Roland JD-800
"Gandalf the White"




UPDATE 5/25/2008: Jeff Toman of artistically created a beautiful new all-white look for my Roland JD-800, in the style of a classic '80s SH-101 synth. The logo was altered to match the style. It's a perfect way to go, since the faders are identical to the ones used on the SH. This 29-image Flickr set follows recent work at my friend Randel's synth barn in Essex, CT, as we added the custom parts onto my otherwise stock synth.

Details of this mod include a lot of cheeky text changes to the front panel, changing the Power switch to say "Destroy," Program Banks to "Dave's Weaponry," Volume to "Anger," and that sort of thing. Only the top half and the sides were shipped off to Jeff for painting, since there was just too much circuitous crap attached to the bottom half for my level of comfort. The result is some residual stock black paint on the bottom half of the rear panel, and underneath the keybed. With so much black detail up above, it's my opinion that this two-tone treatment is every bit is stunning as an all-white one would've been, if not more so. In any even, it's a perfect companion board to my other Customsynth mod, the white JX-3PG! Because of the coincidence of turning from grey to white, I have named this keyboard Gandalf, which is pretty freaking nerdy I guess, but c'mon. It's perfect. "Gandalf the Grey. Yes, that was my name. Now I'm Gandalf the White!"

I've had at least one JD-800 since 1991, and thanks to the keepsake quality of Gandalf's new mod, I'll never be without one. Only around 6 or 7 of the original presets remain in its internal memory; I've tweaked some great crap out of it. The sound sample shows off a crazy noisy guitar sound that completely blankets the first Parallax CD and is pretty common in the second one as well, actually. Afterwards there's an innocuous little '80s synth bass sound happening. I love the JD-800 for too many reasons to list, from it's 60+ sliders' worth of control to its crazy orange lights littering its acreage of edit-friendliness. The alternating black and white of the sliders almost makes it look like it's got a triple-manual keybed (if you squint at it, anyway). It's sound architecture favors sample-based & DCO nonsense over traditional analog-modeling subtractive synthesis (very similar to the Juno-106 in many ways), and it's put together using about the cheapest-quality plastic ever made, but it still remains a favorite, if not THE favorite board in my arsenal.

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Copyright (c) 2005-2008 David C. Lovelace