In 1946, a woodworker and jazz musician named Bill May changed the Australian musical landscape forever. Before the establishment of Maton Guitars in a backyard shed in Melbourne, quality guitars were almost impossible to find in Australia. May’s idea was simple – to create high-quality, professional instruments that could compete with any brand in the world. From these humble beginnings, Maton has become synonymous with Australian music, from Tommy Emmanuel to The Wiggles, and the Easybeats to Vance Joy.
Maton is still a family-owned, Melbourne-based company, building solid-wood acoustic guitars using a range of Australian native timbers. Their AP5 and AP5 Pro pickup systems are world-renowned for their natural and expressive plugged-in sound, which sees them used on stages across the world.
We’ve created this guide to help you choose which Maton guitar is most suited to you.
Maton offers numerous body sizes, each with their own advantages. The most recognizable of these body sizes is the Dreadnought, a traditional and versatile full-size guitar. Dreadnoughts have a full and rich tone, best suited for acoustic strumming and singers who need a loud and punchy accompaniment.
Maton’s 808 body size is designed first and foremost as a performing guitar – its smaller size is more comfortable while standing, and its stiffer build gives more sustain and punch to cut through a mix. It’s also a really great couch guitar, where its smaller form makes it enjoyable to play for long periods of time.
The Jumbo body size amps up the volume and bass, for a bigger, deeper and more lush tone which can easily keep up with other instruments. For heavier strummers and solo artists, the Jumbo is a great choice with greater headroom and booming low end.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Mini Maton, a wonderful travel-size guitar with the added benefit of Maton’s own AP5 pickup system. Equally at home at a beach or barbecue, it really shines in a live setting where its small size allows for effortless playing and high volume before feedback.
At the core of the Maton range is the SRS, or ‘Solid Road Series’. The SRS range features all-solid, gig-ready guitars with Maton’s signature balanced, clear tone and a variety of Australian timbers. The entry-level and all-acoustic S60 and S70 are a great starting point to get a taste of the Maton sound, while the SRS60C and SRS70C feature traditional Sitka spruce with Queensland Maple (for clarity and sparkle) or Blackwood (for warmth and crispness) back-and-sides and an onboard pickup for stage-ready, workhorse instruments.
The SRS808 and SRS808C feature Cedar soundboards and Blackwood back-and-sides, for a superbly versatile performers guitar – fingerpickers will appreciate the compression and responsiveness of the Cedar top, while strummers find an extra thickness and depth to chords. The SRS70Jtakes the classic Sitka spruce and Blackwood combination of the SRS70C and gives it a Jumbo body shape, for a powerful and full sound that solo performers will love.
Few timbers are as beautiful as Australian Blackwood, and the Blackwood series puts this indigenous tonewood centre stage. Streaky ebony fingerboards and bridges add to the wild and earthy aesthetic, while herringbone purfling adds a refined touch.
Blackwood is prized for its strong midrange and chiming high-end, not unlike mahogany or koa, which makes this series a great fit for anyone who wants to cut through other instruments in a band. There’s also wonderful compression and dynamic range, rewarding a gentler player. The EBW70C has a wonderful mellow quality for a restrained strummer, while the EBW808 and EBW808C are balanced and responsive, making it a great choice for blues, folk and jazz.
The EBG Series
The EBG (or ‘Electric Bluegrass’) Series is built around the 808 shape, for projection and focus. While they make for excellent live instruments, they also shine in a studio setting because of their clarity, balance and shimmering trebles. The EBG808features an AA grade Sitka Spruce soundboard and Blackwood back-and-sides for balance and clarity, while the EBG808 Artist adds higher-grade timbers, herringbone purfling and Rock Maple binding for a more luxurious feel.
Then there are the signature models – the EBG808 Nashville and EBG808C Nashville adds a glorious peach sunburst finish in honour of country superstar Keith Urban, while the EBG808C Michael Fix substitutes Blackwood for Queensland Maple, for precision that favours intricate fingerstyle.
