So today I finally tried a Boss Katana

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ICBMICBM Frets: 42481
It's been a long time. I don't generally get to see new stuff unless it breaks or comes into the shop for sale, as I rarely go out of my way to play with new things in other shops. But today there was a Katana 50 in the shop, for sale.

And I have to say...











... it sounded absolutely atrocious.

What is it people see (hear?) in them? Hideous grainy, harsh, hard sound with no life, sparkle or depth to it - and it's not the EQ, it's just the inherent tone of the amp and cannot be dialled out, only made bassier/middier/treblier etc. It was even horrible on the clean sound, and I can usually get a decent clean tone out of anything. The distorted sounds were pretty much unusable, although it actually got less bad on the higher gain settings - 'Crunch' was the worst.

Just to make sure it wasn't just me having a bad-ears day, or the guitar, or the cable or anything, I tried a couple more amps with the same guitar - a Roland Cube 60 and an old Fender Champion 110. The Cube - which I'm not a huge fan of, but they're usable enough - sounded so much better than the Katana it was almost funny. And the old transistor Fender actually *was* funny - it's far from the best sound in Fender history even on the clean channel, and the dirty channel has far too much gain and can sound really buzzy, but it was *still* possible to make both of them sound better than the Katana.

I'll be honest and say that it wasn't a total surprise since to date I have yet to hear a demo video that's sounded good either, but I thought I would reserve judgement until I heard one in person - I'd now be happy if I never do again. I don't get it. I'm really not trying to be funny or controversial, I just cannot understand why they're so raved about.

I'd take a Blackstar ID series over it any day, and most of you know what I think about those!

"Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

"Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 1880
    edited June 27
    Fair enough. Never tried one myself. Don't know why people buy anything other than a HRD...
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 1234
    Ooh, great post to move way ahead in the Frets weekly chart! ;)
    Karma......
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  • clarkefanclarkefan Frets: 585
    While it's still there maybe try it into a separate cab?  

    Don't know if it has a speaker out, but might be worth the experiment to exclude the potentially crap speaker? 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42481
    clarkefan said:
    While it's still there maybe try it into a separate cab?  

    Don't know if it has a speaker out, but might be worth the experiment to exclude the potentially crap speaker? 
    No, but I could easily hook one up with a couple of croc clips if I wanted to. Probably a waste of time though, no speaker can make a good amp sound that bad.

    And the speaker in the Champion is nothing to write home about either...

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 2786
    I used mine on a Marshall type setting and drove it with the volume control on the guitar, worked a peach in that configuration 
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  • markslade07markslade07 Frets: 460
    But did you like it or not?
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  • GodlykepowerGodlykepower Frets: 160
    I totally agree with this post. I tried one once as everyone bangs on about them....and gave up after 10 minutes. Utter crap.

    I’m a member of a couple of guitar and amp selling pages on Facebook, and these come up for sale 7 or 8 times a week without fail. The ad always says something along the lines of “awesome amp....absolutely stunning tone....classic etc.”

    When I pointed out if they were so awesome and classic and stunning, they wouldn’t come up for sale so often....I was called a gear snob, and some bollocks about how many were sold, statistically they HAVE to come up for sale.
    I don’t have a gambling problem, I’m winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That’s like saying that Iron Maiden have an awesomeness problem.
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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 9153
    You also see stacks of HRDs come up and it's not because they are shit.

    It's a base rate fallacy.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 4545
    I have recently picked up a katana after dismissing them for ages. As an amp loud enough to jam with that you don't need any pedals with it's ideal. 

    Doesnt compare to my silver face champ but nor did my Princeton. 

    Depends ds on your expectations. 
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  • JDEJDE Frets: 1087
    Never played a 50. The 100, especially with the head and a decent 2x12 makes a brilliant clean platform for modellers and dirt boxes imho. The tone is apparently eminently tweakable using a computer (what?), but it sounds judiciously like a 90’s high gain ripper on the lead channels as stock with a decent cab and speakers. Can get spooky close to a 6505 - I think this is what it was “modelled” on, rather than the 5150 that people think. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42481
    edited June 27
    munckee said:
    I have recently picked up a katana after dismissing them for ages. As an amp loud enough to jam with that you don't need any pedals with it's ideal. 

    Doesnt compare to my silver face champ but nor did my Princeton. 

    Depends ds on your expectations. 
    I expected it to at least sound reasonable...

    But in practice it didn’t sound even tolerable, to me.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 9153
    I've had my Katana for a year and a half now. 

    I think in the context that it's an inexpensive modelling amp it sounds very good.
    The main things in it's favour are that it has a very neutral clean sound that takes pedals extremely well, that the FX are of a very high quality (it's essentially a GT-100) and the lead channel is quite good.

    I think the crunch channel is not great and the brown channel is fun, but not all that usable.
    I'm now using a Marshall Origin as well, but I'm having to piss about with attenuators to get a decent sound at home volumes which is trivial with a Katana.

    One thing to note is that as delivered it has a weird mid frequency bump which makes the whole amp a bit overly aggressive and 80's sounding and you can't dial it out from the top panel. If you get into the USB editing you can change the global EQ and dial it out. This improves it significantly. Given @ICBM is not fond of boxy mids I wonder if this might be what he is taking offence to.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42481

    Given @ICBM is not fond of boxy mids I wonder if this might be what he is taking offence to.
    No, nothing to do with the EQ - it’s the nasty hard grainy sound of it. I could live with boxy mids if I had to, this was much worse. More or less unusable even clean with the mids dialled out.

