In June of 2013, Roland announced a revamp of their popular CUBE line of guitar amplifiers. The CUBE line has been around since 1978 and has been the bread and butter of many practice and recording sessions. Randy Rhoads, Joe Walsh and Ritchie Kotzen are some of the artists who have used the amplifiers in the studio and on stage.

The CUBE line includes a collection of solid-state combo modeling amplifiers that cover a lot of bases – from low-volume personal practice to filling up a large stage with your tone. All of the CUBE amplifiers use Roland’s COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) engine to model different amplifiers.

The Roland CUBE Lite and Micro CUBE models are small and portable amplifiers.

The GX Series amplifiers are slightly larger combo amps that suit studio and live gig applications. There are three models: 20GX, 40GX and 80GX

GX Series

The GX series of CUBE amplifiers are of the plug-in variety. Models in the series include:

  • CUBE-80GX: 80 watts, 12-inch custom-designed speaker
  • CUBE-40GX: 40 watts, 10-inch custom-designed speaker
  • CUBE-20GX: 20 watts, 8-inch custom-designed speaker


Roland CUBE 80GX

 

Each CUBE-GX amp is equipped with three independent channels—including JC CLEAN, LEAD, and SOLO—plus three separate effects sections.

JC CLEAN provides the tone of Roland’s JC-120 amplifier (a mainstay especially with jazz guitarists), while LEAD offers multiple amp types to choose from (10 in the CUBE-80GX, 8 in the 40GX and 6 in the CUBE-20GX). SOLO is fully programmable, allowing users to store their favorite amp type along with EQ and effects settings.

Built-in effects include EFX (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremelo and Heavy Octave), DELAY, and REVERB.

You can select channels from the top panel or remotely with footswitches while performing. The CUBE-80GX and CUBE-40GX support the GA-FC Foot Controller (sold separately), which has six footswitches for channel selection and effects on/off, plus two jacks for volume control with expression pedals.

All CUBE-GX amps also offer remote channel selection with optional BOSS FS-5U or FS-6 footswitches.

Micro CUBE GX

The Micro CUBE GX is a small, but rugged little amplifier. Its 3W power rating isn’t going to fill up a concert hall with its’ tone, but it’ll be enough to allow you to dial in a tone for practice or recording literally anywhere you can play your guitar.

It measures approximately 10”(W) x 7”(D) x 9”(H) and weighs 6 pounds. It can be powered by 6 AA batteries (up to 25 hours of playing time) or by an AC adapter. With a handy strap for carrying around, it’s meant to easily go where ever you want to go with your guitar.

The amp is small, but like its big brothers above, the Micro CUBE is packed with features. With eight of Roland’s COSM amps, the MICRO CUBE GX offers a wide range of amp models: from the JC CLEAN to the new EXTREME for in-your-face metal riffs. EQ is controlled by a single tone knob and built-in effects include EFX (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremelo and Heavy Octave), DELAY, and REVERB.

The Micro CUBE has a memory function, a chromatic tuner and a headphone out jack (mini stereo). Similar to all of the CUBE line, the Micro Cube includes an interface for the i-CUBE LINK system which allows guitarists to practice and record, with Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The Micro CUBE GX comes in White, Black or Red.

CUBE Lite

The CUBE Lite is not really a cube and may be mistaken for a BOSE counter-top stereo system. It’s a 2.1 channel audio system (stereo speakers and integrated sub-woofer) that actually can be used as an external speaker for audio devices if you so desire.

This is probably the most stream-lined model of the CUBE line, but it still loads a lot of features into its’ diminutive size. You won’t be able to use this amp to jam along with a rock-band, but if you’ve got some friends over with acoustic instruments and/or other small amps, then the CUBE Lite will fit in nicely.

The amp is rated at 10W (3W x 2 stereo speakers + 4W Subwoofer) It’s about 10” (W) x 6” (D) x 5.5” (H) and weighs just under 4 pounds.

All the basic bases are covered from the perspective of a guitar amp. Inputs include a ¼” Hi-Z guitar and mini stereo in (i-CUBE link / stereo aux in).

The CUBE Lite gives guitarists three amp models to choose from – JC Clean, Crunch and Extreme. EQ is controlled by bass and treble knobs and there are two effects – chorus and reverb.

The CUBE Lite comes in White, Black or Red

 

Roland i-CUBE Link & CUBE Jam

 

All of the CUBE amplifiers have a mini-jack input/output for Roland’s i-CUBE LINK – a method to send and receive audio between your CUBE amp and an iOS device.

The ability to have your amp and mobile device send and receive adds a new level in mobile recording and practicing. The i-CUBE Link allows you to record directly to your iPad and play the results back to the CUBE amp.  You can also use the app on your iPhone to process your guitar signal and play it back to the CUBE’s speakers.

Another cool feature is that you can set the CUBE amp for one of two modes: line or direct. In line mode, the CUBE amp processes your guitar signal before sending it to the CUBE LINK output allowing you to record the amp sound without the need for a microphone. Direct mode sends the dry signal to that output, allowing you to leverage any modeling software you may already have on your device.

Roland developed a free iOS app called Cube Jam. The app allows you to import audio directly from your iTunes library and jam along to tunes from your collection. The Cube Jam allows you to adjust the playback speed of your sound file without changing its pitch. The range is from 50 to 150 percent, available in 10-percent increments.

 

Cube Jam also lets you transpose the pitch of the sound file without changing its speed, from -6 to +6 semitones.

Wrapping up the CUBE

Roland has been a solid brand in the music industry for decades. The CUBE line of amplifiers has a great history and has served many guitarists well. Of all the smaller practice amps out there, I have to admit that the offerings from the CUBE line sure look cool. From what I heard from them at NAMM, they also SOUND great too.

If you’re looking for an amplifier that’s versatile, packed with features AND with a price tag that won’t break the bank, then one from the Roland CUBE line should be on your list.

Best Buy has all of the amps mentioned in this post – in store and online. If you buy or order one that isn’t exactly what you want, feel free to return it or try another!

Every guitarist has his or her favourite amp and tone. What’s yours?

I'm a film / TV composer based in Vancouver BC. Music has always been part of my life, but my first career was in the technology industry as a consultant and project manager. I helped to build and open the Experience Music Project – a rock and roll museum in Seattle. I hold a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration degree from McMaster University. I also hold a diploma in Audio Engineering from the University of Washington and I’m a graduate of Hummie Mann’s acclaimed Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program.