.or how Rome was built in a day.
Do you know the feeling you get
when you finish up a high level meeting, shake hands with everybody,
back to your office with
a cup of tea in one hand, your notes in the other and then realise
that you have promised to produce the holy grail of guitar making,
and what's more, deliver it by AMAC 2006 and have the country's
most revered jazz guitarist play the guitar at the launch?
Well, I do.....
This is exactly what happened with the 60th Anniversary
limited edition Maton Starline 4606.
Once Ian (Chapple - production manager) and I recovered from the
shock we set about figuring how we were going to recreate history.
Ian had vague recollections of assembling the last few batches of
the Golla model (Maton's last archtop, produced in 1990) and I
(Patrick Evans - manager of production & projects) had repaired
a large number of vintage Maton archtops and had designed the BB1200
which was as close to an archtop as anything we had done since
The new guitar had to surpass the
old guitars in several areas if it was to be successful. It could
not be "just a jazz box" even
though my personal passion is for traditional jazz guitars. This
guitar had to cover a lot more ground. Do you know the difference
between a dead frog on the road and a dead jazz guitarist on
The frog was probably on his way to a gig!
In 2006 an archtop guitar is more
likely to be used at ear splitting volumes with dropped tunings,
surfing and tattoos
than in a small bar after midnight with dinner suits, soft lighting
and martinis. So..how were we going to do this?
To get around the feedback issues
common to semi acoustic archtops we decided to use carved solid
face and back plates
with a central core running through the body of the guitar. To keep
the weight down we decided to make the core a box section (much
the fuselage of a vintage aeroplane) which would provide stiffness
and resonance. The core has six oval "ports" to reduce the weight
even further without reducing strength and is made from Bunya
the same reasons. The back is made from figured Qld Maple and is
carved from a 23mm thick book matched blank as is the face (AAA
Sitka Spruce from Alaska).
The Bunya core also makes up the
laminated Neck Block which houses the neck joint and the whole "sandwich" is
glued together to produce a tight, resonant body. The neck joint
is a unique
combination of pocket and mortice and tenon which creates a rock
solid union of neck and body. The sides are hand bent figured
Maple and the body is built in a jig (or mold) in the traditional
In many ways this
guitar represents a new stage in guitar making history because it is
a perfect example of the latest technology working together with
traditional craftsmanship to achieve a superb result. Great guitar
making is achieved when the makers are so comfortable with their
tools, equipment and techniques that the end result is a work of
art, uncompromised by machining constraints or less than perfect
hand skills. This guitar (like all Matons) is made by hand and by
machine and in both cases the guitar is only touched by our most
The guitar's dimensions are based on the old Golla series (named
for George Golla) though the headstock is a direct reproduction of
the Mayfair headstock from the mid 1950s while the fingerboard and
neck are the same specifications as the much more recent BB1200 to
allow the effortless execution of today's playing techniques.
We wanted this guitar to be a celebration
of our 60 years and to try and be as much about today as about
our origins. Thus we have a
classic timeless look (including a block inlay with Bill May's
signature engraved on it) with construction techniques and pickups
that "are as modern as tomorrow" (to quote our esteemed Managing
Director, Neville Kitchen). The pickups are the same as those used
on the BB1200 and make great use of Alnico 8, a magnet that, as far
as we know, has not been used in pickups before and which seem to
suit this type of guitar brilliantly.
Although it looks like a "jazz box" the
Starline offers a myriad of tonal choices. Both pickups are splitable
and the combination of
separate volume controls with a master volume produce a very broad
palette indeed. In fact, during our first testing we tried a
player, two country players, a blues player and a power pop player
and we could all find a sound to suit us. Subsequent tests revealed
a powerful hard rock rhythm sound as well.
I am happy to report that we met the AMAC deadline and two models
were sent to the launch to be played by George Golla himself. George
was involved intimately with Bill May in developing the original
Starline models and later his signature GG series so we knew he
would be a tough critic but we passed with flying colours.
The Maton Starline 4606
(1946 - 2006)
is a strictly limited release and we are proud to say that
this is the very best
electric guitar we have ever made!
The specifications are as follows:
- Face - AAA grade Spruce (from Alaska) with
Bound "F" Holes
- Back & Sides - Figured
- Neck - Straight Qld Maple
- Core - Bunya
- Fingerboard - White Bound Ebony with Mother
of Pearl Block Inlays. Bill May Signature engraved on the 9th Fret
and "Anniversary" on the 12th Fret.
- Headstock Veneer - Rock Maple with MOP inlays
- Nut - Bone
- Scale Length - 25.5"
- Number of Frets - 22
- Body Width - 400mm
- Body Depth at Edge - 80mm
- Body Depth at Bridge - 112mm
- Nut Width - 42.5mm
- Pickups - Maton JHB & JHN
- Bridge - Gold
Tonepros Saddle on Maton Base
- Scratchplate - Tortoiseshell
on Black / White Backing
- Machine Heads - Grover
- Tailpiece - Gold
- Strings - Elixir