I am looking to buy a new modeling amp, but which one?

Mojotron

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I think it depends on what you are looking for when thinking of modeling: What I look for is an amp that sounds like and the controls work like classic amps. For me that's a Princeton Reverb (but capable of playing at 100W stage volumes - clean as I want it to be with a lot of mid-heavy tone but still have Fenderish high-end), a Deluxe Reverb (the chunky overdriven tone mostly), a Plexi 1959 (it's a very distinctive tome that even other Marshall amps do not have) as well as a collection of other tones that are interesting for classic rock tones. I like the Fender amps, but the Boss Katana had everything as far as an amp, more effects than I would ever need as well as having a very authentic tone and feel that other modeling amps really don't quite have.

After 5 decades of playing, using all kinds of gear and making a lot of pedals, amps and guitars; I wanted to get rid of a room full of great equipment and just have one great amp with all the effects I could want - all in one unit, fully accessible via software and MIDI and I did not want to compromise on tone or quality. So, in the end I would have just one box that was most of my effects, a pedal board (with a wah pedal, fuzz faces, an overdrive/boot pedal with a looper and perhaps a delay in an effects loop.

I bought a Katana-Artist a little over a month ago and it puts a smile on my face every time I play it (and I've never had that experience with any other gear - I'm truly amazed by the Katana - I've very happy with my purchase) - and I've been using it for a few hours a day since I got it. I found that all the stuff you hear that is positive about the Katana is all true: With some adjusting the tone (and I think I'm very picky on tone) is extremely authentic, the responsiveness is very much like a tube-amp, every one of the effects I've used is top notch - even better than what I've use on my Line6 HD500 as well as my DM4 (although the DM4 just does stuff that nothing else does...), the modulation effects are simply awesome (especially since you can link them together without accumulating noise) and the overdrives are better than anything I've tried in front of an amp (the . The distortions and the fuzzes I would use in any situation, but I think there is still some analog mojo with those pedals that can't really be fully matched - but the effects in general are some of the best I've heard; best of all it does not have that inherent compressed tone that just about all multi-effect boxes have. I think a lot of the negative feedback that is out there on the Katana is likely from the people that did not drill into all of the controls through the Boss Tone Studio or the Katana Librarian software: However, the issues noted around speaker break-in are very true - it's totally mitigated with either of the 2 EQs that are in the Katana - I used the Global EQ and reduce 16k+ by 6dB 8k by 2-3dB and 4k by 1-2dB and I get a very nice Celestion Vintage-30 response with Cab Res set to "Vintage": Now that I've used it for a few weeks I'm adjusting that EQ setting back a little - but initially there was way too much ice-pick like high end which the EQ totally dealt with. Also, if someone is thinking its a hassle to be married to a PC or Android phone for tweaking all the effects I agree - it is a particular complication with the Katana concept also the MIDI configuration through the MIDI connector is very basic - just to switch presets and turn effects on/off...: What I did was to use a MIDX-20 MIDI bridge that understands how to take any MIDI command to do very deep editing of the entire set of Katana features - beyond what the Software can get to. For instance, I can send a CC# command in from my FCB1010 MIDI controller to swap in any of the "Sneaky Amps" in any of the presets and then save that as a preset then send a CC# message to raise the overdrive gain while lowering the overdrive output... So, I effectively can add any physical control that I might want: Taking this one step further, I got a FaderFox PC4 (basically a bank of 24 knobs for controlling any CC# MIDI message one would want) and what I'm planning to do is to have a physical knob for any effect control that I wanted a physical control for to adjust the delay depth or perhaps the flanger modulation.... The PC4 is routed into the FCB1010 foot controller into the MIDX-20 using the MIDX MIDI map to control anything on the Katana - so I just need to organize the PC4 knobs and label them and I will have access to any of the Katana's amp/effect controls that I might want a physical control for. About the "Sneaky Amps" - the clean amps and the 1959 amps are some of the best amp models I have heard: I think they chose the amp models for "acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown" (with variants) likely because they are middle of the road options - but the very specific amp models in the Sneaky Amps are all great amp models - just the sneaky amps are more like one-trick ponies so I love that I can just swam put amp models with a MIDI command.

