Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BOSS KTN-50 Katana 50 Guitar Amplifier Review


As I have always been a fan of their effect pedals, I was excited last year when I saw that BOSS had released a line of affordable solid-state amplifiers. The Katana amp lineup includes a 100-watt head, a 100-watt combo, a 50-watt combo, and a pretty slick battery powered unit. Today we are going to take a quick look at the Katana 50 (model KTN-50), a portable package with good power and a lot of versatility for not a lot of cash.

For starters, this is a fairly compact amplifier, measuring 16 x 19 x 10 inches, and weighing in at around 26 pounds. It is a good-looking unit, with clean lines and the expected BOSS quality – all of their stuff is very sturdy. This is a foot-switchable 2-channel amplifier that can be switched to have 50-watts, 25-watts, or 0.5-watts of output through the single 12-inch speaker. Oh yeah, and it has a built-in tilt-back stand, so you can point it at something besides your shins.

Looking at the control panel on top of the cabinet, there is a single input, a 5-position AMP TYPE knob, GAIN, VOLUME, a 3-band equalizer, some onboard effect knobs (BOOSTER/MOD, DELAY/FX, and REVERB), a MASTER tone knob, and the power switch. And around back there is an IEC power socket, a USB port, an 1/8-inch aux input, line out, the footswitch jack, and that is about it – the Katana 50 is pretty simple on first appearances.

The five AMP TYPE selections give the Katana a lot of versatility, and they are all actually very useful. There is BROWN, which give it that Waza amp sound (you really should try out one of those too). There is also CLEAN, LEAD, and CRUNCH, and the latter provides a wonderfully raunchy tone. And the last one is ACOUSTIC, which voices the amp for a natural amplification, and this worked out great with my Takamine EF341, which has a really clean pre-amp in it. This amp can provide a great variety of tones, so most any guitarist will find it useful, and that is before you consider that you can use the free online BOSS Tone Studio editor software to customize the amp settings and effects.

This Katana combo supports 55 BOSS effects, and up to 15 of these can be loaded for instant access. Just connect the amp to the Tone Studio software through the USB post and create your own setup, or download setups created by pro guitarists at the BOSS Tone Central website.

The volume is great for practicing or for small gigs. It is not an expensive tube amp so you are not going to get that perfect tone, but it is really good enough for what 95% of us actually do on a daily basis. The only thing I did not care for on the amp was the speaker, as it sounds a little thin and I think it is holding back a portion of the performance that this unit is capable of. I would like to swap in a quality unit and see what this thins can really do. It is not a huge gripe as this amp is really inexpensive, and they had to cut a few corners to make their price point.

I saved the best part for last, and that is the price. The Katana 50 has a street price of $220, which is one heck of a deal, and pretty much kills the used amp market, as why would you buy someones’ old crap when you can get a perfectly serviceable and shiny new amp for a little over two Benjamins. Try one out for yourself and see what you think.


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