| Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com |

Post new topic Help with Dickerson identification
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Help with Dickerson identification
G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 11 Jan 2015 6:21 pm    
Reply with quote

I recently came across an old Dickerson MOTS 6 string lap. I have owned a few Dickerson / Magnatones over the years. They are light have a decent tone and are fun to play.
This one is somewhat different than the ones that I have previously owned. The pickup cover has the name Dickerson stamped on it along with a patent number. The headstock is shaped differently and the number "29" stamped in the end of it. Everything seems to be original including the electronics..
I have attached some pics if anyone could help me date the guitar I would appreciate it!
Gary






View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Brad Bechtel


From:
San Francisco, CA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2015 7:25 am    
Reply with quote

Unfortunately I don't know of a reliable way to date the Dickerson/Magnatone lap steels. There isn't a serial number database like the Valco/National/Supro lap steels.
_________________
Brad's Page of Steel
A web site devoted to acoustic & electric lap steel guitars
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2015 7:38 am    
Reply with quote

If you can read the EIA Code on one of the pots, you may be able to discern a date for your Dickerson.

http://www.guitardaterproject.org/potcodereader.aspx

Ditto for the tone cap.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2015 8:03 am    
Reply with quote

I know that 1) Dickerson's name was changed to Magna Electronics in 1946 and 2) an identical steel appears in the 1939 Dickerson catalog. I guess that doesn't narrow it down much... or at all...
_________________
www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 12 Jan 2015 6:19 pm    
Reply with quote

Thanks for all your help. When I get home I will take a look at the date codes on both the pots and see if I can narrow the window. As Noah says "an identical steel appears in the 1939 Dickerson catalog." So that would likely put it between 37-40 depending on the date codes. Several people have told me that they started putting the Dickerson logo on the headstock and did away with the stamped pickup cover in 40 - 41.
Thanks again.
Gary
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
John Dahms


From:
Perkasie, Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2015 8:39 am    
Reply with quote

As near as I have been able to decipher these "tulip" shape headstock models first came out in '37-'38. After the war there may have been some (old stock?) but I expect that post-war designed models all had rounded off headstocks.
The 2 knob (volume and tone) tulip models were only out for a short time before the war stopped production.
I have seen a number of low serial number models and some with no number. Maybe they are some sort of supplier or batch I D numbers not serials, I don't know.
They are very light and small bodied guitars and handy for off-hand playing in a chair or practice or travel. The pickup can be removed by cutting the MOTS around it with an Exacto blade. Rewinding and gluing back down the MOTS is acceptible because the hand rest covers the whole area.
_________________
Time flies like an eagle
Fruit flies like a banana.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Frank James Pracher


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2015 9:29 am    
Reply with quote

I have a 1940 Dickerson that has the more rounded headstock with the Dickerson logo. I would agree with 37 to 39. You certainly don't see them with the logo on the hand rest very often. Curious Gary, what is the scale? I seem to remember looking at one of these older ones and it was smaller than the usual 22 (ish) scale.
I really like these MOT Magnatone/Dickersons. Great look and a sound all their own.
_________________
"Don't be mad honey, but I bought another one"
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Thomas Leahy


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jan 2015 12:50 pm    
Reply with quote

Here is my 1938 Oahu. Comes from the same dickerson family. Oahu decal on tulip headstock and oahu on the pickup cover. The same greenish mots covering as yours. Very cool sounding steels....
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 14 Jan 2015 2:25 pm    
Reply with quote

Thanks for all y'alls help with this. I have a better idea now that it is actually a 37-39.
Frank the scale is actually a full 22.5. It surprised me because the steel looked a lot smaller than the other MOTS Dickersons / Magnatones that I have owned.
Thomas.. nice Oahu identical to the Dickerson down to the bridge and electronics.
I did notice that on all the Dickerson/Magnatone MOTS that I have owned all had the pickup completely covered mounted under the MOTS. This one has only the 6 pole pieces sticking out of the MOTS. Love the sound of these old guitars...
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 2:29 am    
Reply with quote

What years would these guitars be?







There appears to be different configurations of headstock shape, nut/bridge system and volume-tone or just volume controls on these Dickerson models.

