Looking at my little classic synth

Back in 1988, people were hyped up about digital synths and getting rid of their old analog synths. Classics were almost given away which are now worth thousands. While I didn’t have the foresight to pick up a real classic which would now be worth thousands, I did buy a Roland JX3P in 1989 which are now worth over £1200 but I sold it just before the prices of old synths blew up. I did buy this little gem for £30 if you go off Reverb prices are now worth around £1000.

In this blog post, I will share with you my experiences with the Jen SX1000 mono synth. The Jen SX1000 is an analog mono synth released in 1977 for around £210 and was a budget synth aimed at beginners. It was sold through mail order catalogues (remember them?) along with cheap hifi and home electronics.

Jen was an Italian company that also produced a not so well loved electronic piano, a string synth and a pre-set SX2000 synth and closed its doors in 1982.

Jen SX100 Specs

Back to the SX1000, on the synth most of the circuitry is analog but there is a basic DCO which feeds analog circuits. It is actually a great synth for a beginner due to its simple controls and self-explanatory layout. (no menus on this synth!) There is a dedicated ADSR envelope for the VCA and VFC and a noise section containing white and pink noise with its own level control.

The VCO puts out Triangle, Square and Pulse Width waveforms and the pulse width can be modified by a dedicated control and by the LFO. Running a slow LFO on the pulse width makes for some interesting low rich sounding sounds, without it the single oscillator sound a bit thin.

The VCF has a frequency control, resonance, LFO and envelope level (with its own ADRS). Turning the resonance up gives you plenty of self-oscillation.

There are no performance controls, there is a glide control and a tune control but this doesn’t return to centre so it’s not really a replacement for a pitch wheel. The LFO can be used to add vibrato and to modify the filter cut-off. The LFO can’t be pushed up to FM type sounds, but it is good for vibrato and PWM.

The 37 note C-to-C keyboard isn’t great, it’s very clunky which isn’t a surprise given the age and the budget nature of synth and there is nothing fancy like velocity or aftertouch. There are wooden sides, and it has a metal front. The little coloured caps on the knobs tend to fall off and mine was missing some when I got it in 1988. Mine also has a broken top C key which I have never been able to find a suitable replacement.

Maintaining the synth

As with lots of vintage equipment they need a little love every now and then, I clean the knobs with some contact cleaner which removes some of the noise from the controls.


Another limitation is there are no external controls, no midi or CV/Gate inputs. There are 3rd party kits available but I kept mine as it was so its strictly old school audio out only.

While Jen SX1000 hasn’t got the classic status of many vintage synths I have seen it listed over £1000 on Reverb which seems a little optimistic to me. With the broken key and missing caps I don’t think mine is worth that much but then it’s been with me for over 30 years so I am not going to get rid of it now and I still use it for the odd low bass drone sound.

Here is the synth in action, let me know what you think in the comments.

Video demo of the Jen SX1000

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