Boss and Blackstar are two big amplifier brands known for producing affordable and high-end models. In this article, I’ll compare the classic tones of Boss and Blackstar, along with popular models in the ranges such as the Boss Katana, so you can decide which is the best option for you.
The Quick Answer
Blackstar amps cater to a wider market compared to Boss amps which start at a higher price. A wide variety of tones can be achieved using solid state amps from both brands. Boss focus on solid state amps whereas Blackstar make solid state and valve amps. Boss amps focus more on effects than Blackstar amps.
Comparing the Tones
The Blackstar range is very large and has both solid state modelling, and valve amp options. The Boss range instead focusses on solid state modelling amps.
Solid state modelling amps are designed to imitate the tone of many different amp types and provide the user with plenty of versatility and a range of built-in effects. Valve (tube) amps, have a more authentic and signature tone which many guitarists think sounds more premium, however they don’t have as much versatility in comparison to solid state modelling amps.
The fairest way to compare the Boss and Blackstar tone, is to look at the solid state options, since this is comparing apples to apples in a sense.
- Boss amps generally have more effects which are higher quality than Blackstar amps, which may remove the need for additional pedals in some situations for certain guitarists.
- Blackstar amps usually sound a bit warmer and less crunchy compared to Boss.
Check out this video to listen to each amp in action.
Boss Katana vs Blackstar ID Core
The Boss Katana and Blackstar ID Core ranges are two very popular choices if you are looking for a solid state modelling amp which comes with a wide variety of effects.
The Blackstar ID Core is better for beginners as it comes in smaller sizes and starts at a lower price. The Boss Katana is better if you want more effects. The ID Core comes in 10W, 20W, 40W and 100W combo sizes and the Katana comes in 50W and 100W combo sizes and a 100W head unit option.
Here is a table comparing the features of each range.
|Feature||Boss Katana||Blackstar ID Core|
|Combo Sizes||50W, 100W||10W, 20W, 40W, 100W|
|Head Sizes||100W||Not available|
- The Boss Katana has 5 main channels: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown. Each channel comes with a variation setting, which adds more brightness to each mode.
- The Blackstar ID Core has 6 channels: clean warm, clean bright, crunch 1, crunch 2, overdrive 1 and overdrive 2.
- The Boss Katana has 15 built-in effects. You can also access over 60 effects based on Boss’ poplar pedal range by connecting the amp to a laptop or PC with the Boss Tone Studio Software.
- The Blackstar ID Core range has 12 built-in effects: phaser, chorus/ flanger, envelope, tremolo, 4 delay effects and 4 reverb effects.
- Both amp ranges have a wireless Bluetooth amp option. The Boss Katana has the 30W Air Wireless option and the Blackstar ID Core has the 20W Beam Option which is around 50% cheaper.
- The Boss Katana has a power level switch which allows you to lower the wattage on the amp, making it a comfortable volume level for different settings. The Blackstar ID Core range does not have this feature, so you’ll need to select the size needed for the space you’re playing in.
- All Boss Katana amps have a 3-band EQ, as does the 100W Blackstar ID Core (smaller sizes have one EQ control). The Blackstar ID Core also has an ISF control which allows you to change the amp from British to American voicing.
Comparing Popular Amp Models
As well as comparing the Katana to popular Blackstar amps, I also wanted to take a deeper look into the rest of the ranges. I’ve made some tables to compare the features and prices of pretty much every model that is currently available in each range. The prices are based on Guitar Center at the time of writing. The tables are split into amplifier category and are ordered from the lowest to the highest price so you can easily identify the options in your budget.
- Solid state combo amps: $130-$900
- Head units: $350-$2780
- Valve combo amps (Blackstar only): $500-$1670
Solid State Combo Amps
|Blackstar ID: CORE 10||10W||$130||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 20||20W||$180||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 40||40W||$200||6 channels, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Boss Katana 50||50W||$240||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Boss Cube Street II||10W||$350||7 guitar models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, chorus, delay|
|Boss Katana 100 1×12||100W||$370||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Blackstar ID: CORE 100||100W||$380||6 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, looper, octaver, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar Silverline Standard||20W||$430||6 voices, gain, 2 band EQ, ISF reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects|
|Boss Katana 100 2×12||100W||$480||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Boss Nextone Stage||40W||$515||4 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence|
|Boss Katana-Artist||100W||$600||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Blackstar Silverline Deluxe||100W||$680||6 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects|
|Boss Nextone Artist||80W||$720||4 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence|
|Boss Nextone Special||80W||$900||2 channels (and 4 models), 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, boost, custom tune, presence|
- Blackstar solid state combo amps start at a lower price than Boss.
- Blackstar produces lower wattage options.
- The 100W amps from both brands are similarly priced.
|Boss Katana||100W||Solid State||$350||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Boss Katana-Air Wireless||30W||Solid State||$412||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Blackstar HT-5RH||5W||Tube||$480||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Blackstar Silverline Deluxe||100W||Solid State||$530||6 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects|
|Blackstar HT20RH||20W||Tube||$600||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 50||50W||Tube||$780||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage 100||100W||Tube||$1000||2 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Boss Waza||150W||Solid State||$2780||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX|
- Boss only produce solid state head units and Blackstar produce solid state and valve head units.
- Boss produce the highest wattage (150W) amp.
Valve Combo Amps (Blackstar only)
|Blackstar HT-5RH||5W||$500||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Blackstar Studio 10 6L6||10W||$600||Gain, tone, reverb|
|Blackstar Studio 10 EL34||10W||$600||Gain, tone, reverb|
|Blackstar HT-20R||20W||$680||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Club 40||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 40||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage||60W||$1000||2 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence|
|Blackstar CV30||30W||$1000||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb|
|Blackstar Artist 30||30W||$1150||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb|
|Blackstar Artisan 30||30W||$1670||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, voice|
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