day it was available and I went to pick it up.

The synth overall was in wonderful shape; there were only two real issues with it:
1) The rate slider was broken off; thus missing the slider cap too.
2) The Bender plate/mechanism is pretty loose.
3) The sheet music holder is missing
4) There is a screened on logo of the keyboard store in Omaha front/center of the unit (I would never have bought this new with that on it!)

Great shape except the broken slider, and screened logo of the original seller!

Great shape except the broken slider, and screened logo of the original seller!

So, I pulled out the schematic from the internet and saw that all but the HPF sliders are 50K so I found one (with a Juno slider cap!) and have it on order. I should have this early next week and will pull this apart and fix that slider and tighten the Bender plate! I’m going to not worry about the other two issues.

Close up of the Control Panel...

Close up of the Control Panel...

The HS stood for Home Series and Roland had several in this line during the mid-80s. The thought I think was to give these to aspiring musicians and people taking piano lessons at home or school. To make it more “home” friendly they stripped the colors of the Juno-106 and added speakers–which sound very nice in my opinion!

The interface of this synth!  MIDI In/Out/Thru and program protect are not shown

The interface of this synth! MIDI In/Out/Thru and program protect are not shown

Even though there is only one DCO per voice; this 6 voice machine has classic, wonderful sounds.  You can stack all 6 DCOs at once which has a really thick and aggressive sound!  You can also add one of the two Chorus features which also thickens the sound…the Chorus functions are really sweet!  I have owned several Juno-106s in the past; but for whatever reason I got rid of them (trades, etc) and lately I have been wanting back that “classic” Roland sound back in my studio! That occurred this week!  I also got a hefty anvil case with this synth, although its a pretty tight fit…

The heavy duty Anvil case

The heavy duty Anvil case

Both kids like it as well!  I look forward to plugging it into the genoQs Octopus sequencer and having some fun!  I’ve also picked up the Roland JX-3P lately so I think I’ll have a dueling Roland session with the Octopus soon!


I purchased a 50k slider on eBay that had a slider cap (unfortunately white) and finally got around to taking the HS-60 apart and replacing that slider.  Pulling off the 5 screws per side in the plastic siding, and then the 2 screws per PCB (main PCB and MIDI) on the back, and finally the 6 or 7 screws from the panel PCB.

HS-60 encased speakers

HS-60 encased speakers

These speakers get REALLY loud; I usually have the volume at 3 or 4.  The inside of the synthesizer was VERY clean!

Juno 106 and HS 60 are the same beast!

Juno 106 and HS 60 Jack PCB.

The boards and assembly are really professional in the HS-60.  The panel in on a taught hinge which made it really easy to work on.

The Panel Board - 50K rate slider Fixed!

The Panel Board - 50K rate slider Fixed!

The LFO rate slider is all the way on the left.  This 50k slider was super quick to replace once I got to it.  I had to take off the Panel PCB, MIDI Jack PCB and Jack PCB.  Overall, this took about 45 minutes to complete.

Cool HS Shadows

Cool HS Shadows


Synthesizer restoration project: Roland JX-3P :: Obliq Museum

Purchased a Roland JX-3P synth today, Roland’s first Midi synth from 1983 timeframe. I have owned 3 Juno-106 synths over the years but I didn’t like the stair step filter sound so I sold them off…but over the years I find myself missing the classic sounds…so I was excited to pick this synth up!

It has the basic layout as the Junos, having an extra DCO which is cool…but it does not have the nice control sliders like the Juno-6, 60 or 106 does… I am actually excited (so I have read) to learn the with the on board sequencer you can overdub with it which is exciting. My buddy Brett has a PG-200 programmer that I can borrow to easily program out the 32 programs! There is also an after market cpu upgrade that looks very intriguing…but is $300 including shipping from New Zealand so I lost a little excitement due to the sticker shock!

Roland JX-3P upon initial inspection

There were many issues with the synth when I got it.

1. It was filthy and smelled heavily of cigarettes, so much that you could barely see the LEDs light up!  That was pretty easy to fix with a good cleaning.

2. There were many screws missing, especially the ones holding the keyboard to the chassis. That should be easy to fix with a trip to the hardware store.

3. The selector slider works but it has a horrible metal-to-metal feel and sound.

4. The rate slider is completely broken.

5. The volume knob/cap is gone

6.The output jack is busted.

7.The lowest C key does not trigger at all

8. A higher E key sticks.

9.The volume pot is not connected to the PCB very well; and it needs some lube to get some of the static out.

I was pretty lucky and found a used jack board for $40 and new sliders for $15 each, these are on their way now. That will be some soldering, not a big deal…so that just leaves the slider cap for the rate and the volume knob. I may not replace these with the original parts, i am going to do some looking at old used electronics dumps and online to see what I can find…I should hopefully be able to re solder the volume pot in; I just discovered this issue; haven’t checked if the PCB is broken or not…could be a bigger issue. This should be basically (less the C key) back up and running very soon! Will check into the contacts of that C key as well! Cannot wait!!!

Here it is after the initial cleaning:

Roland JX-3P after the initial scrub-down

UPDATE:  2 days later…

I plugged it in and played with it for a couple of hours last night.  After figuring out the user interface it actually is pretty easy.  Any parameter is 2 button presses away.  The quick reference chart in the upper right side of the faceplate makes it super quick to zero into a parameter.  I actually like this implementation; much better than the later “tiny window” and scroll wheel that became huge later into the 80’s and 90s!  The implementation is very nice considering there are no real-time knobs/faders to control the sound!  Good job Roland…you went down-hill for years after this!

