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At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?
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Author:  Sirchronique [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

I've been curious about when exactly Dixon changed to the current type of heads they use on their "trad" line of whistles.

The reason I ask this question, is because quite some time ago (maybe two years or so?) I bought a dixon trad from a forum member, and it is terrific. I think it plays and sounds just as nicely as sindts, burkes, copelands, etc, and I probably play it more than any other D whistle I own. It does have a bit of bluetac in the cavity under the windway (which I've never tampered with), and I'm not sure how much of an impact this has on tone or playability, but the whistle is fantastic.

Because of this, about a year after getting that whistle, I ordered a new dixon trad Eb. It was like a completely different whistle, and more similar to feadog type whistles. Then, not long ago, I got another D dixon trad, and it is exactly like the aforementioned Eb, and nothing at all resembling the magical Dixon trad mentioned at the beginning of this post.

The old Dixon Trad has a very sweet, pure, and angelic upper octave, and a very round and warm lower octave that is nice and full. The octave transitions are smooth, and it really does play remarkably similarly to a Sindt. The lower octave is a bit more warm and full, albeit slightly less bubbly and chirpy, but otherwise, it is very similar in many ways. However, the "new" ones (again, I have no idea when they began making them like this) are completely different. The new ones have a nasal and somewhat dirty sounding lower octave, and the upper octave is gritty. Really, I think they are basically $45 feadogs. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm not sure why one wouldn't just play a feadog if they wanted that sound.

I'm wanting to know what year they came out with this design change. A few things I noted when comparing the new and old heads, is that the old head had a smaller window, less distance between windway exit and the bottom of the ramp, and a shorter ramp. I'd like to determine what year they downgraded their whistles, so I can hopefully track down one that was made before this time period, as I'm interested in acquiring another one like my first one. (and, if anyone has one of the older ones they no longer want, I would of course be interested!).

Has anyone else here played dixons from different time periods, and also noticed this very drastic difference? Was this done to allow for quicker mass production, or were they going for a more "trad" sound, to the extent that they made them sound and play exactly like 10 dollar whistles? I'm completely baffled as to why they would tamper with a successful design.

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Whistle on way to OP.

ImageImage

Author:  megapop [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Sirchronique wrote:
Really, I think they are basically $45 feadogs.

So they changed the tubes as well? :really: The DXTRAD I have (maybe from around 2010) has a somewhat larger bore than a Feadóg -- not much, but enough to make for considerably different playing characteristics alone IMO.

But then again I wouldn't describe Feadógs as "nasal", "dirty" and "gritty" at all. :P So maybe we just have different notions here. Sorry for going a bit off-topic BTW, I just find it very interesting that you say that the Dixon Trad whistles play "exactly like 10 dollar whistles" now. (Which again can play quite differently from brand to brand, so I suppose this is more of a pejorative statement rather than a genuinely qualitative one...?)

Author:  Feadoggie [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Sirchronique wrote:
I'm wanting to know what year they came out with this design change. A few things I noted when comparing the new and old heads, is that the old head had a smaller window, less distance between windway exit and the bottom of the ramp, and a shorter ramp. I'd like to determine what year they downgraded their whistles, so I can hopefully track down one that was made before this time period, as I'm interested in acquiring another one like my first one.
I can't help with a date. I can only add that the voice of the Dixon has IMO changed in recent years to have the characteristics you have described. And I don't think that it has been limited to the Trad model. I assume the geometry of their head design has changed across the board.
Sirchronique wrote:
Has anyone else here played dixons from different time periods, and also noticed this very drastic difference?
I've played the tunable polymer models off and on since they were first offered. I've bought a half-dozen or more high D's in the last 15 years or so. I periodically buy a new one just to see what's what. They do make changes, usually improvements. The last Dixon C and D whistles I purchased (maybe 18 months ago) played and sounded noticeably different. Dynamics and response are effected as well. They are not as open as the older whistles. They are still a playable whistle, just not what I prefer.

