BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps: The #1 Guide To All Of The Amazing Tones!

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 01/28/22 •  20 min read

The BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps feature sounded like a myth, or an urban legend when I first heard of it. But it’s real, and today we will show you how to expand your Katana’s tones!


BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps: Where Did This Come From?

We have given a lot of love to the BOSS Katana series here at Electrikjam, and for very good reasons. It made the top choice when it comes to gigging amps. The reason the Katana is so popular is because it is so versatile when it comes to the tones that it can produce. You can play any genre of music with it, and it sounds great on stage. You would think that we have exhausted all of the different features of this amp, but…

As usual, I am late to the party.

We absolutely have not covered all of the features, apparently. I was scrolling through guitar forums and checking out some reviews on the BOSS Katana before I bought one. I came across an article about the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps. At first, this sounded like nonsense and I didn’t pay much attention to it.

But then… someone on reddit brought up the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps in response to my review. I had been singing the praises of how many face-melting tones I have programmed for gigs, and a reddit user brought this “feature” to my attention. Being the second time I had heard this phrase, I decided to do some digging, and figure out what all of this really means.

Disclaimer: Before we get started with all of this, let me go ahead and tell you to do it at your own risk. Obviously, thousands of people have been able to get the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps function to work just fine. I am just saying to use a bit of caution and don’t mess up your amp. If you already have some great tones assigned to the Tone Setting feature, then definitely create a backup Live Set with the BOSS Tone Studio.

Boss katana sneaky amps
My Katana Is Afraid Of Surgery

BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps: Where Did They Come From?

If you want to get straight to the Boss Katana Sneaky Amps, scroll down. But I thought it was cool to know where it came from.

BOSS has been making effects for a long time when it comes to pedals. I think every guitarist that uses pedals has at least one BOSS pedal that they really enjoy, and it will stay on the pedalboard through all kinds of transitions. For me, the BOSS Tuner has always been a staple of my rig. I think I have only owned 3 of these TU-X pedals over the course of 23 years. Two of them I lost. One at a gig, and then another at a festival show. The third one is still in my toolbox and has been for over a decade, but this is a serious testament to BOSS quality.

Later on, BOSS moved into the digital realm in the early 2000’s to compete with other companies that were making multi-effects units. The first few attempts were hit or miss, until BOSS started using COSM technology. This technology goes all the way back to 1995, as it was first featured on the Roland VG8 system. The VG8 effects unit was way ahead of it’s time, and it did a lot of cool modeling tricks long before Line 6 ever created the POD System. It had a fantastic acoustic simulator as well. Confused yet?

You see, BOSS and Roland are the same company. The COSM technology is an acronym for “Composite Object Sound Modeling”. Roland used this already with it’s guitar synth pedals, and it was applied to the new lineup of BOSS effects units. The COSM technology was used with the BOSS GT units, and it only got better with time. BOSS still uses this tech with the newest version of the BOSS GT-1000. Albeit, the moniker is different now and the sound quality is 10X better.

Boss Gt1000 Core
The Boss GT-1000

When it came to designing the BOSS Katana, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during that corporate meeting. BOSS really nailed it with the Katana when it comes to being easy to use, yet infinitely customizable. What I mean by that, is you can use the amp the way it comes right out of the box. You never need to plug the amp up to the computer. But you can also dial in tones with the BOSS Tone Studio with your computer, and edit the amp to do whatever you want when it comes to tones.

With the Katana, it seems like BOSS took a look at the competition, and did everything opposite of it’s competitor’s business model. BOSS designed the Katana to be easy to use right out of the box. The amp dial on the unit is so simple that anyone can use it. You have 5 amp models, and each one has a variation button on the MKII. In contrast to the competitors, that isn’t offering much in terms of variety. Other companies offer hundreds of amp models.

