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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought I would start this thread as this seems to be a pretty common question that a lot of people ask regarding the Katana 50, specifically. They're relatively cheap, light, make great practice home amps, seem loud and have reasonably good on-board effects and channels -BUT, could you actually gig with one of these in a live setting with a full band? (The short answer here is yes - the rest of this will be observations and an explanation)

As a background, I bought one of these to stash under my desk at work when they first came out years ago - I just wanted something simple to use with a decent sound and a lot of easy to use and dial in effects for practicing or playing just about whatever. This worked perfectly for that purpose. Since then, this thing has ended up back at the old homestead as a living room practice amp, which again, it is perfectly happy doing.

Now to the part about gigging. I play in a couple of bands right now. One of them is a classic punk rock cover band that plays out quite a bit in just about any venue you can imagine. I've got some larger tube amps, some mid-size tube amps, and an HK tubemeister 5 for DI to the board gigs. I do not normally use solid state amps live (personal preference - I don't find they cut through the mix enough for me). However, last Friday we ended up playing a very cramped little bar with a terrible PA that ruled out me using my HK 5 for a DI solution (Plugged into a separate cab the HK 5 CANNOT keep up with a drummer). There was not a lot of stage space and my next smallest tube amp is a fairly large (and bloody heavy) 50w head and cab combo. I thought, what the hell, I wonder if that little Katana is loud enough to squeak past the drummer. Yes, yes it is. Shockingly playing in a punk band live with 2 guitars, bass, drums and vocals, this thing on the max setting was too loud.... I know.....surprising. I ended up playing the gig at around noon on the master volume, not mic'd and the sound quality cut through and was pretty darn good.

Playing this thing live proved to me that it can be used for a small venues with solid sound quality and sound fairly large despite its diminutive size. What it can't do, at least well, is match volume between channels easily or well. I tried a few time to set two channels to parody with one having a few effects on it for solos and some sizzle - this did not work at all well. I'm not sure if the use of on-board effects automatically dims the volume or what the reason is, but this was damn near impossible to dial in while doing soundcheck (Yes, I tried this as a preset before bringing the amp the the gig only to find that the volume that I though was at parody in my house was no where near matched in a venue setting, to make matters worse, if you try to set them again with the master, that of course only works on one channel. You will need to try and dial them in on both and then re-save the preset. Not at all intuitive if you need to adjust your volume on the fly. You're better off just using one channel and a pedal board....Which creates a bit of a problem as you can't really switch between presets on the fly. This is sorta the point of trying to gig with an amp that has on-board effects. Go figure. Independent pedals are the one thing I have yet to try on this amp as well. I have only used a looper with this amp and can safely say that this thing struggles with a looper going. I'm not sure if the circuit is just unable to process the varying signal or what, but as soon as you start playing anything your signal from the looper is next to inaudible.

Maybe someone else can chime in on using actual pedals with a Katana?
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