by Jon Chappell
Bixonic Expandora is more than the average stompbox. It offers a much wider variety of sounds than most pedals because it can be preset for three different response characteristics with different amounts of gain. The presets are changed by alternating the positions of two small dip switches inside the pedal. Expandora can create everything, from a crunchy sound with only a little bit of gain to one with heavy distortion and lots of gain. In fact, the most extreme setting is exactly that way distorted. Expandora is also responsive to picking dynamics and doesn’t compress when you pick hard.
Expandora’s controls function more like the preamp, presence, and master volume control on an amp than the typical gain, tone, and level controls on a distortion box, as they are labeled. If you think of Expandora as an expansion of your own amp’s controls (am I onto something here relating to the name?), it’s very easy to set up sounds that blend effectively with the amp’s natural sound, so when you kick in the effect it doesn’t sound artificial. You can also set up more radical and contrasting sounds. Basically, you can get just about any effect, from slight overdrive or just a volume boost to the ultimate all-out distorted maximum, and everything in between.
The pedal itself is well-constructed. The jacks are all tight and there are no loose or flimsy parts. The on/off stomp button is a small, quiet switch that engages the effect instantly, with no glitch. A red LED indicates when the pedal is on, just in case you couldn’t tell on your own, and it operates on either a single 9-volt battery or with an external AC adapter. To avoid extra noise, I recommend using a battery. Average battery life is approximately 100 hours, which should last through many long rehearsals and a few gigs.
Players who are currently using the Expandora include Bush’s Nigel Pulsford and Gavin Rossdale, Will Lee and Felicia Collins (David Letterman’s band), Jerry McPherson (Amy Grant’s band), The Black Crowes, Tom Bukovac (Wynonna), slide whiz Sonny Landreth, Helmet’s Chris Traynor, funk bassist Bootsy Collins, and Billy Gibbons, who used it on ZZ Top’s Rhythmeen album.
(From Guitar Mag 3/97: http://www.guitarmag.com/issues/9703/BixonicReview.html -- Sent in by Frederic Jacquelin, email@example.com)