Saturday, April 21, 2018

Maton Guitars

Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel was in town recently and put on a wonderful concert. Emmanuel is an amazing guitarist, and endorses Australian made Maton guitars.

Maton Guitars
The Maton brand is not well known in the United States, or Europe as in most countries there are only one or two franchised distributors.

There are only eleven USA music stores that carry the Maton brand, which I find very odd for a brand of guitar that has been in production for over 70 years.

Bill May - founder of Maton Guitars
Maton was established by Melbourne resident Bill May in 1946. May was a woodworking instructor, and a jazz musician. He knew the best guitars in his day came from the United States, which was rather frustrating for Aussies. Along with his brother, Reg, who was a wood machinist, May sought to change all that by creating high quality Australian manufactured guitars to be sold locally.

The brothers put together a company call Maton Stringed Instruments and Repairs. The Maton name is a derivative of the words “May” and “Tone”, and it is pronounced "May-Tonne.".

Maton became the very first guitar manufacturer in Australia. Until the mid 1930's an Australian guitar manufacturing industry was virtually nonexistent and good quality guitars were hard to find. The best guitars came from the U.S.A.

Linda and Neville Kitchen
The Maton company is still family owned and run by Linda (Bill May’s daughter) and her husband Neville Kitchen. The factory was originally in Canterbury, Melbourne, where the company created over 300 different models. In 1987 when the Kitchens' purchased the business, it was in trouble.Their strategy was to concentrate on building just steel string acoustic models. They now produce over 7,000 guitars each year that are available locally and shipped all over the world.

In 1990 a new modernized facility was open in Bayswater, Melbourne. Bill May lived long enough to see the new factory. His health failed in 1989 and he passed away in 1993.

Linda Kitchen at the Box Hill factory
In 2003 a new facility that was four times the size of the previous ones was opened in Box Hill, Melbourne to meet the demand for Maton guitars and products.

Maton Guitars made in Australia
One of Bill Mays goals was to pioneer the use of Australian wood species in his guitars, and his daughter and son-in-law maintain his dream. The company also utilizes locally designed computer programs and technology to maintain their standards.

It is interesting to note that every worker at the Maton plant is a guitar player, which enhances the love of the instrument.

Late 1950's Maton Alver.
Their budget brand

During the early days of the venture the company concentrated on high quality, and good value instruments for professionals and students.

1962 Maton EG75 and Goldline 750

By the late 1950’s Maton had branched into the Australian rock scene by manufacturing acoustic and electric guitars aimed at the market. The Country’s tariff situation made it far more appealing to purchase a locally made guitar, than an imported one.

The Strangers in 1965

In the mid 1960’s, the company also inked a deal to sponsor the popular Aussie band, The Strangers, and supply them with equipment, including Maton El Toro electric guitars.

The Strangers with Maton Guitars
This group became the house band for a popular TV series called The Go!! Show, which was quite similar to the US produced TV shows, Shindig!, and Hullabaloo. By then Maton was making solid body and acoustic thinline electric guitars.

1960's Maton Electrics

Some of the 1965 electric models looked similar to Asian made instruments, perhaps in an effort not to copy US made guitars of the day.

The Easybeats with Maton guitars

Another Australian group from the mid 1960’s was The Easybeats, who scored an worldwide hit with their song, Friday On My Mind. They played Maton guitars,

Maton Sapphire 12 string

Easybeat lead guitarist Harry Vanda was well known for playing a red Maton Sapphire semi-acoustic 12-string guitar, which became part of the groups sound.

Colin Hay with Maton guitar

Men At Work frontman Colin Hay uses Maton Custom Shop guitars as part of his live show.

Neil Finn with his Maton guitar

Neil Finn, of Crowded House, and The Finn Brothers also uses Maton guitars.

Big Jim Sullivan's
Maton Cello Guitar

British player, guitarist Big Jim Sullivan owned and used a Maton 'Cello' guitar for many years during the peak of his career, playing it on recordings with Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis, Jr.,Tom Jones, and Johnny Keating and his Big Band.

George Harrison with his Maton
Even George Harrison played a Maton Mastersound MS500 electric guitar early in his career. He borrowed it from Barrat's Music of Manchester while they were repairing his Gretsch Country Gentleman

This guitar sold at auction for a tidy $485,000.

Maton guitar have come a long way since those days, and now produce some very fine instruments in a variety of price ranges. However, expect to pay from $1600 to over $4000 in today’s United States market.

1960's Alver electric archtop by Maton
Back in the 1950’s Maton had a line of budget guitars sold under the brand name Alver. These included archtop models that were comparable to Harmony archtop guitars of that era.

'58 Maton F-240

Their high-end models, such as this 1958 F-240 is akin to a mid-range Gibson, Epiphone or Guild archtop of that era. Maton has been making great acoustic flat top guitars for many years, and just seems to improve their design with time.

