Katana vs tone master

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by horax, Sep 18, 2021.

  1. horax

    horax Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 1, 2011
    colorado springs
    I’ve played both. Mostly the MK I version of the katana, and several tone master fenders.

    with how good these have gotten, what are they doing that other modeling amps aren’nt?

    Are the tone masters selling for so high because they look like the original fenders? What makes these different than the models found in the mustangs?

    In the katana, people tend to love these. They feel more like a tube amo than anything I’ve played before that wasn’t tube.

    why are these selling so well compared to tubes?
    That Cal Webway and davidchagrin like this.
  2. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Mar 21, 2019
    I find the tonemaster series sound fantastic. Good amps that I would gig with and great features. If I couldn't have my DRRI, I'd get a TM.

    The Katana was a different experience. Really not in the same league imo. I suppose the price reflects that.

  3. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    Why? Because most guitarists who think they need tubes for their sound don't. Tone is in the fingers, right? Once they realize that, and consider the difference in weight and price, SS begins to make sense. My #1 is a Mesa Boogie Express 5:25. I'm not looking to replace it, but if I were, I'd shop SS and probably buy a TM.
    Digital Larry, Ronzo, rstaaf and 2 others like this.
  4. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Mar 21, 2019
    I kinda miss my express 5:50. But it had many issues (bought used), and I spent a lot of time dialing in my tones.

    I converted back to fender amps. I don't think I've touched the EQ controls since the day I got it lol.

    Those mesas sure can sound good tho.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
  5. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

    May 16, 2009
    I can think of three possibilities why they’re selling well:
    1. Younger guitarists didn’t grow up with tube amps/don’t associate guitar heroes with certain tube amps and thus don’t side with them or feel a need to defend them.

    2. Older guitarists are getting old and don’t want to lug around heavy tube amps anymore.

    3. Gigging guitarists play in a lot of venues where they don’t get to crank tube amps like they used to and have to keep stage volume quite low/go straight to PA, and realize SS/modeling is good for that.
    gsdrgsxr, Ronzo, Chiogtr4x and 16 others like this.
  6. KATT

    KATT Tele-Meister

    Aug 4, 2011
    Essex, England
    I don't know how Fender got to the price point they have with the Tonemasters. In respect of the difference between them and the same model in the Mustangs, I'm led to believe from the marketing spiel that they dedicate a lot more processing power to the amp model and reverb to make it as close to a tube version as possible. I dare say that, like every other modeller, the next iteration of these amps will have more powerful chips in them and Fender will claim they are closer than ever before to the sound and feel of the tube version.

    I've not seen the sales figures compared to other amps, but the Katanas are a fraction of the price of most tube amps, so if they sound good and cost less, then that's a good reason why they would sell more.

    I've never tried a Katana or a Tonemaster and I still use a tube amp (Hamstead Artist 20). I used it at a gig last night, whilst the guitarist in the support band plugged a Line 6 Helix straight into the PA. It sounded pretty good and I have a Line 6 HX Stomp on my board so will try direct one day. However, the sound man did tell me that my guitar amp sounded great. He may say that to everyone though!
  7. tfarny

    tfarny Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    They sell well because they are super cheap and sound good for the price, obviously. They cost less than half of a Blues Jr. and they have a lot more features.

    If you think they are the best sounding amp ever made, good for you! Not everyone thinks so however.
    I have been on amp journey for the last couple of years, I had a couple of Katanas and a Blues Cube, but a good, small tube combo seems to be my own personal happy place.
    That Cal Webway likes this.
  8. Galen1960

    Galen1960 TDPRI Member

    Apr 1, 2021
    North Hollywood, California
    Tone is in the fingers, groove is in the heart. There is a difference between SS and tubes. With SS the response is immediate and consistent. Tubes fluctuate. True an experienced player creates the majority of his or her tone with their fingers, but they can then embellish that tone with an amps' tonal characteristics.
  9. Bob M

    Bob M Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 11, 2011
    North of Boston
    I’m not necessarily sold on the value of modeling amps. I’m looking for a solid sound that I can dial up consistently. 15-20 watt tube amps set at the edge of break up was always my profile. I recently bought a Quilter 101. It really comes close to the Fender tube sound that works for me. I’m very close to moving a couple of tube amps in favor of the Quilter.

