Maton Mastersound 1100 Bass

Apart from my Tym T-Byrd… in my humble opinion this is the coolest Australian built bass ever.

I know that I mentioned in a previous article that I promised that I wasn’t buying another guitar for the rest of the year. Well,  I was in need of some serious retail therapy and this beauty was too amazing a find to pass up so I pulled the trigger. And I don’t regret it. This bass is spectacular.

What we have here is Maton’s top of the line Mastersound 1100 Bass. The beast is a fully hollow piece of art, which on my example sports a beautiful flame maple figuring through the gorgeous dark red stain. This is the only one in this colour I’ve seen… the other examples have had a pretty ordinary brown sunburst or flat painted red.

The bridge is a simple system, like the original Precision Basses. It had had some work done which concerned me a little… the wood under the bridge had been replaced with a block which the bridge now sat on.

That was until I find this post by a fellow Mastersound 1100 owner on the OzBass Forum:

“When I first got it it had a fairly major problem – the bridge had punched through the soundboard, the bass was unplayable, (no, really?) and I was playing different music and fixing it didn’t seem a priority. I had other basses. Eventually after about 10 years I had a rough repair done; the repairer placed a block under the bridge, and it’s not bad at all. Obviously not ideal, but quite playable. The repairer told me that in the 70s he saw a few MS basses with exactly the same issue. According to him Maton had underestimated the stresses on the soundboard and had not provided adequate bracing for the top.”

I figured that as this was a common problem, and from the auction description this bass played fantastic, I didn’t care. And as soon as I started playing it those concerns were gone as I wasn’t going to be selling this bass any time soon.

The rest of the bass was stock standard. She still has the original controls with the control stickers under the knobs. Strangely enough the tone is above the volume, which makes reaching for the volume a bit of a stretch. Not sure what ‘bass expander’ means…

One of my favourite features is the headstock. What a shape. I mean… wow. It’s the bass version of the Leaderman and is five types of kick ass. Honestly, whoever was designing these things for Maton back then was REALLY good at their job.

The tuners are a bit strange. They’re very sensitive… the slightest movement changes the tuning. It’s not a bad thing, they just feel a lot different to the regular Fender-type tuners.

Strapped on this thing is pretty imposing. She’s a big girl. Maton placed the bottom strap peg in a strange spot… possibly to combat neck dive. It seems to work… this bass hangs beautifully. A pity I look about 4 foot tall wearing her.

The pickups look like Dearmonds… which they most possibly were. Through an Ampeg rig, they sound great. They have a surprising amount of grunt, and possibly due to the huge stretch of area between the pickups, there’s a big variety of sounds between the 3 settings. The bridge alone sounds great, very rock…. the neck pickups sounds huge, very woolly and both pickups together are the best of both worlds.

So, yeah. I’m stoked. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Mastersound Bass was the weapon of choice for Brian Hooper, bassist for the Beasts Of Bourbon & The Surrealists. He actually owned 2 until they both got stolen in a break in. I actually checked with him that this wasn’t his… so if you live in Perth and see a red one of these… let me know. Brian would love to get her back.

Here’s Brian playing his old red Mastersound in Kim Salmon & The Surrealists…


And here he is playing it in one of my favourite songs ever… ‘The Low Road’ by the Beasts Of Bourbon.


You know what the sad thing is? I’m never gonna look as cool as Brian playing one of these.

*edit: I forgot to mention. Tim from Tym Guitars is in the middle of building a Mastersound 1100 inspired bass for a friend of his. He’s Tym-ified it slightly by reversing the headstock and some other small details, but as you can see… it’s gonna be frikken’ awesome when finished.

***live review. So last night I got the chance to play my Mastersound Bass live in both my bands, Obliterati & Sixfthick. I’d already tried it at band practice with Obliterati and was pretty impressed with it. But as we know, a practice studio and a live gig are two different situations. I’d also slightly changed my bass setup by now using two Proco Rat pedals, one for my main sound, and both for a creamy boost on top for choruses etc. To put it mildly, this bass absolutely blew me away. It sounded PERFECT. I’ve always been about 90% happy with my bass sound… now I’m close to being 100%. On the neck pickup alone, this bass had the perfect mix of bottom end and clarity. I’m guessing that the neck pickup must be in the ‘sweet spot’… the exact spot where everything sounds good. The bridge pickup is good, but not ballsy enough and combined it’s ok. But that neck pickup is… woah.

And with it being a hollow body, I could get controlled feedback by standing close to my speaker and letting nature do it’s course. I could hold a note for as long as I wanted. But even though this bass is hollow, it has heaps of sustain… maybe from the block that has been added under the bridge. In any case, this bass has become my new #1.

The only thing is… no hardcase fits this monster. To get it to the gig, I had to SQUEEEEEEZE it into an acoustic gig bag, with the headstock poking out of the top. So for now, she’s reserved for local gigs until I can figure out what to do.