Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Comparing Guitars a Dixon and a Fender

Princess Four is learning to play the Guitar. I put a message on the local yard-sale sites saying I was looking for a new guitar for Christmas.

I had a few people reply. Oddly enough, I had two people tell me they had "Dixon" guitars for sale. I had never heard of a Dixon guitar before so I did some research before going to meet with the people and play the guitars. 
 
I was very surprised and shocked at the little amount of information on the internet about the Dixon brand of guitar. I spent a few hours searching and looking at a few for sale on ebay. I searched "sold items" and "Dixon Guitar" and there are very few, maybe about 15 over all that have sold and even those that have been for sale and didn't sell weren't more than 20 total. 

I found that EVERYONE that posted about Dixon Guitars, LOVED their Dixon and said they would keep it as it had great sound and that they are rare. 

The story is that a designer from Gibson didn't like them using cheaper materials and left and went to Japan and kept the original designs and higher quality standard and made superior guitars at that time than what Gibson was making. Gibson sued and when they won, he could no longer make them and then Gibson bought up every Dixon Guitar they could find and destroyed them trying to erase them from existence. 

It looks as if they did a great job. There aren't many around and there isn't much information. I am guessing they had a  "gag" order placed on Dixon as well so he couldn't raise the value of the guitars that were already in circulation. There were two sites where I got this information a few weeks ago and I didn't want to take the time to try and find them again but most of this information is below from the other easier to find sites. I thought about taking time to find the paperwork on the lawsuit but don't have that much free time. Two of the guitars for sale on eBay mentioned "Lawsuit"
 
I actually don't even know that the guitar I bought is a Dixon as it was made in China but I did remember a few posts on one of the sites talking about some being made there at one point. I looked up the headstock with it's unique style and couldn't find one online anywhere. The girl I purchased it from said she was told it was a "Spruce Wood Dixon" and paid between $250 and $300 a few years back. Since it had a ding, I got it for $50. It has a great sound for that price and the ding is only through the lacquer and not the wood. I am sure I can refinish that little ding making it hardly noticeable. 

Princess Four picked up the guitar and in two days was playing great. She had sore fingers when she left to head back to college but I LOVED hearing three of my girls play the guitar over the break. Princess One's guitar cracked while she was on her mission so we are still looking for some guitars to get everyone a decent one. Princess Two's is a 3/4 size so she would like a new one as well. They don't like mine that I got in Mexico at 17 because the strings are high off the frets and are hard to depress on the frets. So, I guess we still are in the market for a few more guitars but I am thrilled with the one we got whatever brand it is as I love the sound. 

I video taped Princess Four playing "The Middle" while she was home on the new guitar and then had Princess Five play the same song on the Dixon and then on her Fender so you could compare the sound and players on each guitar. 

From what I could find of the descriptions of the Dixon, the guitar I bought fits the descriptions so I am going to go with that. I love the top of the "head" of the guitar as it has square tops rather than the rounded of the traditional acoustic guitars. 

I could only find one main website that has much information and most of the posts are people asking about the value of the guitar. The main thing I could find was the information from two sites which I clipped and added below. I did correct spelling and grammar errors however. I will put a number next to each new piece of information from other posts or sites so you can know when it is a new person writing:

1 - There just doesn't seem to be a great deal know about either the man or his products.
What I can do is relate a story that was told to me by an older gentleman back in the late 60s
As far as it being fact I can't say with any certainty.
The story I was told went like this.........
Dixon was employed by Gibson in their R&D dept.
The Hummingbird was of his design.

The original Birds made by Dixon were built with a solid 1 piece spruce top.
Gibson at the time was taking a beating in the acoustic guitar market and was looking at every way possible to cut costs so rather than staying with the 1 pc.solid spruce top they opted for a multipiece laminate top.Dixon took great exception to the design and material change and shortly there after had a falling out with his bosses at Gibson.


Apparently he left the co.,moved to Japan and began building the Birds to his original specs.

The cost of labor was quite low in Japan in those days so Dixon was able to sell a superior guitar for much less than Gibson could even by building their guitars with inferior materials.
Of course Gibson sued Dixon and pretty much ended his guitar building days.
It's my understanding of all the Hummingbird knockoffs out there from the 70s the Dixon Hummingbirds are the best of the bunch as far as quality and sound goes.
I have no way of knowing how true this story is but we all know Gibson was struggling in the acoustic market back then and the Japanese are the greatest copy cats in the world often taking a product they copied and making it better than the original.

