Best Boss Amps: Buying Guide for Boss Amplifiers


Boss are well known for producing great solid state amplifiers available in combo and head unit options. The Boss Katana has made a huge name for itself, and it’s not the only amp in Boss’ range to impress. In this article, I’ll compare the full range of amplifiers against each other, and have an in-depth look at each model to help you decide which option to go for.

The Quick Answer

Boss produce 4 main ranges of amplifier: Katana, Waza, Nextone and Cube Street. The Katana is the largest and most popular of the ranges and has mini, 50W combo, 1×12″ 100W combo, 2×12″ 100W combo and wireless options. The Boss Waza amp head is the most expensive and premium option available.

Quick Comparison of Models

I first wanted to make a table to show the range of Boss amplifiers currently available. The table includes all the key features, and the Guitar Center price at the time of writing. It’s ordered from the lowest to the highest price so you can identify which models are available within your budget. I’ve also distinguished which amps are combos, and which are head units (more on how to decide which to choose later in the article).

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Boss Katana 50 Combo50W$2405 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Cube Street II Combo10W$3507 guitar models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, chorus, delay
Boss Katana 100W Head100W$3505 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Katana 100 1×12 Combo100W$3705 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Katana-Air Wireless Head30W$4125 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Katana 100 2×12 Combo100W$4805 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Nextone Stage Combo40W$5154 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence
Boss Katana-Artist Combo100W$6005 main models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Nextone Artist Combo80W$7204 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence
Boss Nextone Special Combo80W$9002 channels (and 4 models), 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, boost, custom tune, presence
Boss Waza Head150W$27802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX
Boss Amplifier Range Compared.

As you can see from the table, there are 4 main ranges in the Boss line-up, so I’ll spend the rest of the article going through each of them in more detail:

  • Boss Katana
  • Boss Waza
  • Boss Nextone
  • Boss Cube Street

Boss Katana Range Explained

The Katana range is the most popular line that Boss produce and it includes 7 models (1 mini amp, 4 wired combo amps, 1 wireless combo amp, 1 head unit):

  • KTN-MINI Katana Mini 7W Amplifier
  • Katana-50 1×12 50W Combo Amplifier
  • Katana-100 1×12 100W Combo Amplifier
  • Katana-100/212 2×12 100W Combo Amplifier
  • Katana-Artist 100W Combo Amplifier
  • Katana-Head 100W Amplifier Head
  • Katana-Air Wireless 30W Combo Amplifier

Mini Katana Amp

The KTN-MINI Katana Mini Amplifier is available in black and white and has the following specifications:

  • 7W Power Rating
  • Powered by an alkaline battery (included) or AC adapter
  • Approximately 7 hours battery life
  • 3 modes: clean, crunch and brown
  • Controls: bass, middle, treble, gain, delay time, delay level, volume
  • AUX input for your phone or other device to play music and output for headphones/ recording

Image links to Amazon

Full-Size Standard Combo Katana Amplifiers

There are three wired Boss Katana Combo amplifiers:

  • Katana-50 (50W with 1×12″ cabinet)
  • Katana-100 (100W with 1×12″ cabinet)
  • Katana-100/212 (100W with 2×12″ cabinet)

Here is a rundown of the specifications of each amp.

FeatureKatana-50Katana-100
Power (W)50W100W
EQ3-band3-band
Built-In Effects1515
Access to Additional EffectsYesYes
Main Channels55
Power Level Control0.5W, 25W, 50W0.5W, 50W, 100W
Cabinet Options1×12”1×12” or 2×12”
Preset Save Limit48
Presence ControlNoYes
Stereo Expansion OptionNoYes
Effects LooperNoYes
GA-FC Footswitch CompatibleNoYes
Weight (1×12” option)25.6 pounds32.6 pounds
Dimensions (1×12” option)18.5 x 15.7 x 9.4”20.9 x 19.1 x 9.8”
Boss Katana-50 vs Katana-100
Similarities
  • The effects and modelling options are the same on the Katana-50 and Katana-100.
  • They both have 5 main channels: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown, that all have a variation setting which adds more brightness to each mode.
  • You get 15 built-in effects and access to over 60 effects based on Boss’ pedal range if you use the Boss Tone Studio software by connecting your laptop or PC to the amp, or use the app.
  • 3-band EQ (bass, middle and treble controls).
  • Gain and volume controls.
Weight and Dimensions
  • The 1×12″ Katana-100 weighs around 20% more than the Katana-50 (32.6 pounds compared to 25.6 pounds).
  • The 2×12″ Katana-100 weights around 43.7 pounds so around 40% more than the Katana-50 and 20% more than the Katana-100 1×12″.
  • The depth and height of the Katana-50 and 100 are fairly similar, however the 100-version is wider.
  • The 1×12″ Katana-100 is around 10% wider than the Katana-50.
  • The 2×12″ Katana-100 is around 20% wider than the 1×12″ Katana 100 (26.5″ compared to 20.9″) and around 30% wider than the Katana-50 (width of 18.5″).
Saving Presets

The number of saved presets you can make differs between the Katana-50 and Katana-100. The Katana-50 allows you to have 4 saved presets, and the Katana-100 allows you to save 8 presets.

