View Full Version : I Was Given a Guitar Today...

04-02-2016, 09:31 AM
My FIL is visiting this weekend and brought his father's old guitar. It's a bit of a mystery, a Dixon model 62 flattop bought at Sears who knows when. It needs new strings and some cleaning, but hey, a free guitar, right? Looks like laminate body but has a nice veneer. It sounds pretty good, even with ancient steel strings. I've never owned a guitar, so this will be an interesting adventure. Hope it doesn't lead to GAS!

04-16-2016, 08:13 AM
Oooooooh! NGD! Congrats! :cool:

If it's in a case I would hydrate it for awhile. Get a straight edge and check the neck for straightness of the neck and the frets for level. You can clean it up with a dab of a mild soap on a damp cloth then wipe dry. If it's got a painted finish that's about all you can do to clean it up; if it's real wood you could use Virtuoso guitar cleaner on it to buff off a lot of gunk and marks if need be. Polish the frets and clean the fretboard (if not dyed black) with some fine steel wool to get off tarnish and make them feel silky. Then string up with some lights or extra lights if it's a steel string. If the action is high you'll want to adjust the saddle and likely the nut slots, gradually and carefully. I'd wait until it's been at tension for awhile as the neck will move.

Check out setup on frets.com. A proper setup and light strings will make it easier to play, sound better and not discourage you from taking up guitar. It's just a big uke with two extra bass strings and a lot more acreage on the fretboard.

It's probably plywood but that's a great blues guitar. If it's all solid birch you are in for a treat!

04-16-2016, 09:19 AM
I think it's laminate, but I was able to clean it well. It is steel string, and sounded pretty nice when it had the ancient ones on it. The fretboard looks like solid rosewood and showed off some pretty swirls once I cleaned the gunk off. It has quite the belly, and that has made the action much too high. (6mm at the 12th fret is too high for anyone.) No case, but I am humidifying it with some extra Oasis uke humidifiers, covering the soundhole. Strings are off, and a heavy object is sitting on the bridge to bring it down, and it looks like it's working. The bridge is also lifting off the soundboard a tiny bit, but once I get things flatter I will see if I can get some glue under there. I don't think I will take it in to a luthier, it would be just a wall-hanger if I can't bring the action down. The neck is another thing, too. But it's been an interesting project. I have some D'Addario light strings and a new strap, some picks, just need it playable.

Thanks for your suggestions! Frets.com is quite the resource.

04-16-2016, 10:18 AM
Oh yay! Another budding luthier! :shaka: That's so smart of you to try humidifying and gradual flattening. It's probably been all pulled out of shape by being strung up and allowed to dry out, poor thing. If it has a rosewood fretboard do you think it might be at minimum a solid top? Usually those old guys would have ebonized hardwood, often pear, and would be birch. If you have rosewood it was an upgraded model could be all solid...? Harmony I think, up through the middle 60s was usually solid, especially with rosewood, then later they went to pressed laminates, with fake spruce grain in some tops.

If you can get it sorted, you can get the action down by removing the saddle and shaving the bridge and deepening the saddle slot if there is enough room and strength in the bridge. Then drop a compensated bone saddle in there. It makes a noticeable difference in these old guitars. If the bridge has screws it should stay in place. The action is higher too because it is pulling up. Once that is settled back down you can even put light silk and steels on and shorten the saddle too. If it's a tie bridge I will string mine with beads instead on a low saddle to increase string break angle over the top.

I usually blow the dust out with canned air too. Then I stick my phone in camera end first and make a video with the flashlight app on. Then I can see the bridge plate and all the bracing, and the wood grain underneath. If it matches the outside grain on the inside you have a solid wood guitar. :cool: If you can see layers in the soundhole edges though, well then, plywood. is it ladder braced?

Got any pics?

04-16-2016, 12:22 PM
No pics to share yet, but from the soundhole edge and the body nicks, it looks like laminate. The inside is VERY dusty--canned air is a great idea, thanks. I should be able to shave the bridge down if needed, and I do think you're right, it must have screws in it. It has pearly dots on it, probably to cover the screws. The saddle doesn't have much more room to go down, and the action is ok at the 1st fret, so it's the belly that's the culprit.

All I know about this guitar is that it was made in Japan, bought at Sears and has been sitting unused since 1989, when its owner (my husband's grandfather) died. I did find a Reverb listing for another Dixon of the same model. It looks about the same, the head stock logo is different, and the tuners. https://reverb.com/item/1262500-rare-dixon-acoustic-guitar-and-original-case

04-17-2016, 09:45 AM
Nice! It looks to be a worthy project and hopefully you get a player. :)