    I think that the assertion that old guys are looking for lightweight alternatives is spot on. If I get 80% of my tube sound in a lightweight package I’m good with that. The modeling features? Not much value for me.
    Digital Larry likes this.
  10. Blrfl

    Blrfl Tele-Afflicted

    May 3, 2018
    Northern Virginia
    Without making this a really long answer, there's a lot more processing horsepower in the TM than there is in the Mustang line, which gives Fender the opportunity to run better models for pretty much everything. When you're resource-constrained, you have to compromise. Fender had to do a lot of new development to get the TM to market and everything that isn't electronic is exactly the same stuff that goes into the equivalent tube amp, so costs for that stuff are higher.

    Katanas are the guitar amp equivalent of parts bin cars: Roland has a custom processor and DSP called the ESC2 that underpins pretty much every digital product they make and they've got a library of software from other products that can be drawn on for new ones. The cabinet is probably MDF and it's all put together where labor is cheap. All of that is what makes a K100 $375 and a TMTR $1,000.
  11. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2017
    The Katana is for people who want to fiddle with lots of tones and twist dials to get them.

    Tonemaster is for someone who just wants to dial up a basic sound and then practice getting their different tones by how they play. Same concept as simple tube amps just without the tubes.

    You could argue the Katana is akin to a super complex Mesa and the Tonemaster is akin to the really simple Fender tube amps with minimal controls.
  12. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Feb 6, 2018
    Wilmington, DE
    Yup. Naveed pretty much nails it.
    naveed211 likes this.
  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    I've been doing "this" for 42 years, and gear goes in trends.
    Used to be the trends were more gradual because it was proven gear being used mostly in bars or arenas.
    No gear trends really in bedrooms until the 21st C at least that I saw, there were guitars shops and you bought what you liked and could afford for the bedroom, because there were no bedroom youtube guitar heroes.

    Now with the internet, gear trends rise and fall quickly.
    The Fender Mustang line had a couple of good blips of high visibility.
    The Orange Tiny Terror had a really good run.
    Kemper was at the top of gear chat daily for a while.
    The Katana was THE NUMBER ONE amp to argue about for a while and it got more proclamations of grandeur then than the TM line has gotten so far.

    Now that the usual deluded trend has passed for the Katana, it's only pretty good.

    Remember the epic thread suggesting that the Katana would kill the entire worlds tube production?
    Many buyers/ tryers/ bedroom bloggers believed that the GOD of Boss Roland had created the be all end all guitar amp.

    Really, there's no reason Boss/ Roland can't make a be all end all SS guitar amp that's durable and affordable and is second to none in sound within the limitations of SS tech.

    In fact, I'd say Boss Roland is better situated to make THE BEST SS guitar amp than Fender, because Fender has to outsource the technology, where Roland Corp is sort of THE SOURCE for high tech SS components and cutting edge design.

    But Fender beat them with pine and repro tolex.
    The elimination of features is obviously a huge selling point for the upscale box of same basic industry modeling tech that Fender did not invent.

    Once again, TRENDY is the answer.
    Kids today grok menu's like codgers grok a row of knobs they virtually never even touch because they only want one sound.

    How long before the numbers of players who want the highest tech with a lock box on the capabilities, drops off to no longer profitable?

    How long before Roland considers adding an upscale version of Katana tech in a classy package?
    Maybe they won't, maybe they sell enough Katanas and other industry standard gear that they have no interest in aiming at the Kemper/ Tone Master/ PRS/ FCS buyer?

