Marshall and Boss are two big names in the amplifier industry, but which makes the best amps? In this article, I’ll be comparing the classic tones of Marshall and Boss, the controls you typically find on each brand, and pretty much every model in each range head-to-head so you can choose the best option for your budget.
The Quick Answer
Boss produce solid-state modelling amps which can be used to mimic a range of tones, whilst Marshall produce both valve and solid state amps with different tones. Marshall valve amps sound more authentic than Boss amps, whereas solid-state Marshall amps can sound thinner and muddier by comparison.
Comparing the Tones
Boss specialises in solid state modelling amps whereas Marshall produce both solid state and valve (tube) amplifiers. Modelling amps are great if you want to easily be able to access different voices to suit different music styles, whilst valve amps sound more classic and vintage. Valve amps are usually significantly more expensive than solid state amplifiers.
Of course, the best way to demonstrate the difference between Boss and Marshall amps, is to actually hear it! So I’ve included some videos to compare the tones as well as summarising them below. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between solid state and valve amps in the Marshall range in terms of the sound.
This video does a great job at comparing solid state Marshall and Boss amp tones.
- Boss clean tones have a lot of low-end whilst Marshall solid-state amps have a more pronounced mid-range.
- Marshall valve clean tones sound more gritty when the volume is turned up compared to Boss solid state amps which sound smoother.
- Boss solid state amps sound more punchy and aggressive, with more pronounced treble than Marshall solid state amps which sound a bit thinner.
- Marshall valve amps sound crunchier and clearer than Boss amps which sound darker and heavier.
Here’s a video comparing a Marshall valve amp with the Boss Katana (solid state).
Boss Katana vs Marshall CODE vs Marshall MG
The Boss Katana and Marshall CODE are both modelling amps which use different modes to access to different tones. The Katana has 5 modes, whilst the CODE has 15 built-in. The CODE has 24 built-in effects whilst the Katana has 15 built-in but software can be used to access over 68 effects. Both amps are available in 100W and 50W versions and the CODE is also available in a 25W version.
The Boss Katana and the Marshall MG GFX (e.g. MG30GFX) are solid state amplifiers. The Katana has 5 modes and 15 built-in effects (58 can be accessed using software), whilst the MG GFX has 4 modes and 6 main effects. The Katana comes in 50W and 100W versions and the MG GXF comes in 30W and 50W versions.
|Feature||Boss Katana||Marshall CODE||Marshall GFX|
|Wattage||50W, 100W||25W, 50W, 100W||30W/ 50W|
- The Boss Katana has 5 modes: acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown. Each mode also has a variation built-in which adds brightness to each of the modes.
- The Marshall CODE has 15 modes: 4 clean, 5 crunch, 4 overdrive, natural, acoustic.
- The Marshall MG GFX series has 4 modes: clean, crunch, overdrive 1, overdrive 2
- The Boss Katana has 58 effects, however you need to plug into a PC/ laptop and use the Boss Tone Studio software to access the full range. 15 effects are available from the amp on its own.
- The Marshall CODE has 24 effects which are all accessible from the amp itself.
- The Marshall MG GFX Series has 6 effects built-in.
- The cheapest Boss Katana is the 50W version (approx. $240), which is a similar price to the 25W Marshall CODE (approx. $270) and same price as the 30W Marshall MG30FX.
- The 50W version of the Marshall CODE is approximately $320 and the 50W version of the Marshall MG50GFX is roughly $420.
- The 100W Boss Katana is roughly $370 whilst the 100W Marshall Code is around $450.
- This makes the Boss Katana the cheaper amp if you’re looking for high wattage, followed by the Marshall CODE and finally the Marshall MG series.
Check out my comparison between the Boss Katana 50 and 100 to learn more.
Here’s a quick insight into the controls commonly found on Marshall and Boss amps.
Marshall Amp Settings
Here are the most popular controls on Marshall amps:
Boss Amp Settings
Here are the most popular controls on Boss amps:
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
The Boss Katana isn’t the only amp in the Boss range, so I wanted to compare some more models against Marshall amps in this next section. I have collated pretty much every currently available Marshall and Boss amp and compared their specifications and the price (based on the price at Guitar Center at the time of writing). I’ve put all this information into tables to make it clear to read, and split it into three categories. Each table is organised from the lowest to the highest price.
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: $100-$900
- Valve (tube) combo amps: $350-$2850
- Head units: $550-$2600
Solid State and Combo Amps
|Marshall MG10G||10W||$100||2 channels, gain, contour|
|Marshall MG15||15W||$120||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall MG15DFX||15W||$180||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger|
|Boss Katana 50||50W||$240||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Marshall MG30GFX||30W||$240||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Marshall CODE 25W||25W||$270||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Marshall CODE 50W||50W||$320||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 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|
|Marshall MG50GFX||50W||$420||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave|
|Marshall CODE100W||100W||$450||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 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|
|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|
- Boss amps start at a higher price than Marshall amps which cater for new guitarists.
- Boss produces the highest wattage (100W) solid-state combo for the lowest price.
|Boss Katana||100W||Solid State||$350||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Marshall CODE 100W||100W||Solid State||$400||14 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects|
|Boss Katana-Air Wireless||30W||Solid State||$412||10 models, gain, 3 band EQ, over 15 effects|
|Marshall Origin20H||20W||Tube||$450||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall Origin50H||50W||Tube||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence|
|Marshall DSL20HR||20W||Tube||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall DSL100HR||100W||Tube||$950||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1400||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||Tube||$1400||Gain, presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Vintage Studio||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall Studio Classic||20W||Tube||$1500||Presence, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall JMV205H||50W||Tube||$2000||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Marshall JMV210H||100W||Tube||$2200||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
|Marshall JMT45||45W||Tube||$2600||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Boss Waza||150W||Solid State||$2780||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, presence, reverb, FX|
|Marshall JMV410H||100W||Tube||$2850||2 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb|
- Boss only make solid-state head units and Marshall make tube and solid-state head units.
- Boss make the cheapest 100W head unit.
- Boss make the highest wattage head unit (150W).
Valve Combo Amps (Marshall Only)
|Marshall Origin20C||20W||$550||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Marshall DSL5CR||5W||$550||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb|
|Marshall DSL20CR||20W||$650||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Marshall Origin50C||50W||$700||Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence|
|Marshall DSL40CR||40W||$800||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
|Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee||20W||$1600||Gain, 3 band EQ|
|Marshall Studio Classic 20W||20W||$1700||3 band EQ, presence|
|Marshall Studio Vintage 20W||20W||$1700||Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb|
|Marshall JMV215C||50W||$2600||2 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance|
- Only Marshall currently produce valve (tube) amps, Boss do not make valve amps.
In the market for a new amplifier? Check out my complete amplifier buyer’s guide to help narrow down your selection and find the perfect amp for you.
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