Line 6 Catalyst 60 Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Line 6 continues to expand the Helix technology, by simplifying it in a more traditional form as a combo amp. With echoes of the Katana, the Line 6 Catalyst is a fantastic expansion on the digital renaissance that Line 6 continues to pioneer.
I would still consider Line 6 the standard bearer of modeling amps and digital effects, especially after the Helix series. The Catalyst expands on the Spider amps by combining Helix effects with a combo amp, in a much simpler form. It gives you a taste of the Helix experience, without the complexity. For my Line 6 Catalyst review, I tested the 60 watt version with my PRS CE 24 electric guitar with Fishman Fluence Matt Heafy signature humbuckers.
Up front, this amp is fantastic - similar to the Boss Katana, leaning a little bit more vintage in style. It might be better served by a single coil electric like a Stratocaster or Telecaster, but it can handle a wide range of styles and situations. If you want the gory details, I'll cover it all below.
Compare to similar amps
This section lets you compare the Catalyst to some other modeling amps in a similar price range. These days, every amp builder seems to have one of these, but Line 6 is the originator. Click the compare buttons for live pricing and a look at basic specs. The Katana rates slightly better in our system, but it's just a more modern-sounding amp, while the Catalyst leans vintage. It's really a matter of style/preference, and not a quality difference between the two.
Compare More Amps
You can add more amps to the comparison bar from our database of guitar gear. We don't have everything, but we have a lot, and many of the most popular options.
We partner with great companies like Sweetwater to support our site and to keep Guitar Chalk ad-free. If you click through our orange buttons and make a purchase, we might receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks to all for your incredibly generous support over the years! ~ Bobby and Danielle
For most of our product reviews we take our own photos, in-house. Thank goodness for portrait mode. For those interested in using these photos, that is completely fine with us as long as you give us credit and don't claim the work as your own. Simply linking to guitarchalk.com near the photo is totally fine.
Line 6 Catalyst 6 Price Guide
This section has an up-to-date price guide for the Catalyst 60. As with any product and retailer, pricing and availability can change, though this table updates in real time so you should be getting the best information available. Note that I included the 100 and 200 watt versions in addition to the 60, so you can compare prices for those as well.
Pricing updated Fri, December 08th, 2023.
Updated Pricing from Sweetwater
Price History for Line 6 Catalyst 60 60-watt 1 x 12-inch Combo Amplifier
|Current Price||$239.99||December 6, 2023|
|Highest Price||$299.99||May 10, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$239.99||November 1, 2023|
Last price changes
|$239.99||November 1, 2023|
|$249.99||September 6, 2023|
|$299.99||May 10, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Indoor practice, recording, simplicity, jamming, and smaller gigs/venues
- Vintage amp models/gain levels sound like the real deal
- Some Helix love without the complexity
- Very affordable
- Low wattage versions save you a lot of money
- USB and DI outs
- Hard to figure out how to set effects
- Would be nice to have a couple more channels
Overall sound and style of the Catalyst
I think I did the Catalyst a disservice by not using a Telecaster or Strat. I don't even own one right now, so there's not much I could have done about it anyways. The humbuckers on my PRS are also active, though they are Fishman Fluence which do a great job with generating sweetened single coil-esque tones. So take this for what it's worth.
There was no excess noise, even on high gain settings, which is certainly helped by the Fluence set. But even with the humbuckers, I thought the bluesier tones sounded better. You can hear a lot of them in this demo by Jay Leonard. He's also just a fantastic player.
I think this dude's playing is every bit as entertaining as the amp, which is probably because I can't do blues or low gain. I'm just terrible at it.
But I digress.
As you get bluesier and more vintage, you hear your right hand movement more clearly, which is evident in this video. Finger picking, pick scrapes, and the snap of strings is more noticeable. I was able to get similar sounds out of low gain settings, especially with the "Boutique" and "Dynamic" amp models. I'd recommend starting with those two models.
Cleans are good as well, and you can easily dial in some nuance with the effects and reverb control. The high gain settings sound great as well, and are comparable to the Katana. I think the Katana was a bit more modern and heavy, but the Catalyst can handle this tone profile as well. It's just stronger with low gain.
Control, use case, and flexibility
I had a little trouble figuring out how to dial in effects. The effects knob is a wet/dry mix, while you need to use a combination of the buttons and amp selector to find the effect you want. The effects are color-coded which changes each time you press the button, so you need to be familiar with those colors to know what you're selecting. Each color represents an effects category (see below).
For each color, you have six choices.
It's not the simplest arrangement, but since there are only 18 effects, it doesn't take long to figure out what you're using, and you can save channels whenever you find something you like.
Here's how the effects break down:
- 6 modulation effects
- 6 ambient effects
- 6 pitch/filter effects
These make up the 18 effects you have to choose from. The amp also gives you a four band EQ with a presence control, which provides a lot of flexibility before you even get to the effects.
The product specs mention a power attenuator, which doesn't really make sense to me because this is a digital amp. You can just turn the speaker off. They probably mean the wattage selector, which allows you to reduce wattage or cut off the speaker cab entirely. This is useful if you want to record or use headphones. Both a headphone jack and USB port are easily accessible on the back of the amplifier.
High-Level View of the Catalyst's Control
From a high-level view there's plenty to tweak, and you have to keep in mind that 18 effects and six amp models give you a lot of room to work. Just because it's dramatically less than the Helix doesn't mean it's limiting. Like I said, the Catalyst is meant to be simplified.
Price and Value
These low wattage modeling amps are always priced low, which makes them really attractive for indoor scenarios and basic recording. I always have one in my office for testing pedals and guitars, and the Catalyst totally fits that profile. So the value is really high, especially now that digital models sound so good. Check the updated pricing table above, but at the time of publishing our Catalyst review, the asking price was more than fair, following closely with market comps.
Better than the Katana?
The Catalyst and Katana are very similar. I almost wonder if Line 6 was attempting to compete with the Katana. But I would have also thought that the Katana was trying to compete with the Spider series. It's hard to tell these days. At any rate, I would say the Catalyst and Katana are very close in terms of specs and use cases. If I'm painting in really broad strokes, I like the Katana a little better for modern tones and the Catalyst a little better for vintage tones. But don't overthink it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. The Catalyst 60 has an effects loop with a return that doubles as a power amp input.
The 60 watt version of the Catalyst is the smallest in the series, and weighs about 26 pounds.
While there might be some redundancy between the Catalyst and other amps in the modeling category, I don't mind deferring to Line 6 in this area because they've been the experts in it for a long time. The Catalyst is a great option that you shouldn't overthink if you're in the market for a small-form combo modeling amp.
If you have questions about our Line 6 Catalyst review, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
I'll answer and help out as much as I can.
Gear and guitar lesson reviews by real guitar players
We buy, use, test, research, and rate the guitar programs and gear we recommend. Sign up for our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date.
By clicking the "sign up" button, you are consenting to receiving updates about Guitar Chalk and recaps of what we publish. You can unsubscribe at any time.