Few effects are as easily recognizable among non-guitar-players as wah. In the right hands, it’s a very versatile effect, too—one of those genre-defying devices that’s infused guitar music, from free jazz all the way to the heaviest of heavy metal.
The NEXI Wah is an interesting evolution of the wah effect, because it’s designed as part of a proprietary, modular effects system. A NEXI effects array can look a lot like a pedalboard dreamed up by Apple. The curvaceous, sleek, gray minimalist effects look more indebted to smartphone design than, say a Colorsound Fuzz. And while NEXI effects are optimized for modular, multi-pedal setups, they work as standalone units, too.
Simple Is as Simple Does
The NEXI Wah itself adheres to NEXI’s design philosophy by being incredibly simplistic. There are no switches, buttons, or knobs to alter Q or filter sweep, which can be a drawback for players who tailor their wah to changing backlines and venues. The only switch is the bypass button, which takes what feels like a little more effort than usual. There’s an upside to the firmer resistance: It’s unlikely that you’ll hit the bypass accidentally, since the effort feels much different than the typical Vox or Cry Baby switch.
The sound of the NEXI Wah is focused primarily in the high and high-mid frequencies. That’s typical for most vintage-style wahs and it makes the NEXI’s output sound and feel liquid, familiar, and natural—almost like an extension of my hands. The sweep and range feel open, wide, and expressive. There’s plenty of room to perform all of the standard wah tricks, whether it’s Ronson- or Knopfler-style cocked-wah riffs or long filter sweeps. When used as an enhancement to clean tones, it exhibits a very sharp and pronounced sweep that lends itself to minimalist funk picking and percussive chord changes.
Combining a few different flavors of dirt upstream from the NEXI wah highlights its high-mid voicing. With high- and high-mid-focused overdrives and fuzzes, like the BK Butler Tube Driver and ThorpyFX Fallout Cloud, the basic tone of the wah becomes less pronounced, and seems to “smudge” the desired filtering effect. With more mid-focused overdrives and distortions like the Pro Co RAT, the nuances of the NEXI’s filter sweeping effect remains more intact and was often more pronounced.
The NEXI wah is neither as warm as a classic Cry Baby or as vocally expressive as a vintage-voiced Vox. But it has a unique and modern tone signature—and that can be a very good thing depending on how you play. The high-mid focus and moderately wide sweep is killer for quick, funky bursts and rhythmic filtering. And you can summon very vocal lead tones with overdrives and fuzzes upstream from the wah. If your wah search has taken a turn beyond vintage flavors or you prefer more high-fidelity filtering, the NEXI may be your wah foot’s next best friend.