Is the New Boss Katana 100 MkII the Best Guitar Amp of All Time?

A bold suggestion, we know – but hear us out. The Katana range has taken the world by storm, and with the MkII range, Boss have stepped it up a notch. Does it tick just about every box when it comes to choosing a guitar amp?

Sam Beattie

Sam Beattie

There are a handful of brands, ranges and products that could almost be considered household names in the world of guitar gear. The Stratocaster, the Marshall amp, the Ibanez Tube Screamer – you get the idea. A few years back, the Boss Katana range came out of nowhere, joining the ranks of the gear elite; and if the first release didn’t cement the Katana’s place at the table, the MkII certainly will.

But we think the Katana MkII goes a step beyond that. With a set of updated features, largely informed by Katana MkI user feedback, it’s armed to the teeth. So let’s get down to business: what makes it a contender the best guitar amp of all time?

Best is subjective. No, it’s not a vintage-voiced valve combo, or a rare relic from the golden age of amplification. But take a step back and consider every aspect of amp design and choice. It quickly becomes apparent that the Katana MkII – particularly the 100 model – has a lot of strings to its bow. Let’s take a closer look at why this amp deserves a place among the greats:

  1. Proper valve-like response thanks to Boss Tube Logic design
  2. Twice as many amp sounds out the box
  3. Expanded built-in effects – up to 5 at once
  4. It plays nicely with pedals
  5. Ultra-simple interface
  6. Simple, versatile footswitch
  7. You can use it as a powered cab
  8. It can be expanded into a stereo rig
  9. Stereo recording with easy USB connectivity
  10. It’s ultra-affordable!

Boss Katana 100 MkII - Andertons Music Co.

Proper valve-like response

One of the first things that originally put the Katana range on the map was its amp-like response. For a relatively compact solid-state amp, it sounded – and felt – great to play, thanks to Boss’ Tube Logic design. They’ve ensured that the MkII retains this great sound – they’ve even updated the ‘Clean’ channel for a warmer, more classic feel.

In addition, the combination of analog preamp and class A/B power amp means that the Katana 100 MkII’s dynamics are alarmingly responsive. Crank the master volume for a fatter, grittier tone that hits back!

More amp models to choose from

Following on from the Katana MkII’s stunning sound, there are simply more sounds to choose from. By adding a ‘Variation’ switch to the Amp Type section of the control panel, Boss have presented you with twice as many sounds to choose from (10 amps in total).

Toggle this switch to select an alternative version of the amp mode you’re on. This might mean slightly scooped mids, a hotter top-end – you’ve got twice as many amp flavours at your disposal, right out the box.

Expanded built-in effects

Using dual-concentric knobs, similar to those featured on many of their stompboxes, Boss have drastically expanded the Katana’s effects capabilities. Rather than having 3 effects types at your disposal, you’ve now got 5. This means you can use 5 effects at once, right out the box.

Each of the effects controls features 3 presets that can be easily switched on the control panel. The best bit? Each of these presets can be reassigned in Boss’ editor app. So you can choose your favourite reverb type, octave algorithm, filter mode – the choice is yours.

It plays nicely with pedals

While the Katana has a great set of built-in effects, it’ll sound great with your pedals too. The combination of Boss’ Tube Logic design and an FX loop means you’ll still optimum response – whatever your chain preferences. Stick a drive in front, and it’ll growl in response. Put a reverb or modulation pedal into the loop, and it’ll shimmer without taking anything away from your dry signal.

An interface that works – for everyone

Menu diving isn’t for everyone. Then again, some prefer to have absolute control over the different elements of their sound. Luckily, the Katana MkII caters to everyone’s needs.

The control panel itself is super-easy to navigate. 12 knobs, 12 buttons, all clearly labelled and sorted into sections. With this simple panel, you can jump from woolly jazz-box cleans to searing ‘80s lead with stereo delay in seconds. Alternatively, hook the Katana up to your computer and download Boss’ free Editor app, and you can cycle through presets, save your own, customise your effects and much more. The best of both worlds!

The Boss Katana MkII Family - Andertons Music Co.

Simple, versatile footswitch compatibility

The Katana MkII range is compatible with Boss’ GA-FC footswitch. This easy-to-use controller lets you toggle effects as well as change from channel to channel. This makes the Katana 100 MkII a truly giggable amp in terms of control.

On a sidenote, the head version of the Katana 100 MkII also features a MIDI input. This provides easy integration with MIDI controllers and switching devices – cutting-edge stuff considering the price point.

You can use it as a powered cab

We live in a world of compact preamp pedals, ever-more advanced modelling amps and digital tone technology. Naturally, the Katana 100 MkII comes prepared. It has a power amp input that allows you to connect your favourite preamp or non-powered modelling amp. Perfect for the Boss GT1000, Victory preamp pedals, Kemper profilers – you get the idea.

So if you’re considering a power amp/cab combination, or perhaps an FRFR cab, a Katana 100 MkII might just be a great alternative. Not only do you get a 1×12 cab and class A/B power amp – you get a fully-fledged amp in its own right, and for a great price!

It can be expanded into a stereo rig

Yet another pro-grade feature that you seldom see on amps at this price. The stereo expand feature can be used to extend your signal to a second amp for a true stereo rig. If you’re a solo guitarist in a band, or you like to double-up your tone for extra stage presence, this feature comes included. All you need is a regular jack to jack cable. Better still, stereo-enabled effects are automatically spread across both connected amps for a truly wide, immersive sound!

Stereo recording with easy USB connectivity

The Katana 100 MkII makes it easier than ever to record your amp. You’ve got line level, USB, and phones/recording outputs giving you plenty of choice. The recording output comes with mic’d cab emulation for proper amp-like resonance – mix-ready tones out the box.

In addition, the USB connectivity operates with 2 channels, meaning you can record in true stereo to make the most of the Katana’s built-in modulation, reverb and delay effects.

It’s ultra-affordable!

To top it all off, the Katana 100 MkII comes in at a pretty reasonably price point. You get a lot of bang for your buck, put it that way; considering all the features listed above, this is a professional-grade amplifier with a beginner-friendly price tag.

The attractive price was undoubtedly one of the reasons the original Katana was so popular; now that they’ve supercharged it, you get even more value for money.

Summary

All things considered, the Katana 100 MkII is a pretty special bit of gear. Looking at its feature list in isolation, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a costly piece of premium equipment – but the price tag makes it just about one of the most accessible amps on the market.

It’s great for gigging thanks to its easy switching options, expandability and tonal customisation. It’s a brilliant practice amp thanks to its compact size, switchable power and versatile sound selection. Recording is a breeze thanks to extensive connectivity and top-notch effects.

Finally, nailing modern functionality without compromising dynamic amp response is no easy feat. But Boss have executed it in spectacular fashion, complete with their highly-reputable reliability and built-quality. What’s not to love?

If you’d like to know more about the boss Katana MkII, check out the full selection right here. You’ll find our Boss range here, and our huge selection of guitar amps here. Thanks for stopping by!

Sam Beattie
Sam Beattie
Sam is one of our content writers, as well as being our resident southpaw. When he's not busy being left-handed, he spends his time composing for music libraries and playing in a post-rock band. Sam plays a Mexican Telecaster and a Vigier Excalibur, and is never more than 5 feet away from his Electro-Harmonix POG.

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