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Boss Nextone Special review

The non-tube amp of choice for tube amp purists?

Boss Nextone Special
(Image: © Boss)

Our Verdict

For tube amp purists who want to explore the wonderful world of Boss Tube Logic tones without straying too far from their comfort zones, the Nextone Special delivers authentic tube tone, performance and operation.

For

  • Simple, straightforward concept and easy to use.
  • Clean tones are remarkable.
  • Selectable power tube emulations.
  • Quality vintage-voiced speaker.

Against

  • Footswitch sold separately (and is recommended for live performers).

One of the greatest features provided by many digital modeling guitar amps is a seemingly endless variety of tones and effects. However, all of that versatility can be a serious distraction for guitarists who prefer to plug in and play instead of spending minutes or hours searching for the ideal tone. 

Does one really need a dozen variations of Marshall amps when a single ripping distortion tone will do the job perfectly well? In stark contrast to the “everything under the sun” approach of most modeling amps, the Nextone series amps from Boss feature a straightforward, uncomplicated design that’s similar to a classic two-channel tube combo amp

While the 27 knobs and various switches on the Nextone Special’s control panel may initially look intimidating, the layout is self-explanatory and will satisfy players who prefer instant gratification and ease of use over digging through complicated windows on an LCD just to adjust presence. 

Better yet, the Boss Nextone Special’s Tube Logic technology delivers familiar tube response and feel, and its design makes it a lot easier to get the sounds you want in the studio and on stage.   

Boss Nextone Special

(Image credit: Boss)

Features

The Boss Nextone Special is a two-channel, 80-watt combo with a single 12-inch Waza Craft B12W speaker that provides vintage “blue bell” tone. Boss’s Tube Logic technology provides authentic tube amp tones, in this case two separately voiced, independent Clean and Lead channels. 

Most of the amp’s tones and functions can be modified via the front panel, but Nextone Editor software is available for users who want to dive deeper or access a handful of features (like a tremolo effect) that aren’t accessible via the amp’s controls. The front panel controls are much less complicated than they seem, as each of the two channels (Clean and Lead) has its own full set of knobs.

Both channels have separate volume, bass, middle, treble, boost, delay, reverb, bottom, top, presence and power amp tube select (6V6, 6L6, EL34, EL84) controls, while the Lead channel has an additional gain control and the Clean channel exclusively has a “clean headroom” switch. The EQ section features an American/British switch that alters the tone stack and the Effect section provides on/off switches for boost, delay, tap and reverb.

The amp’s master section includes separate Solo controls for the Clean and Lead channels (engaged with on/off switches), master volume, Power switch with standby, 0.5-, 20-, 40-, 60- and max (80-watt) settings and individual switches for three presets and front panel tone settings.

The rear panel provides XLR and 1/4-inch line output jacks, an Air Feel switch with recording, live and blend settings, a stereo headphone/recording output jack, mono effects send and return jacks, USB, channel select/solo and boost footswitch jacks, MIDI In and 8/16/16 ohm speaker output jacks.

Boss Nextone Special

(Image credit: Boss)

Performance

The Boss Nextone Special sounds, operates and even weighs the same as a traditional tube amp combo – the only thing missing is the heat and glow of tubes and the expensive maintenance costs. The power amp tube select switches add an extra level of versatility without pocket protector-level programming. 

Whereas most digital amps have hi-fi-quality speakers with flat response curves, the Waza Craft B12W speaker complements the amp’s tonal character and responsive feel like a good guitar speaker should, and it even breaks up sweetly when pushed hard. The Clean tones are as good as it gets, with full body, warmth and depth, while the Lead section offers overdrive tones ideal for blues and classic rock. 

The bass EQ is aggressive and can sound quite loose, so the amp isn’t ideal for metal on its own, although it’s an excellent platform for pedals and can deliver stellar metal tones with the right pedal match. For live performers, I can only highly recommend the optional GA-FC foot controller for engaging channel switching, booster, tone/preset, EFX loop and delay functions.

Specs

  • PRICE: $899 / £789 
  • ORIGIN: China 
  • TYPE: Solid-state combo with built-in effects 
  • OUTPUT: 80W (switchable to 0.5W, 20W, 40W, 60W)
  • VALVES: None 
  • DIMENSIONS: 620 (W) x 246 (D) x 530 (H) mm 
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 18/40
  • SPEAKER: Custom 12" Waza B12W speaker 
  • CHANNELS: 2, with selectable tube-amp emulations (6V6, 6L6, EL84, EL34)
  • CONTROLS: Channel select button, extra head room button, tone button, solo button button, Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Boost, Delay, Reverb, Bottom, Top, Presence, Power Selector dial, Solo, Tone, Solo button, Volume, Solo button, (Solo channel controls as per Clean channel), Tone Setting button, American/British button, Standby, Power, Air Feel switch, Power
  • FOOTSWITCH: GA-FC foot controller (sold separately)  
  • CONTACT: Boss
Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.