When I first started playing Dixon whistles they were relatively inexpensive - probably owing to favorable exchange rates. They represented a good value I thought. As the U.S. purchase price has risen over the years that value equation has changed a lot. Sure, everything has gotten more expensive. What I used to think of as $5 whistles are now $10-15 whistles these days. I think I get what you are saying about the Dixon playing like a $10 whistle, at least in the sense that I'd prefer to not pay $30-40 for what the Dixon presently sounds/plays like. There's that whole "paying more and getting less" concept, I suppose. I've had similar thoughts about the value of Susato whistles. They've gotten pricey (I know. It's all relative!) but each Susato I've bought lately has still played with the characteristics I have always looked for in a Susato.

I have not done a "head-to-head" comparison of an older Dixon to the new ones. I was not curious enough to try to pinpoint exactly what had changed. I just put the new whistles back in their cases and there they remain.

Feadoggie

Author:  ickabod [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Sirchronique wrote:
about a year after getting that whistle, I ordered a new dixon trad Eb. It was like a completely different whistle, and more similar to feadog type whistles. Then, not long ago, I got another D dixon trad, and it is exactly like the aforementioned Eb, and nothing at all resembling the magical Dixon trad mentioned at the beginning of this post.


My curiosity certainly has been piqued.. I have three dixons that are IMO as Feadoggie terms as "playable".

I rather like the whistles myself. I think they have a rustic feel to them. I have the Dixon Trad Eb, D, and then the DX204D (which is nothing more then the trad with a big heavy brass barrel IMO). The tuning on my Eb does seem a little subject to quality control IMO. But, it is certainly playable. It zips right along fairly well. Of course I've only been playing a couple years and these whistles I own would fall into a possible newer version of whats being suggested here..

Perhaps you can play something with each whistle and post the clip? This way we can hear the "magical" elements that seem to be missing?

If you post it and everyone can hear "the magic" you've just increased the value of Gumby's trad for him. Which he seems just a little too eager to part with.. :lol:

Author:  LI Whistler [ Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

I own an copy of a Dixon Trad D brass whistle several years old and a later, nickel one from December 2013 which is not in the same class. The newer one is still a good whistle but the old one has a cleaner sound and the second octave is easier to play on it. Examining them I see there are slight variations in the design of the head piece. The older, better whistle has a somewhat shorter ramp. I do have to repeat that both are good whistles, just that I find the shorter ramp whistle better. Cant think why they would change the design except maybe to make it louder or cheaper? I made a similar comment on Amazon where I bought the second one.

Author:  Sirchronique [ Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Feadoggie wrote:
I've played the tunable polymer models off and on since they were first offered. I've bought a half-dozen or more high D's in the last 15 years or so. I periodically buy a new one just to see what's what. They do make changes, usually improvements. The last Dixon C and D whistles I purchased (maybe 18 months ago) played and sounded noticeably different. Dynamics and response are effected as well. They are not as open as the older whistles. They are still a playable whistle, just not what I prefer.


What you are saying is consistent with my findings, as well. The octave transition point on the newer one is not as much to my liking, and the ornaments do not pop on it the same way.

It did not occur to me that they had undergone a series of gradual changes. I was under the impression that they simply had one old head design, and one new one. In this case, it will be interesting to see how the one on its way to me will compare to the other earlier one I have. Do dixon trad C whistles use the same bore size as the D and Eb, or is it of wider bore (which I suspect is the case)? I'd love to track down one in C, eventually.

One thing I noticed, is that my newer Eb (which is brass) has a different looking tube material, as well. I don't know if this also applies to the newer brass D's or not (my newer D is nickel), but instead of a standard brass appearance, the newer Eb has a cheaper appearance, and almost looks laminated and slightly glittery. I have one of the more recent Dixon "trad" A whistles, and I am extremely fond of it, strangely enough. I'm sure if it used a similar head design to the older Dixons it would be even better, though. It also has the same sort of laminated looking tube.


megapop wrote:
So they changed the tubes as well? :really: The DXTRAD I have (maybe from around 2010) has a somewhat larger bore than a Feadóg -- not much, but enough to make for considerably different playing characteristics alone IMO.

