Boss Katana 50 MKII EX: What is it?
The Boss Katana burst onto the scene in 2016 and has been hailed as the king of the practice combos ever since. Beloved for its authentic tube tones and world-class effects, this versatile and affordable combo quickly ascended to the top of the digital amp tree.
New for 2023, Boss has revamped the Katana 50, adding new features and borrowing a few from its big brother, the Katana 100. The new Katana-50 MKII EX - EX standing for expanded - isn’t a completely new addition to the best-selling practice amp line, rather, it’s an augmented version of the previous model.
The new features include GA-FC and GA-FC EX footswitch support, which allows you to effortlessly switch between tones and activate your effects. Moreover, this new foot controller is ideal for stereo fanatics, as it grants you the ability to link two Katana amps together for the ultimate stereo rig.
Those looking to use the new Katana on stage will be happy to see the addition of an emulated line output which gives you the ability to send your favourite tones directly to a PA System.
Boss Katana 50 MKII EX: Performance and verdict
After plugging in the Boss Katana MKII EX for the first time, we were glad to see that Boss hasn’t messed with what lies at the heart of the humble practice combo - the tones and effects. We are happy to report that the five core amp models - and their variations - sound just as good as ever.
The sparkling chime of the clean channel is articulate and responsive, while the warm breakup of the crunch channel and the intense gain of the brown channel are incredibly musical. Combine these stellar amp models with the legendary Boss effects, and there is no genre this amp can’t do. Of course, this isn’t new information, as the sounds are exactly the same as the previous iteration.
Now, where the new Katana EX shines is with the additional footswitch support. Katana 50 fans have been crying out for this feature since the amp’s initial release, so it’s nice to see Boss finally add the functionality to this model. Previously, the Katana 50 was only controllable via the Boss FS-7 footswitch, and the functionality was fairly limited. Luckily, this new version of the Katana allows for much greater control via the floorboard.
For the purpose of the review, we were sent the new GA-FC EX foot controller, which we found really opened up the possibilities of the amplifier, making it a definite contender for one of the best guitar amps under $500/£500 for live use. Recalling presets, changing channels, and even tapping in the desired tempo for our delay was a breeze.
This footswitch not only allows you to seamlessly switch between effects, but it also gives you the ability to connect an additional GA-FC EX or a standard GA-FC, doubling up the number of switches at your feet. Better yet, Foot Control 2 mode permits you to hook up two Katanas simultaneously, giving you the ultimate stereo experience. So, if you’ve ever wanted to get lost in the wonderful world of true stereo chorus, now is your chance.
Despite the sheer amount of functionality found on the GA-FC EX footswitch, we found it to be exceptionally easy to understand and set up, and as with all Boss products, it’s sturdy and robust - feeling practically bombproof.
Furthering the live possibilities of the Katana EX is the new emulated line out, which is in addition to the phones/recording out. This makes the new Katana a very valuable stage companion, transforming it from a modest practice amp to a combo that is capable of taking up residence in the largest venues.
In our tests, the line out sounded full, rounded and very natural and is a very welcomed feature. In fact, we’d be more than happy to rock up to any gig, armed with nothing more than our trusty electric guitar, a Katana 50 MKII EX and the GA-FC EX footswitch.
So, the new Katana MKII EX may not be a revolutionary upgrade to the original model, but the limited changes are well thought-out and much-needed additions. Okay, so if you don’t need more functionality from your footswitch or you’re not looking to hit the stage anytime soon, then we’d say it’s not worth upgrading your current Katana 50. That said, players looking to purchase their first Boss practice amp may want to consider this brand-new member of the family.
MusicRadar verdict: Anyone looking for a completely reimagined Katana will be left disappointed by this new Boss amp. That said, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The Boss Katana 50 MKII EX preserves everything you’ve come to know and love about the Boss practice combo but expands its feature set, making it even more versatile - and that’s a win in our book.
Boss Katana 50 MKII EX: The web says
"Whether you're a beginner or a pro, the Katana-50 MkII EX is a truly remarkable amp both in its feature set and quality of tones"
Boss Katana 50 MKII EX: Hands-on videos
Boss Katana 50 MKII EX: Specifications
- Price: $339 / £319
- Channels: Five amp voices and five variations, four programmable patches in 2 banks of 2
- Output: 50 watts RMS class AB output stage, switchable to 25 watts, 0.5 watts and Standby for silent recording
- Sockets: Single input jack, cabinet-simulated line out, power amp in, headphones/recording output, aux input, USB type ‘B’ for recording and connection to desktop Tone Studio app
- Weight: 11.7kg
- Dimentions: [HxWxD] 470 x 398 x 238mm
- Contact: Boss