Tony "GuitarNerd"s Maton FyrByrd
Here's another piece of Australian history. If you don't know, or want to know more about Matons go to GuitarNerd and have a look at Tony's great site. He got this guitar off a friend who picked it up at a second hand shop out in the Blue Mountains in NSW. It had ......... issues when it came in, but it plays GREAT now.
It had the usual problems of an old guitar that had been looked after, but very well used over the years. Broken tuners, electronics not working and, like lots of old Matons, a twisted neck. It was time to get to work.
The first thing to check was the electronics to see what needed doing there. It was mostly intact and it looked like someone had given it a go before Tony got it and given up half way through. The outside two pickups tested OK but the middle was dead. I rang Tony and asked if he wanted me to rewind it.
He opted for no doing it now as he'll only use the outside two anyway and I can repair it down the track when he wants to. Everything else was OK, just a little dirty and scratchy.
The next issue was the twisted neck. This is common on old Matons probably due to the timber not being dried properly. Most necks were Queensland Maple, which is one of my favorite neck building timbers but it NEEDS to be dried properly because once under tension it can twist easily. I did my usual clamp and heat method. Week on, week off. Trying to twist it past straight and heating it and then leaving it clamped for a week or so. It really wasn't playing the game and took about a month or so to come good (or better)
While it was out of the clamps I went to fixing the broken and bent tuners. I wanted to keep it as original as possible as it's pretty original so I built a couple of tuners out of strip tuners I had here and cut and shaped them to look right.
If it wasn't something like this I would have just changed the tuners for a new set but it was worth the effort.
With the tuners done and the twist "nearly" out it was time to start putting everything back together. These are such "toys" compared to a lot of other guitars and feel "small" and even a little fragile but they can play and sound great. They can also play and sound terrible ............. Let's see which this one is.
It needed a fret dress as the frets were allover the place and the twist meant I had to get the fret tops a little flatter or it was going to buzz everywhere.
The neck had actually come up quite good so I was optimistic that it was at least going to play quite well. The twist was "almost" gone and the frets were in good condition considering the age and use of the guitar. Things were looking good.
Well, this is one of the better old Matons that I've played. I've owned a bunch of these over the years and I had a red one about the same model as this one years ago that was a great guitar (for an old Maton) and this one stacks up with that one. The middle pickup doesn't work and the three massive toggles need replacing as no amount of cleaning will stop them from scratching but everything else is pretty much spot on. I'd like to re-do some of the electronics down the track, maybe when I rewind the pickup but it plays great and sounds ......... great, and of course, looks AWESOME !!
Here's some pics to drool over.