The Australian Series
Showcasing indigenous Australian timbers at their finest, the Australian series is a wonderful tribute to Maton’s heritage. This series prizes the most striking examples of Blackwood and Bunya Pine (an Australian native spruce known for its mellow high-end), with subtle and beautiful Mother-of-Pearl inlays and gold hardware. Available in a dreadnought (EA80C) and 808 (EA808), these guitars have a warmth and richness that is exceptional in an acoustic setting.
The Messiah Series
Maton has long referred to the Messiah as the king of its lineup, and it’s easy to see why – scalloped bracing, hand tuned tops, Indian Rosewood and a glorious gloss UV-cured finish. The Messiah series focuses on acoustic tone first and foremost, with deep, clear bass response and glassy trebles. Maton saves its highest quality Sitka spruce for this series, which is beautifully adorned with Blackwood binding, gold hardware and pearl inlays.
The EM100-808 and EM100-808C are balanced, refined and responsive, which makes them a great choice for the gentler player, while the EM100C has more headroom, bass and volume that can handle the heaviest of strummers. The EM100J goes even further – it’s a cannon of a guitar that almost demands a heavy touch.
If there is one artist synonymous with Maton, it’s Tommy Emmanuel. One of the greatest acoustic guitarists of all time, he is rarely seen without his signature Maton guitar. The EBG808-TE and EBG808C-TE are capable of the most delicate expression and ferocious attack, thanks to their bright and cutting Queensland Maple back-and-sides. Tommy’s signature appointments include stained back-and-sides, honey-stained AAA Sitka spruce top, Kangaroo headstock inlay and ‘CGP’ (Certified Guitar Player) 12th fret inlay.
The TE1 is a more traditional, vintage-inspired dreadnought, with East Indian Rosewood back-and-sides and an amber-stained AAA Sitka spruce top. This is Maton’s homage to the great American dreadnoughts, with wonderful overtones, deep and clear bass and massive mounts of headroom, with the added bonus of the AP5 Pro pickup system.
Top of the tree is the TE Personal, a Custom Shop guitar hand built by luthier Andy Allen to the exact specs that Tommy uses himself. If you’re a die-hard Tommy Emmanuel fan looking for the exact guitar used by the master himself, look no further! With Maton’s highest grade tonewoods and beautifully restrained appointments, the TE personal is a work of art.
The Mini Series
Seen on countless stages across the world, the Maton Mini has become something of an Australian icon. A professional-quality travel guitar using all-solid timbers and equipped with a jaw-dropping pickup system, the Maton Mini is perfect for any player looking for a gig-ready instrument not much bigger than a ukulele.
The EM-6features Queensland Maple back-and-sides and a Bunya Pine top for a clear, compressed tone, while the EMBW-6 is constructed entirely from Blackwood for a gentler, thicker sound that’s a perfect match for fingerpickers. Designed in conjunction with Aussie guitar hero Diesel, the EMD-6 pairs Sitka spruce and Blackwood with a gorgeous peach sunburst, and it’s even available as a 12-string.
If you’re looking for a truly unique, hand-crafted Australian guitar, the Maton Custom Shop is for you. Each guitar is built from scratch by Maton’s master builder Andy Allen, using the absolute finest hand-picked tonewoods available. Allen’s decades of experience and flawless attention to detail contribute to unique and incredible heirloom instruments that rival any custom builder in the world.
The Custom Shop produces Maton’s most luxurious models. The WA May was designed by Allen as a tribute to the Maton founder and hearkens back to the early days of hand-built Maton guitars; the CS Classic is a reimagining of the famous USA-made pre-war small body OM’s; and the TE Personalis an exact replica of Tommy Emmanuel’s personal guitar, built by the luthier that Tommy entrusts with his own instruments.
Above all, the real beauty of the Maton Custom Shop is the option of creating your own one-off instrument. As a Custom Shop dealer, Acoustic Centre can help you choose your favourite timbers, shape, appointments and one-of-a-kind details to create a true heirloom instrument. For options, design and pricing enquiries, contact us now and make your Maton dream a reality.
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by Ryan Lamb September 19, 2021 2 min read
by Ryan Lamb September 12, 2021 2 min read
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