Nine famous Maton players and their guitars

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Nine famous Maton players and their guitars

Courney Barnett Maton
Words by Chris Hockey

Maton have provided decades of tone, tonality and inspiration to musicians of every level.

For nearly 80 years, Maton has been the cornerstone of the Australian guitar industry. Making instruments of supreme quality since day one, Maton have earned international acclaim for their masterful work.

Read more features, columns and interviews here.

With a focus on domestically sourced materials and an uncompromising dedication to achieving the best possible quality of sound, it’s no wonder Maton guitars have ended up in the hands of some of music’s biggest stars. So let’s take a deep dive into some of the most impressive names to give our beloved home grown instruments their stamp of approval. 

George Harrison: MS500 Mastersound 

In the summer of 1963, George Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman was brought to Barratt’s Music Store in Manchester to be repaired. Neil Aspinall, The Beatles road manager at that time, was in turn given a Maton MS500 Mastersound for George to use as a backup. 

George took a liking to the MS500 and ended up using it for several months, even playing it at the Beatles final show at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. George’s MS500 featured a natural finish, a Bigsby vibrato arm and two humbucking pickups, stacking up well as an alternative to his Gretsch, even after he got it back. A ringing endorsement by one of the best to ever do it. 

Josh Homme: BB1200 JH 

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age has always prided himself on using obscure equipment, preferring to carve out as unique of a sound as possible rather than emulating the established guitar gods of old. So when Homme first came across Maton guitars in the 2000s, it was a match made in heaven. 

Homme famously used a Maton Mastersound in the video for his band’s mega-hit ‘No One Knows’ in 2005, and it wasn’t long before he had his very own signature model, the BB1200 JH. Homme’s gorgeous signature instrument features a semi-hollow Victorian Blackwood body, coil-tappable high output pickups, a stunning trapeze tailpiece and boasts a rich timbre and powerful sustain. 

Jesse Hughes: MS T-Byrd Baritone 

Jesse Hughes was introduced to Maton guitars by Homme not long after the formation of their band Eagles of Death Metal. Hughes has played Matons almost exclusively ever since, widely praising their sound and having owned both MS500s and BB1200s. 

Hughes’s most unique Maton however is his custom made T-Byrd Baritone, a guitar he had made for the road to replicate some baritone parts he performed on the band’s latest record

‘Zipper Down’. This custom T-Byrd features vintage Kay style pickups, a groovy purple finish and Hughes signature lightning bolt F-hole. A one of a kind guitar with plenty of character, this Maton has Jesse Hughes written all over it. 

John Butler: CW80 12 String 

As a proud brand ambassador for Maton, John Butler has used his trusty CW80 on just about every tour and recording he has taken part in for the last twenty years. Tuned to his signature Open C tuning, Butler’s CW80 is customised to actually be an eleven string guitar, forgoing the high G string which Butler finds to be unnecessary. 

Butler’s CW80 features an ornate scroll carving on its headstock, is made from Queensland Maple and Sitka Spruce and has two separate pickups: a Seymour Duncan magnetic sound hole pickup and a Maton AP-5 piezo under the bridge for split clean/dirty sounds. 

Tommy Emmanuel: EBG808 TE 

Tommy Emmanuel is universally recognised as one of the greatest guitarists on earth. His virtuoso status is legendary, calling for a truly top of the line instrument to do it justice. As a proud representative of Australian music, Emmanuel chose to bestow that responsibility on Maton, and the results were sublime. 

The EBG808 TE provides the huge tone and incredible performance you would expect of a guitar bearing Emmanuel’s name and features 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. 

Eric Johnson: CS Classic 

Another undeniable master of the guitar, Eric Johnson is known as a gifted musician with impeccable tone. Backed by a Grammy Award and five nominations, a platinum album, Top 10 hits like ‘Cliffs Of Dover’, praise from critics and the esteem of his peers, Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. 

Johnson is a long time fan of Maton’s CS Classic and uses one regularly in his performances. Of Maton’s AP5 pickup system, Johnson had this to say: “The AP5 pro is my most favourite amplifying system for acoustic guitar. It is very realistic and usable at higher levels onstage.” If you’ve ever heard Johnson play, you’ll know his opinion is not one to be dismissed.

Courtney Barnett: CB808 

Known for her deadpan vocal style and witty lyrics, Courtney Barnett is one of the most prominent Australian songwriters of the last decade. Barnett prefers to play without a pick and therefore relies upon guitars with a big sound to get the most projection possible. 

An avid Maton fan, Barnett had her own one of a kind ‘CB’ 808 built for her and has been inseparable from the guitar ever since. Barnett’s 808 features a triple-A spruce top with Blackwood back and sides finished in Vintage Amber Satin, along with a custom binding and rosette. 

Paul Kelly: W.A. May 

Paul Kelly is Australia’s finest songsmith, deeply entwined in the fabric of our nation’s musical identity. Fitting then for Kelly to favour a Maton guitar that is steeped in Australian history and carries with it the legacy of the brand itself. 

The W.A May is Maton’s tribute to the brand’s founder, Bill May. Featuring a traditional body shape with an extended depth for a deeper voice and more bottom end, the W.A. May includes Bill’s signature triple layered deco style headstock, just like the very first Maton guitar he built. The W.A May is a true connoisseur’s guitar and like Kelly himself, perfectly encapsulates the breadth of craftsmanship and talent that our country has to offer.

For local enquiries, visit Maton and their list of dealers.