1969 Maton Apollo

A hollow bodied 60’s Australian classic.

After over a year of writing articles for guitarnerd, and with many of those articles being about beautiful old Maton’s I decided it was time for me to track down a cool old Maton for myself rather than talk about everyone else’s. About 9 months ago I found this beaten up beauty and got it for a great price. It was very rough and needed a lot of work to get anywhere near playing condition. I dropped it off to Tym Guitars in the cardboard box I received it in and said for them to take their time on it.

I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. The guitar looked like it was made out of old cardboard and the pickups looked like sardine tins. The wooden bridge wasn’t original and made it unplayable… well, maybe for slide. There were frets popping up everywhere too. But apart from the bridge, it was all original and still had it’s trademark twin scratchplates.

On the weekend I got a message from Tyms. The guitar was finished and it sounded AWESOME. That was enough to have me racing around there in the pouring rain to grab it and try it out. Whoah yeah… they were right.

First off, they’d replaced the non original wooden bridge with a Bigsby type cast moustache bridge, as per the Maton Fyrbyrd. The notes JUMPED out of the guitar. The sustain and clarity was fantastic. Instead of a woolly sounding jazz box, this guitar now sounded like a twang-tastic Gretsch.

The neck had received a lot of attention. The frets had been beautifully dressed and leveled and with the typical thin Maton neck profile, this guitar almost plays itself. It’s similar to a think 60’s Gibson neck profile.The original tuners worked fine and so were left on.

Then there’s those pickups. They remind me of old Dearmonds. They’re very underpowered, but the TONE. You can hear the (ply)wood in the guitar come through the amp. They’re crystal clear, yet beefy enough. With some reverb, this guitar sounds truly amazing. I really like how the bridge pickup is slanted like a Stratocaster. I think this adds a little more beef to the sound. The neck pickup sounds great, the bridge pickup sounds great and both pickups together sound great. I’m in love.

Then there’s the twin pickguards. It’s a bit of a weird feature and one I think that was borrowed from the 60’s Supro guitars.

I presume the rocket ship shape of the guards is where Maton got the Apollo name from… very space race.

The rest of the guitar is very basic. As mentioned the body is plywood and also completely hollow. This guitar is lighter than some acoustics I’ve played. It feels very fragile to play, and I’m actually a little scared to play it too hard in case the front caves in, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.I was thinking of fitting a Bigsby to it, but the fragility of the body and the fact that the original tailpiece works fine makes me think I’ll keep it original.

It is a rough look thing, but I love the relic’d look of the paint. You can see the grain literally pop out of the cracks. Though the paint is original, it does look almost like house paint. It’s just going to look better and better the more it’s played. It even smells like an old Australian farm shed.

So, I’m stoked. I’ve picked up a rare, unique 60’s Australian guitar that plays great, looks cool and sounds fantastic. That’s a win.