Boss Katana 100 MKII Review: From Clean to Mean

Ready to rock your world? The Boss Katana 100 MKII is the answer to your dreams! With five amp voicings, independent effects, variable power control, and stereo expand option. This DSP amplifier offers endless possibilities.

And the best part? You can easily customize your sounds with the Boss Tone Studio. No wonder it’s been the talk of the town for years!

Available in various formats and under $500, the Katana MK2 is a must-have for any guitar player. So, are you ready to take your music to the next level?


Let’s have a look at some key features!

  • Five amp voicing with new variations of each.
  • Combo with one 12″ speaker.
  • 60 selectable Boss effects.
  • Variable power control and stereo expand option.
  • Headphone and aux connections.
  • FX Loop.
  • Tons of output power at 100 Watts.
  • Direct out jacks and cab emulation.

Who is This Amplifier For?

Guitarists of various skill levels and genres can use the Boss Katana amp series. It offers a flexible selection of tones and features! Most that may accommodate many musical genres. It’s one of the more versatile alternatives available, in my opinion.

The Katana appears to be a favorite among rock, metal, and blues guitarists. This is primarily due to its stylish and modern design. But, anyone seeking a powerful and dynamic amplifier will be more than happy. It can provide the grit and punch your music needs.


Boss Katana MK2 Front.

Boss Katana MKII Guitar Amplifier

The Boss Katana is one popular DSP guitar amplifier. It’s capable of many voices and effects. They are almost tube like and super versatile. It’s affordable, well-made and perfect for any guitarist!


  • Build quality.
  • Clean sound is great.
  • Great crunch and distortion tone.
  • Many effects on board.
  • Sounds good at higher volumes.
  • Great amp for the price!


  • Occasional quality issue but nothing major reported.

Sound Performance

The acoustic channel almost sounds like a blend of the EQ and the guitar’s direct signal. It delivers a warm, inviting tone.

I found this was perfect for fingerpicking or strumming chords. But with an acoustic guitar. It seems some players try and use it for a clean tone. But it’s not designed for this.

The clean channel is as straightforward as it gets! It’s crisp, clear, and versatile. You can dial in anything from glassy, shimmering highs to thick lows that pack a punch.

It’s also great for pedals. I had great results using distortion pedals into the front of the amp. There was no loss of top end frequencies like poorly designed amps experience with pedals.

The crunch channel is a little more subdued, but don’t let that fool you. It’s capable of delivering gritty, vintage rock tones that are perfect for riffing or soloing.

You just need to use the right guitar to get the best tones. Telecasters and single-coil pickups seem to provide the best results in my opinion.

The lead channel takes it up a notch, offering more gain and bite. You can dial in anything from classic metal tones to soaring, searing solos. This channel is loosely based on the Peavey 5150.

The brown channel is where things get fascinating! It’s thick, raunchy, and perfect for rhythm! This channel has more gain than the lead channel, making it ideal for modern metal or hard rock. It’s based on the Soldano Slo-100 amplifier!

Low Quality Speaker?

I do feel that the speaker is low quality and prevents the amp from obtaining its best sound. It has a small magnet and as a result it lacks a bit of bass.

You get a lighter amp at the expense of bass. But this can be fixed with a speaker upgrade. I would suggest a Celestion V30.

For an amplifier under $500, it does sound great though! I am pretty impressed with the way this amp sounds and feels, it truly is a powerful tool. This video will take you through the different tones and features. I suggest that you watch it to help understand how it sounds.

Boss Katana MK2 Upgrades

You may already own a Katana MK1. But are just exploring the MK2 to see if it is worth the upgrade.

Some changes are only found in the 100-watt version, which is why we reviewed this model. But rest assured, an upgrade to any of the MK2 models will add more to your rig! Here is a quick look at the differences.

Variation Button

The variation button is found throughout the MK2 models and expands on the amount of voicing the Katana has to offer.