5 year old Tommy Emmanuel

In an interview, Tommy Emmanuel states he has been using Maton's since 1959. Believe it or not, Emmanuel has been playing guitar since he was four years old.

Emmanuel Family Band 
The Midget Surfaries

His family had a band, and traveled throughout Australia performing for years. Early on, Tommy and his brother Phil played Maton electric guitars.

1970 Maton F100

The current line up of Maton guitar uses some woods that you cannot get any where but in Australia. The backs and sides are made of Australian Blackwood, which is indigenous to eastern Australia and is a type of acacia wood. On some of the models, the back and sides are made of Queensland maple.

Current Maton
Mini Diesel
Most of the necks are made of Queensland maple. The tops are made of sold Sitka spruce in various grades, from A to AAA, depending on the model. Bracing is always X style with scalloped braces.

Tuning machines are Grover Rotomatics. The saddle and nuts are made of bone, even on the lower end models. Frets are made by Dunlop.

Maton  ECS80

Maton uses their own proprietary acoustic pickups the call the APS 5 or APS Pro. Maton has done some serious research into their acoustic pickup design. Instead of 9 volt batteries, the APS models use 2 AA batteries.

Maton EBW808

Maton builds guitars in a dreadnought shape, and also auditorium sized, and jumbo sized shapes. Though the tops are usually Sitka spruce, the M series is made of Sapele wood, which is also known as African Mahogany. The necks on this series are made of Fijian Mahogany.

Heritage ECW80C

The Maton Heritage series makes available reproductions of older Maton instruments, using todays technology combined with materials used on models from the 1950's and 1960's. Instead of maple backs and sides, these instruments include Sapele wood for the back, sides, and neck.

Maton Starline 4606

The Heritage series also includes two electric models; a Jazz style hollow body model called the Starline 4606, which includes twin JHB humbucking pickups, that have a coil tapping feature. There is also another guitar that Maton intends to make available soon.

1958 MS500
This is the 1958 MS500, which is the 50th Anniversary model of a guitar similar to the one that Tommy Emmanuel played as a child, and the one that George Harrison played. It has a solid body made of Quandong, and a set Queensland maple neck. That begs the question; what is Quandong. It is a wood indigenous to Australia also known as Silver Quandong, that is occasionally used in construction.

The pickups on the MS500 include one Maton vintage single coil model, and one Maton vintage humbucking model. Though this model is not currently available, it will be very soon.


Maton also offers the EGB series that includes the EBGMicFix model that was built and designed for singer songwriter Michael Fix. The top is AAA Solid Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are made of Queensland maple. Fret board inlays on the ebony fretboard are mother-of-pearl snowflake designs. This guitar comes with the APS-Pro pickup system. The EBG808 is a non electric model that has a top made of AA Sitka spruce, and the back and sides are made of Blackwood.

EBG Artist

The upgraded version is the EBG808 Artist. It too is non-electric and only available through select dealers.

The EBG808 Nashville (which also comes as the EBG808C cutaway model) features AA a solid Sitka spruce top with a brown-burst finish. The back and sides are made of "A" grade solid blackwood. It features the APS Pro pickup system.

The Maton Messiah EM100C and EM100 (non-cutaway) features a newly tuned, scalloped braced top and Solid Rosewood back and side sets.  This guitar and others in the Messiah Series are Maton's top-of-the-line.

This guitar features a Solid Mahogany Neck adds thickness to its deeper and richer tone and again the Maton UV paint finishes this model with a finer and more refined quality. The Maton signature M MOP decal on the headstock is the finishing touch to a guitar that is truly a world class performer.

In creating the Messiah line up, Maton sought to bring together the best of the world’s tone woods. In 2012 the line-up was enhanced to improve their flagship model to maximize its tone and projection by giving it a combination of scalloped bracing, mahogany neck, a thinner, rounded, back and an ultra thin UV finish.

The Messiah line-up features the APS Pro pickup system, as well as top-of-the-line woods, Ivory bridge pins, gold Grover tune-o-matic machines, herringbone binding, and comes with a Maton case.

This guitar also comes as a 12 string model, and as the Messiah EM808 auditorium size guitar, and the EM100J, Jumbo size model. These were the guitars favored by Tommy Emmanuel, before he was honored with his personal model.


The Maton TE Series was designed in conjunction with Tommy Emmanuel. These the are Maton top-of-the-line guitars that Tommy uses in concert. They are based on his specifications to give a huge sound on stage, as well as withstand the various climates of the cities throughout the world, where he performs.

TE Personal

All of the Tommy Emmanuel models feature a Mother of Pearl block inlay on the 12th Fret, engraved with "C.G.P." The acronym stands for "Certified Guitar Player," a title bestowed on Tommy by Chet Atkins and held by only 3 other guitarists in the world - John Knowles, Jerry Reed and Steve Warriner.

Click on the links under the photographs for sources, click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)

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