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2 - From what I learned your story is true. Here's a little more though the designer was a former employee of Gibson left bitter went to japan and copied the guitar after he tried designing a couple others that failed shortly after the Dixon hummingbird came out, Gibson filed a lawsuit against Dixon and from what I heard he stopped making guitars after Gibson won the lawsuit. At least that's what I was told. I also was told that there are not very many of them out there.
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3 - It was a great inexpensive guitar then and has only gotten better with age. I also have never seen another one. I like many of you have other guitars, 3 Taylors, A Carvin AC 275 a Martin D35, Fender 12 string etc., and I have used the Odessa more than any of them because I have used it as a party guitar and a trunk guitar and it has stayed out in the living room on a stand when the others were being kept in their respective cases. I have used it to work out many of the songs I perform and I use it to practice most of time because it is always handy.
I have no desire whatsoever to sell this guitar but I would like to know the value of it. I don't know why I even started to do this research except for the fact that I realized I had gotten such use from it and had never seen another one like it. I would not be surprised to find that this instrument would someday be worth some serious money as a collectible because of the rarity of it and the quality of the instrument.

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4 - I just got off the phone with my Dad who is soon to turn 80 years old. We were just talking about this which is what prompted me to start looking. He has had a Dixon Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar since the 70's he said he paid around $ 300 for it. I have played this guitar since I was a little boy off and on and it has a Beautiful crisp sound still today. I now play a Taylor 300 series. If anyone on this blog knows guitars? Taylor makes one of the finest out there. I had a choice when I purchased that guitar between Taylor and Martin, and I chose the Taylor after playing both. Not to knock a Martin by any means. 
 
They make a fine guitar as well, but I compare the sound of My Taylor to that of his Dixon Hummingbird. That's a big statement !!! but true!! This particular Dixon model is as fine as I have ever played, but I would think that they would be more recognizable in the market place than they are. Unless they don't exist anymore. His closing comment to me was this just a few minutes ago. " I have not played that guitar in 5 years" He took it out of the case and it was still in tune. Top that one!! 5 years holding a tune. That is unbelievable. Hang on to your Dixon and Love playing it. I will play his again someday, but for now. I really want my Dad to keep enjoying it as long as he can. Love ya Dad!!!
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5 - It appears to have spruce top and the back, and sides are made of flamed maple. The neck at the back, has a 3 piece construction, has a center strip that is made of Brazilian rosewood. I say this because I recently visited the Martin factory in Nazareth and was able to see and touch samples of guitar wood. Obviously, though, I am not an expert. I would also say that the fretboard and the bridge are of the same material.
The guitar is also trimmed in pearl, at least to my eye, on the inlay on the fretboard.


 Back to my words. The video to the right is Princess Five playing the same song as Princess Four in the top video on the same guitar. The video just above this is Princess Five playing her Fender guitar. You can compare the sounds and the other videos in the middle are each of the girls playing a song at the same time and then changing guitars so you have the beginner and more experienced on each guitar so you can compare the sound. 

Long post and probably not anything my family and friends care to read about but for those looking for information on the Dexter Guitar, it will probably be helpful. I am grateful I could find a good guitar for cheap. Enjoy your guitar no matter the brand! If any of you find a nice looking and sounding guitar for cheap, feel free to contact me and let me know and I can get all of us playing! :-)

3 comments:

  1. My first guitar was a Dixon D-45 copy - just an exquisite piece. But I was young and stupid, and thought I needed an Ovation. I traded the Dixon and some cash for the Ovation, which turned out to be a far inferior instrument. The Dixon was long gone and I have never seen another one. I've been kicking myself ever since. I bought it in 1977 (used) and traded it in 1979.

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  2. Eu tenho uma guitarra Dixon preta... ate hoje me pergunto o valor dela...

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    Replies
    1. Lucas,
      Lamento Que eu não sei o valor da guitarra. Fiz uma pesquisa e eles não parecem valer muito, mas as pessoas adoram o som.

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