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Enya-Music’s NEXG may seem a novelty at first, but this is a quality instrument with excellent sound. It’s similar to the Yamaha silent guitars, but there are more features and flexibility with the NEXG, besides its onboard speaker system. In respect to playability, the action is very good for an acoustic type instrument, in that it plays like an electric. It has low action, no fret buzzing, and the fret edges are smooth and rounded. It does not lend itself well to classical-style of playing (due to body shape), but is made for casual playing (atop one’s thigh). The NEXG sits best (in place) on the thigh if using a foot stool or some other prop, but it does come with a non-slip, removable gel strip that you affix to the bottom frame for non-slip placement on the thigh and to keep the instrument from shifting about. The body is thin-line (less than 4-inches thick), thereby making it more comfortable to play than typical acoustics, a consideration for lengthy playing sessions (and the rechargeable battery is good for upward of 8 hours). It has a 16-inch fretboard radius with a 1 & 11/16-inch nut width – a very soft C. The fretboard also has a slight curve or radius to it, which improves the comfort and playing ability.

Let’s address the sound, which is exemplified in the accompanying demo. This is a ‘silent’ guitar, in that, on its own and not turned on, is no different than strumming an electric guitar (a bit more resonant and louder than most unplugged electrics). When turned on, the sound either goes to a direct mix/amp/interface (via 1/4-inch cable) or through its onboard speakers (30W bass and 2x 10W treble, for a total of 50 watts and 80dB). With volume up half-way, the NEXG is as loud as my Steve Vai Euphoria acoustic; up full and the NEXG has twice the volume as my acoustic. The added loudness comes in handy if working with a singer with loud pipes, or for better range if playing for a group of people or those who enjoy busking. The quality of the sound is very good! I will not compare this a $3000 Gibson Hummingbird, but the quality not only sounds authentic, but definitely could be used for recording without reservation. Its sound is clear, bold and with a touch of energy or pizazz (if you will) that really makes it pop in a mix.

Further to the sound, the NEXG provides five sounds in which to choose from, including rock/finger, singer’s acoustic, singer/finger, rock fusion and acoustic fusion; and these include well-crafted effects – reverb, delay, flanger, chorus, wah, distortion and overdrive. The different styles’ EQs and effects can be edited through the app (the NEXG is Bluetooth V5.1 ready), which requires a smart phone, iPad or Android device. The styles are demonstrated in the accompanying video.

The NEXG has several other features. First, you can access the different voicings or styles simply by pushing the on button (and scrolling through the choices). Second, it has an onboard tuner, which activates at a push of another button. Third, it has a headphone jack and comes with some good quality buds for private listening/practice (not as warm and full-range as my $99 Meze ear buds, but very decent for private practice). Fourth, it charges via any USB connection, such as your computer (43.68Wh/10400mA battery), although there is an optional charging stand. Fifth, it’s 38-inch frame (with detachable body) is carbon fiber composite… body, neck and bridge… which means no warping, no matter the weather and humidity conditions. Sixth, it comes with a microphone that allows for some karaoke; the mic is Bluetooth and works through the guitar’s speaker system. On that note, you can wirelessly pipe pre-recorded music into the NEXG and it has a function to remove vocals (it does this by determining the vocal’s frequency and removing it significantly, although not 100%). Seventh, the case is of very good quality and well padded – seriously meant for travel and gigging. Moreover, the ‘backpack’ strap removes and becomes the NEXG’s guitar strap – very ingenious.

Here are some other features and details. The silver die-cast tuners are very good… solid to the feel and the NEXG holds its tuning well, as a result. Nothing cheap on this instrument. It weighs under 7-pounds, including all the electronics and on-board speakers. The scale length is 23.7 inches, with 21 frets, a carbon fiber & zero fret design, a Nubone saddle, round-end nickel silver frets, a satin finish (available in black, white, blue or pink), an OLED screen and D’Addario EXP 16 strings. All necessary cables are included, and there is an optional charging stand for $100 (image included in video). There’s even an input if you want to go direct to some effects, which means going dry to an amp/mixer, but also into another source (channel) with the effects.

OK, so the features and sound have been covered, one must then consider who would want such an instrument. As stated, buskers come to mind in a big way, but also entertainers at parties, campsites, etc. I was intrigued from a composer/studio perspective, as the NEXG allows for silent practice, superior comfort (versus thick acoustic bodies) and for direct recording, so that you don’t have to worry about mic placement. Many times, I relax in bed or on a couch while playing, and having a thin-line body guitar with a big bold sound is very welcoming. The sound from the NEXG is superior – to my ears – when compared to recording my acoustic via mic or direct into a preamp, etc. I suspect professional recording engineers may prefer a hi-end acoustic, but with my mic’ing knowhow, the NEXG makes it far easier to get a good acoustic sound. This is a fantastic instrument, and any short-comings likely would be relative to someone looking for the convenience and quality of sound from the NEXG, as opposed to preferring a traditional acoustic for its particular sound or playability.
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