A big part of Billy’s sound comes from the chorus effects from his Roland Jazz Chorus twinned with a Marshall Valve Amp.
Its sound quality and built-in effects have made the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Amp the choice of pro players everywhere. It features 2 independent 60W amps, 2 input channels (Normal and Effects) with 3-band EQ for each, and a pair of 12″ speakers. Effects include reverb, distortion, adjustable vibrato, and true stereo chorus. Distortion, reverb, and chorus are footswitchable.
Billy says of the JC120s “The signature sound of the first two Cult albums was the Gretsch and a Roland JC120. That amp had a very nice, clean chorus sound. Looking at pictures of me live from around this time, I went for a double amp setup – there was always a valve amp to give everything some balls. The Roland is great for the early, chimey stuff, because of that chorus sound—which I can really only get out of the combos. Some guys get a great sound with just one amp, but I’ve never been able to do it.”
“The chorus is unbeatable. I’ve always used it for that clean sound, and it’s definitely a big part of sound of The Cult up until the Electric album. I mean, I use other amps as well. If I look back at pictures of me from ’83 on, I’d always use a valve amp and a JC-120 in combination, always. Y’know, you just mix them together — blend the two sounds together. And, to an extent, that’s what I do now. The JC-120 has found its way on every Cult record, probably with the exception of Electric. But, the JC has been around, knockin’ around, and I’ve used it a lot. Basically has an amazing clean tone — a great chorus sound. It’s unbeatable. It’s become kind of a signature. You can definitely hear it on Dream Time and Love a lot. If you listen to Sonic Temple , it’s featured there as one of the layers of the sound.”
“Another interesting fact on the Rolands is that when we toured with Metallica in ’89 they’d started using Roland’s for their clean sound. But both me and the Metallica guys had to change the speakers in the combos ‘cos we were always playing so loud that we would actually pop them because the bass that’s created by the chorus effect would blow the speakers.
In fact in the video of the classic Metallica song ‘Nothing Else Maters’ you’ll see the Gretsch White Falcon being played and that was mine, I’d sold that guitar to Bob Rock and he’d let them use it. It’s kinda funny that part of my sound lead onto Metallica. If you listen to ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and then listen to ‘Dreamtime’ and ‘Love’ you can hear that it’s a sound that they incorporated to give another dimension to their music very successfully. Obviously Bob produced ‘Sonic Temple’ with The Cult and then went on to produce the ‘Black Album’ with Metallica later.”
Here’s a pic of the amp in the backline used by Billy for gigs in 2014…
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