Review: Boss Katana-Mini Amp

(Image credit: Boss)

I used to have a girlfriend who carried her small dog everywhere in her purse. And man, that dog had a bark that would make larger dogs scatter.

Come to think of it, that reminds me of an amp I saw at the Summer NAMM Show that combines portability with big tone. Boss’s popular Katana Amp line continues to evolve with the idea that “great things come in small packages”—and that pint-sized innovation is the brand-new Katana-Mini, an ultra-compact mini amp with Waza Amp technology and all-analog circuitry that delivers pure rock and roll tone.

The Katana-Mini offers so much for an amp that weighs less than 3 pounds and can run on six AA-size batteries or an optional AC adapter.

The amp features a multi-stage analog gain circuit with controls for gain and volume, a selector switch for the three modeled amp characters (clean, crunch and brown), an analog three-band EQ, a built-in tape-style delay with controls for level and time, an aux input to use your smartphone, a phones/recording output with cabinet voicing, and a custom 4-inch speaker that pumps out 7 watts of gut-punching volume. No matter where you set the character switch, the Katana-Mini offers inspiring tones in a small footprint amp you can take anywhere.

I particularly love the brown setting for smooth hi-gain tones, which sounded a lot like a hot-rodded Boss BD-2w Blues Driver pedal with plenty of dynamic response. Set with a smidge of ambient tape-style delay, the brown setting has incredible depth for soloing and also sounds killer through headphones. The custom speaker is crisp and full sounding with plenty of body despite its modest size.

The crunch setting is handy for AC/DC-style power chord chunk while the clean voicing produces bright sparkle. For a tuck-and-go amp, it doesn’t get any better.


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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.