The BOSS Katana is a totally different idea, though. With it’s Class A/B power section and the limited amp models, the Katana is an amp first. This is the main appeal of the design, because you use the Katana totally different than you would an amp modeler. You treat the Katana like you would any other tube amp with multiple channels, especially if you have the footswitch. The lack of features make this amp simple, and the simplicity is what garners mass appeal. This is why it’s been the best-selling amp for years, and maybe of all time.

Part of the simplicity of the BOSS Katana when it comes to programming the unit is the amp models. Technically you only have 5 different options for the amp models. The Katana isn’t like a Line 6 product, or something like the Fender Mustang GTX. Those have over 80 amp options that you can pick and choose from, all completely different amps to scroll through. The Katana has 5 options for amps.

These other units also have tons of patches to save your custom amp tones. The Fender has 200 patches to program! Line 6 is basically infinite, since you can backup your tones on a hard drive. The Katana does not have hundreds of patches for storing sounds, or a digital screen to scroll through them. With the Katana you have a 5 way knob, and the four Tone Setting Buttons.

The Katana also lacks the usual speaker customization that modeling software features. With products like the Helix and other modeling tech, the speaker setup is usually a big feature. Every company does this in a different way, but they are more similar than different since most editing software lets you choose the type of speaker cabinet, the microphone used, and the distance/placement of the speaker mic. Sometimes you can upload third party impulse responses, and skip making your own. With the Katana, we get three impulse responses: Vintage, Modern, and Deep.

But now, we all know about the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps, and this brings quite a few more amp sounds into the mix (pun intended). These are hidden amp models, that are somewhere buried in the Katana software. These were never supposed to be discovered. These sounds are like the Ark of The Covenant, meant to be buried… and lost for all time.

So the ultimate question is: Where did these extra amp models come from? Did BOSS create amp models specifically for the Katana? Is the Katana really a modeling amp?

The answer lies in the COSM software that Roland originally developed. The Katana is not the first amp that Roland/BOSS has made. The Cube Series was a huge hit, and the Roland Blues Cube has been a big seller for years. The Cube amps all use the same COSM technology that the BOSS multi-effects pedals use for modeling amps. Is this is also where the BOSS Katana gets all of it’s amp models?


Accessing The BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps: Origins And Guide

So now that we are all caught up with the design of the BOSS Katana, let’s talk about these “Sneaky” Amps. When the Katana was being programmed, it used some of the COSM technology from the popular GT/ME pedalboards as a base model. Instead of loading specific amp models from the COSM program, BOSS just uploaded everything to the Katana amp internal board. These amps are already on your Katana, they just don’t show up as options on the Tone Studio program.

There are two different methods for gaining access to these BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps. One of them, is by using the Live Set feature and importing the tones to your amp. This is probably the easiest way to gain access to these amp models, and it’s pretty quick to get working. Keep in mind that the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps only works with the Katana 50, 100, and the Katana Head units.

The BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps feature 28 different amp models, and currently your amp is only using 5. There are two ways to access these amps. The first one that we will be exploring is by utilizing the Tone Studio program, so if you don’t already have this program, download it HERE. The second option may offer more control, but it uses a third party software. The choice is ultimately yours, but I say try out both!

Again, if you are happy with the way your BOSS Katana is already, then this is just a cool feature to play with. If you do end up liking some of these new amps, then you can always save them in your library. Make sure that you backup your current Live Set patches before you make any big changes.

Method 1: Downloading The Files/Tone Studio Live Sets

This approach does not use any third party software, and all you need is the BOSS Tone Studio, and the file to import. You can download the Live Set Files FROM THIS LINK. Once you have the link downloaded, you will have a file folder. This folder for the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps is a zip file, so make sure you unzip it first. You will be left with a file called “Sneakyampsblank.TSL”. Store this file somewhere where you can find it, like your desktop.

