Thursday, December 17, 2020

Roland Cube Amps for Jazz

A while ago my son in law gave me a Cube 20 to store in my house. I had been reading about the Roland Cubes as budget jazz amps for many years but never taken them seriously. Never even tried one. Big mistake. Obviously, this amp was never intended as a jazz amp so it has some presets that are useless to me (metal stack, metal, distortion, overdrive) and I simply prefer amps without all that rock stuff so I ignored them. But .. after I fumbled around with the Cube 20 for a bit I found the clean setting and there it was, a nice clean useable jazz sound. I had to turn down the highs on the amp a quarter but left the rest flat. I decided to do a recording and miked the amp. The guitar is my ES 175.

A nice enough sound for such a little amp. Sure, you can hear it's a budget amp but with some fiddling around you can get a jazz sound. I took it to a rehearsal but it did not have enough headroom to sound good in a live setting. What do you expect with only 20 watts and an 8" speaker. I decided the 20 is a nice practice amp but not a giggable one. I figured a 12" and more powerful version of it could be gig worthy though. Unfortunately Roland is no longer producing them - they switched to the Katana series - so I had to find a used one. That was no real problem and expensive they were neiher ... I found one that was practically unplayed that I bought for 100 bucks. 

Same routine. After fumbling around and ignoring all the amp and digital effects that are on it I quickly discovered the clean setting (JS clean channel) and bingo ... nice enough sound. The amp was a bit too trebly for my taste with all EQ flat but I simply turned down the high and presence knobs. Both the Cube 20 and 60 do sound a bit trebly and even a bit shrill with the EQ flat. In my experience, the weak spot of a budget amp is often the unpleasant highs and the Cubes are no exception. So you have to turn them down for a classic jazz sound. My Mambo Jazz amp - which is way more expensive - has a more balanced sound in all registers but that is a way more expensive amp.

I miked the Roland Cube 60 and recorded a tune with my Ibanez FG 100. Note the 60 has more bottom end and "body' to its sound than the 20. Probably much more headroom on a stage too, but I still have to find that out. Here's my Ibanez FG 100 played through my Cube 60. In my virtual studio I added some reverb.

The bottom line for these amps is that you get a whole lot more than you pay for. Sure, these are NOT jazz amps per sé but you can get a decent jazz sound of them. I'd go for the ones with a 12" speaker. Like I said, the Cube series has largely been replaced by the Katana series but on the used market there are plenty Cubes floating around. I have seen lots of Cube 20, 30, 40, 60 and even 80s for sale on the web! For, give or take, 100 bucks you get a decent rehearsal and even gigging amp so you won't have to take your top dollar jazz amp with you all the time ... 

For some specs on the Roland Cube 60 click here. 

I still have to do compare the Cube 60 with my Katana 50 but that is for later.


  1. I'm surprise with the sound you get from this amp!!! $100.00? Really?

  2. It's Great that you are aware of people about music. Thank you for sharing this informative content. it's really wonderful and helpful for us. We are also from the same Domain. Hire Classical and Jazz Musical Guitarist for concerts.

  3. Thanks for kind and useful observation and beautiful playing! Marijan from Crikvenica, Croatia