But then again I wouldn't describe Feadógs as "nasal", "dirty" and "gritty" at all. :P So maybe we just have different notions here. Sorry for going a bit off-topic BTW, I just find it very interesting that you say that the Dixon Trad whistles play "exactly like 10 dollar whistles" now. (Which again can play quite differently from brand to brand, so I suppose this is more of a pejorative statement rather than a genuinely qualitative one...?)


No, the bore size is identical between the old and new models of Dixon trad. My point is not that the new ones are 100% identical to Feadogs, but simply that the overall tone and playability of the newer ones leans significantly in that direction, whereas the older ones lean in a much different direction. I do not know whether your Dixon from 2010 is from before or after the change being discussed here.

Descriptors vary widely from person to person, so I should clarify that the terms "nasal", "dirty", and "gritty" are not necessarily universally bad things by my definition, but simply differ from what I prefer. By "dirty" and "gritty", I mean that the upper octave does not have the same type of purity you would have in something like a Killarney, Sindt, Freeman Bluebird, or an older Dixon. If you compare a Feadog or a newer Dixon to any of those whistles, you will hear that their tone has less purity and a sort of "textured" quality to the tone, as there is a bit of graininess in there in the upper octave. Likewise, I describe the lower octave on the newer ones as "nasal" because it does not sound as round, or, as Feadoggie put it, "open". If you sustain a low note for awhile, you can easily hear that the tone sounds a bit less "oooooo" and a bit more "ehhhhhhhh", if that makes any sense. Some people may prefer that type of tone, and a good whistler can sound nice on either one, so it is really just a matter of preference here.

My statement wasn't knocking $10 whistles, but simply saying that there are whistles available for $10 that sound and play similarly to the new Dixons. I think whistles are one instrument where a more expensive price tag doesn't necessarily mean that it is "better". Plenty of people prefer generations and clarkes, and have no trouble sounding great on them. Rather, I think you pay more for something that is "different" and unique from those whistles. If Burkes started sounding and playing exactly like generations, then why pay a premium price for what is easily mass produced for a dirt cheap price? While the new dixons may not be absolutely identical to such whistles, they have become extremely close. Yes, the playability and sound is slightly different, but to me the similarities vastly outweigh the difference, and there has certainly been a drastic change from earlier specimens.

I should reiterate that my older one does have putty under the windway cavity. I don't know what degree of effect this exerts on the tone or playability, but I expect it is minimal.

ickabod wrote:
Perhaps you can play something with each whistle and post the clip? This way we can hear the "magical" elements that seem to be missing?

If you post it and everyone can hear "the magic" you've just increased the value of Gumby's trad for him. Which he seems just a little too eager to part with..



What I can say, is that you would definitely hear a difference between the two, as my own family members could tell a difference, and they don't even play whistle. It struck me pretty much immediately that they are quite different upon first toot.

I may get around to doing a comparison video. I can not say if anyone else would interpret it as sounding more "magical" or not, as that depends on their own tastes. For D whistles, I personally tend to lean towards the Sindt, Killarney, Freeman Bluebird type of whistles, as they seem to be to be a more "polished" type of sound, while still remaining true to what I think sounds properly "whistley", despite the differences these whistles have from one another. The old Dixons fit nicely into that group, in my opinion. I switch back and forth between the old Dixon and the Sindt, depending on what tune I'm playing and sound I want, and I feel like the combination of both of them covers all of my bases.

I may have to just write Dixon soon to see if he can shed light on some of the design changes that have taken place, and when they occurred.




And, LI Whistler, small world! I believe I am the one who discussed this topic with you on Amazon!