My approach to "modeling" is first building an stripped down amp tone, then layering in the effects in the right order to get the sound I want. The Katana is not an amp that is designed to completely model different amps, but rather is a platform for building those tones based on how you hear them. I think that might be a mush harder thing to do for novice guitar players who might be used to just dialing in a preset and living with it. So the Katana is a much better tool for those that want to invest in some seriously great tones. Overall, I would not look at the Katana as being a modeling amp as much as an amp that can nail a lot of classic amp tones very well and has just about any effect or effect-looping option a guitarist would need.
 

Tim S

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I think it depends on what you are looking for when thinking of modeling: What I look for is an amp that sounds like and the controls work like classic amps. For me that's a Princeton Reverb (but capable of playing at 100W stage volumes - clean as I want it to be with a lot of mid-heavy tone but still have Fenderish high-end), a Deluxe Reverb (the chunky overdriven tone mostly), a Plexi 1959 (it's a very distinctive tome that even other Marshall amps do not have) as well as a collection of other tones that are interesting for classic rock tones. I like the Fender amps, but the Boss Katana had everything as far as an amp, more effects than I would ever need as well as having a very authentic tone and feel that other modeling amps really don't quite have.

After 5 decades of playing, using all kinds of gear and making a lot of pedals, amps and guitars; I wanted to get rid of a room full of great equipment and just have one great amp with all the effects I could want - all in one unit, fully accessible via software and MIDI and I did not want to compromise on tone or quality. So, in the end I would have just one box that was most of my effects, a pedal board (with a wah pedal, fuzz faces, an overdrive/boot pedal with a looper and perhaps a delay in an effects loop.

I bought a Katana-Artist a little over a month ago and it puts a smile on my face every time I play it (and I've never had that experience with any other gear - I'm truly amazed by the Katana - I've very happy with my purchase) - and I've been using it for a few hours a day since I got it. I found that all the stuff you hear that is positive about the Katana is all true: With some adjusting the tone (and I think I'm very picky on tone) is extremely authentic, the responsiveness is very much like a tube-amp, every one of the effects I've used is top notch - even better than what I've use on my Line6 HD500 as well as my DM4 (although the DM4 just does stuff that nothing else does...), the modulation effects are simply awesome (especially since you can link them together without accumulating noise) and the overdrives are better than anything I've tried in front of an amp (the . The distortions and the fuzzes I would use in any situation, but I think there is still some analog mojo with those pedals that can't really be fully matched - but the effects in general are some of the best I've heard; best of all it does not have that inherent compressed tone that just about all multi-effect boxes have. I think a lot of the negative feedback that is out there on the Katana is likely from the people that did not drill into all of the controls through the Boss Tone Studio or the Katana Librarian software: However, the issues noted around speaker break-in are very true - it's totally mitigated with either of the 2 EQs that are in the Katana - I used the Global EQ and reduce 16k+ by 6dB 8k by 2-3dB and 4k by 1-2dB and I get a very nice Celestion Vintage-30 response with Cab Res set to "Vintage": Now that I've used it for a few weeks I'm adjusting that EQ setting back a little - but initially there was way too much ice-pick like high end which the EQ totally dealt with. Also, if someone is thinking its a hassle to be married to a PC or Android phone for tweaking all the effects I agree - it is a particular complication with the Katana concept also the MIDI configuration through the MIDI connector is very basic - just to switch presets and turn effects on/off...: What I did was to use a MIDX-20 MIDI bridge that understands how to take any MIDI command to do very deep editing of the entire set of Katana features - beyond what the Software can get to. For instance, I can send a CC# command in from my FCB1010 MIDI controller to swap in any of the "Sneaky Amps" in any of the presets and then save that as a preset then send a CC# message to raise the overdrive gain while lowering the overdrive output... So, I effectively can add any physical control that I might want: Taking this one step further, I got a FaderFox PC4 (basically a bank of 24 knobs for controlling any CC# MIDI message one would want) and what I'm planning to do is to have a physical knob for any effect control that I wanted a physical control for to adjust the delay depth or perhaps the flanger modulation.... The PC4 is routed into the FCB1010 foot controller into the MIDX-20 using the MIDX MIDI map to control anything on the Katana - so I just need to organize the PC4 knobs and label them and I will have access to any of the Katana's amp/effect controls that I might want a physical control for. About the "Sneaky Amps" - the clean amps and the 1959 amps are some of the best amp models I have heard: I think they chose the amp models for "acoustic, clean, crunch, lead and brown" (with variants) likely because they are middle of the road options - but the very specific amp models in the Sneaky Amps are all great amp models - just the sneaky amps are more like one-trick ponies so I love that I can just swam put amp models with a MIDI command.

