The ER90 occupies an interesting niche in Maton’s catalog. There are plenty of models that cost less, and there are a few that cost more, like the Messiah line, but the ER90C sits somewhere in between the two. It features certain deluxe appointments that elevate it up into a very competitive price bracket , but it’s not quite as visually showy as the Messiah line.
The ER90C is a dreadnaught acoustic guitar with a smooth and curvy treble side cutaway for unfettered upper fret access. The back and sides are made of solid Indian rosewood and the top is an attractive AA Sitka spruce with scalloped X bars. The body is bound in five ply black/white, and the rosette is herringbone with black/white inner and outer rings that match the top binding. Nice touch. There’s a tortoise shell pick guard too, which complements the spruce top nicely but clashes a little with the Indian rosewood fretboard, which sits on a select Queensland maple neck. The fret marker inlays are simple mother of pearl dots. The bridge, too, is Indian rosewood, and it hosts a glass filled nylon saddle, with matching nut. Matching gold end and strap pins are a small visual hint to the ER90C’s price tag. The tuners are Gold Grovers, completing the look.
The ER90C features a Maton AP5 pickup system, which incorporates a sculpted frequency curve that Maton has designed to perfectly complement the guitar’s acoustic tone. It features a sweepable mid range between 1 and 2kHz, “Soft Start” circuitry and a very helpful low battery indicator, and it’s powered by externally mounted AA batteries.
The guitar comes in a tank-like Hiscox flight case made exclusively for Maton and designed to fit each particular model.
TAKE IT FOR A STRUM
I didn’t even need to ponder for a second how to describe the sound of the ER90C: it’s the first word that jumped immediately to mind upon the very first chord: ‘balanced.’ No frequencies are fighting the others for attention, and nothing is either too cloudy or too strident. And this goes for the string-to-string volume too: the treble strings are slightly louder than usual and the bass strings seem gently restrained, just enough to let each other stand shoulder to shoulder.
Rosewood is a very common, popular and versatile tone wood. It looks great and sounds great. In this case it no doubt helps to give the ER90C its even frequency spread and tonal warmth. Likewise, Sitka spruce is known for its wide dynamic range, a quality that this guitar has in abundance. You can hear it very clearly when you strum a single open string hard and let it fade naturally. The sustain is impressively long, and it tapers off very smoothly rather than giving you a sudden impact then fade.
The AP5 system is a great workhorse preamp. It doesn’t give you too many bells and whistles — no tuner, for instance — but its sweepable midrange control give you plenty of authority over these crucial frequencies. This is part of what makes the AP5 such a popular preamp for live applications: you can really use it to dial the guitar in to the room.
ELEGANT AND REFINED
The ER90C is a very fine-playing, great-sounding guitar. It has plenty of personality, yet is incredibly adaptable at the same time. It’s hard to think of a musical style that it wouldn’t be at home with, nor a stage that it wouldn’t look right on.
By Peter Hodgson
RRP: $3199 (inc. case)
Distributor: Maton Guitars
Phone: 03 9896 9500