    Not even good in the context of a cheap modelling amp - a Line 6 Spider is miles better.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • monquixotemonquixote Frets: 9153
    I can only assume it was broken then.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 42481
    I can only assume it was broken then.
    It appeared to be working fine, just sounded terrible.

    I would put it third on the list of the worst-sounding amps I’ve ever played, after the Orange Micro Terror with its overpoweringly fatiguing sound that literally makes my ears itch, and the Blackstar ID Core series with its oppressive inside-a-padded-cell spatial effect.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • LegionreturnsLegionreturns Frets: 6337
    I can only assume it was broken then.
    In all honesty, that seems likely to me too. 

    I've had several, and I've not liked the ice pick, trebly tone on stock settings, but have always managed to tweak to a very pleasing sound. 

    I've never owned a 50 though, although I've heard other people's and they sounded fine. 

    My Trading Feedback    |    You Bring The Band

    Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 5163
    edited June 28
    For some reason they do seem to be shipped with an overly treble-ly tone. Hooking up to a PC (which I’d successfully avoided until a couple of days ago) and adjusting the global EQ improves things no end. So does turning down the ‘presence’ which for some reason is a knob on the 100, but is in the editor for the 50.

    One thing to remember is that it’s a sub £200 amp. It’s great bang for the buck, weighs next to nothing (which, sadly, is a consideration these days), will keep up with a tame drummer, and has a decent range of pre-loaded effects (which personally I don’t use or like). However, it is never going to compete (despite Boss’s extravagant ‘gig-ready’ claims) with amps that cost substantially more. Although loud, it does IMHO lack projection and low-end ‘thump’.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • ennspekennspek Frets: 1133
    Tomato potato
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  • I'm gonna sound like a repugnant arsehole but I don't really look at that "class" of product these days. I don't need to in all honesty.

    What I mean is - those cheap practice amps don't interest me .. small modelling combos don't interest me... the bottom of the consumer barrel doesn't interest me. So I never play them. Doesn't surprise me that it sounds crap though - coz all the blues wankers love them! lol.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Dominus Spiritus Invictus
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 4068
    I've played through a couple and not a fan so far either. I get that they are cheap but given the choice I prefer my cheap Fender Champion 110 which I've done many a gig with. 
    I agree about the basic Katana tone. it's not a neutral sound it's way less natural and open as older cheap SS designs like the Peavey Bandit, Fender Champions, Session 75's etc

    I've got one coming in to be modded, customers wants USB socket fitted so I'll try it at home volume. The 50 watt and 100 watt versions I've played through were at gig volume. Be a chance to have a good look at the circuit too 


    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • ThePrettyDamnedThePrettyDamned Frets: 4167
    I disagree completely, but that's fine! I have heard a few in rehearsals and live and they always sound really good. 
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  • ThePrettyDamnedThePrettyDamned Frets: 4167
    Oh, I usually hear the 100 watter - maybe that has something to do with it? 
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  • GrumpyrockerGrumpyrocker Frets: 1506
    I've found the 100 combo to be an absolutely fabulous sounding amp.

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  • merlinmerlin Frets: 2225
    edited June 28
    Merlin:     I want to say one word to you ICBM. Just one word.

    ICBM:        Yes sir

    Merlin:      Are you listening?

    ICBM:        Yes I am

    Merlin:       Marketing. 
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  • JayGeeJayGee Frets: 598
    There’s probably a PhD and a shit load of money waiting for someone who can come up with an answer to why opinions can diverge so much on a piece of kit.

    I’m absolutely not arguing with the subjective experience of somebody who’s probably seen, played through, and spread across the bench a wider variety of amps than I’ve even seen but I imagine I’ll still be perfectly happy with mine the next time I switch it on, and that a lot of other players who haven’t played through one before and use it as a house amp at jams will continue to be perfectly happy with it, comment on how impressive it is for the money, and wish that kit like that had been around back in the day...

    And I really would love to know why...


    Don't ask me, I just play the damned thing...
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 14134
    I've written at tedious length about my Katana tribulations and my experience out of the box was that I didn't just not like it, it was utterly unusable. 

    After weeks of experimenting with the software editor I managed to turn it into a good sounding, versatile practice amp, but without the dynamics or headroom to work in a band. 

    It's the only amp I've ever owned which could be both too loud and not quite clearly audible at the same time. 
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 23063
    My only comment when I tried one was they were very directional in the sound. Like you could either hear it or not, if you were right in front of speaker

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • PhiltrePhiltre Frets: 1880
    merlin said:
    Merlin:     I want to say one word to say to you. Just one word.

    ICBM:        Yes sir

    Merlin:      Are you listening?

    ICBM:        Yes I am

    Merlin:       Marketing. 
    Exactly how do you mean? ;)
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 17241
    You're being very unfair. It's common knowledge that with a few expensive mods, lots of upgraded components, a better speaker and a different cabinet the Katana can be made to sound acceptable. Spending the extra £500 on it can make quite a difference.
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  • Modulus_AmpsModulus_Amps Frets: 1150
    tFB Trader
    I wonder if the settings internal had been adjusted to crap mode, can you factory re-set it?

    Never played one myself, but at the selling price I would be happy with any sound at all
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