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 Post subject: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:29 am 
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So, with the new website rewrite/upgrade, I have written a comprehensive set of content management tools. That means I can update, edit, and delete tunes, reviews, and faqs directly from a convenient application, rather than having to muck about in the database directly (which is how I used to do it). I even wrote a tool to grab review data and turn it into BBCode for posting here. I figured I'd give it a whirl by writing up a new review.

It works pretty nicely. Hopefully this means I can start reviewing the dozen or so whistles I have in my possession that don't have reviews on my site.

Direct link to review: http://tinwhistler.com/Reviews/Details/67

Dixon DX-Trad Review
(Review written January 2018)

Preface
For the last few years, I've been recommending Tony's DX-Trad to beginners who are looking for their first "upgrade". It's got a lot of features that make it especially suited to those who are still new to the instrument, while still being a top-notch whistle in its own right.

At a Glance
Whistle Reviewed: Dixon DX-Trad
Models Available: Tony Dixon makes a wide variety of styles and keys in nickel, brass and plastic
Construction: The DX-Trad comes in nickel or brass with a plastic mouthpiece
Price at time of review: £22.50
Available From:
Tony Dixon Music Company
Amazon.com
How Acquired: Purchased from Tony Dixon's website

Appearance
The DX-Trad is designed to fit in with the "traditional" whistle world: Plastic mouthpiece and a metal body. It'll fit right in sitting in with Generations, Oaks, Waltons, or other inexpensive whistles, and won't stand out the way a hardwood whistle might.

Image
Here's the full whistle. The whistle is intended to pay homage to the traditional old school whistles, like Generation, and it succeeds. If you have a sharp eye, you might notice the mouthpiece is a little longer than usual--this is to incorporate the tuning element.

Image
A shot of the mouthpiece. You can see Tony Dixon's logo. While the mouthpiece looks like molded plastic, it's very professionally finished and free from any flashing or other bits of plastic. There is a small molding line on the side of the mouthpiece, but it is polished down and I had to specifically look for it to know it was there. Unlike traditional inexpensive whistles, the fipple block looks like a separate piece. So, even though this whistle is paying homage to its roots, a lot more care as gone into its construction than simply molding a whistle head in a factory and slapping it on a body.

Image
A shot of the bottom of the whistle, showing the last three holes and the tiny "D" key indicator at the foot.

Playing Characteristics

Sound clips of the whistle:
The Banshee

Tone: This whistle has a nice, traditional sound. It's got good start-of-note chiff in that traditional Generation whistle style, without being too scratchy or raspy. The tone itself is relatively pure and sweet, without shrieking in the second octave.

Volume: Medium. The whistle is about as loud as other inexpensive whistles, like Generation, Waltons, etc. It would be drowned out at a very large session or noisy bar, but is perfect for smaller gatherings or solo play. The second octave isn't too loud, which makes it especially good for beginners. Many people new to the whistle can get timid and back off of that second octave if it's too brash.

Responsiveness: Perfect. This whistle is nimble, and takes ornaments as fast as I can throw them.

Tuning: This whistle is in tune all the way up the scale. The A note requires a little lighter touch, but not much. It can still be brought into tune without much effort. But since many musicians tend to tune on A, you'll want to double check against other notes, to make sure you didn't accidentally tune sharp.

Did I say tuning? That's right, this whistle is tunable. With most traditional whistles, such as Generation or Feadog, you have to break the glue seal on the head to get any movement for tuning. Breaking this glue seal can be a challenge, and you risk cracking your whistle head in the process.

The DX-Trad is made to be tunable right from the start. The spot where the whistle body enters the mouthpiece is a little longer than on inexpensive whistles, and this acts as your tuning slide. With the mouthpiece pushed all the way in, the whistle is 27 cents sharp, and all the way out, it's 98 cents flat. That's as wider range of tuning than I can get with many of my more expensive instruments. The mouthpiece fits firmly and doesn't move while playing, while still being very smooth and easy to adjust.

