Fender and Boss are two big names in the world of guitar amplifiers, but which brand makes the best amps? In this article, I’ll compare the signature tones of Fender and Boss, the controls, and specific models at different price points including the Boss Katana.
The Quick Answer
Boss specialise in solid state amps, whereas Fender produce a wide range of solid state and valve amplifiers. Fender amps typically have brighter clean tones whilst Boss produce crunchier distortion tones. Fender offer a larger range of amps to suit more budgets than Boss.
Comparing the Tones
Fender produces classic valve amps, as well as cheaper solid state amplifiers, whilst Boss specialise in solid state amps. Valve amps produce a more authentic and signature tone and typically have fewer effects, whilst solid state amps are cheaper and more artificial sounding, and can come with a variety of built-in effects.
It’s easier to compare solid state amps from both brands to one another, since they use the same technology. However, comparing valve Fender amps, with solid state Boss amps, isn’t really a like for like comparison, and neither is comparing valve and solid state amps by Fender with each other. So I’ll make these distinctions as we go through the rest of the article. If you’re a beginner, just look at the solid state options unless you’re happy to spend $400 plus on a new amp.
Of course, it’s hard to demonstrate the tonal differences without actually hearing them, so I’ve included a couple of videos to demonstrate.
- Boss Katana solid state amps sound warmer than Fender solid state amps which sound a bit brighter.
- Fender valve amps have a very bright and “sparkly” clean tone compared to Boss solid state amps.
Here is a great video comparing the clean tones on the solid state Fender Mustang and Boss Katana.
- Boss solid state amps sound crunchier and crisper than Fender solid state amps which sound warmer and fuzzier.
- Fender valve amps need to be pushed to high volumes to achieve distortion unlike solid state Boss and Fender amps.
Here is a quick video to show the crunch tones compared between the Fender Mustang and Boss Katana (both solid state).
Boss Katana vs Fender Mustang GTX vs Fender Champion XL
The Boss Katana is the most popular amp in Boss’ range and can be most closely compared with the solid state Fender Mustang GTX and the Fender Champion. Let’s take a look at the specifications head-to-head.
The Boss Katana and Fender Mustang GTX both come in 50W and 100W versions, with the Katana being the cheapest of the two amplifiers. The Fender Mustang has 40 voices compared to the Katana’s 5 modes. Both amps come with over 60 effects, however more are built-in on the Mustang GTX.
The Fender Champion XL and Boss Katana both come in 50W and 100W versions. The Fender Champion XL is the cheapest in the 50W size, but the Katana is cheaper for the 100W version. The Katana has more built-in effects, but fewer “voices” compared to the Champion XL.
|Feature||Boss Katana||Fender Mustang GTX||Fender Champion XL|
|Wattage||50W, 100W||50W, 100W||50W, 100W|
- The Boss Katana has 5 built-in models, each with a variation to add more brightness to each mode The modes are: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown.
- The Fender Mustang GTX has over 40 models which are used to simulate tones of other classic and modern amplifiers.
- The Fender Champion XL has 2 channels (clean and overdrive), with 16 voices.
- The Boss Katana has 15 effects built-in, but allows you to access over 60 effects if you plug into a PC/ laptop and use the Boss Tone Studio software.
- The Fender Mustang GTX has over 70 effects available.
- The Fender Champion XL has 6 classic effects: reverb, delay, chorus, phaser, flanger and tremolo.
Wattage and Price
- The Boss Katana comes in a 50W version (approx. $240) and a 100W version (approx. $370).
- The Fender Mustang GTX comes in a 50W (approx. $380) and a 100W version (approx. $500).
- The Fender Champion XL comes in a 50W version (approx. $230) and a 100W version (approx. $450).
Before we compare the rest of each range against each other, I wanted to quickly discuss the common controls you’ll find on Boss and Fender amps.
Boss Amp Settings
Here are the most popular controls on Boss amps:
Fender Amp Settings
Here are the most popular controls on Fender amps:
Boss and Fender amps usually have similar built-in controls available, including gain, a 3-band EQ (bass, middle, and treble), along with reverb. Boss amps are more centred around effects than most Fender amps. Some Fender amps have a “fat-switch” which adds compression and gain.
I have some in-depth guides to the controls and settings of both amplifier brands so check them out if you’re looking for some more detail:
Comparing Amp Models
I also wanted to take an in-depth look at the ranges of both brands, so I’ve created three tables containing the specifications of pretty much every currently available Boss and Fender amps. The prices are based on Guitar Center at the time of writing. The tables all go in ascending order of price (low to high), so you can see what is available within your budget.
Guitar Center are always the first place I look at when I’m interested in a new amp because have a huge range of amplifiers for sale and always have some excellent deals on. Here’s a link to take you directly to Guitar Center’s amp range so you can see all the offers available at the moment.
- Solid state combo amps:
- Valve (tube) combo amps:
- Head units:
Solid State Combo Amps
|Fender Frontman 10G||10W||$80||2 channels, gain, treble, bass|
|Fender Champion 20||20W||$130||2 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato|
|Fender Mustang LT25||25W||$150||30 presets, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Fender Champion 40||40W||$220||2 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato|
|Fender Champion 50XL||50W||$230||2 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato|
|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|
|Fender Mustang GTX 50||50W||$380||30 presets, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Fender Champion 100||100W||$400||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato|
|Fender Champion 100XL||100W||$450||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, voice control, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato|
|Boss Katana 100 2×12||100W||$480||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Fender Mustang GTX 100||100W||$500||200 presets, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|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|
|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|
- Fender make the cheapest solid state combo amps compared to Boss.
- Boss offer the cheapest 100W amp and Fender make the cheapest 50W amp.
|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|
|Fender Bassbreaker 15W||15W||Tube||$600||Gain, 3 band EQ, structure, reverb, bright switch|
|Fender Super-Sonic 22||22W||Tube||$1000||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Boss Waza||150W||Solid State||$2780||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX|
- Boss only make solid state head units and Fender only make valve head units.
- Boss make higher wattage head units than Fender.
Valve Combo Amps (Fender Only)
|Fender Super-Champ X2||15W||$400||2 channels, gain, voice, treb, bass|
|Fender Bassbreaker 007||7W||$450||Gain, 3 band EQ, treb boost|
|Fender Pro Junior IV||15W||$600||Tone|
|Fender Blues Junior IV||15W||$650||3 band EQ, reverb|
|Fender Bassbreaker 15W||15W||$650||Gain, structure, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb||5W||$750||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb|
|Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue||40W||$800||2 channels, drive, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence|
|Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe||40W||$900||3 band EQ, reverb, presence, various switches|
|Fender Bassbreaker 30R||30W||$900||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Fender Super-Sonic 22||22W||$1050||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb|
|Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb||12W||$1100||Treble, bass, reverb, tremolo|
|Fender Tone Master Super Reverb||45W||$1200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tremolo|
|Fender 68 Custom Pro Reverb||40W||$1300||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch|
|Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Deluxe Reverb||22W||$1400||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb|
|Fender ’68 Custom Twin Reverb||85W||$1500||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch|
|Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Twin Reverb||85W||$1700||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch|
|Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Super Reverb||45W||$1800||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch|
|Fender ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb||20W||$2500||3 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch|
- Only Fender currently produce valve (tube) amps, Boss do not make valve amps.
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