Pull up BOSS Tone Studio and click on the “Librarian” box at the top. This will bring up all of your Live Set patches.

boss Katana sneaky amps
The Sneaky Amps Will Be Loaded Automatically In The First Slot

Well this is awesome, right? Now you have full control over these amp models that are listed. Some of them are versions of the ones that are preloaded with the BOSS Katana (Boss original), and some are definitely not. The ones that have the “BR” beside the name means that this is the “bright switch enabled” version of the amp. If you are wondering what all of these amps are supposed to be, here is a guide list:

I know what you’re thinking, where are all the other amps if there are 28 possible? Well, it seems like a recent update to the BOSS Katana has unfortunately taken away quite a few of the amp models away when you try to use the Tone Studio method. The MK2 version of the BOSS Katana changed the format. However, do not despair! There are still some really cool tones to be had with these 15 presets, and there is another way to unlock ALL amps!

The Fender amps sound really great, and they have a little bit of “something” that the stock BOSS Katana clean/crunch tones do not offer. I tried them out, and they work really well. The VOX models both have the signature VOX chime if you turn down the gain, but even with the gain turned up…these are good new tone options. With the VOX amps, your presence knob acts as the tone blend knob that VOX amps usually have! Cool!

If you have already done some research involving the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps, then you have probably heard people say that the Matchless DC-30 tone is pretty amazing. I played around with this tone for quite a while, and I managed to dial in a pretty sweet lead tone that sounds brilliant with my Schecter NJ. This is by far my favorite out of all of the amps on this list.

Unfortunately, you can no longer get the 5150 and other high gain tones if your BOSS Katana and Tone Studio are updated, or you have the MKII version of the Katana. I tried everything I could to get it to work, and I came up empty handed. But there is another method to unlock the full potential of the Katana, and get your hands on the Sneaky Amps.


Katana Floorboard By Gumtown

If you want to do a serious deep-dive into the amp, and get every BOSS Katana Sneaky Amp available, then you are going to need a third party program. I have tried this out, and it is completely safe to use. Gumtown is pretty popular on forums, and he has designed all kinds of interfaces to use with BOSS products. The first thing you need to do, is download the program below.

DOWNLOAD LINK

Once you have downloaded the program, go ahead and install it. This should only take a minute or so, and it creates a desktop icon on your computer for easy access. The Katana Floorboard is extremely expansive, and if you are not used to dealing with software like this, then maybe stick to the Tone Studio method above. But if you do choose this method, you’ll be amazed. Make sure your Katana MKII is connected to the computer before opening the program.

boss katana sneaky amps
WOW!

As you can see, this is like a very advanced version of the BOSS Tone Studio. This program is serious, and if you can, I would toss a few bucks to Gumtown for developing this program. This is very expansive, and it has a lot of useful features. But we are primarily here for the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps. One day, I may do a full review of this amazing program.

The BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps are all here in full force, and there are a lot to keep up with. Most of the names are pretty self explanatory, but some may not be so obvious. I have a master list (Courtesy of Haveguitar.com) of all names for the amps that are being modeled, and some are really surprising.

I am not going to go through every single one of these tones, because it would take me days to write a review on all of them. Like before, all of the amps with BR in the title is with the bright switch engaged. I had a lot of fun trying out all of these amps, but there is definitely something that you should keep in mind when you are trying these amps out. To be honest, it’s not even something I thought about.

Most of the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps are from the BOSS GT100, and other sources that are older models. So some of these definitely didn’t sound great upon first listen. Some of the other ones did sound really good as soon as you pull them up. Others may sound like an amp at the bottom of a well with a wet blanket thrown over it.

But the thing about the older amp models pulled from the COSM software patches, is they are probably going to need some tweaking. Keep this in mind when you are scrolling through the amps for the first time. These are not optimized to be used with the Katana, so you have to do the legwork to get them sounding better. So don’t try it for two seconds and be like “This sucks!”. It just needs a little work to get going, so play around with each one.

I will highlight some of the ones I thought might be good to try out. Both of the Mesa Boogie models sounded pretty cool to me. You really need to dive in and edit them, though. If you go by the stock patches these may sound fizzy, muddy, or boxy at first. But keep in mind, some of these are not made specifically for the Katana. These are old amp models from other sources, that were never meant to be used like this.