C-natural: OXXOOO makes a good C-natural, but it does require good breath control. It's a little unstable, with the needle on my tuner bouncing around. OXOXXX produces a much more stable C-natural.

Hole size and placement: The holes are almost evenly spaced along the whistle. Some whistles have the E and F holes a little close together, and that can sometimes make my fingers feel crowded. All my fingers are nicely spaced on this whistle, and they tend to naturally fall right where the holes are. The holes aren't too big or too small, and are very easy to cover.

Air volume requirements: Medium to low. I can play a long time on this whistle between breaths. This is another reason why I recommend the whistle for beginners, who may still be struggling with the breathing requirements of the instrument. If your first whistle was a Clarke classic, switching to a DX-Trad would feel miraculous.

Air pressure requirements: Medium to low, and the second octave doesn't require a lot of push. If you like to really lean into and wail on a whistle, the DX-Trad is not for you. But if you want fairly effortless octave jumps without having to think too much about it, this whistle is pretty perfect.

Clogging: I've never played this whistle for hours and hours at a session or a gig. But I have played it at home for up to an hour at a time, and it's never clogged on me. I've never given it the duponol treatment, and I probably won't ever have to.

Wind Resistance: Moderate. This is my travelling whistle. It stays in my car, and I take it everywhere. It stands up to the wind pretty well, but it can cut out if it's too gusty outside or the wind is blowing firmly.

Summary
The DX-Trad is very easy to play, and sweet sounding. It's got a little bit of that traditional "edge" to the chiff, without being too scratchy sounding. It's tunable, and it comes at an attractive price. The only that keeps me from playing one of these at sessions is the volume. I play in some loud and rowdy places, and I'm usually stuck between a banjo and a concertina. This whistle can't stand up to that. But this whistle has become my "wandering" whistle. I keep it in my car, and it's the one I play when I'm out and about. It's an amazing whistle for the price. Its wind resistance is only moderate, so for outdoor gigs, I might choose another whistle.

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Last edited by Wanderer on Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:22 pm 
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I'll be tempted to pick up a Dixon after I've played all of the cheap whistles currently available. This was a great review; objective and detailed without being ad nauseam. Thanks for writing it!

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Whistle No. 2: green Feadóg Original, soprano D


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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:25 pm 
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That's a great review Wanderer, nice over hall of your website, and now I'm looking forward to the remainder of whistle reviews in your current stash.

I too have the Dixon DX-Trad and can only add that on the plastic mouth piece along the entire sides the seam may not have gotten as much polishing as the one Wanderer describes. The seam has a slight ridge on both sides that can be seen and felt to the touch. Nothing like the ridge on a Clarke but none the less a ridge. I'm just curious how long the seam will hold up against splitting over time and time will only tell.

I should get another DX-Trad to keep in the car. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:18 am 
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Quote:
The A note requires a little lighter touch (but not much), so make sure you check all the notes when tuning, because I tend to tune the whistle a little sharp if I tune A=440, because the rest of the notes take a smidgen more breath to be in tune.


Still trying to decipher the thinking that produced this sentence.

:shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:50 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Still trying to decipher the thinking that produced this sentence.

A is sharp, so the other notes will be flat if you tune to A.

To which I might add that the conventional A has more to do with its suitability for stringed instruments than anything else, and you could perhaps tape the A hole regardless of what note(s) you tune to.

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:56 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
To which I might add that the conventional A has more to do with its suitability for stringed instruments than anything else, and you could perhaps tape the A hole regardless of what note(s) you tune to.


Elaborate, please.

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:20 am 
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Why do I need to elaborate?

A is a shared open string (not the only one) between all the regular members of the classical string family, though why A rather than D or G is perhaps more open to debate.

If the A on a whistle is sharp, it can probably be taped without significant effect on other notes.