Power and Cabinet Size

Of course the Katana-100 models have double the power rating of the Katana-50, but that doesn’t mean it’s twice the volume. Its roughly only about 10% louder in reality when comparing the 1×12″ cabinet options. All the sizes are capable of gigging with a full band. The 2×12 version of the Katana-100 has more bass response and volume than the 1×12 version.

Power Rating

All the Katana combo amps have a power control level which allows you to reduce the power of the amp to make it playable at lower volumes. The Katana-50 allows you to select either 0.5W, 25W or 50W, and the Katana-100 allows you to select either 0.5W, 50W or 100W. For bedroom practice, the 0.5W should be plenty.

Other Differences
  • The Katana-100 has a built-in presence control unlike the Katana-50.
  • The Katana-100 has a stereo expansion feature which allows you to connect another Katana to add stereo effects.
  • The Katana-100 has an effects loop, but the Katana-50 does not.
  • The Katana-100 has a footswitch input on the back panel for a GA-FC allowing you to access all your presets using the footswitch. The GA-FC footswitch is not compatible with the Katana-50. Both amps have an expression and footswitch jack which does allow you to cycle between two presets.
Tone

Despite all being the same model, the size does affect how they sound, even at the same volume. The Katana-100 sounds fuller, more bassy, and overall higher quality than the Katana-50. This video does a really good job at demonstrating the difference.

Prices
  • The 1×12″ Katana-100 is around 35% more expensive than the Katana-50.
  • The 2×12″ Katana-100 costs around a third as much again of the 1×12″ Katana-100 and 2x the price of the Katana-50.

Here are links to Amazon so you can look at some current prices for each model:

Boss Katana-Artist

The Boss Katana-Artist is the most expensive Katana in the range, It’s a 100W solid state combo amplifier with an upgraded 12″ Waza Craft cabinet which is designed to produce a vintage British tone. Other upgrades compared to the standard Katana include a MIDI input and larger cabinet.

Here is a table comparing the Boss Katana-100 (1×12″) and Boss Katana Artist.

FeatureKatana-100Katana-Artist
Power (W)100W100W
EQ3-band3-band
Built-In Effects1515
Access to Additional EffectsYesYes
Main Channels55
Power Level Control0.5W, 50W, 100W0.5W, 50W, 100W
Cabinet Options1×12” or 2×12”1×12”
Preset Save Limit88
Presence ControlYesYes
Stereo Expansion OptionYesYes
Effects LooperYesYes
GA-FC Footswitch CompatibleYesYes
SpeakerKatana-designedWaza Craft
MIDI InputNoYes
Weight (1×12”)33 pounds42 pounds
Dimensions (1×12”) 20 x 19 x 10” 25 x 20 x 10”
Boss Katana-100 vs Boss Katana Artist

Wireless Katana Combo

The Katana also comes in a wireless combo option called the Boss Katana-Air. Here are the key features:

  • 30W power rating
  • 5 modes: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown. However, it does not have the variation button for each mode like the wired combos
  • 3-band EQ (bass, middle and treble controls), gain and volume control.
  • Boost, modulation, reverb and other effects available using the Boss Studio Tone app for more effects.
  • You can create 6 presets.
  • Headphone jack and input jack.

Here is a video comparing the tone of the Katana-100 and Katana-Air.

Katana-Head

The Boss-Katana Head Unit amplifier comes in a 100W power rating and features all the controls you will find on the combo version including:

  • 15 built-in effects and access to over 60 using the Boss Tone Studio Software.
  • 5 channels: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown (each with a variation setting).
  • 3-band EQ, gain and volume controls.
  • Ability to save 8 presets.
  • Power control allowing you to decrease the power from 100W to either 50W or 0.5W.
  • GA-FC footswitch input and effects loop.

MKI vs MKII Boss Katana

The Boss Katana has had two editions, the MKI and MKII. Here are the similarities and differences between them.

The main difference between the MKI and MKII Boss Katana, is the addition of the variation button for each of the 5 channels on the MKII, giving the user more options. The effects section has also been expanded and upgraded and features dual-pot controls to make dialling in the effects section easier.

