Maton Phil Manning Standard

Part three of our Maton Phil Manning series… the PM Standard.

As we’ve been concentrating on the fantabulous Phil Manning Custom Stereo the last few weeks, I thought we’d take a look at the PM Custom’s little brother, the Phil Manning Standard. This was a much simpler guitar than the Custom, and in many ways is a completely different beast all together. I first became aware of the PM Standard from my drummer Fred, who has owned a Monaro red example for 20 + years.

Fred’s Maton has been modified with a Kahler tremolo (gah!) but this guitar is Fred’s pride and joy. He swears it’s the best guitar he’s ever played… which is unfortunate as it’s neck has been broken off for the last 8 years. The guitar is currently at his mate’s guitar shop awaiting repair. Hopefully some day it’ll be back in action so Fred can once again cut a stylin’ figure as in the following pic:

The PM Standard in this article is owned by Danny. It’s a beautiful example, with the scratchplate in fantastic condition. In all the examples I’ve seen, the Phil Manning signature has long worn off.

I’ve played a few Standard’s over the years and they differ greatly to the Custom’s. The body is a lot thinner, closer to a Gibson SG than a Les Paul. This makes the Standard a LOT easier to strap on than the Custom as it’s about half the weight. The pickups are exactly the same as the Custom, including the microswitches for coil tapping and phasing.

Instead of the full ‘2 volumes, 2 tones and one master volume’, we have a simplified 1 volume, 1 tone and a pickup selector. No rotary switch, no stereo selector… I think makes much more sense for this guitar. It’s an elegant solution and helps make this instrument it’s own design instead of just a thinner/cheaper Custom.

The biggest difference for me with this guitar compared to the Custom is the neck. It feels totally different. The Custom is quite a narrow, thin neck which for my small hands is perfect. It’s very similar to a 1960’s Sg, I guess. The Standard on the other hand feels a little wider. It’s still thin, but the slighter width changes the feel totally. The thing that doesn’t grab me is the lacquered fretboard…

I know that the Custom’s had this as well (not mine, though) but the Standard’s I’ve played have all had fretless wonder frets. This combined with the lacquer makes them quite difficult to play. Maybe it’s just the 3 I’ve played and they’re not all like this, but if I bought one I’d re-fret it with jumbo’s pretty quick.

The headtock follows the rest of the guitar and is without binding or any frills. The wood grain looks lovely and certainly gives it a 70’s vibe…

These guitars are actually much rarer than the Customs… while there were 252 Custom’s made, Maton only made 122 Standards. This doesn’t reflect in the prices of today’s examples as the Custom’s are still worth double, but it certainly makes these guitars a rare bird indeed.

PS – According to the Maton Museum site, Maton also made one Maton Phil Manning Bass. They don’t have any images of it, but apparently it’s a thinline, double cutaway archtop. If anyone has any info on this mythical creature, send it in.