Established in 1946, Maton Guitars began life in a small garage workshop in Thornbury, Victoria, Australia. Until the mid 1930’s, guitar production in Australia was pretty much non-existent and Bill May, a working musician and woodwork teacher, boldly decided to combine both of his passions and start building guitars. Very much a family affair, the company started out with Bill May, his brother Reg and Bill’s wife Vera. The name Maton is a contraction of the words “May” and “Tone”.
|In a short space of time Bill opened Australia’s first major guitar manufacturing facility in Canterbury, Melbourne in 1949 which was the home of Maton guitars for the next 41 years until the company moved to a more spacious facility in Bayswater. Following the death of Bill May in 1993, the company continued to grow and in 2003, moved to it’s current larger facility in Box Hill, Melbourne.
Pictured: Bill May in his workshop.
Guitar Village and Maton go back to the days when the Guvnor set up his first shop in Australia in the late seventies. He brought these quality guitars over with him to the UK before they were well known in Europe and we have watched their reputation grow and grow over the years.
When a guitar manufacturer collaborates with an artist it can prove to be a very successful relationship with both parties raising the other’s profiles. One such collaboration was the legendary Chet Atkins and Gretsch guitars. Australian fingerstyle guitarist and two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel, mentored by Chet Atkins, has had a similar impact with Maton guitars. Tommy started playing at a young age picking up his dad’s Maton solid body everytime he went out. One day his father came home and found Tommy competently playing his pride and joy that no one was aloud to touch, but rather than give Tommy a hiding he gave him the guitar. Over a fifty-year career he has been entertaining audiences around the world with his energetic and virtuosic performances.
When Terry Taylor (Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings) came into Guitar Village he mentioned the fact that Tommy never puts the guitar down when he’s on tour not even to eat!
Tommy Emmanuel’s signature model guitars – the dreadnought style Maton TE-1, small-bodied and best-selling Maton EGB808TE and Maton EBG808C-TE cutaway version, and most recently the Maton Custom Shop TE Personal and travel size Maton EMTE – have been hugely popular. Each guitar is made to Tommy’s specifications and bears the C.G.P. (“Certified Guitar Player“) engraving on the 12th fret – a title bestowed to him and four others by the late, great Chet Atkins.
Guitar Village are honoured that the man himself drops in from time to time to see us, the last time presenting us with a huge signed picture. Cheers Tommy!
Since 1975, the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) have been keeping tabs on trade of wildlife and natural materials to ensure it does not threaten the survival of particular species. Commonly used tonewoods like rosewood and ebony are becoming increasingly hard for guitar manufacturers to source. Maton has been developing the use of alternative tonewoods for the last 50 years in particular indigenous Australian timbers like Bunya, Victorian Blackwood and Queensland Maple. Australia has a wide range of under-utilised tonewoods which are plantation grown and grow back faster than many traditional woods.
Other instruments produced by Maton include a comprehensive range of electric guitars including the Maton BB1200 Josh Homme model and ukuleles.