I've seen a single-knob version MOTS Dickerson with round-bar bridge, string-through, solid nut and round headstock, Dickerson diamond decal on the head stock (as shown above).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEGda9OcMBg

The guitar below is a Bronson with similar bridge as the Dickerson/Oahu at the top of the page.




What company is the mother of these steels? And why the difference in appointments of parts?
_________________
ShoBud The Pro 1
YES it's my REAL NAME!
View user's profile Send private message
Noah Miller


From:
Rocky Hill, CT
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 6:36 am    
Reply with quote

Godfrey Arthur wrote:
What years would these guitars be?
What company is the mother of these steels? And why the difference in appointments of parts?


That straight-sided headstock shape came after the "tulip" design. The tulip was probably Dickerson's first headstock. I still can't narrow it down very far, but the purple steel is probably early '40s rather than late '30s.

Bronson was a music publishing company, much like Oahu (in fact, I've heard that the two companies were started by members of the same family). Just like Oahu, Bronson sourced their steels from a variety of builders over the years including Dickerson/Magnatone, National-Dobro/Valco, Rickenbacker, and (as I recently discovered) K&F. That one is indeed a '30s Dickerson. As to why the differences... it's partly due to the manufacturer's hardware evolving over the years, and partly down to the requirements of the customer (Bronson).
_________________
www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
John Dahms


From:
Perkasie, Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 6:56 am    
Reply with quote

As time progressed, Dickersons were produced under many names then eventually sold to Magnatone. Changes were instituted and the post-war models from 46-54 or 55 (when the model was discontinued) took on a more "stylish" look.
The fingerboard went from black to blond around '50'
The handrest went from angled to a wide staight strap around the same time.
The stamped bridge was changed a few times from the bent wire used in the late 40's.
The input jack was redesigned.
Some of the made by Magnatone brands came with a stamped serial number plate. While there is no way to date by this alone there seems to be some consistancy that higher numbers came after lower numbers generally.
Here is a pic of a later model with the 1954ish bridge style and other late features.




_________________
Time flies like an eagle
Fruit flies like a banana.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 7:26 am    
Reply with quote

Thanks Noah and John!

Hence anything branded that looks like these guitars is in essence originally a Dickerson?

A Magnatone is then a Dickerson..



Is this the hidden pickup model?
_________________
ShoBud The Pro 1
YES it's my REAL NAME!


Last edited by Godfrey Arthur on 9 Dec 2018 8:07 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
David M Brown


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 7:56 am    
Reply with quote

Thanks for the info - evidently I have a circa 1950 "Nioma" branded Magnatone - quite a nice little steel.

They must have made a lot of them, they seem to be available and still not overpriced.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jesse Pearson


From:
San Diego , CA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 9:21 am    
Reply with quote

My first lap steel has a Dickerson label on the front of the head stock and a Magnatone metal tag with a serial number on the back of the head stock. It has the flat pieces of aluminum for the nut and the bridge. I gave up trying to date it. I went .002" over the recommended string gauge for C6, so I could get a thicker sound. It's still my favorite lap steel for ease of playing and great tone. I went on to buy three more Magnatone's for different tunings. I love the light weight and string spacing/scale.

I noticed they have really gone up in price from the days of picking them up for around $85.00 on E-Bay. $350.00 seems to be the average price anymore, but I've seen them priced at $850.00 before as well, gees...
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Bill Groner


From:
QUAKERTOWN, PA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 10:33 am    
Reply with quote

I can't figure out why guys always "down" MOTS. If I could figure out how to put that stuff on wood, I'd do it. I would love to have any one of the ones pictured. I especially like the Singing Electric Bronson pictured the best, but I'd settle for the '38 Oahu or the G.Stout green one or Godfrey's gray Magnatone. I may have to pay John a visit and check out the rosey colored one he has pictured.
Maybe we can make a swap?

