Other Guitars

Anybody have info on Dixon guitars?

1

Picked up this one today, it looked and felt good. All know is it looks like a great copy and seems well made.

2

I used to carry Dixon guitars back in the late '80s. They were a proprietary brand of Scott Music Supply of West Monroe, LA., and were fairly nice guitars. Scott Music was bought up by Davitt & Hanser (now Hanser Holdings) sometime in the 1990s. Same guys as today's Dixon Drums. When we carried Dixon, they didn't offer hollowbody electrics like yours pictured above.

4

The design looks a bit familiar.

– wabash slim

Ya think?

5

Sounds like this may have been made a couple of decades back, and I’m sure the retail price was a whole lot more attractive than an actual Gretsch Gent (assuming they were even being made by then)... but these days with all the modern Electromatic and Streamliner options it’s easy to get a genuine Gretsch branded guitar for around $600. These knock-offs wouldn’t seem to have a chance in the current market.

6

Those are Matsumoku-built guitars. Some were branded Dixon, other Ventura, Univox, Lyle and others. Some are quite good, others not so much.

7

Those are Matsumoku-built guitars. Some were branded Dixon, other Ventura, Univox, Lyle and others. Some are quite good, others not so much.

– Parabar

Thank you, I had a Lyle from the 60s, it was one I sold and wished I still had! Hindsight. None of the Dixons on Ebay or Reverb like this one.

8

A friend had one of the Ventura versions. Very Gretsch-ish. Horribly twisted, bolt-on neck, and the pseudo humbucker pickups were actually single coils in HB cases. Not too impressive. It became "art".

9

My first acoustic was a Dixon dreadnought. Was a nice guitar, wish I still had it.

10

Are you sure about the Matsumoku connection, Parabar? I’ve never seen a bad Matsu guitar - or, personally, a good Dixon.

I dimly recall that the Davitt-Hansen rep who called on the music store where I worked in the 80s always tried to sell us Dixon stuff. (So I can imagine DH had a ongoing relationship with the brand before they bought it.)

But I never bought any Dixon stuff for the store because it compared very badly with the St Louis Music guitars we were already carrying. Alvarez acoustics (from Kasuga and other Japanese builders) and Electra and Westone electrics (definitely from Matsumoku) were far superior to the Dixons Don showed us. Dramatic difference, like trash to treasure.

Since some of y’all are reporting nice Dixons, others are reporting sad ones - and Parabar, you’ve apparently seen both - a hypothesis that fits the evidence is that Scott Music sourced them both from Matsumoku and from less accomplished builders, either serially or simultaneously. Maybe DH simply didn’t buy from the better-quality range, so all that made into my area of central Ohio were low-end Dixons with low standards and worse quality control.

They sure didn’t look, feel, or sound like Matsumoku.

11

Are you sure about the Matsumoku connection, Parabar? I’ve never seen a bad Matsu guitar - or, personally, a good Dixon.

I dimly recall that the Davitt-Hansen rep who called on the music store where I worked in the 80s always tried to sell us Dixon stuff. (So I can imagine DH had a ongoing relationship with the brand before they bought it.)

But I never bought any Dixon stuff for the store because it compared very badly with the St Louis Music guitars we were already carrying. Alvarez acoustics (from Kasuga and other Japanese builders) and Electra and Westone electrics (definitely from Matsumoku) were far superior to the Dixons Don showed us. Dramatic difference, like trash to treasure.

Since some of y’all are reporting nice Dixons, others are reporting sad ones - and Parabar, you’ve apparently seen both - a hypothesis that fits the evidence is that Scott Music sourced them both from Matsumoku and from less accomplished builders, either serially or simultaneously. Maybe DH simply didn’t buy from the better-quality range, so all that made into my area of central Ohio were low-end Dixons with low standards and worse quality control.

They sure didn’t look, feel, or sound like Matsumoku.

– Proteus

The only info I even have is from pictures on a google search, they point to 1969 one from Matsumoku. I can't find anything not to like about it, the worksmanship is flawless, the frets are smooth the binding is 7 piece nicely done, the fingernail inlays? Great. If there is a bad thing it would have to be the tremlo, not the best in the world. The bridge is an engineering marvel.

12

Matsumoku built guitars to spec for a variety of distributors. The high end ones were outstanding --- I have a Ventura Barney Kessel that is just great. But they also built guitars that were the absolute embodiment of "cheap Japanese guitar" when that was a derogatory label. In the late 60's/early 70's, Epiphone outsourced their maufacturing to Matsumoku, and kept the names "Casino," Riviera," etc, --- but the guitars bore no resemblance to what we rightly think of as those models, but were generic cheap guitars ---- some with unplayable action and frets that would never intonate properly.

I haven't had a chance to play one of those Matsumoku Gent wannabes to know how good or bad they were, but here's another pic of a Ventura labelled one.

