New here, seeking advice

Hello MOD community,

I have a young teen guitarist in the family who is now starting to gig. Our equipment at home consists of a Boss Katana 100w head and a 2x12 cabinet I built at home. He owns a cheap fuzz pedal, and a wah that go in front of the Katana input and the rest of the chain (comp->boost->noise gate->preamp->delay, reverb, nodulation->power amp out to cab) all sit within the Katana controlled by a midi controller pedal. At rehearsals, he plugs into the rehearsal studios Fenders (not sure of the model, but they have two channels for clean and high gain) and does not carry any of his pedals. He plays mostly blues, rock, some metal.
Now that he is getting on stage frequently, I would have to get him a pedalboard that can do amp SIM + effects. Given my limited budget, I see three options

  1. Take the Katana head on stage and do what he is doing at home but go into front-of-house equipment from the Katana head. This sounds awkward, but doable, and costs zero dollars.
  2. Buy a Tonex One, but this doesn’t do effects, so will need delay, modulation pedals.
  3. Buy a MOD dwarf and have it do it all on stage.

Given his simple chain, is the dwarf live performance ready? Prior to getting him the Katana, his home gear was Guitarix on a PC with midi control, so I am very familiar with plugins to help navigate the learning curve.

Many thanks for your help with this question!


Hello @njsiva

I would go with the first choice since it´s zero dollars but would invest on the MOD Dwarf for the long term.
The dwarf is a great tool but it´s learning curve is not a fast one.
I can´t talk about the tonex since I have no experience with it.


When going on stage, always try to keep it as simple, reliable and cheap as possible so find a balance there.

In small venues, we often need to rely on our own cabs and only singing is done with a rental/in house PA. having cab/no cab flexibility is useful.

The Katana (also V1) has a “rec out”; sounds like he could take it out on stage and have a tech plug it in the DI while, if needed, he could bring a cab or play over somebody else’s (something that happens a lot as well, when a ceretain band provided the backline

In other words; I think you already have everything you need right there?

I bought the MOD Dwarf to do all scenario’s that but it took me a little while to do so but my setup was getting too complex before I had it. Meanwhile I had a REAL SIMPLE live rig that I used until I was routined with my Dwarf.

I’m a fan of the unit and the tech but in this case, I’d follow @rogeriocouto advice and focus on the goal first (live gigs where you can focus on the music) while crafting the ideal loadout on the side.
In that case, the Dwarf is A possible solution but “pedals + tonex” can work too. I neverl iked a lot of cables, power supply and I was never afraid of “digital”. Since you’re experienced with gitarix stuff, you might be one step ahead already.

If you like tinkering and you want max flexilbity, go for Dwarf!(be prepared to do some learning along the way too).

you can even create your own amps with the free workflow MOD audio/AIDA is offering us. (you provide a dry and wet signal to a script and a JSON files pops out, which you are able to use in your DAW AND live in your DWARF.
Here’s some extended info on all that: Modeling amps and pedals for the AIDA-X: Best practices - MOD Audio website


Many thanks @rogeriocouto and @LievenDV - your responses are super helpful. So it sounds like carrying the amp head isn’t a bad idea and the Dwarf is capable of being a live performance rig-in-one!
Much appreciated.

For my uses, the Dwarf is definitely live show ready. I’ve used it in 2 live contexts and it has performed well. For my guitar work, I’m now using a custom-created AIDA-X model based on my 5W tube amp. It sounds great, and gives me something unique. My other setup is for playing bass, and it is really set-and-forget. In both cases, I go direct to the board via balanced connection.


The Katana Head has 2 or 4 effects (depending on whether MK1 or MK2) + reverb. There is a Boss Tone Studio, a downloadable computer app, in which you can adjust any of the parameters you’d find if these were actually Boss pedals by connecting the USB from the head to a computer. These can be saved. Boss sells a little proprietary foot pedal that allows for live changing if this stuff and adding an expression pedal (the head also can receive midi changes for a limited number of functions, so you could find something cheaper if interested). There is also a homebrew software solution for the Katana called FX Floorboard Fx FloorBoard download | that allows you to manipulate the signal chain in a way that is more like virtual pedals on the floor, which you probably wouldn’t want to use live because it is dependent on the computer app to function, but once a tone is dialed in, it can be saved. There is a ton of chatter about it at Gumtown Editor General Discussion

And, just FYI, although I have a Katana Head, my MOD Dwarf has obviated the need for it. I’m quite pleased with all the Dwarf offers and can play it through another amp I own and will likely sell the Katana Head unless one of my kids takes a shine to playing guitar. The Katana head is great for bedroom playing, experimenting with different effects, recording, and playing to front of house. The Dwarf is crazy flexible, I can run keyboards, vocals, and guitar through it, and it has become the heart of my rig.

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You could download the MOD desktop app to have a more clear idea of the potential/difficulties of the dwarf.

Keep in mind that on live, also with the actual unit, you will need some midi footswitc/expression pedal. The “Chocolate midi” is a cheap enough one and I think you could use it also with the desktop app.

After you can buy a dwarf, having spared him the learning curve


Many thanks @malfunction54 @Zavorra @VeggieSoup for your responses as well. I built a MIDI controller using Arduino a few years ago to use with Guitarix that I think I can use -

I see a duo-x someone is selling pre-owned that is within my budget. Without asking the seller to open the unopened box to check for the power button, is there another way to check that it is not the LE? Perhaps with a serial number sticker on the back, or something like that? It was bought in Aug 2020 and delivered Sep 2020 to the seller.

Thanks again.


Great job with that controller.

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Thank you so much!

If you got that kind of experience, you’re more of a thinkerer you’d ever need to be to enjoy the MOD audio Universe :smiley:

Can’t help you with that “Duo LE or not” question I’m afraid.

Let’s summon the MODfather

Our father which art in Germany,
Reverbed be thy Tone.
Thy plugins come.
And amps be profiled
and run in DAW’s as they are on hardware.
Give us this day our daily tone.
And forgive us our stereotypical pedalboards
as we forgive those who create predicatable setups
And lead us not into requesting too much useless features,
but deliver us from noise.

*** POOOF ****

@gianfranco this is your cue :wink:


Thank you so much @LievenDV and @Zavorra. I am definitely a weekend tinkerer :slight_smile:. I made his guitar body a few years ago as well with alder and a walnut top. I don’t have the tools or the skills to build the neck, so I got that store bought. For what it is worth, he has a one of a kind guitar, woodworking mistakes and all :rofl: .


The katana head is a great choice. you have a practice amp and a stage amp all in one and everything in between… The Boss software lets you configure the topology and gain stages anyway you like. there’s some great effects. add the 8 “chan” foot switch and the one for boost or a volume pedal and you’ve got a great 4 (or 8 voice) amp with all the interactive effects you would ever need for live work. Honestly, invest the time and $0 for the software, $130 for the foot switch (or get a used one for ~$50) and you have a GREAT bedroom/practice/stage amp that will allow you to deliver your best live performance rather that tripping up over technology. KISS!


@mark_couling - thank you so much. This is very helpful.