Author:  megapop [ Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Sirchronique wrote:
My statement wasn't knocking $10 whistles, but simply saying that there are whistles available for $10 that sound and play similarly to the new Dixons.

Ah okay, I just had the impression you were using "10$ whistle" as a term comprehensively describing the playing characteristics (or overall quality) of a whistle. The way you've put it now makes more sense to me, so thanks for clarifying! :)

Author:  MichaelRS [ Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

If anybody still cares, as this thread is over 3 years old, I emailed Dixon Music today, which anybody else could have done before now :poke: , to ask THEM if there were indeed any particular changes to the Trad, in particular its fipple, in the last few years. When and if I get a reply I will pass along what they have to say.

Author:  MichaelRS [ Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Okay, so today I got a return email from Yasmin Dixon, obviously from the Tony Dixon Music Company, and she told me very clearly that there have been NO design changes in the Trad. And she capitalized NO in her email.

Beyond that, I don't know what to tell anybody. If you feel that's an error I suggest a you email Dixon music and explain to them why you think there's a change. Because as of this date, December 17, 2018, their position is there has been no changes.

Author:  ecadre [ Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

MichaelRS wrote:
Okay, so today I got a return email from Yasmin Dixon, obviously from the Tony Dixon Music Company, and she told me very clearly that there have been NO design changes in the Trad. And she capitalized NO in her email.

Beyond that, I don't know what to tell anybody. If you feel that's an error I suggest a you email Dixon music and explain to them why you think there's a change. Because as of this date, December 17, 2018, their position is there has been no changes.


Thanks for doing that. It's interesting information.

I suppose all of us can get a little paranoid over how one whistle sounds or plays over another, and I wouldn't really blame anyone for wondering about it. I've done the same myself.

Author:  LI Whistler [ Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Thanks for your time & effort in contacting Dixon and posting their response. I don't know how to properly insert an image here so am inserting a link to one. One whistle is a older Dixon Trad D (brass) and the other a newer Dixon Nickel Trad D. (Could they use different heads based on tube metal?) If you can see the image, the newer whistle head shows:
1 - windway is longer and wider
2 - the end of the newer head where it fits on the tube is beveled
3 - the Dixon logo is smaller on the newer head the the old
4 - the blade is longer on the newer whistle
Image

Author:  LI Whistler [ Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

My attempt to provide a link to the photo using the img button failed so will try with the url button.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Bohix2Y3VpYtVCHFkSEw6hp3d8GfW7Y1

Author:  MichaelRS [ Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

LI Whistler wrote:
My attempt to provide a link to the photo using the img button failed so will try with the url button.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Bohix2Y3VpYtVCHFkSEw6hp3d8GfW7Y1


I did not ask them anything about nickel versus brass. I only asked them if there had been a change in the Trad design.

I think that is a good question and good pictures to send to them and ask the question again pointing that out.

Info@tonydixonmusic.co.uk

Are you know what I think would be a better idea? And I am not being one bit facetious here...

Take some more pictures of it from different angles and send it to them via snail mail with the enquiry. I get the impression that they probably get hundreds of emails every day and because of the way she responded I don't think Yasmin really read mine all that carefully as I did link this particular thread to the letter I sent and I drew her attention to it in the body of the letter so she could have gone over that and seen it exactly what the issue was.

But she said some things, like I should check out the chiff and fipple website ( when that's what I referenced in the body of my letter) for more information on the Trad & people's opinion about it.
And my response today was, in so many other polite words, yeah but that's just where I told you I found this negative stuff about it. So I really don't know at this point.

I think a snail mail with pictures would get somebody's attention and perhaps a more thoughtful response. Because yes, with that evidence, it now sure looks different to me too.

So yeah, send the email with the pictures and follow it with the snail mail.

Author:  fatmac [ Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At what point did the Dixon Trad head design change?

Your photo shows one blade as shorter than the other, so I went & checked out my Trad 'A' & Trad 'G' - likewise, I see a shorter ramp on the older one that I bought pre used - & mine are both brass whistles.

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