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This article was originally published in issue #55
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This is a powerful 100w combo that is loud enough for any gig and designed to cope with the tonal requirements of a loud gigging amplifier while offering everything you need in a single package with high-quality effects and recording solution built in.
More superb Katana tones refined even further with Waza Craft Speaker
Semi-Closed back design adds warmth and low-end thump
Excellent effects and tonal versatility
Great build quality
Convenient new controls
Doesn’t offer enough new to tempt existing Katana owners
Custom 12" Waza-speaker
5 Amp types: Clean, Crunch, Lead, Brown & Acoustic
The Boss Katana has been a huge hit for the company since its release, offering players great tones and effects in a giggable package at an affordable price. Tom Quayle reviews the latest incarnation, the Katana Artist
Here at Gi we loved the Katana in our original review and have since waxed lyrical about Boss’ v.2.0 update to their successful amp range. Despite this success, Boss hasn’t sat on their laurels, but have been seeking to improve their product, meeting with players to discuss what they would change and improve in the Katana to make it an even better product. The new flagship Katana Artist is the resulting product, and it improves on the original design in a number of ways that should make Boss’ great, solid-state offering even more appealing to discerning tone seekers.
Much like its older siblings, the Katana Artist is an all solid-state amplifier that bucks the idea that tube amps are the be all and end all. This is a powerful 100w combo that is loud enough for any gig and designed to cope with the tonal requirements of a loud gigging amplifier while offering everything you need in a single package with high-quality effects and recording solution built in.
There have been a number of changes to the Katana Artist that make it more ‘boutique’ like in its nature, with a new ‘Waza Craft’ 12” speaker, re-voiced circuit design and a thicker, semi-closed cabinet for a warmer and bigger sound. The user experience has also been overhauled with a front mounted control panel and extra physical controls that were previously only available via Boss’ Tone Studio software.
Key to the unique sound of the Katana Artist is the newly designed speaker, built from the ground up by Boss’ R&D team to provide modern performance with vintage heritage and tone. Taking a number of vintage units, Boss measured 26 different elements that make up the sound of great vintage speakers and blended them into the Waza Craft speaker in the Katana Artist. To match this new speaker, the entire signal path has been reworked to better suit its tonal characteristics, giving what Boss say, is a more refined sound that should suit the needs of professionals more accurately.
As with the previous Katana models you get a well-designed input stage that makes the Katana range feel as good as tube amps to play through and takes pedals extremely well, but without a doubt the Artist feels more refined and boutique like in its nature, with a response that would fool the vast majority of players into thinking they were playing through a tube amp. That input stage gives access to the same 5 amp types from the standard Katana range, albeit revoiced for the new speaker – Acoustic, Clean, Crunch, Lead and Brown. The array of quality effects remain in place too, with three available at any time from the front panel and more via the USB connected Tone Studio software.
New to the Artist are the Line Out Air Feel and Cabinet Resonance controls built into the front panel allowing further shaping of the low end and recorded line out feel without the need for the software and USB connection. More of a convenience than anything else, it is handy to have these as physical controls now as they could come in very useful for shaping the sound for a particular room on a gig for both the onstage and front of house sound. Also included is a new Bank switch for moving more easily between preset banks A and B. These are quality of life additions that don’t change the sound of the amp but are very much appreciated.
In use, the Katana Artist is a serious performer with a lot more tonal authority than many might expect from a Boss amplifier. The Katana has always been an excellent amplifier that has bucked expectations and performed way above its price point, but the Artist takes this a step further with gorgeous clean and drive tones that have every bit of presence and dynamic response that you’d expect from a professional amp and more. Those nervous about the idea of plugging into a solid-state amp as their main gigging amp need worry no more, the Artist is a pro amp through and through with nothing in the way of compromise unless you compare it to amps costing four or five times as much. It easily competes with tube amps costing twice its asking price and throws in a superb array of effects and recording options in with the package. The semi-closed back design and new speaker add low-end thump and grunt to clean, dirty and lead tones while retaining clarity and punch and the 100w power stage is loud with a capital LOUD!!
The Katana Artist maybe isn’t a required upgrade if you already own a Katana 50 or 100w but, for those looking at an affordable, high quality, all in one gigging solution that is loud and feels/sounds great to play, the Artist is definitely an amp that should be very high on your list. Great stuff!