Looking for something that you can gig with? Like modelling amps? In this Boss Katana 100 review we’ll take a look at an amp that ticks those boxes. Packed full of boss quality effects, amp styles and a whole host of other features, is the Katana 100 value for money?
Overview of Boss Katana 100
The Katana 100 comes in two flavors. Either 1 x 12″ speaker, or 2 x 12″ speakers. We’re focusing on the 1 x 12″ speaker model, which delivers more than enough noise! The Katana 100 has an open backed cabinet. The speaker delivers a maximum of 100 watts of power, more than enough for most people! Luckily there’s a power selector switch, so you can choose to use the full 100 watts, 50 watts or just 0.5 watts of power.
You’d think reducing the power would effect the tone, but because this is a modelling amp that’s not the case. Tone and presence is preserved irrespective of the power output. I really like the fact that you can select the power output. Most people won’t need any more than 50 watts when practicing at home, but having the head room to crank the power up to 100 watts means the amp can be used to play live as well as for rehearsal and bedroom practice.
The power selector switch also allows you to set the amp to standby. That’ll mute the speaker without needing to touch any other controls, great if you’re taking a break whilst playing live. If 100 watts isn’t enough for you, there’s also the option to connect to another Katana amp via a jack on the rear panel.
The standard gain and volume control knobs are present in the “Amplifier” section of the Katana. The Katana has a 3 band EQ, yes, there’s even a mid control! There’s a master volume and presence control knob too. The Presence affects how much mid and high frequency is blended into the signal. The further clockwise it’s dialed, the more mid and high frequency is blended.
Unlike larger tube amps you don’t need a forklift truck to move the Katana 100. It weighs around 25lbs (11.6kg) and won’t take up a lot of room.
Here’s an idea of how the Katana 100 sounds:
The Katana 100 has 5 amp styles built in. Unlike other modelling amps however, the Katana 100 gives you the flexibility to sculpt your tone, rather than caroling you to play a certain amp type. The first channel is an acoustic simulator. You can plug an electro-acoustic guitar into this amp for a pure acoustic sound. I wish proper acoustic channels existed when I was first buying amps, I’d have saved $400 on a separate acoustic amp!
There’s a clean channel, which can be used in conjunction with the booster for lead guitar and solo work. It’s a nice sounding tone, and of course you can produce a myriad of tones using the 3-band EQ and built in effects. The Crunch setting produces a fat sound, great for classic rock. Again you can use accompanying features to dial in your personal tone.
The Lead channel is where the gain control starts to have a big impact on the tone. Great in conjunction with the on board effects to produce a variety of quirky lead sounds. The Brown setting is the go to for most rock guitarists. It’s especially fun to play with the gain settings here. You can go from a bit of overdrive to full on high gain metal styles. The “variation” button on the “amplifier” section adds depth, almost giving you two modes per amp style.
The Katana 100 designates effects using LEDs. The color of the LED indicates which effect is in operation. There are also two banks, so each color has two effects assigned, one in Bank A and one in Bank B. The “Panel” button switches between Bank A and Bank B. Tap the button appropriate button to change the color and therefore the effect.
Another innovative feature of the Katana 100 is the nested control knobs on the booster / mod and FX / Delay controls. It’s allows you to control boost and modulation separately. meaning you can have more effects in use at any one time.
Here’s a list of all of the effects available on the Katana 100:
- Bank A – Blues Drive
- Bank B – Clean Boost
- Bank A – Overdrive
- Bank B – Mid Boost
- Bank A – Distortion
- Bank B – Treble boost
- Bank A – Chorus
- Bank B – Flanger 117E
- Bank A – Flanger
- Bank B – Compressor
- Bank A – Phaser
- Bank B – Limiter
- Bank A – Digital Delay
- Bank B – SDE-3000
- Bank A – Analog Delay
- Bank B – Digital Delay
- Bank A – Tape Echo
- Bank B – Modulate
- Bank A – Tremolo
- Bank B – Phaser 90E
- Bank A – T.Wah
- Bank B – Flenger 117E
- Bank A – Octave
- Bank B – Pitch Shift
- Bank A – Plate Reverb
- Bank B – Tape Echo + Plate Reverb
- Bank A – Spring reverb
- Bank B – SDE=3000 + Plate reverb
- Bank A – Hall reverb
- Bank B – SDE-3000 + Hall reverb
There’s also a tap button, which enables to you set the intervals of delay, always a nice feature to partner any delay type effect. As you can see there are plenty of effects available. The effects are good too. That’s because they’re designed to mimic the same effects that you’d get from Boss’ compact pedals.