My approach to "modeling" is first building an stripped down amp tone, then layering in the effects in the right order to get the sound I want. The Katana is not an amp that is designed to completely model different amps, but rather is a platform for building those tones based on how you hear them. I think that might be a mush harder thing to do for novice guitar players who might be used to just dialing in a preset and living with it. So the Katana is a much better tool for those that want to invest in some seriously great tones. Overall, I would not look at the Katana as being a modeling amp as much as an amp that can nail a lot of classic amp tones very well and has just about any effect or effect-looping option a guitarist would need.
Wow! That is the most thorough review and explanation of a Katana that I’ve come across. Thanks for posting it.

While I’m happy the Katana Artist works for you, I am one of those people you mentioned who really doesn’t want to use a computer or MIDI to control their amp (I’ve worked in IT for over 35 years, so I pick up a guitar to *get away* from technology). That’s why I like my Blues Cube Artist — just knobs and Tone Capsules.

Boss/Roland — We have a modeling amp for everyone :)
 

Mojotron

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Wow! That is the most thorough review and explanation of a Katana that I’ve come across. Thanks for posting it.

While I’m happy the Katana Artist works for you, I am one of those people you mentioned who really doesn’t want to use a computer or MIDI to control their amp (I’ve worked in IT for over 35 years, so I pick up a guitar to *get away* from technology). That’s why I like my Blues Cube Artist — just knobs and Tone Capsules.

Boss/Roland — We have a modeling amp for everyone :)
Thanks - yep - I think - just using BOSS for example - the Nextone is a step back from the midi approach. My go to amps for decades were all much simpler amps and I did not make the switch to digital until recently because with the pandemic going on I warmed up to the idea of trying to simplify the complexity of MIDIized gear and all of the incompatibilities... Where I have ended up is to just accept the complexities with the realization that when it comes to what I really want - the scope of the cables and controllers can be made more limited. I'm happy with that, but -being a tele player by nature - before that time investment, I was quite happy with an amp with just an on switch vol/tone knobs :)
 

Marc Morfei

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I have a Fender Mustang LT25 and I am very happy with it for home playing.
The Fender amp simulations are really great. It also has some really cool metal sounds in there.
I agree. I have a Mustang LT25 and it's good for home practice. Headphone jack, aux in, UBS out, sounds good, easy to tweak the sounds, ability to save lots of presets. It's not something I would use as an actual performance amp. But for home practice it is a good and affordable choice.
 

BlueTele

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Funny thing about "modeling amps" with my ear: I had an early Fender -Sonic 1 x 12" amps in blonde tolex and oxblood grill (actually forgot the entire name because I only kept it 2 months). It had an incredible menu of amp tones...if you want a certain tone, it had it, but...once I found the tone/setting that I liked ('59 Bassman), I never used anything else. I never intended to "not" use any of the other many tone choices, but...my ear just gravitated to the '59 Bassman tone. There was a setting that had a rapid, slap-back delay and reverb effect that let me pretend that I was The Edge, but that was really the only other channel/setting that I used. It was also a solid state amp which didn't thrill me ("pop"). So...I traded it toward a Victoria 45410 Bassman clone. I was much happier with that amp.
 