Once you activate this feature, you are provided a different variation of the 5 already well known presets. You could essentially consider these 10 voicing to play with, up from only 5 on the MK1.


On the MK1, the number of effects that could be used simultaneously was 3. But on the MK2 they have increased that to 5! Not only that, but they have also included more effects on top of that! MK1 was 55 effects total. But the MKII has 60 effects to offer!

Power Amp IN

Another new option on all MK2 models is the power amp IN jack. This jack allows you to bypass the preamp. Then run an input directly into the power map on the Katana. This can be handy if you want top run another modeler, preamp, or digital simulator into the power section.

Stereo Expand

This is a new option exclusive to the 100-watt version. It’s a great option that allows you to connect two 100 Watt Katana amps together and run them in true stereo. Talk about a powerful rig!

Boss Tone Studio

The Boss Tone Studio software has also had some changes. The interface has been updated. Some parameters have been moved to the main screen for more convenience.

There is also a dedicated pedal FX category! Selecting and setting up your effects, channel EQ, and tone presets. It’s all possible with the new Tone Studio.

Customizing your sound is super easy! And if you have patches from an MK1, you can import and use them on the MKII! I think the Boss Tone Studio is intuitive. Everything found on the front of the amp can be adjusted in the software. It’s pretty powerful!

Boss Katana MK2 Rear.


The Katana 100 MK2 weighs 25 Lbs and measures 21″ wide, 17.5″ high, and 10″ deep. It’s a combo and has one 12″ speaker. Like I mentioned earlier, if you are unhappy with the lack of bass from the amp, upgrade the speaker.

The wooden enclosure is finished with black Tolex and corners and is an open-back style. I really think the amp looks great. It’s sleek and modern.

The controls are available from the top of the amplifier for easy access and feature a modern look. If you are familiar with the MK1 version of the Boss Katana, nothing is really that different. The Amplifier looks exactly the same except for the front logo and some added controls and jacks.

The handle is mounted more or less in the center, making the amp easy to carry. The grill cloth on the amp is a standard knit that is found on a lot of amplifiers, but looks great on the Katana. Overall, the amplifier is well-made and still looks great in the MK2 series.

Boss Katana controls.

Channels and Controls

The Boss Katana MK2 still has a familiar control scheme that is intuitive and easy to use. The preamp provides 5 different amp voices.

You get great clean, crunch, brown, and lead plus an acoustic setting. But what’s really cool is the MK2 version now features a variation control!

This provides a different variation of each of the 5 voicings. This essentially makes these 10 different sounds! I found the controls easy to use and pretty intuitive.

The MK2 version comes with the ability to choose from over 60 built-in Boss effects. All by using the dedicated software. Boss has also gone ahead and provided the ability to use 5 of them at the same time, up from 3 on the MK1.

The controls for the effects are also different in the sense that the knobs are far easier to use. Selecting effects is so much easier than on the MK1.

On the rear of the amplifier, you will find the headphone output, aux In, effects loop, and foot switch jacks. Boss has now added some new features to the 100-watt version.

It’s called stereo expand. This allows you to connect two boss Katana MK2 amps together and run them in stereo!

And if that isn’t already super cool, they have also added a power amp in connection. This allows you to run any preamp or modeler into the Katana Power amp.

Output Power

The Boss Katana MK2 is very powerful with 100 watts of output! Playing the amp in a live band setting, we were easily able to keep up with a hard-hitting drummer. So don’t worry about volume, the Katana 100 will do what you need and then some, just like the MK1!

The amplifier also has a variable power switch. It allows you to cut the power down to 50 watts or more for quiet use. If you prefer the 50-watt model, there is also one available.

In my jam room, I cranked up the amp to 7 on the volume control. Then played while measuring the loudness with a sound level meter. I can confirm that it is loud! I was getting a reading of 105 dB!

FX loop Performance

The effects loop on the Katana 100 works very well. I ran some standard modulation-type effects in the loop and was pleased overall.

