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PROS: Great amp tones, easy to edit, hyper flexible, lightweight.
CONS: EQ is slightly dark, footswitch not included.
The new Katana amp from BOSS packs 100 watts into 1×12 solid state combo with selectable amp modes from Clean, Crunch, Lead, and Brown. There is also an Acoustic mode, that’s meant to be used with a Piezo equipped acoustic guitar. A 3-band EQ controls their respective frequencies, and there is a power output selection from .05, 50, and 100 watts. The Booster/Modulation, Delay/FX, and Reverb are the standard onboard effects.
First off, its functionality of gain and master volume controls work like a traditional tube amp. Cranking up the gain on the clean setting is a great way to easily get those in-between crunch tones. Regardless of the gain settings, the amp modes deliver on their names, and work really well with single coil and humbucker equipped guitars. Note, though, that we found the EQ a little dark for humbuckers. It certainly fills out the sound with plenty of low end thump, especially for an open backed cabinet. But for players looking for a lot of high end sparkle, there might be a bit of EQ knob-fiddling to do.
The effect selection out of the box is substantial — 3 knobs, each with 2 effects to choose from, 1 at a time on each knob, but there are 3 modes to each knob. Doing the math means that’s 15 choices, but only 3 at a time can be used. However, the effect selection is increased greatly by connecting the Katana to a computer via its USB jack, and tapping into Boss’s Tone Studio software. Pretty much every Boss effect EVER is in there, and can be downloaded and assigned to those respective knobs, giving the user access to more unusual effects like the Boss Slow Gear or Slicer. What’s cool is you can create your own signature tone or cop a pre-defined setup that you dig. Plus everything is easy to use, so you’re not bogged down with endless complicated menus, sub menus and other nonsense to get in the way of actually playing.
With all those sounds, thankfully there are 4 recallable channels that can be set by the user; it’s a fun amp to play with, with great cleans, and overdriven tones that don’t feel harsh or unnatural. With the variable wattage controls, it can be set up for bedroom use, rehearsal spaces, or even club situations. Tube snobs take note – solid state gear has come a long way, and you’d be a fool to ignore the Katana simply because it doesn’t rely on antiquated technology.
For the price, it’s no wonder we recently named the Katana one of the best solid state amps you can buy under $500.