Fender vs Boss Amps: Which are the Best?


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.

Clean Tone

  • 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.

Distorted Tone

  • 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.

FeatureBoss KatanaFender Mustang GTXFender Champion XL
Wattage50W, 100W50W, 100W50W, 100W
Voices54016
Effects60+70+6
Price Range$240-$480$380-$500$230-$450
Boss Katana vs Fender Mustang GTX vs Fender Champion XL

Models (Voices)

  • 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.

Effects

  • 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).

The Controls

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:

  • Gain
  • Bass
  • Middle
  • Treble
  • Reverb

Fender Amp Settings

Here are the most popular controls on Fender amps:

  • Gain
  • Bass
  • Middle
  • Treble
  • Reverb
  • “Fat-switch”

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. 

Contents:

  • Solid state combo amps:
  • Valve (tube) combo amps:
  • Head units:

Solid State Combo Amps

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Fender Frontman 10G10W$802 channels, gain, treble, bass
Fender Champion 2020W$1302 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato
Fender Mustang LT2525W$15030 presets, gain, 3 band EQ
Fender Champion 4040W$2202 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato
Fender Champion 50XL50W$2302 channels, gain, treble, bass, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato
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
Fender Mustang GTX 5050W$38030 presets, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Fender Champion 100100W$4002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato
Fender Champion 100XL100W$4502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, voice control, reverb, delay, chorus, tremolo, flanger, phaser, vibrato
Boss Katana 100 2×12100W$48010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects
Fender Mustang GTX 100100W$500200 presets, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Boss Nextone Stage40W$5154 models, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, delay, presence
Boss Katana-Artist100W$60010 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 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
Fender vs Boss solid state combo amps compared.

Key Points:

  • Fender make the cheapest solid state combo amps compared to Boss.
  • Boss offer the cheapest 100W amp and Fender make the cheapest 50W amp.

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
Fender Bassbreaker 15W15WTube$600Gain, 3 band EQ, structure, reverb, bright switch
Fender Super-Sonic 2222WTube$10002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb
Boss Waza150WSolid State$27802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX
Boss vs Fender head unit amps compared.
  • 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)

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Fender Super-Champ X215W$4002 channels, gain, voice, treb, bass
Fender Bassbreaker 0077W$450Gain, 3 band EQ, treb boost
Fender Pro Junior IV15W$600Tone
Fender Blues Junior IV15W$6503 band EQ, reverb
Fender Bassbreaker 15W15W$650Gain, structure, 3 band EQ, reverb  
Fender ’68 Custom Vibro Champ Reverb5W$7503 band EQ, tremolo, reverb
Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue40W$8002 channels, drive, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence
Fender George Benson Hot Rod Deluxe40W$9003 band EQ, reverb, presence, various switches
Fender Bassbreaker 30R30W$9002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb
Fender Super-Sonic 2222W$10502 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb
Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb12W$1100Treble, bass, reverb, tremolo
Fender Tone Master Super Reverb45W$12002 channels, 3 band EQ, gain, reverb, tremolo
Fender 68 Custom Pro Reverb40W$13003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch
Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Deluxe Reverb22W$14003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb
Fender ’68 Custom Twin Reverb85W$15003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch
Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Twin Reverb85W$17003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch
Fender Vintage Reissue ’65 Super Reverb45W$18003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch
Fender ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb20W$25003 band EQ, tremolo, reverb, bright switch
Fender valve amps.

Key Points:

  • Only Fender currently produce valve (tube) amps, Boss do not make valve amps.

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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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