_________________
Currently own, 5 Gronertone lap steels.


Last edited by Bill Groner on 9 Dec 2018 2:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
G Strout


From:
Carabelle, Florida
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 11:34 am    
Reply with quote

I love the stuff.... looks cool and retro. I have several older Magnatone and Dickerson steels that sit mostly in the closet. Although I keep the Green Dickerson by the couch so that I can get to it from time to time when I am just hanging out. It came in many colors on lap steels ,although I think the Gray was a favorite. I loved the Green. Its actual name is Pearloid.
"Mother of toilet seat" is actually pearloid. Celluloid plastic chunks swirled together in solvent." The resultant substance is supposed to resemble mother-of-pearl. Its use to cover, well, toilet seats, led to its nickname. It is easy to obtain and not very hard to work with.
Gary
_________________
Remington D8, Excel Jerry Byrd D8, Rick B6, Tremblay 6 lap steel, Marlen S-10 4&4, Benedetto Bravo and a bunch of old lap steels....
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 12:13 pm    
Reply with quote

There's a great story in one of the books about the early Fender Company that described their pearloid installation operation. It involved acetone and torches and was extremely dangerous. If I recall correctly, it was done outdoors behind their buildings. They were always on the alert for the Fire Marshall, and were prepared to shut down the operation at a moment's notice.

Makes one wonder if Magna and Valco had similar issues.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jesse Pearson


From:
San Diego , CA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2018 1:05 pm    
Reply with quote

This is from a Magnatone site on the web:

Magnatone Six Strings and MOTS...
The basic, student model guitar was a single pickup, six string guitar that was manufactured from the 1930's through 1957-1959.

The MOTS guitars and amps were made in small batches through 1959. The process was difficult to maintain in smaller batches as the fifties wore on. It took a special set of skills to be able to wrap the guitar or amp in this plastic quickly before it hardened. The chemicals used in the process smelled awful, and traveled throughout the plant and for several blocks. When plant workers caught a whiff as they approached Inglewood for their shift, they knew they were in for a few days of that awful stench.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 10 Dec 2018 9:00 am     Crackling Noise on the Hidden Pickup Units
Reply with quote

Any known info on reported "crackling" noises from the hidden pickup models? Is this a jack problem, pot problem or a pickup problem?

One owner reported experiencing "crackling" noises depending on the position the guitar is held next to the workstation.

If the jack/pots, easier fix.

If pickup, what would the issue be, pickup buzz?

How complicated would it be to fix other than it being typical pickup position hum?




_________________
ShoBud The Pro 1
YES it's my REAL NAME!
View user's profile Send private message
Jim Dulfer


From:
Southeastern USA
Post  Posted 14 Dec 2018 1:21 pm    
Reply with quote

Yea I have a thing for the old pearloid m.o.t.s guitars & amplifiers and thought I'd share some pics of one of my all-time favorites.





View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jesse Pearson


From:
San Diego , CA
Post  Posted 14 Dec 2018 2:45 pm    
Reply with quote

Godfrey Arthur, I would suspect a ground problem due to corrosion issues, cold solder joint somewhere or just plain dirty pots. You can use some electronic contact cleaner and also re-flow some solder on your connections to deal with that. The jack can also have some corrosion issues that would benefit from sanding the contact points with some Emory cloth etc. Also, could the bridge have a loose wire going to the bottom of it like on a guitar?. It would be a bummer to cut into the top of the instrument to gain access to the pickup. If I needed to do that, I would a go through the back and put a cover over the hole afterwards.

Jim Dulfer, that's a great vintage amp you have there.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 30 Dec 2018 9:43 am    
Reply with quote

Jesse Pearson wrote:
Godfrey Arthur, I would suspect a ground problem due to corrosion issues, cold solder joint somewhere or just plain dirty pots. You can use some electronic contact cleaner and also re-flow some solder on your connections to deal with that. The jack can also have some corrosion issues that would benefit from sanding the contact points with some Emory cloth etc. Also, could the bridge have a loose wire going to the bottom of it like on a guitar?. It would be a bummer to cut into the top of the instrument to gain access to the pickup. If I needed to do that, I would a go through the back and put a cover over the hole afterwards.


Jesse, thanks!
_________________
ShoBud The Pro 1
YES it's my REAL NAME!
View user's profile Send private message

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  
Please review our Forum Rules and Policies
Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction, and steel guitar accessories
www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 S. Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Support This Forum



BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron