Flem’s Matons…


Yep… more Matons. Here are some beauties…

I’ve known Greg (otherwise known as Flem) for a while now. He’s played bass in Brisbane institution (certainly an apt term) ‘Blowhard’ along with my Sixfthick band mate Fred for many years, but is better known as the bassist for punk/hardcore band ‘Godnose’. Flem is a gear head as I am, so most of our conversations consist of us discussing our latest acquisitions, his Charvel Surfcaster basses or most recently Flem’s Mark III bass amp which sounds pretty good. He didn’t convince me so much with his Musicman Bongo bass, which although designed by BMW, I think still looks too freak’n weird even for me…

Picture 2
Flem in Godnose action with his Bongo

Fred had mentioned that Flem owned a Maton Phil Manning Custom Stereo, so after asking Flem if he wanted to sell it (‘no…’) I asked if I could have a look at it. I was mightily impressed.


It looked a lot like my former PM Custom, but beaten to hell. This guitar has been played HARD. If Maton ever reissue the Phil Manning (ha! yeah right.) and decide to make a relic version, this would be the template for that guitar. It’s a gorgeous looking instrument. All the Custom Stereo’s I’ve seen have been in pretty good condition, but this has obviously been played every day of it 35 years.


Most of the neck finish had been worn off, and the back was suffering sever buckle rash. But it looked and still played fantastic. Look at the neck join. What a work of art…


What struck me most was how light this guitar was. My previous Maton was a boat anchor… if it felt like this I’d still own it. And the neck on Flem’s Maton is a dream. It’s very similar to Gibson’s 60’s profile, but with a much more rounded fingerboard edge and a ridiculously low profile. Again.. I asked Flem if I could buy it…




The celluloid trussrod cover had deteriorated badly over the years. It had started puffing and crumbling. I think it adds to the overall ‘Aussie bar band patina’ of this axe.


But the most interesting about this example is that it allowed me to study Maton’s fake body grain technique. Fred had explained to me that Maton painted the grain onto the dark red Phil Mannings to disguise the fact the wood was just cheap Queensland Maple. Apparently it’s an old cabinet makers trick. The grain is just painted on with Indian ink, then sprayed over with colour and clear coated… as per this guitar. My Maton was in perfect condition, so I couldn’t tell, but as Flem’s was so worn away, you could see clearly the dark grain lines was hand applied. (So, so cool.)


So… in conclusion… this is the best looking, best playing Maton Phil Manning I’ve come across. FLEM….I WANT IT!!!


After I shot the photo’s for this guitar, Flem mentioned he had another old Maton. I was pleasantly surprised with what he brought out…


Flem had inherited this beautiful old Maton Supreme from his uncle, who had passed away. It’s a very sweet example, with loads of flame maple everywhere…


The guitar is in great condition… apart from the neck joint which needs work. I’ve seen this on old Gretsch’s, where the hide glue just turns to crystals and shatters… easy to fix, though.


This guitar is ALL there though. Original pickups and knobs. It even still has the original ‘M’ tailpiece, which for some reason is the first thing to go on these guitars.


It still even has the original machine heads. I love how the back of these guitars are painted black. It’s just… classy. You can see that the wood is slightly staring to separate at the joins… so as long as you only played ‘light’ jazz on this, you should be ok. Jon Spencer would destroy this guitar in 3 minutes.


The end of this story is a little shocking. Along with this guitar, Flem’s Uncle also owned an original 50’s Gretsch White Falcon and early 60’s Gretsch Country Gentleman. Flem’s aunt sold these to Cash Converters for $200.. not each… both. So while we can forgive Flem’s Aunt for not knowing these guitars true worth (and cursing the Cashies shop manager to hell for being a total ass-hat) we can also applaud Flem’s Uncle’s fine fine fine taste in guitars.