And here's a few of the awful Epiphones that Matsumoku was responsible for:

And a Univox version:

The guitarist in my first band in 7th and 8th grade had a Matsumoku Aria like this one. Inexpensive guitars are SO much better nowadays!

13

The bridge is an engineering marvel.

That one looks like a much later aftermarket replacement.

Parabar, I'm most familiar with Matsumoku's output from the late 70s through to their end, when they had apparently moved broadly upscale. I know they built for "everyone," and don't doubt that early on they made low-end when low-end was spec'ed (and ordered at bottom dollar).

14

I used to carry Dixon guitars back in the late '80s. They were a proprietary brand of Scott Music Supply of West Monroe, LA., and were fairly nice guitars. Scott Music was bought up by Davitt & Hanser (now Hanser Holdings) sometime in the 1990s. Same guys as today's Dixon Drums. When we carried Dixon, they didn't offer hollowbody electrics like yours pictured above.

– duojet55

You have a good memory, however Dixon was not a brand of Scott Music. It was just one of the brands they carried and distributed to stores. I worked at Scott Music Supply in the 1990s. Davitt & Hanser bought Scott Music sometime in the 1970s or maybe by the early 1980s. Scott Music was just a warehouse and supplier for music stores, they did not create or license guitars. D&H made all corporate decisions. The Hanser family owned it back then. Dixon guitars were something D&H and Scott distributed but that was through D&H's connections with whoever made Dixon. They may have been made in China. D&H controlled everything with respect to Scott Music, it kind of didn't make sense for Scott to even keep its name, except that Scott Music's salespeople had relationships with a bunch of music stores in the Gulf South. If you remember getting your Dixon guitars from Scott, it's probably because your store was in their sales territory.

It's pretty incredible to look back now in the days of Amazon and the Internet in general, to see how distribution of these goods was handled back then. D&H also employed a few outside sales people whose job was to go to music stores to drum up business to sell things like Kustom amps, another brand they carried.

15

Echoman, did you know sales rep Jim Read? He was the very first rep to call on us. Who else besides Scott/D&H distributed Dixon? When we started in 1986, I had no idea Hanser owned Scott Music way back then. We paid our invoices to Scott. Jim also represented Kustom (when they restarted in Tennessee). This was before D&H started carrying them.

16

Echoman, did you know sales rep Jim Read? He was the very first rep to call on us. Who else besides Scott/D&H distributed Dixon? When we started in 1986, I had no idea Hanser owned Scott Music way back then. We paid our invoices to Scott. Jim also represented Kustom (when they restarted in Tennessee). This was before D&H started carrying them.

– duojet55

Jim Rigal (pronounced "REE-guhll") was the longtime manager at Scott Music- are you sure it's Read and not Rigal? If it was Jim Read I don't remember the name, though I did meet one or two of D&H's outside sales people. Their main guy was a pretty smooth talker, and I recall he went all around the country pushing Kustom, because once they started carrying Kustom they were pushing it hard. Scott Music's sales people just took orders at their desks locally, and would infrequently meet with people at stores near Monroe. It was usually Jim Rigal that handled all the local relationships personally. Yes, Scott Music had its own invoices but they were owned by D&H. Around the mid 1990s D&H bought a new warehouse in West Monroe and then rebranded it the D&H Southern Distribution Center, but they were out of business shortly after that in Louisiana. I think D&H survived a while longer in Ohio. But they had had problems, they took a big hit in the recession in the early 1990s and when the economy came back, the internet was just starting to take off, so their business started to dwindle. I think D&H's strategy was to associate itself with brands like Dixon and Kustom and try to make money off of exclusive distribution deals, because they could no longer make it as a simple warehousing operation for a variety of goods manufactured by others- technology was making that business model obsolete.

Anyway, at that time my impression- by no means confirmed- was that D&H and Scott had a deal to sell Dixon and Kustom, and that they were the exclusive sellers of those brands, for the business strategy reasons that I mentioned. To the best of my recollection those products were manufactured in Asia, maybe Japan and China and to some extent Korea.

17

I do remember Jim Rigal. I'd talked to him over the phone many times. Jim Read had Read Sales Company and was based out of Memphis. He started with Midco, then worked as a road rep for Scott Music, handling Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and maybe Oklahoma. Jim drove an old yellow Mercedes Benz. I remember he smoked like a stack and many times we did business outside the front of the shop (no smoking in businesses law in Arkansas). Jim also represented Remo Drums. Unfortunately, he passed away several years ago.

18

Jim Read- that must be the guy I was thinking of. Seems like he was from around Memphis so that makes sense. I remember him as a polished, smooth sales guy and thought at the time he was very well suited for his job. He was pretty impressed with the Kustom amps (I played guitar and wasn't wild about them but they were comparable to a lot of their solid state competitors at the time). RIP to him, he was a nice fellow.


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