Blackstar Fly vs Boss Katana: Which One Should You Get?

When looking for practice amps the alternatives are many.

However, lately, the biggest players in this small (no pun intended) segment have probably been Boss and Blackstar.

Blackstar is a relatively young amp brand, starting out in 2007 they’ve quickly become a popular alternative while maintaining a low price tag. 

Boss was founded in 1973 and is considerably older. 

When the Katana Mini was launched it certainly turned the industry upside down with its great value but does the Blackstar match up to it?

While the Blackstar fly isn’t a stage amp, nor is the Katana, and it certainly holds up to Boss models of similar size. They’re both great for practice and they’re both amazing quality for money. However, although slightly more expensive, the Katana has a certain edge.

Today I’ll be giving you a rundown of some of the features on each amp and how they compare. 

I’ll give my two cents on which one is better and why, and from there hopefully, you’ll be able to make your conclusions.

Blackstar Fly’s main features

The Blackstar fly has considerably fewer features than the Boss Katana does, but it’s meant to be a portable practice amp after all. What it lacks in customization and choice of tone, it makes up for in quality. 

The main features on the Blackstar flies are all the same throughout the limited series featuring only three amps. The only difference is that the Fly 103 has a six-watt stereo setup whereas the Fly 3 is a 3-watt amp.

Their main features and specs :

  • Clean and overdrive channel
  • 3-6 watt power
  • 3” Full Range speakers
  • Gain, Volume, ISF(EQ), Delay Time, Delay Level, and OD select channels
  • Inputs and outputs for Headphone/Emulated Out, Line-in, DC-in 
  • two power supply options: 6x AA Batteries or DC
  • Lightweight (0.9kg)
  • Compact Dimensions (170 x 126 x 102 mm)

 Here you can hear it in action:

Boss Katana Mini’s main features

The Boss Katana range has a much longer list of main features, it comes with a wide array of bells and whistles. 

I’ve taken a look at the list of the main features from the Katana-Mini since it’s the most similar and it wouldn’t be fair to compare a desktop amp to a stage amp.

  • Great Katana tone in a highly portable amp 
  • Rich, full sound that far exceeds other amps in its class 
  • Authentic multi-stage analog gain circuit and three-band analog tone stack 
  • Three versatile amp types: Brown, Crunch, and Clean 
  • Built-in tape-style delay for a warm ambiance 
  • Aux input for jamming with music from a smartphone 
  • Phones/recording output with cabinet voicing 
  • Runs on six AA-size batteries or an optional AC adapter 

As I mentioned, the Katana series has a lot of variety outside of their smaller amps and it’s worthwhile to check them out too.

Main differences between the Blackstar Fly and the Boss Katana Mini

There’s a big difference in their price for starters, the Blackstar Fly is almost 50$ cheaper than the Boss Katana mini. Some would say that justifies the Blackstar Fly’s drawbacks and it might, but let’s take a look at both amps’ pros and cons in comparison.

Both amps have pretty good battery life but the Blackstar Fly comes out on top at around 9-10 hours while the Boss Katana Mini has about 7 hours.

Both models are battery-powered, and both require extra cash for an additional power supply. Unfortunately, the higher price of the Katana mini with the additional adaptor puts it in a price range with bigger amps that outclass it.

Both amps are lightweight but the Blackstar wins out at a slightly lower weight than the Katana which has some advantages depending on your intentions.

The Blackstar Fly is more compact than the Katana, which makes it better for travel.

The Boss Katana has a lot more features despite its smaller size and it comes with more control over Tone. It’s also got different channels 

Which one should you get?

Depending on your intentions, either amp could suit you:

For Casual Playing

If you’re just planning to play in your bedroom, the Blackstar may be the better choice.

Here’s why:

  • It’s cheaper than the Katana-Mini
  • It’s got a solid output with loud volume and a clean tone that meets the Katana’s quality

For Busking

Both amps could be used to busk. You could strap either one to your hip or backpack and blast away, but the Blackstar would be better suited for a few reasons.

  • Longer Battery life
  • The Fly is Lighter weight, a few hundred grams isn’t much until you have to carry it for a few hours.
  • More Compact Design: the Fly 3 is small enough that you could fit it into a travel bag if you had to

For Tone Control

For more serious players concerned with tone and EQ adjustments, the mini comes with two features that the Blackstar doesn’t that make it the superior amp in this case.

  • Great EQ Control. The Blackstar has a single dial for EQ that only changes the color of the tone slightly, while the mini has a 3-channel EQ, allowing for much greater control.
  • More tonal variety: The Katana mini has three amp tone settings, just like its bigger models, while the Fly 3 only has clean and overdrive

Some Drawbacks

Blackstar Fly 3:

  • No power supply
  • Limited EQ control
  • No Reverb effect
  • No USB Output

Boss Katana Mini:

  • More expensive
  • Power supply not included
  • Shorter battery life
  • heavier carry weight
  • Less compact design
  • Also, a little more noise when using a power supply

I mentioned the boss’s noise as a drawback, this is a particular consideration when you do bedroom recording and you want a clean fade out, but then again the Fly doesn’t have a USB output, so you’ll need a mic to record it anyway.

Overall, both amps are great, and both have limitations, but you’re paying less than $100 so you can’t really complain.

If your main concern is price, however, then despite any drawbacks, you’ll want to get the Blackstar Fly 3. Just keep in mind, that you don’t get overdrive on it.