Maton – by Ken Palethorpe
Maton Fyrbyrd 620.
Yes the spelling is correct one could only guess that this was to avoid any naming rights problems with the Gibson Firebird, or just a flight of advertising fancy.
First introduced in 1962 and continuing in model name and various guises until the early 70’s. The 620 was the first body shape of the Fyrbyrd series, Bigsby tremolo, three pick ups, curved headstock. It was the leading Maton solid body electric guitar.
The model was available in six or twelve strings and a bass version called the Vampyr. It was followed by the FB series in 1966, commonly called the shark bite because of the sharp waist cutaway. The next series was the 650 series which changed the body shape to that of a more “Square Strat” shape and a different headstock design which was a cross between a conventional head stock and a slotted nylon guitar style. The little brother to the 650 was the “Leaderman” there is one on this site. The last of the range was the FB70 Fyrbyrd which kept the 650 headstock but with a more Fender Mustang body shape. The white Fyrbyrd is serial 728 of 1286 of the model made.
The Fyrbyrd has a special place in the memories of Australian guitarists of the 60’s it was a high quality instrument that played well and sounded great with trebles to burn, a real lead instrument. Acknowledgement should be made to Maton, their record keeping and their willingness to supply model and serial number information. Whilst they would probably admit that record keeping is not perfect it is a credit to the organization. For a luthier who began in 1940’s and started the company in 1946, grew through the turbulent times of the sixties and survived to still be in family hands as Australia’s major exporter is a huge accomplishment.
1968 Maton El Toro
It’s a Maton El Toro which was a copy of the Danelectro, Dynalectron Guitarlin. There were only 57 made and this one is serial number 23 and was built in 1968 and is in excellent original condition, two and a half octave neck and a great sound. They were the signature guitar for a band called the Strangers who were the Australian equivalent to the Shadows. John Farrah of the Strangers eventually went on to take Bruce Welsh’s rhythm guitar stop with the Shadows and of course is famous for his song writing having written many hits for Olivia Newton-John.
1965 Maton Flamingo
The Maton Flamingo was manufactured from 1963 to 1965 with most being made in 1964. They were in two body shapes, an extreme cutaway, which frankly I think is stunning especially in white with red scratch plate. They were available in three colours, Flamingo Red, Deep Purple and White. The other shape was a double cutaway more Stratocaster shaped. Maton made about 1,400 of these in total with the extreme cutaway being the first shape and the representing the largest number of the total build. However these are much harder to find than the later shape. One point of interest is the tremolo assembly, you will note that it is the same as on the two Burns look alike Barclay guitars, obviously sourced from Japan.
1965 Maton Leaderman
The Leaderman was the replacement model range for the Flamingo and made from 1964 to 1966. Matons record show only 231 of these were made. The other rare Maton solid body from the sixties is the El Toro of which only 56 were made.
1966 Maton Sapphire
By the mid to late sixties every manufacturer had to have a double cutaway thin line semi acoustic guitar in their range and this was Matons answer to the demand for a reasonably priced guitar in that 335 style. Maton had made superb jazz style guitars from their inception but this guitar was aimed the mass market. The first model Maton Sapphire was the SE303/6, model. This stood for, SE, Sapphire Electric series 30, 3 pickups, /6 strings was the first of the Sapphire models commencing in 1967 and ending in 1968 with 96 being made, this guitar is dated by Maton as being one of the first series. The early models were either two or three pick up (SE302/6) with options such as tremolo. It was available in 4/6 and 12 string models. They are well finished with a typical Maton playable neck. These were surprising good guitars for the money. From 1968 on it became the Sapphire Deluxe, SE302 or 3 pick up 4, 6 or 12 string D for deluxe with much larger production numbers. The model name continued in various styles until 1978. Like all Maton guitars from the sixties they are much in demand.
You can find information including advertising materials at www.maton.com.au/