Roland’s new(er) kid on the block, the Roland Cube 60 is one of Roland’s first stabs at making a modeling amp. In fact, what this really is, is a Boss amp. The modeling capabilities and tones on the lead channel come straight from Boss’s COSM database of tones, but stamped with the Roland name so people might actually buy it. This 60 Watt amp is reasonably priced, and is perfect for just about everyone, but before everyone gets one, lets dig into the nitty-gritty shall we?
Construction: This amp is pretty solidly built; well actually, it’s very solid. It’s closed back, steel grille front, plywood panel and thick plastic corners make it one of the most durable amplifiers i’ve ever seen. Not only that, but the controls are recessed into the top like so:
Image Courtesy of Elderly music. 2006
so that if your amp happens to roll backwards or have something resting on the top, you don’t need to worry about the settings getting messed with or that the knobs will get broken. The knobs themselves are basically a slightly meatier version of the knobs that Boss uses on their multi-effects pedals, so they’re meant to be bumped around. All of the inputs are plastic and don’t have that metal feel to them that quality amps have, but they are nonetheless strong, and none have loosened in my time of use.
The tone (clean channel): The clean channel’s electronics are supposedly taken from Roland’s Jazz amplifier series, giving them a very reputable name in clean channeling. Personally, it just sounds like any other clean channel, which is probably good and it shows that they’re not really trying to reinvent the wheel. The only unique thing about the clean channel is the bright button, an awkward attempt at adding a little boost in brightness. It barely sounds like it does much, but it’s a decent idea.
The tone (Lead channel): I really have liked the versatility of the different models of amps. They sound very similar to what they’re named, but it takes a little bit of tweaking to really get the sounds to sparkle. Turn on the Black Panel amp, and you’ll get the surfy 50’s spank that you’d expect, the Brit combo has the extra treble and slight bit of dirt to give you a slight Brian May style wail to it, and the Tweed has a decent twang to it if it’s set up properly. For the lead players, the Classic amp setting is a decent way to get some crunch out of it, but it never really stood out above the rest, so it’s one of the least used settings. The Metal and the “R-fier” (Roland trying to get away with Rectifier without paying Mesa Boogie any dues) are very similar, except the R-Fier amp has a more scooped mid on it already to evoke the Metallica-like tone, whilst the Metal setting has a good amount more mid, a little less bass, and more treble. If you’re going for that real crunchy Pantera/Megadeth sound, it’s all R-fier with full bass, low mid, and high treble.
What Roland did do was attempt to put two different, slightly odd things on an amp like this; the Acoustic setting and the Dyna-amp.
The acoustic setting sounds slightly acoustic-like, basically making your normal notes sound more bouncy and hollow. If you’re wondering what I mean by bouncy, it’s rather hard to explain. It’s almost like it’s being thrown into a small wood body then being heard to get the acoustic reverb, instead of a generic reverb tank like all amps have.
The Dyna-amp setting is supposed to be touch sensitive to playing. If you play hard, it distorts, if you play soft, it’s clean. It’s not really that great. I’d rather just switch channels to go from clean to distorted, and even if you do use the Dyna-amp, it still sounds a little distorted when playing lightly.
Taming the Beast: It’s 60 Watts out of a 12 inch speaker, and it’s loud. If you want more out of it, there’s a powered extension speaker jack in the back, but this thing is already loud as hell. It’s quite good at high volumes, no evasive feedback or ringing, so there’s one for Boss for keeping it quiet when it’s loud.
So what’s wrong with it?: There are a lot of good things about this amp, but as always, it has it’s flaws:
The effects: It’s the generic effects channel meant to give versatility to an amp. It seems to be par for the course today, with upper end Marshall’s even being stocked with them. They’re boring, and they rarely get any use. You can’t adjust the settings, you can only make them more or less noticeable. Want a longer or shorter delay? Less repeats on the echo? Sorry, get a delay pedal. Want to use phaser and tremolo? Sorry. Get both of those. The effects on this amp are solely there to take up space, and occasionally color your sound. They should’ve just left the reverb and the chorus there, and called it a day.
The R-fier: It’s a great sounding channel when you’re playing, but they screwed up one thing…they put a noise gate onto it. Not only that, but it’s a bad noise gate. It doesn’t really quiet it when you’re not playing, but it cuts the sustain of off the notes you want to ring out, and that’s bad for a distorted setting. Distortion is known for high gain and sustain (Rhyme intended), but when there’s a cheap noise gate there cutting you off, it’s irritating. After awhile you get used to it, but it really shouldn’t be something you have to get used to.
The Equalizer: Another mess-up, they only put one on. So if you’re going from the scooped mid, monstrous metal tone to a neck pickup, clean jazz chord, you’re going to have to sacrifice one for the other. Basically, it means that if you set up the knobs for a high treble, low bass clean sound, and you switch to the R-fier setting, it’s going to sound terrible. Best bet? Find a happy medium between both of them and leave it. If you’re really put off, get two of em. There only 350 dollars, and that extra money might be worth saving you the small hassles.
The Pros: Versatile, sturdy, cost-effective, and it sounds great.
The Cons: One equalizer, generic effects, no footswitch included.