TheloniusJ

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I have a Mk1 Katana 100 2x12. For regular gigging it is hard to beat. It weighs around 40lb and is loud enough for almost any application. You can get very useable tones for almost ANY genre of music out of it (I recently saw a phenomenal jazz guy playing a solo gig at a museum using this thing with is very expensive arch top).

I played a number of gigs using it over the course of three years and only ever had one issue (for some reason it wouldn't switch channels and I had to restart it between songs).

It will take pedals well, but honestly I just mounted the foot controller on a board with two expression pedals and never needed anything else.

The direct out is quite useable, though most sound guys at clubs I played couldn't bring themselves to not mike it up.

Also, there is something about being able to gig with a rig that costs <$500. Peace of mind.

Lastly, it has a 0.5W setting which is perfect for bedroom applications.
 

rxtech

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Only my opinion, but this drove me berzerk about the Katana. Part of it was having to spin around constantly to the PC screen and then back to the amp. The other aspect is that, having programmed different things into 8 different slots I now had to remember what they were, without any sort of visual clues short of putting post-its on the amp.

I sold my Katana.
Boy, I know the feeling. I like having the options, but trying to remember what you have saved can be a little bit of a pain.
 

Abu Twangy

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The Vypyr VIP series has a lot of metal-ish Peavey models including the Butcher and 5150.
 

Mojotron

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Only my opinion, but this drove me berzerk about the Katana. Part of it was having to spin around constantly to the PC screen and then back to the amp. The other aspect is that, having programmed different things into 8 different slots I now had to remember what they were, without any sort of visual clues short of putting post-its on the amp.

I sold my Katana.
I kind of doubled down on the complexity of the Katana by adding a MIDX-20 Midi bridge and then added a FaderFox PC4 to add 24 knobs that I can assign to any of the same hundreds of midi parameters that that the BOSS Tone Studio software (TBS) can get to - plus a few others that TBS does not give access to. That did not help with the sticky note kind of thing, but I set up a FCB1010 midi controller with the UNO2 software and assigned whole separate banks to functions: For banks 1 and 2 "Stompbox" on/off on footswitches for all the 5 categories of effects on the katana, footswitches 1-5 switch presets 1-5 (Panel) on FCB1010 bank 1 and then footswitches 6-10 switch presets 6-9 and back to Panel: Then, bank 3 controls the 10 different sneaky amp models that I like, bank 4 controls linearly incrementing gain with decrementing volume for controlling the gain while bringing gain up and down, bank 4 controls overall volume and then bank 5 switches around my favorite overdrive settings - balancing gain and volume... The thing I wanted was to be able to have bank 1 and 2 of the midi controller do all of the front panel buttons from my feet and then all of the tweaks from banks 3-5 of the FCB1010 are applied to any of the presets that are dialed up from the bank 1 or 2 selection. With all of the delay and tone/EQ settings I wanted on the FaderFox PC4. That works for me, as complex as that sounds, all of the controls are logically laid out in separate banks and rows on the PC4, so I just need to know which bank controls which setting and that is only 5 things on the FCB1010 and 6 banks of knobs on the PC4.

The only gotcha in that config is that the midi Sysex commands on the katana-artist mk-2 is slightly different from other models/firmware versions and the channel switching does not completely work through the MIDX-20, but Primova Sound (the maker of the MIDX-20) is working on that and will get that resolved: It's just the midi PC# commands (that switch the presets on the katana) and 99% of the hundreds of commands I use are all CC# commands that work flawlessly through the MIDX-20.

The way that I use the FaderFox is very similar to how in the video the person used a FaderFox as a large bank of knobs to do mix-down in more or less a live setting - (starting at around the 7min mark in this video)


BTW, for anyone looking for an awesome midi controller for complex amps, the cheap FCB1010 with the UNO2 firmware is amazing - it will do just about anything you can do with midi.
 
