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MATON 60TH ANNIVERSARY ARCHTOP GUITAR

MATON-60TH-ANNIVERSARY-ARCHTOP-GUITARMATON 60TH ANNIVERSARY ARCHTOP GUITAR
November 24, 2006 | Reviewer: Shannon Bourne
Distributor: MATON (03) 9896 9500

I must say I am rather excited to have the opportunity to review the Maton 60th Anniversary Archtop. I find it rather interesting to know that Bill May (the founder of Maton Guitars) started his company in the same year as Leo Fender. Both visionary men half a world away from each other. In my time I have come across quite a few old Maton electric guitars and they have a character and charm all of their own. Some of the shapes of these guitars were something to behold as well. A friend of mine owns a 60’s DG 1500. That guitar looks like a Gibson 335 that took acid and got all bent out of shape! Anyways, down to the guitar (case) at hand.

Upon opening the case, my eyes met with what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful Matons I have seen. This guitar features a dark sunburst Spruce top, triple binding on the body, a beautifully figured Queensland Maple back and sides, a KILLER Ebony fretboard with amazing mother of pearl inlays, the 9th fret of which has Bill May’s own personal moniker engraved and the 12th has the word Anniversary inlaid. Turn to the headstock and check out the fact that it is two-tiered, bound and has “60 years” inlaid in it. The look makes me think of all of those great New York style, art deco archtops of the late 30s through to the 40s.

The hardware this “beautiful beast” features includes Grover machineheads, Maton JH4 humbucking pickups and tune-o-matic bridge. All of which is gold plated. This guitar is nothing but high class. Now down to the tone.

Unplugged, this guitar sounds brilliant and loud and because the top is spruce, I can only idealise that this guitar will get warmer as the years go on. In a recording situation it would not be unreasonable to put a good condenser mic in front of this instrument as it yields fantastic acoustic qualities. It has an almost “gypsy jazz” thing going on. This guitar was a pleasure to play as it was set up impeccably. Chords were a breeze to play and single notes were smooth still had enough bite to cut through. All of this before plugging it in. Time to plug it in!

Using a couple of different amplifiers I was able to coax very different sounds from this box.  I tried a small Fender valve amp first. With the volume down, this instrument has a strong clean tone that I found to be really useful. This guitar covers anything from low volume jazz to jump/swing blues to pop and rock! The reason I say pop is because this guitar has a beautiful jangle when played clean. Now it was time to wind the amp up to 10!! TALK ABOUT A BEAST!! The ensuing tone was nothing short of grotty. I was able to coax some of those great early blues tones of the 50’s ala Howlin Wolf. I instantly wanted to go into a studio and do a whole album with this tone. I played with this sound for about an hour, never tiring of its authenticity. Then it was onto my bigger amp. Once again the clean tone was excellent. Solid, strong and strident. I must mention the toggle switch. I was impressed with the sturdiness of this feature and it looked like something straight out of a B-17 Bomber.

After running the gamut of tones from clean to grunge, I came to the conclusion that these pickup were excellent. The neck pickup was warm and buttery but still bright. In between setting was jangley and honky and the back pickup just barked!! It has a real scream to it.

Now of course I have a couple of little niggles. I found that the volume pots dulled the sound significantly when turned down and there were just a couple of polish marks in the binding on the neck….but this is the first one (it still smelled like glue when I pulled it out of the case). But these are minor problems that could be rectified. Big thumbs up to Pat and Ritchie for doing such a great job on this fine instrument.

So there you have it. Maton is 60. Happy Birthday and keep up the good work. You have built a grand instrument……nine grand to be exact. But, they are only making 60 of these gorgeous instruments and….I guess that you only turn 60 once.