Maton Alver Hollowbody

A beautiful example of Maton’s student level guitars.

This story starts with a lady named Sally, who is the saxaphone player in my band ‘The Horrortones’ and who happens to own a great music store in Brisbane’s West End called Audrey’s Music Shop. I’d designed Sally’s logo and business cards, so in payment her guitar repairer Ben was doing some work on my guitar. I’d dropped in one weekend to pick it up and while I was chatting to Ben (he looooooves to chat) I noticed a nice old red hollow body on the wall with a very familiar looking Maton pickup installed. My guitarnerd instincts told me that this had to be an Alver. After asking if I could have a quick strum, Ben said go ahead, plug her in. Wow, what a beauty…

Alver was Maton’s student line… they were budget, no frills guitars that were made alongside the regular more expensive Maton models. According to Bill May’s wife, the reason they stopped making Alver’s was that it cost too much to make them, as despite them being simple they still took a long time to make. They couldn’t cut corners on quality, it just wasn’t in them to do that. The materials & features might have been slightly cheaper, but the workmanship was still there…  Maton just couldn’t build them any cheaper. They might of well put Maton on the headstock and charged as such.

I was thinking while playing this guitar that if Maton ever wanted to do a cheaper line of their classic guitars, they could easily revive the Alver name and get the Alver acoustics and electrics made by Samick, a’la Fender with Squier and Gibson with Epiphone. Alver Flamingo, anybody? Food for thought.

This example featured a Maton single coil pickup, which is the same as the ones on my beloved Maton Apollo. I’m not sure what’s inside there or how they’re made, but these pickups have a ‘hi-fi’ sound to them and are very Gretsch like.I plugged this Alver into a tube Strauss combo and it sound fantastic… a beautiful full sound with that slight banjo/boxy feel from the archtop construction.

The story of this guitar is that it’s owned by an elderly pensioner who’d had this guitar from near new, and was fixing it up for his neighbour to play. That neighbour is certainly lucky… I haven’t seen many Alver’s this nice. It still had the original machineheads which worked great.I couldn’t see anything on this guitar that had been changed or replaced.

The body itself had a beautiful red stain which had some nice weathering. This guitar was in great condition for a 50 year old instrument.The neck join was firm and in great condition, no cracks or issues. The neck profile itself was pretty meaty… not like the slim 60’s Maton necks that I love, but more the full & wide necks from Maton’s early 50’s era. Still very comfortable and playable, especially after Ben’s great setup.

The scratchplate is original… the only small mod is that along this guitars long life, the owner has shellaced it. Not sure why… maybe he didn’t like scratches on his scratchplate. The original Maton rotary switch is there too… but Ben & I was a little baffled to what it did on a one pickup guitar, as at the moment it just turned everything off. I think originally it may have been a tone choke switch like on my Fyrbyrd, or a tone circuit bypass as on Micheal’s black Fyrbyrd #4.

Another great feature are the beautiful black knobs. Very art deco and it would be impossible to track down a replacement if lost. They kind of look lost on such a big guitar.

But my favourite bit of this guitar (sad I know) is the Maton ‘steel reinforced neck’ sticker, which after Micheal’s great Fyrbyrd story we now know were printed on thin sheets of brass. I’d love to make a replica sticker set for Maton collectors, as I think they’re a huge part of the classic Maton look, and a Maton without it’s stickers is naked…. especially Fyrbyrds.  I can do the graphic design part of this so that they’re absolutely spot on… but I have no idea where to get them printed onto brass. Anyone out there able to help? We NEED to do this as a community service.

Congrats to the neighbour who is inheriting this beautiful guitar. You’re a lucky, lucky, LUCKY man. Treat her well.