The Boss Katana series of modelling amps are well known for their quality and plethora of features. The question is, can the quality be maintained in a battery powered practice amp? This Boss Katana Mini review will look at the features of the Katana mini. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of this little practice amp and finally we’ll see if the Katana Mini lives up that standards set by it’s bigger brothers in the Katana range.
Background to Boss & The Katana Series
Boss / Roland has been producing amps since the 1970’s. One of their first series of amps, the JC series is still used by some guitarists today. Over the decades Roland / Boss has produced synthesizers, keyboards and drum machines as well as amps and effects processors.
The name Katana is derived from the sword that the Japaneses Samurai wield. The symbol of the Katana is a badge of honor. Boss built on the WAZA range of amps to create the Katana series. The badge on each Katana amp signifies honor, precision and artistry. Here’s a short introduction to the Katana mini.
Overview of The Boss Katana Mini
The Katana mini is an extremely portable modelling practice amp. Good things really do come in small packages, weighing less than two bags of sugar at around 1.2kg. The 10cm speaker delivers 7 watts of power. Three “voices” give you access to three distinct amp styles. The equalizer features bass, middle and treble. All too often practice amps, and some larger amps, are missing the mid range control so it’s nice to see it included with Katana mini.
There’s on-board delay effects, which is controlled by a level knob to allow you to adjust the delay volume and a time knob to allow you to change the delay interval. You can jam along with your favorite tracks using the AUX in port. Practice “silently” by plugging in a set of headphones. The amp will then output via a cabinet simulator in stereo making sure you retain tone quality. You can use the same jack to output to a recording device. Unfortunately it’ll still silence the speaker automatically irrespective of whether you have headphones or a recording device plugged in.
The amp can be powered by either a battery or a power adapter, which is sold separately. The amp comes with 6 AA batteries, which should last between 7 and 9 hours. The power LED will begin to go dark when it’s time to replace the batteries.
How Does The Boss Katana Mini Work?
One of the best things about the Katana Mini is it’s simplicity. Once the amp is powered on you can pretty much plug and play. The gain control knob to the right of the input jack allows you to adjust tones from clean to overdriven. The “Type” switch allows you to select three distinct amp types:
- Brown: A tone suited to rock style lead guitar, inherited from the WAZA series of amps
- Crunch: A fat tone that responds to your picking style and technique
- Clean: A clean and natural sound
The Brown setting focuses on high gain and harmonics making it a great setting for lead work and heavier riffs. Crunch is great for blues, or for rock riffs if you apply a little more gain. The clean setting allows for a purer experience, but of course you can increase the gain to introduce a rockier feel.
Combining these three amp styles with custom gain and EQ settings, you can sculpt a wide variety of tones. The only thing missing on the Katana Mini, which is present in it’s bigger brothers, is the ability to store custom settings into memory banks. Perhaps we should remember that this is a practice amp, and the simplicity is one of it’s plus points.
The amp doesn’t support a footswitch, so changing between amp styles is a manual affair. This amp isn’t intended for gigging so that really shouldn’t be a problem. You can always run an effects unit through the amp if you want to be able to alter your tone or use effects on the fly. Speaking of effects, the in-built delay effect uses Boss’ tape style delay for a warm and ambient sound. You can adjust the interval of the delay using a control knob, so there’s more scope for crafting your perfect tone.
Pros of The Boss Katana Mini
I think this is probably the leading amp in it’s class. I don’t think I’ve come across a better all round performer among practice amps. Although it only boasts 7 watts of output, in reality it’s plenty loud enough for bedroom practice. The sound quality of the Katana range is retained in this ultra-portable practice amp. Here are the best bits:
- Fantastic Tonal Quality – Augmented by 3 amp styles
- Full 3 Band EQ – Not that common in practice amps
- Ultra Portable – Weighs just 1.2kg
- In-built Delay
- Cabinet Simulator – when recording or using headphones
- Simple to Use – plug and play
Cons of The Boss Katana Mini
Although the Katana Mini gets a thumbs up, there are perhaps a few things that could be improved. It’s a real shame that it doesn’t come with a power adapter, which has to be bought separately. It would also have been a nice little bonus if at least one memory bank could have been available to allow you to store custom settings. Here’s where there’s room for improvement:
- Power Adapter Isn’t Included
- Effects Range – other practice amps have more in-built effects
- No Memory Banks – Unable to save custom settings, like you can on the bigger Katana amps
The Katana mini has to be one of the best practice amps you can buy. The tonal quality of Boss amps runs through the Katana series, and the Katana Mini is no exception. The full three band EQ combined with the three amp styles and in-built delay enables you to experiment with a wide range of sounds. The size and weight makes it ultra portable so it’s easy to carry when playing with friends. The simplicity of the amp makes it perfect for it’s target audience, the beginner. It’s totally possible to just plug and play, allowing the beginner to experiment with the wide range of available tones at their own pace.
There are other amps that boast fuller effects, such as the Yamaha THR5, but that’s almost double the price and doesn’t have the full 3 band EQ. In terms of value proposition, the Katana Mini is incredible for the dynamic range of sounds it can produce. Many practice amps consist of just two channels with limited EQ control. The three distinct amp styles of the Katana Mini frankly blows it’s competition out of the water. Its a shame it doesn’t have memory banks like it’s bigger brothers, but that could potentially detract from the simplicity of operation, which is important for a beginner amp. If you’re interested in one of the bigger Katana’s, check out my review of the Boss Katana 50 here.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Please feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Please share this post with anyone who you feel might find it useful. Happy practice amping, and happy strumming!
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click a link on this page it may go to Amazon or another supplier with whom I have an affiliate relationship. This won’t increase the price you pay. I don’t recommend any product that I haven’t used myself or thoroughly researched.