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Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo review

The digitally advanced Katana series has arrived for bassists, offering amp models, effects and a range of 21st-century features. Was it worth the wait?

  • £332
  • €399
  • $399
Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo
(Image: © Boss)

MusicRadar Verdict

At long last, a dedicated Katana combo for bass players, and it is just as you might imagine, packing credible amp sound, with a host of industry-standard effects to customise your tone.

Pros

  • +

    Heaps of features.

  • +

    There is a tone for all styles here.

  • +

    Easy to use.

  • +

    Top-quality build and design.

  • +

    Good value.

Cons

  • -

    Footswitch sold separately.

  • -

    Unless going direct, you want to size up to the Katana-210 for gigging.

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo: What is it?

For a while there it looked like Boss had left the bass players hanging. Envious glances have been cast in the direction of the guitar effects pedals titan’s digitally advanced Katana series of guitar amps.

Effects, amp modelling, up-to-the-minute features all in one place: the Katana series has been transformative for guitar players looking for an all-in-one solution for practice, recording and performance. The options they gave players were staggering. Now with the Katana-110 and Katana-210 bass amp combos, those options have arrived for bassists. Will they be similarly revolutionary for the bass guitar?

Let’s take a closer look at the Katana-110. As the name suggests, this is a 1x10 combo, with 60-watts from a Class A/B power amp under the hood giving it adequate juice for small gigs, but especially marking it out as a compact bells-and-whistles solution for playing at home or in the studio. 

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo

(Image credit: Boss)

Features are the order of the day. The control panel is packed, as is the rear, where you’ll find a plethora of connections. There’s a balanced XLR output with ground lift, USB, an 1/8” aux input, footswitch and expression pedal inputs, a 1/4” headphones/record output, a power amp input and the send/return for the Katana-110’s effects loop. Bluetooth connectivity is available as an optional extra, with the port for a Boss BT-Dual adaptor also mounted on the back of the amp.

As for the front panel, there is a lot going on but the good news is that it is orderly, and the essentials are not hidden from view. Fundamentally, the Katana-110 offers three different amp types: Vintage, Flat and Modern, selectable via a three-way rotary dial. This ‘Amplifier’ section of the front panel has dials for Gain and Volume, with Pad and Shape switches. It is flanked on either side by an Input EFX section with switchable compression and drive and a wet/dry blend control. 

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo

(Image credit: Boss)

The Katana-110 has a 4-band EQ – again, dials, easy to use and reassuringly amp-like – before we get to an effects section that welcomes all the fun stuff to the party. And there are lots of sounds here; delay, reverb, echo, T-wah, octaver, chorus, phaser and of course a bass synth. 

There are different coloured LEDs (green, orange, red) to aid navigation, a tap tempo button, and a dial for Once you find a sound you like, save it down in the Tone Setting section and recall it later. The Katana-110 allows you to store six sounds you’ve dialled in on the panel; with two banks each with three channels, you could think of this as a six-channel amplifier.

Rounding out the controls we have a Master Volume dial with a switchable tweeter button, and a chickenhead power control dial that allows you to select between standby, full power and single-watt modes.

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo: Perfomance and verdict

For any bass amplifier to credibly claim to be the bass amp of the future it first has to deal with the past and present player; it has to make sure that technological advancement doesn’t leave anyone behind. On that score, the Katana-110 does a good job. We might still recommend a quick run-through of the manual, and maybe keep it close at hand for those first few sessions. But if you have used an amplifier before – and surely you have – this offers many familiar touchpoints.

It’s easy to get a sound out if it. The stripped-back bass tones with no effects in the mix are exceptions. This, again, is essential to the futurist’s strategy; you have to nail the fundamentals before layering more sounds on top.

Also consider...

Blackstar Unity

(Image credit: Blackstar)

Blackstar Unity
Given its growing fanbase, Blackstar could easily have produced a range of bass amps that concentrated solely on producing bass tones for rock and metal players. The fact that it has created bass combos that will suit a whole range of players is to its credit. 

Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-110
If you don't need onboard effects, the RB-110 is a versatile, affordable and convincing solid-state combo for classic Ampeg sounds.

In many respects, the Katana-110 is a blank slate for bass guitar. With so many tones on offer, players operating within any genre have options when it comes to dialling in a tone. A hardware pedalboard is always going to offer more controls and a more tactile experience when adjusting parameters but with the Boss Tone Studio connectivity via USB you can make deep edits and then save them. That’s ideal for mapping out a set. The effects loop will be a lifesaver for pedal enthusiasts.

For the rest of us, the blend control that allows you to take charge of the wet/dry mix is similarly invaluable, allowing players to retain that core bass tone and apply more subtle colouration by way of the extensive Boss effects suite. This being Boss, the effects sounds are superlative. 

There’s an impressive amount of air that gets pushed through the 10” speaker, more than enough thunder for the front room, for laying down a track, but that XLR output is going to be needed when playing live – at least when in the company of a drummer. There is also the 160-watt Katana-210 if more power is required.

While the Katana-110 might well be the sort of amp that gets hauled out nightly from behind the sofa to make for an immersive and inspiring practice session but its size and weight make it a portable option. Certainly more portable than taking an amplifier and a pedalboard; after all the Katana-110 does both. That’s what it’s designed to do. 

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo

(Image credit: Boss)

With that USB connection, it’s also designed to make for a no-fuss recording option, and when putting together songs and demos there’s nothing better than being able to just plug into your computer and being able to chronicle these ideas on the fly. And if your bassline needs the warm pulse of some modulation to make it really pop, well, you’ve got that on tap here, and a lot more besides.

MusicRadar verdict: At long last, a dedicated Katana combo for bass players, and it is just as you might imagine, packing credible amp sound, with a host of industry-standard effects to customise your tone.

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo

(Image credit: Boss)

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo: The web says

“I’m impressed by the combo’s ease of use and the quick response of the controls, which allow many different sounds to be created quickly and effectively.

“The quality of the unit is impressive for the price: I can see many bass players looking at this combo, and its 160-watt sibling, as a very useful means to an end.”
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo: Hands-on demos

Boss

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo: Specifications

Boss Katana-110 Bass Combo

(Image credit: Boss)
  • ORIGIN: Malaysia
  • POWER: 60 watts @ 8 ohms
  • SPEAKERS: 1x10” driver , tweeter
  • FEATURES: Input EFX (comp/drive controls and switches), amp type (vintage/flat/modern), pad switch, gain, shape switch, volume, dry level, blend switch, bass, low mid + frequency switch, high mid + frequency switch, treble, FX1/FX2 controls and switches, tap switch, master volume, tweeter on/off switch, CH1/CH2/CH3/Panel switches, power control (standby/1W/max), power switch
  • CONNECTIONS: 1/4” input, balanced DI XLR out with ground lift switch and post/pre/direct switch, FX loop, power amp input, headphone/record out, footswitch/expression pedal inputs, 3.5mm auxiliary in socket, USB port, Bluetooth Audio MIDI Dual adaptor socket
  • DIMENSIONS: 495mm (H) x 470mm (W) x 300mm (D) / 19.48” (H) x 18.50” (W) x 11.81” (D)
  • WEIGHT: 21.8 kg / 48 lbs
  • CONTACT: Boss (opens in new tab) 

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