Boss vs Blackstar Amps: Which are the Best?


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.

FeatureBoss KatanaBlackstar ID Core
Combo Sizes50W, 100W10W, 20W, 40W, 100W
Head Sizes100WNot available
Channels56
Effects1512
Power ControlYesNo
Price Range$240-$480$130-$380
Boss Katana vs Blackstar ID Core

Modes/ Channels

  • 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.

Effects

  • 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.

Other Features

  • 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.

Boss Katana (image links to Amazon)

Blackstar ID Core (image links to Amazon)

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.

Contents:

  • Solid state combo amps: $130-$900
  • Head units: $350-$2780
  • Valve combo amps (Blackstar only): $500-$1670

Solid State Combo Amps

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Blackstar ID: CORE 1010W$1306 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects
Blackstar ID: CORE 2020W$1806 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects
Blackstar ID: CORE 4040W$2006 channels, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects
Boss Katana 5050W$24010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Cube Street II10W$3507 guitar models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, chorus, delay
Boss Katana 100 1×12100W$37010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Blackstar ID: CORE 100100W$3806 voices, gain, single EQ, reverb, delay, looper, octaver, 4 modulation effects
Blackstar Silverline Standard20W$4306 voices, gain, 2 band EQ, ISF reverb, delay, 4 modulation effects
Boss Katana 100 2×12100W$48010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Nextone Stage40W$5154 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence
Boss Katana-Artist100W$60010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Blackstar Silverline Deluxe100W$6806 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects
Boss Nextone Artist80W$7204 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence
Boss Nextone Special80W$9002 channels (and 4 models), 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, boost, custom tune, presence
Boss vs Blackstar Solid State Combo Amplifiers.

Key Points:

  • 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.

Head Units

AmplifierWattageTypePriceSettings
Boss Katana100WSolid State$35010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Boss Katana-Air Wireless30WSolid State$41210 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Blackstar HT-5RH5WTube$4802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Blackstar Silverline Deluxe100WSolid State$5306 voices, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, resonance, presence, 4 modulation effects
Blackstar HT20RH20WTube$6002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 5050WTube$7802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb
Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage 100100WTube$10002 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence, resonance
Boss Waza150WSolid State$27802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX
Boss vs Blackstar Head Unit Amplifiers.

Key Points:

  • 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)

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Blackstar HT-5RH5W$5002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb
Blackstar Studio 10 6L610W$600Gain, tone, reverb
Blackstar Studio 10 EL3410W$600Gain, tone, reverb
Blackstar HT-20R20W$6802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb
Blackstar HT Club 4040W$8002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb
Blackstar HT Venue Series Club 4040W$8002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb
Blackstar HT Venue Series Stage60W$10002 channels, 2 voice switches, Gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb, presence
Blackstar CV3030W$10002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF, reverb
Blackstar Artist 3030W$11502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, ISF reverb
Blackstar Artisan 3030W$16702 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, voice
Blackstar Valve Combo Amplifiers.

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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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