The problem: putting together a pedalboard is tedious, requires careful planning with regards to power distribution and cable management, pedal order, adhering pedals to the board, and arrangement. The Solution: a modular plug-and-play pedalboard from Nexi Industries.
The pedalboard is the nerve center of the guitarist’s rig, and guitarists are notoriously finicky (with good reason) about what goes on them, and all the details that go into putting together and maintaining a board are pretty complex and time-consuming. It’s a fun process – most of the time. It can also get so frustrating that you throw your hands up in the air and quit music entirely. You may have heard this quote: “The two happiest days in a guitarist’s life are the day they finish their pedalboard, and the day they sell it.”
Nexi knows this pain, and they aim to make that a thing of the past. The Solution modular pedalboard takes all of the pain-in-the-ass parts of pedalboard management right out of the equation. Using a 9-pin connector in each pedal slot, they’ve made it possible to simply plug in any of their proprietary pedals straight into the board with no cables for signal or power required. You plug into the board from your instrument, out into your amp, and plug in a universal power cable to power the whole board and away you go!
The convenience factor isn’t the only reason the Nexi exists. Durability and roadworthiness on this are considerable. The website claims that the board and pedals are “splashproof”, with a picture of water being dumped on it. This is of course just begging to be real-world tested, so I enlisted the help of Sirion’s Dan Serper to play the part of the drunken stumbler at the show who pours his frosty beverage all over your board. As you can see in the video, this seemed to have no immediate effect on the board’s continuing to function. Hard to say whether this would have long-term repercussions without more rigorous testing, but it bodes pretty well compared to other pedal boards that offer no degree of protection of this kind.
The board itself contains several useful features that eliminate 3 pedals from your board right off the bat. A built-in tuner with several modes and tunings which can be raised or lowered by 4 semitones, a variable boost with 3 levels, and an A/B amp channel relay switcher make up the three buttons just below the first level of pedals.
The selection of proprietary pedals from Nexi currently consists of 14 pedals, (12 effects plus a volume and a wah) each of which costs 100 Euros direct from the manufacturer. They are all analog and true bypass and the three I was sent sounded good, although the “Metal Distortion” was really just a high-gain fuzz pedal. Herein lies the challenge that Nexi will have to face – pedal snobs. I don’t say that with any disdain – the pedal industry is vast (I have literally emailed every pedal builder and company on the Effects Database, so I am well aware of the over-saturation of the market), and each pedal has its own personality that players become attached to. You can’t put the Klon Centaur you paid $1500 for on the Nexi, or anything like that. You have to get the pedals from them, and the selection is limited. I think in order to really be successful, Nexi is going to have to open up its proprietary format to third-party builders so they can get in on the action. Otherwise, what else is there to complain about? It’s the easiest way to put a board together you could ever hope for.
Although, since you asked, I do have a few things that could be improved. The tuner/boost/channel switch buttons don’t really feel that great. The tactile response is not what I would like it to be, which isn’t something you should have to worry about onstage. The covers for the empty pedal slots also do not stay on if you turn the board upside-down, so a tighter fit on those is necessary. And of course, the need to expand their line of pedals, which I presume will be an ongoing process. But as it stands now, the Solution system is unlike anything else on the market, and if they can conquer the aforementioned third-party challenge, the result could be massive success.
For more info on the Solution pedalboard and pedals, head over to Nexi.eu.