A few months back a reader asked us what the best connected guitar amp was for beginners. And there are a few solid options, including Yamaha’s THR line. But, one amp topped the rest: Boss’ Katana 50. And now Katana line is getting major refresh that makes it an even better bang for your buck than before. This most immediate change is the number of amp simulations available. The original Katanas had five, the Katana MkIIs add a variation of each, for a total of 10 amp models. You can also use more of the built in effects simultaneously now. Where as before you were limited to three, the MkII line lets you chain up to five together. And it’s still pulling from the same library of over 60 excellent Boss effects (after all, Boss is better known for its effects pedals than its amps).
Of course, the Katana keeps a lot of the other features that make is so easy to recommend. It still has switchable power for going from a full roar, to bed-room appropriate volumes (without changing the tone). And it still can connect to your computer over USB, where the Boss Tone Studio unlocks of host of other features, like mic or cabinet resonance simulation. Plus it can be used as an audio interface, so you can capture your jams straight to your favorite DAW.
While you can change up settings from your PC, Boss is pretty proud of the fact that there’s no menus or screens on the amp. All of the most important settings are there on the panel. Or, if you’re working with one of the 100 watt models, you can connect the GA-FC foot controller from Boss to turn effects on and off and change channels, without ever touching a knob. You can also connect an expression pedal to control onboard effects like wah — you’re not stuck in some awkward auto mode.
One new and interesting feature here is a direct in for the power amp. That means if you have a high-end multi-effects unit or amp modeler, you can bypass the builtin preamp. Though, I do need to point out that unlike a lot of other amps in this space, Boss decided to skip adding any sort of wireless connectivity. That means there’s not streaming audio over bluetooth to practice along with, and no hope for connecting to a mobile app.
The Katana MkII is available as a 50w combo with a single 12-inch speaker ($229), a 100w combo with one 12-inch speaker ($359), there’s a version of the 100w with two 12-inch speakers ($469) and a stand alone head unit ($349).