    The hilarious part of trendy is how many times, decade after decade, players proclaim "this SS amp REALLY IS good".
    More of what we keep reviewing is different packaging and marketing schemes.
    Not that there isn't some upgrades from a $200 Roland product to a $1000 FMIC product, but both can make any amp product as good as new tech is capable of.
    With the edge probably going to Roland.
    Hence we compare a versatile $250 amp to a limited $1000 amp.
  14. whoanelly15

    whoanelly15 Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 30, 2017
    Agreed. I would only add…

    4. Solid state and modeling technology is entering a golden age and has simply narrowed the gap.

    Something to be said tho for the Fender TM series modeling one thing really well vs Katanas offering a lot more for you to fiddle with.

    I’m a bit different in that I don’t fiddle with the Katana Artist or Tone Studio. Their clean sounds are incredible and the bigger cab and Waza speaker are great!

    I’d sure love to add a Tonemaster DR to my stable tho.
  15. paulblackford

    paulblackford Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 17, 2009
    I've owned quite a few SS, Modeling, and tube amps, and results are varied. I think Fender is on to something by creating a modeling amp that is only trying to model one amp. My least satisfying sounds have been from modelers that try to mimic several amps. I have a Vox VT30 modeling amp that has a 12AX7 in the preamp, but it mimics several amps, and not all of those amps had a 12AX7 in their preamp. I have a Mustang IV, and not all of the amps it mimics are a 2X12 combo. I think with Fender's Tonemaster series, they figured out that if they condition the audio, from input to speakers, to sound like one amp, they'll get a much more solid offering. Amps that try to be many different amps, aren't going to sound great at any of them. Jack of all trades, master of none. A Roland Jazz Chorus is only trying to be a Roland Jazz Chorus.
  16. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

    Jul 20, 2010
    That would be about 4 years before my wife finally banned my valve amps from the house forever...:lol:
  17. pedro58

    pedro58 Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2004
    North Texas
    For years I played a '67 Super Reverb with pedals. It was loud and heavy. It sounded fantastic. I almost never mic'ed it. But that was the old days.

    I had a Mustang 2V3 or a 3v2... I can't remember, but it sounded really nice. Its weak point was the line out. You still needed an IR or CabSim to get a good sound in the house or your monitors. So, it was a modeler that I ultimately had to put a microphone on. Ugh.

    Now, I have a modeler on the floor and no amp. But I still use a few pedals with it. The new Fender TM's have me curious, but my band has gotten very used to the no amp onstage sound and how it makes the dynamics better. For the moment, I'm still ampless.
    Telecaster88 likes this.
  18. beachbreak

    beachbreak Tele-Meister

    Sep 16, 2012
    I have two tube amps and a Fender Cyber-Deluxe which I bought new when they came out.

    The Cyber-Deluxe sounds great as an amp modeler (Bassman, Marshall stack, Tweed Deluxe and VOX are my favorites). I don't like the first 15 settings with preset effects). The 4 selector foot switch is great to easily switch between my four custom amps with my selected effects programmed into them).

    I love my BJ Tweed and Peavey C-30 too.

    Bottom line is SS is good too!
    Digital Larry likes this.
  19. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

    May 6, 2012
    Rogers, Arkansas
    Fender did not "outsource" any modeling technology for the Tone Master line of amplifiers. According to Fender rep and tdpri user @stilwell, all of the amp modeling algorithm and associated technology were developed by in-house Fender engineers over a development cycle of several years.

    I think your supposition that Boss is in a better position to dominate the modeling market If only they were to produce a nice looking box is an interesting one, but Fender's many years of experience producing and yes, innovating very successful modeling amps suggests Boss wouldn't run away with the prize by default.

    But I do think more direct competition would be great for both companies.
    rolandk likes this.
  20. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 19, 2017
    Seattle, WA
    I'd say they're nearly there with the Blues Cube line. They won't be everyone's tonal nirvana, but plenty of respected musicians swear by them.

    The Katana is an excellent, affordable modeler, but the Vox VT#X and Fender Mustang GTX lines are IMO just as good and just as affordable. The Katana sort of sucked all the air out of the room for a while. I've never quite understood why people gushed all over it while ignoring or dissing other brands that did the same thing just as well.
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