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:14 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
The A note requires a little lighter touch (but not much), so make sure you check all the notes when tuning, because I tend to tune the whistle a little sharp if I tune A=440, because the rest of the notes take a smidgen more breath to be in tune.


Still trying to decipher the thinking that produced this sentence.

:shock:


Yeah, good catch. That's a fairly tortured sentence. Peter Duggan has the right of it. I've corrected it to hopefully be more clear:

"The A note requires a little lighter touch, but not much. It can still be brought into tune without much effort. But since many musicians tune on A, you'll want to double check against other notes to make sure you didn't accidentally tune sharp."

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:26 am 
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I knew what you meant but it was the way it came out that baffled me a bit. My question was a bit tongue in cheek (obviously, I thought).

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:11 am 
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Wanderer wrote:
But since many musicians tune on A, you'll want to double check against other notes to make sure you didn't accidentally tune sharp."

Except you'd be accidentally tuning flat!

Mr.Gumby wrote:
I knew what you meant but it was the way it came out that baffled me a bit. My question was a bit tongue in cheek (obviously, I thought).

Couldn't really imagine you couldn't work it out, but thought no harm in 'translating' anyway!

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:53 am 
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Thanks for the review. The Dixon Trad was my second whistle and although a lot of people like to say that a better instrument doesn't necessarily make a better player; I feel like it did for me. Here's why. I started playing on a Waltons D and that was all I knew for the first few months but when I got my Dixon I found it easier to make crisp notes and my practice sessions became more enjoyable and longer. Unfortunately my Kilarney showed up yesterday so my Dixon is going to get shelved for a bit or rather turn into my traveller as well while I obsess over my new bit of functional jewelry.


Dan A. wrote:
I'll be tempted to pick up a Dixon after I've played all of the cheap whistles currently available. This was a great review; objective and detailed without being ad nauseam. Thanks for writing it!


Do it Dan. You won't regret it.


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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:40 pm 
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Quote:
Do it Dan. You won't regret it.


As they say, YMMV. I didn't like mine at all in the long run and was glad to be rid of it. Experiences and tastes do tend to vary.

I rarely see/hear them used. Anna Ní Mhaonaigh is one of the few I have come across playing one (and that only recently). But she's pretty much one of the exceptions as far as I can see.

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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:37 pm 
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I’m very curious why Dixons aren’t seen much. I rather like mine. Do excellent players not like the sound/tuning? I should add, that I have the D and C alloy, not the brass Trad. I must confess, and I am probably in the minority, that I prefer my Dixon D alloy wide bore to the Killarney. However, I don’t care too much for the Dixon Bb, A, nor G. I only have the D and C. The C having the same bore size as the D, is a quiet, beautiful thing. The D is a fine whistle. I play it and the Mellow Dog the most. The brushed aluminum is a bit slippery during winter so I use tape where my thumbs rest.


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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:57 pm 
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While I haven't seen a ton of Dixon Trads around, the more expensive alloy Dixon seemed quite popular, especially before the Killarney came out. About 5 years or so ago, I'd see them in sessions all over Ireland, I think because they were a decent step up from the cheapies but still commonly available in your average music shop. Especially as the waitlist/secondhand prices for Sindts started to get silly, €60 was a good price point.

Now, like I said, Killarney seems to have take a bite out of that market share. But I still see a good few of the alloy Dixon (I think DX206 is the model number) around, and have friends who love them.


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 Post subject: Re: Dixon DX-Trad Review
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:24 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
Do it Dan. You won't regret it.


As they say, YMMV. I didn't like mine at all in the long run and was glad to be rid of it. Experiences and tastes do tend to vary.

I rarely see/hear them used. Anna Ní Mhaonaigh is one of the few I have come across playing one (and that only recently). But she's pretty much one of the exceptions as far as I can see.

Image


You probably do say YMMV all the time but I have no idea Oh, my goodness! What in the world? that means. As a newbie it seams like a good affordable whistle that helps to transition into the better instruments. I guess that it all comes down to personal experience and preference though...


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