To my surprise, the “stair step” sound of opening/closing the filter that the Juno-106s had to my dislike IS NOT THERE; it is a smooth analog feel when sweeping the filter!  WOW, a cool extra bonus!  I played with the mixer and both DCOs and there are quite a bit of variety in modulating the sound that can happen this way.  So far, I’m very impressed with the sound capabilities; I just wish there was velocity on the keyboard…this appears to be a HIGHLY under-rated synth (from a price/desirability perspective–due to the lack of sliders/knobs); probably people don’t understand they can spend <20 minutes required to get used to the fairly straight-forward user interface.  Rich analog sounds galore!!!

Here is a quick overview of how to program this great synth:

Roland JX-3P Quick Reference screened on the front

Here are all the parameters that can be used to craft sounds…a great quick reference on the front faceplate!  Note there are two sets of parameters, numbered from 1 to 16 labeled in either “white” and “red”.

Roland JX3-P Master Control

Step #1:  First press the Edit bank button corresponding to the parameter you desire to adjust (Group “A” is white while “B” represents those parameters screened in red).

Step #2:  With the “color” selected, the parameter number from the Edit-Map reference is selected using the 16 preset buttons.  For on/off or multiple position “knobs”, you will use the bank buttons (A – D, on the left)–the value will be shown by a illuminated LED.  Otherwise you use the “Sens” slider to choose a value for the parameter–each is divided into 16 step values and the current value is illuminated on the corresponding preset LED/button.

If you are needing to change another parameter and it is in the same “Group” you are one click away…simply press the corresponding preset button/LED and use the Sens slider to adjust.  If the parameter is in the other Group color; then you will need to press that Edit Bank Group button first.  A parameter is always less that two clicks away!

Step #3.  Once you have your sound as you like it, to write to one of the 32 available user presets make sure your Group button LED is off (out of edit mode) and then press the Edit Write button, the Group button you want to save to (either C or D; A and B are presets that can not be saved over) and then the Preset number button.

Pretty darned simple if you ask me.

I’ll add more soon, once I get the parts and open this up to fix all the problems…until then; I’ll be programming some new sounds and hooking up to a MIDI controller.

UPDATE:  1 Day Later…

Wow, my parts shipped quick.  I ordered them last Friday and they were here today, Monday.  I had a few hours before the family came home so I decided to dig into this and see how far I could get.

JX-3P Opened up and ready for surgery

First, fix the couple of keyboard issues:  Lowest “C” is not triggering and the upper “E” is very loose.

Upper “E” key (and black note next to it) were broken

I pulled out these two keys (I didn’t realize the black key was also very “loose”) and super-glued the parts back on…

Broken keys and parts after extraction from the assembly

Super glue fix...

The Super Glue Fix…


Now to the low “C” that didn’t trigger. I noticed that the rubber was raised; probably got some dust under there…

Contact was raised...

Contact was raised…

I took an eraser and lightly cleaned both pieces, and then took a cotton swap and some isopropyl alcohol and cleaned this up.  I then put the key back on.  That seemed to do the trick!  All the keys are solid and now work!

I then replaced the jack board.  It is obvious that this synth was dropped; much like humpty dumpty it had a GREAT fall!  The jack was still soldered to the pad; but the pad was broken / cracked from the traces.  The hex bolt was also forced off, both which allowed the jack to be very loose and not function properly.  Regardless, I replaced the entire jack board.

Notice the crack / broken trace.

Next to the volume pot.  Same thing, it obviously suffered trauma and the pads were broken from the traces.  I repaired these by adding some hookup wire to reconnect the traces; and then re-soldered the pot to the PCB.  That seemed to work as well!

Traces were separated from the pads…


This is why the volume didn’t work well…

Finally, I replaced both the Rate slider (which was completely broken off) and the Sens slider.  These I got today in the mail.  These have a nice feel now!

Broken Rate slider

So, four days after getting this wonderful synth, it is nearly completely restored.  I have one slider cap (from the broken slider) to replace…I may replace all 3 depending on what I find.  I found a nice knob in my collection for the volume; so that looks good now too.

Overall, a very fun (and quick) restoration project!  Now, time to make some tunes!



Tunes I wrote years ago! 94-era

I’ve been going through a big box of random cassette tapes from my formative years and pulling out great mix tapes and every now and then I re-discover an early track that I wrote. Here are several tracks that nearly got lost in time!

Here is a compilation of oldies but goodies (especially if you like the mid-90s electronic music sound)…

First is a track that I wrote with my first band partner, Thane Barrett, who I met while working at KUCB Radio. Thane had (has?) an amazing analog synthesizer collection and we definitely utilized it for this track. The track took 4 months and 10 versions to finish and it was the last thing that we did together. I’m pretty proud of this track as it was probably my 3rd or 4th track; but definitely the first one that was produced this well! Circa-1994.

The second track here is a trance ditty I wrote in 1994. This used Drummer 2.0 software which I loved as it allowed me to create and arrange patterns and songs quickly. Probably had the Roland Juno 106, R-8 and Oberheim Matrix (6 or 1000?). Not sure of the effects…Ensoniq DP-4?

The third track here was a project we called Statik (again Thane and I) as we constructed this track in the newly acquired high-tech equipment at the KUCB radio production studio. The one and only time I ever used Protools! Recorded with an Oberheim OB-1 with the Roland TR-606 running through the external filter input. Included are samples from our sample library (NASA stuff) on the first available Technics SL-P1200 DJ CD deck. Great vintage equipment!

Another track I found lost in a long forgotten folder in the archive…title says it all. Trying the HTML5 player for Soundcloud so let me know if you have problems with it!

Fun stuff! Enjoy!