This guitar has graced my workshop a few times over the years. It's owned by a lovely man in Sydney who tours it a lot as he insists on it being used, which is nice. It is however starting to show real signs of giving up the touring life soon. At the very least it needs a good flight case to help it get around.
The middle pick up was added long before I first saw it when it came to Brisbane on tour a few years ago. It's an original old Maton pick up but not a matching one for the other original two. There was a model Maton that had a middle pick up and separate volume and tone controls like this called a Capri. It's an old mid sixties Maton Supreme that has had some serious mods and work done over the years but when you plug it in you understand why he keeps playing it. It sounds awesome and has a great neck.
I made the scratch plate a few years ago as it never had one when he bought it. I also fitted the bigshy vibrato which always looks good on these old hollow bodies.
It was refinished quite a long time ago and looks kind of cool. They were probably going for a type of Gretsch orange double cut look which suits this model well. The paint is a pretty thick coat of what looks like enamel but is probably a type of acrylic. It has worn well and seems to have stood up to the rigors of touring quite well.
The bridge was missing a saddle and had a piece of cigarette al-foil rolled up and jammed in there so I'll need to sort that too.
The headstock has separated where the "wings" were laminated on along the tuner holes. These holes having been widened out to take modern sealed geared tuners wouldn't have helped the stability of this either.
With the tuners out it was a pretty simple glue and clamp job here. I just had to make sure that joint was clean of oils and dirt so the glue could take. Both wings have now been repaired as I did the other side of the headstock a few years ago.
The body was also cracked almost certainly because of the cheap (and broken and gaffed) hardcase it travels in. These are laminated bodies so it takes a bit to crack these in such long cracks like this.
Everything lined up quite nicely so it was just a matter of cleaning it all out and working out the bestbwy to clamp it all while the glue dried. Depending on the type of guitar and it's current use dictates what type of repair I would do here. On a solid timber side I would almost definitely remove the back and glue and splint the sides. With ply sides it's not usually as nessecary to splint if there's no impact cracks like this. This just looked like it had been "squashed" but still in shape.
I managed to massage glue into the cracks and clamp it well so I would see when it came out of the clamps what needed to be done next.
Once out of the clamps it was solid and everything lined up well. I decided to do a little bit of cosmetic work and leave it at that for now. I know this guitar is going to continue to be toured so I never get too precious about the final cosmetic repairs as they are usually the most expensive parts of repairs and on guitars like this are just not financially worth it for the customer.
One day down the track when he's finished touring with it he might decide to restore it to its former glory or maybe just hang it on the wall like a piece of art and strum it every so often. Either way I don't think this is the last time I'll be seeing this beauty.
With the structural repairs out of the way it was time to fix that bridge.I used an old Jazzmaster saddle and modified it slightly to fit into the Maton bridge assembly without modifying it in case we come across an original saddle again one day. It just needed some re-sizing and we're right to go.
It's nice to see these old guitars out here being used regularly but there are measures that can be taken to make sure they keep on truckin in good playable condition. The first thing I always tell people who intend to tour with stuff like this is buy a good custom made flight case. Sure, they're expensive, but a well designed and built flight case will protect a guitar like this for the rest of it's life and will save you money on repairs in the long run. I'm positive this repair would not have been nessecary had this guitar spent all it's touring life in a good flight case.
So this old thing is back in business and playing great. Those repair will keep it going for a while and who knows how much longer it will need to endure the hardships of the road ? One things for sure. I'll keep fixing it as long as it needs to keep touring.