You can adjust the depth of each effect using the appropriate control knob. Unfortunately, if you’re not using a footswitch you’ll need to dial each control back to the left in order to turn off the effect. That’s where a footswitch comes in handy.
Unfortunately the Katana 100 doesn’t comes with a footswitch included. It’s compatible with a variety of pedals, but the best to use is the GA-FC, which will give you control over memory bank selection, effects bank selection and toggle of effects on and off.
A footswitch is essential if you plan to use the Katana 100 to play live. There’s also a 1/4″ jack on the back panel that’ll allow you to use an expressions pedal. Endless possibilities!
Other Features of the Katana 100
The Katana 100 expands on the Katana 50’s capabilities by offering a total of 8 memory banks. You can select and recall your custom tones by selecting the channel via the amp’s control panel, or using a footswitch. Having 8 custom tones, all easily accessible is more than enough for most people. It gives you headroom if you want variations to an effect type, i.e, different delay types.
There’s a recording out jack on the back panel, which allows you to connect directly to a recording device or a mixing desk for high quality audio recording. You can also connect a set of headphones for “silent” practice. There’s an AUX in port, allowing you to play music through the amp, or to play along with your favorite tracks. There are FX send and return ports to enable you to use an effects loop, if that’s your preference.
A USB port enables you to connect the Katana 100 to a computer. In turn that allows you to edit the amp’s settings, alter stored tones and download professional patches directly to the amp. This is all achieved using Boss’ Tone Central software. I like the software. It gives you fine control over many of the settings, allowing you the ability to carefully sculpt your tone.
Unfortunately a USB cable isn’t included, which seems a bit strange, They really don’t cost a lot, so I don’t know why Boss can’t just throw one in. You’ll also need to download the appropriate driver when you first connect to your computer. This can be downloaded from Roland’s website.
The Boss Katana 100 is a high quality amp. It has a lot of features, and the features work well. Capable of producing earth shattering volumes, it’ll provide more than enough power to gig with. Here are some of the best bits:
- Easy to use
- Power selector Control
- Boss Tone Central Software
As with all things, there are some drawbacks. I have to say that there aren’t many for the Katana 100, but here are some things that could be improved:
- USB cable not included
- Footswitch not included
The Boss Katana 100 is a box of magic tricks. It’s easy for manufacturers to pack an amp with a lot of features, but it’s the quality of those features that make the difference. The quality amp styles combined with the ability to fine tune the tone make for a myriad of possibilities.
The on-board effects are quality, and the innovative nested control knobs allow for more effects to be active at once. The Katana 100 isn’t going to break your back either. It’s more than portable, especially when you consider it’s power output.
I really like that it have a power output control knob. It’s easy to compromise on the tone when the power output is reduced, but even at 0.5 watts the integrity of the tone is preserved. I feel that most people who buy this amp will want to use it for live performances.
Whilst it’s more than capable of performing, you’ll need a footswitch to make the amp user-friendly when playing live. Unfortunately a footswitch isn’t included, but I’d consider it essential for live performances.
If I had to decide between the Katana 50 and 100, I’d go for the 100 because you get double the memory banks, nested control knobs and a power selector. If you get the 50 but need more power down the line you’re a bit stuck, whereas if you have the 100 you can use a lower power output until you need the 100 watts for live performances.
I hope you’ve found this review useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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