Similarities:

  • Pretty much identical appearance except for a slightly logo change
  • Same size and weight
  • 5 amp models (acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown)
  • Gain, 3-band EQ and presence control on the 100W versions
  • Can save up to 8 presets on the 100W version and 4 on the 50W version
  • Adjustable power control (full power, half power and 0.5W)
  • Connects to a computer using a USB port
  • AUX input
  • GA-FC footswitch input and effects loop (100W only)

Differences:

  • Addition of the variation button on the MKII for each model to add brightness
  • Upgraded and expanded effects on the MKII
  • Dual-pot controls on the MKII to control the effects independently
  • Cabinet resonance feature on the MKII on the head unit and 2×12″ Katana-100
  • All MK-II Katanas have a dedicated power amp input to bypass the Katana’s preamp effects sections
  • Stereo expansion feature on the MKII 100W Katana versions

Confused by all the controls? Here’s my article on how to use Boss amplifiers to clear it all up.

Which Katana Should You Choose?

Of course, the answer to this will depend on your budget and requirements, but here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • The Katana-100 has a better tone and more features compared to the Katana-50, making it a more suitable amp for players who want to gig or practice at home.
  • The Katana-50 is the best option for those on a budget who still want a loud amplifier with loads of effects, that can also be used at home.
  • The Katana-Air is the a good choice if you want to go busking or play your guitar outdoors.
  • The Katana-Mini is best for players who want portability and plenty of features at a very affordable price, and are not as bothered about the volume.

You can also check out this video to help you make a decision.

Boss Waza

The Boss Waza is the flagship head unit amplifier in Boss’ range. It is a solid state amplifier with four channels. You can also purchase matching cabinets in 4×12″ and 2×12″ sizes. It is designed for gigging but also has a power control which allows you to reduce the power to make it playable at lower volumes. It comes in a 75W and 150W version.

Key Features:

  • Solid state technology.
  • 4 channels: clean, crunch, lead 1 and lead 2. All are accessible using a footswitch. Each channel has an independent gain and volume control.
  • Additional controls: bass, middle, treble, presence, reverb, effects loop.
  • Power control allows you to adjust the power from 150W to 100W, 50W or 1W so you can play the guitar in any environment, from gigging to practicing at home.

The only downside to the Boss Waza is its very high price tag. Here is a link to the 75W Boss Waza on Amazon so you can take a look at the current price.

Boss Nextone

There are three main models in the Boss Nextone series:

  • Boss Nextone Stage 40W
  • Boss Nextone Artist 80W
  • Boss Nextone Special 80W

The Boss Nextone series compromises of mid-high end solid state combo amplifiers which are designed to sound like tube amps. Here is a rundown of the features.

FeatureBoss Nextone StageBoss Nextone ArtistBoss Nextone Special
Power40W80W80W
Channels222
Speaker1×12”1×12”1×12”
Boost SwitchYesYesYes
Tone SwitchYesYesYes
USB OutputYesYesYes
Headphone OutputYesYesYes
Delay EffectYesYesYes
Tremolo EffectYesYesYes
Reverb EffectYesYesYes
Headroom SwitchNoNoYes
Power ControlYesYesYes
GA-FC Switch CompatibleYesYesYes
MIDI OutputNoNoYes
American/ British EQsYesYesYes
Guitar Center Price$515$720$900
Boss Nextone Stage vs Artist vs Special

Boss Cube Street II Amp

The Boss Cube Street II amplifier is a 10W battery powered amp designed for street performers. It has two input channels allowing you connect a guitar and a microphone/ keyboard. Each input channels has a three band EQ, chorus and delay effects. It also comes with a looper and is available in black and red.

Here’s a quick video on this amplifier.

Head Unit or Combo?

When selecting your amp setup, you’ll need to decide if you want to go with a stack setup (head unit and separate cabinet) or a combo unit (combines the head unit and cabinet into one device).

Combo amplifiers are more convenient, portable and provide a cheaper setup. Stack amp setups are more expensive because you have to purchase the cabinet and the head unit separately, however they do provide you with more flexibility and options when pairing the speaker and head.

As we’ve been through the article, I’ve highlighted the combo and head unit options, but I’ve not spoken much about cabinets yet.

Boss Cabinet Range

Boss also produce a two main cabinets, the Boss Katana 212 (150W) and Waza 412 (320W) designed to go with different amplifiers, or be paired with other brands to create unique tones. If you’re going for a Boss head unit, then it’s worth looking at the cabinet options available, as sometimes purchasing them together can work out cheaper.

Here is a table comparing the Boss guitar cabinets. It includes the Guitar Center price at the time of writing this article.

FeatureBoss Katana CabinetBoss Waza Cabinet
Power Rating150W320W
Speakers2×12”4×12”
Weight48.5 pounds90.5 pounds
Dimensions26.5 x 12 x 20”30 x 14 x 32”
Price$370$1500
Boss Katana vs Boss Waza cabinets.

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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