The Loop is buffered and so there did not seem to be any loss of quality in the sound. The effects loop is found after the preamp. But before the onboard effects in the circuit. But rest assured, you can use pedals in the effects loop with the ones built-in at the same time.

Boss Katana MK2 Signal path diagram.

Is the Katana Reliable?

If you have decided to get a Katana, you might be wondering about its durability. If you plan to use this amplifier to gig with, then it must be reliable. I have found this amplifier to be very robust and made well.

The circuit boards are assembled with surface mount components. Each of which is of good quality. The wiring and connections are made well and are rigid.

The assembly of the enclosure is also durable. This amplifier has been on the market for some time now and many musicians use it. All without issues.

Boss makes a good product and the Katana is no exception. You can rely on this amplifier and count on reliability for years to come!

Boss Katana MK2 Circuit Board.
Boss Katana MKII Score
  • Build Quaility
  • Sounds
  • Features
  • Versatility

Notable Competitors

If the Boss Katana isn’t exactly what you think will be a good fit, there are a few other amps that are also a good choice. Here are my thoughts on them in comparison to the Boss Katana.

Marshall Code 50

Marshall Code 50.

Code 50 is another great digital modeling amplifier made by Marshall. It features some great sounds and effects and is very affordable. I found the gain sounds to be quite good. They are emulated on popular Marshall amps from the past, which sound pretty good.

There are also some nice sounding effects and good power output. I did find the Boss Katana to be more versatile overall, but if you dig Marshall tones, then the code 50 is a good option. We have a great review touching on all the points. Check it out for more information and my thoughts.

Peavey Vypyr X2

Peavey vypry x2.

Peavey also has a great digital modeling amplifier with good effects, and is 40 watts. It offers recording connections and some great options to be an all-in-one amp. The sounds are similar to the Katana, but I’m not sure if they are better. They are different, for sure.

But it has a good interface and is easy to use. I still find the Katana hard to beat when compared even to the Peavey Vypyr. But the Vypyr has all the best Peavey amp sounds and emulates them well. If you want to learn more, check out my review of the Vypyr!


If you are looking for an amplifier in the under $500 category, there is a lot to choose from. But I was very impressed with the Katana MK2! It sounded excellent as soon as I started using it. Even before tweaking the EQ a bunch.

Now, if you have some high-end amps, well you might not be knocked out of your seat. But it’s awesome for beginners. And the sounds are somewhere between fantastic and great. If you are in the market for a Swiss army knife amplifier, you found it.

Boss also makes a 50-watt version of the Katana which you might also like. Yet it does not come with an effects loop. The 100-watt version comes with a 50-watt setting for only a few extra dollars. This is more value for your money.

It might make more sense to go with the 100-watt version. It doesn’t weigh much more and has more options.

If you have the older version of the Katana, it’s still a great amp. But the addition of a few more sounds and features does make the upgrade worth it.

It’s also got tons of power and some great versatility. Plus, it will serve many needs of players today, and it’s a hard one to pass on for the price. I enjoyed the amp and rate this one quite high for this price point!

Boss Katana MKII in my studio.


Is the Boss Katana good for metal?

One of the main music styles that players buy this amp for is metal. It does metal tones exceptionally well!

I was very impressed with the sounds I was getting out of the Katana. It saturated well and had tight high-end response. All the qualities one would want for metal music are here.

Why is the Boss Katana so good?

The DSP design engineers at Boss are just good at what they do. Plain and simple. They know how to program their technology for great guitar tone and feel.

As a result, the Katana can pretty much do any music style you can throw at it! Plus, you can program your own sounds and get exactly what you need.

How durable is the Katana amplifier?

I had a good look inside the Katana and examined the build quality. I found it to be very well-made and durable! The wooden enclosure was solid and super rigid.

The circuit boards are all quality and the assembly throughout done well. At no point did I find anything that concerned me. As far as I can see, this is one durable product!

Leave a Comment