Last edited:

Toast

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I just bought a Vox VT20x (waiting for delivery). I settled on the amp (there a lot of good choices out there) for a few reasons:
1. I like a lot of music recorded with Vox amps.
2. The amp is light. My other amp is a 60 lb. beast I hate moving around.
3. I like the clean tones (my primary focus) I hear through Vox amps.
4. The interface looked fairly intuitive to me, but I haven't compared it to others because I wanted to break out of the Fender/Boss mold.
5. I preferred the Vox after watching this video

I could end up hating it, but sometimes with gear you just have to start somewhere and then refine your taste.
 

Midgetje94

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line 6 catalyst?
Yea. Sorry to zombify the post… actually I’m not lol. But the boss seemed like the go to for a few years. But I’ve seen Dale Watson play a mustang live. So I don’t knock modelers for even stage gigs.

But here comes the Catalyst that seems to blow the katana away. 2 channel, each amp setting designed for the amp, even the boost is designed separate for each setting. Seems to be a more “amp like” operation and set up. More so than a katana that seems almost midi-ish. If that makes sense.

Anyway. I have a nice tube amp I love. Just looking for a second amp for gigs and something that can cover a bit more ground tonally. (I’ll play with it at home all over. But probably find a nice clean, and a nice crunch, save them and use it as a typical 2 channel amp with my pedals. Then play with the manual setting)

But has anyone played one? Have one? Is it as big of a step up from the katana as it seems? Sorry. I’m a hour from the closest big retailer that has them. I’d definitely try it myself before I buy. Just trying to save the trip 🤣
 

jageya

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KATANA MK2 sounds better then the catalyst to me but i wouldnt buy either. The fender gtx100 is a better amp for home use and in general
 

jageya

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I just bought a Vox VT20x (waiting for delivery). I settled on the amp (there a lot of good choices out there) for a few reasons:
1. I like a lot of music recorded with Vox amps.
2. The amp is light. My other amp is a 60 lb. beast I hate moving around.
3. I like the clean tones (my primary focus) I hear through Vox amps.
4. The interface looked fairly intuitive to me, but I haven't compared it to others because I wanted to break out of the Fender/Boss mold.
5. I preferred the Vox after watching this video

I could end up hating it, but sometimes with gear you just have to start somewhere and then refine your taste.

if you find an old ad60 or 120vtx by vox or vtx150/300 by vox those are sweet amps
 

TheCheapGuitarist

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From what I've seen, at this point it's not a matter of which one "sounds better", because all of them are capable of amazing tones. It's more a matter of which unit has the functionality you require.
 

jageya

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Wow! That is the most thorough review and explanation of a Katana that I’ve come across. Thanks for posting it.

While I’m happy the Katana Artist works for you, I am one of those people you mentioned who really doesn’t want to use a computer or MIDI to control their amp (I’ve worked in IT for over 35 years, so I pick up a guitar to *get away* from technology). That’s why I like my Blues Cube Artist — just knobs and Tone Capsules.

Boss/Roland — We have a modeling amp for everyone :)
WHAT STYLE do you play in?
 

Toast

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From what I've seen, at this point it's not a matter of which one "sounds better", because all of them are capable of amazing tones. It's more a matter of which unit has the functionality you require.
I agree, the focus should be on which software programs or interface for a particular amp allows the user to learn from and experiment with the various modeling features. I like my Tone Room program with the Vox because the tool tips are actually helpful. For example, I can hover my mouse over an amp and the tool tip will tell me:

This models the normal channels of a 22 W blackface 60's designed amp. Using 6v6 power tubes and a tube-driven spring reverb, this produced a big sound at a lower wattage.

I like having this information even if I'm not familiar with all the variables described. I can always go on YT and learn more about "spring reverb" or whatever I glean from the tool tip.
 




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