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This article was originally published in issue #51
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All in all, a smart product that’s sure to make the lives of many gigging guitarists easier. It’s simple, functional and sturdy, and it sounds good too.
Simple to use
No patch cables or power needed
Variety of good sounding pedals on offer
No support (yet) for 4-cable wiring
No tap tempo
Won’t work with 3rd party pedals
With the “The Solution,” NEXI Industries look to solve a common problem that guitarists have experienced over the last six decades. However, is plug-‘n-play over cables really as good as it sounds? Nick Jennison puts it to the test.
I’m not going to lie; I have a bit of a dog in this fight—After all, reviewers should always disclose their biases up front, right? Well, those of you who have seen my pedalboard will most likely not at first glance be struck by either it’s size, expense or it’s Strymon-studded beauty. No, the thing that immediately catches the eye is the large sheet of clear plastic that I keep over the top like a shower screen.
Why is that? I hear you ask.
Well I, like most of you, mainly play gigs that could best be described as “intimate”, and the prospect of a rogue pint (or two) being spilt on my beautiful board fills my heart with dread. Even on the occasional outdoor festival stage, the British weather is always a looming threat.
Enter NEXI and their pedalboard offering, “The Solution”; a revolutionary new plug-and-play design that’s elegant, functional, tough and splash proof. Yep, a beer-proof pedalboard. The Solution is a single unit that offers channel switching, a huge and easy to read tuner and a clean boost of either; +7, +12 of +20db (!) for when it’s time for that epic solo. Power for the board and pedals comes courtesy of the included IEC cable, and there are connections for your guitar, your amp’s input and foot switch jack, and even two USB outs for charging your phone. Genius.
But all of this is pretty redundant without pedals, and NEXI offers 14 of their own proprietary analogue, true bypass pedals for use with The Solution, ranging from overdrives and fuzz to chorus, tremolo and even a looper. While it’s worth noting that each pedal can be utilized as a standalone unit with the industry standard 9v power and 1/4” in and out, the standout feature on these pedals is how they connect to The Solution. On the back of each pedal is a 9-pin connector (similar to a controller port on a SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis - showing my age here!) that provides power and signal to the pedal. Just clip it in place and you’re ready to go! I was immediately struck by the potential for switching out pedals in a hurry. Need a phaser for one song? Unclip another pedal you’re not using, pop the effect in its place and you’re ready to go.
With no cabling or power to worry about, you can be good-to-go in less time than it takes Nicholas Cage to steal a bunch of cars.
On the subject of cabling. As there are no patch cables or power cables to contend with, you’ll never have that horrible mid-gig moment where one of your 20 tiny cables decides that after three songs it's now the perfect time to stop working, leaving you to figure out which cable has gone foul one by one. It should also be noted that my pedalboard cost me more in cables than the RRP of The Solution. I feel a bit daft now.
But what about the sound? In a word, good! NEXI kindly supplied us with the OVD-02 Overdrive, DIS-01 70’s Distortion, DSC-01 Dutch Screamer and DLY-01 Delay - all analogue pedals, except for the delay, which is an analog-voiced digital pedal with the all-important analogue dry through. Despite the distinctly “next gen" looks and functionality, there is a “classic” (I hesitate to say “vintage”) vibe to the tones on offer here. The 70’s Distortion is pleasantly gritty, with a surprising amount of gain available, and enough compression to help make playing feel relaxed.
The Overdrive and Dutch Screamer occupy pretty similar sonic territory, although the latter has the familiar dry mix and mid hump of its namesake with less low end. However, the bass roll-off isn’t as severe as many other “TS” type pedals. The delay, as previously mentioned, has a distinctly analogue voice, with warm repeats and very audible degradation at longer feedback settings. It’s a very simple pedal, with no modes, modulation or even a tap tempo. For some players, this will be refreshing in the current market of high tech delays, but for others (such as myself) it might be a problem. A universal tap tempo for the whole board would be a very welcome addition, perhaps on the switch currently assigned to the tuner (with a “hold for tuner” function). Additionally, I’m a little disappointed that there’s no way to rig up the board using the four cable method (placing some effects in front of the amp and others in the effects loop). I’d be tempted to complain about not being able to incorporate third party pedals, but given what NEXI is already teasing on social media, that may be a little premature.
All in all, a smart product that’s sure to make the lives of many gigging guitarists easier. It’s simple, functional and sturdy, and it sounds good too!