The Bogner amp model is really great too, but again, you need to mess with it a little bit. The Orange Rocker model is a solid crunch tone that didn’t really need any tweaking, which was pretty surprising. The Marshall Plexi models sound pretty good with fuzz added, and maybe some overdrive in front to even everything out EQ-wise. But I think you really need to try them all out for yourself to see if you like them.

There also seems to be a few different effects? But to be honest there is only one new effect that I was absolutely sure of. There is an “Ambience” reverb that sounds pretty amazing! It has a boutique style, deep reverb tone that latches on to the midrange of your guitar signal. I am sure there are some other effects that are in there, but I just missed them since I never mess with my Katana settings. Go through and see if you can find the extra ones!

But I think it’s about time to wrap this up. I spent a couple of hours really playing with the Sneaky Amps. I tried them both through the speaker, and through my studio interface/monitors. I can say with the utmost confidence, that I gave this experiment a fair shake. I have some final thoughts, that may be unpopular…

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BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps: Final Thoughts

There is something really cool about knowing how such a popular product was made. I knew that BOSS had already perfected digital models of the pedals from over the years. What I wondered about with the Katana, was where the amp sounds came from, and what amps were these tones based on? Now that we have some insight into the design, it makes a lot of sense. Why do a brand new design, when you already have the technology in your other products?

I took the time to really try and dial in the Sneaky Amps the best I could. I am going to be completely honest with you when I say that I only stored a couple of these in my library. There are lots of tones to play with here, but I just didn’t think that many of them were any better than the stock sounds on the Katana. Before you chastise me, I spent time with each model, and dialed them in the best I could.

I kept the Matchless sound, because it was probably the most unique of the bunch. Some of the high gain amp models sounded fine through the speaker, but then when I tried them through the recording interface, it was fizzy. The Marshall sounds were also totally usable, but I kept asking myself: “Are they any better than the stock sounds”? I think I have came up with an answer, although most people won’t like this opinion.

I think it’s very cool that you can access some amp models that were never supposed to see the light of day, due to the way the amp was designed. But I honestly don’t think any of these sounds offer anything the BOSS Katana doesn’t already do. The Katana’s five stock sounds and their variations are all great, they offer enough versatility to dial in any kind of tone you could want. Plus, these limited amp features are the very heart of the Katana.

The whole reason I bought this amp, was to have a simple amplifier to record with, and rock the stage. I have Line 6 products, have owned a Kemper, used an FRFR setup in the past, and finally… I have used tube amps. With the digital options, I always get overwhelmed by option paralysis. There are too many choices for me and I get lost dialing in a good tone. I find that I work best with some limitations set, and the Katana provides those limitations.

So this was a lot of fun, but I think I will stick to the 5 or 6 patches that I have made with the Tone Studio, using the stock models. There is beauty in simplicity sometimes. But maybe someone else out there will take this info on the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps and make some killer sounding patches. Overall, it just isn’t for me. Individuality is what makes us all interesting when it comes to art and music. You really can’t help what you like!

What Are “Sneaky Amps” on The BOSS Katana?

These Sneaky Amps can be accessed a couple of different ways, and they are leftover sounds from the older BOSS/Roland products like the GT Series. They are on the Katana by default, but hidden in the software.

Will Sneaky Amps Break My BOSS Katana?

No. These are safe to download in my experience, and you can save them to your amp without any problems. Future updates may eventually erase these amp models, so that is something to look for.

How Many Sneaky Amps Are There On The BOSS Katana?

There are 28 total amps and one “custom” amp option built into the Katana. This includes the 5 default amp models that come stock with the Katana. There are all kinds of hidden amps that make up the BOSS Katana Sneaky Amps collection.

Where did the BOSS katana Sneaky Amps Come From?

Most of them are leftover code from when BOSS programmed the amp. Some of the Sneaky amps are just models from older effects units, like the GT Series.

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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