Maton Amplifiers

The Maton museum site shows no amplifiers commencing prior to 1960, is this correct? Were Maton’s first amplifiers made before 1960? Let’s explore.
An article By Ken Palethorpe.

Maton’s records of amplifier production would indicate that they commenced in 1960 and discontinued in 1960, this can’t be correct.  Unconfirmed rumors’ persist that amp records were destroyed. (that’s a whole other story).  Regardless of what happened there is certainly some inaccuracy there.  We know that some time in the mid sixties (65-66) that Maton serial numbers had not been recorded as the foreman was overseas for an extended period. Whilst it would be easy to be critical of missing records we need to understand that the pressure to maintain serial numbers etc was almost nonexistent.  Many manufacturers kept no records at all. The fact that Maton kept records is a huge plus for them and for us amateur historians.

The first Maton Amps?

The AM-1, AM-3 and the lesser known AM-2 would appear to be Maton’s very first amplifiers. They appear in a catalogue dated 1955 possibly in earlier catalogues and certainly in later .

Few were made or should I say few survive.  We therefore cannot accept the Maton dates as correct, however an old and complete brochure of Maton guitars and artists features the description of the amps but without any pictures.  What made me do a double take was the range of 10 featured guitars in an undated catalogue one of which, according to Maton records, (Starline S.E.90) was discontinued in 1955, the Coolibar F.T.6 in 1958 and the Goldtone G210 in 1959.  Now the Premier E.G.45A was 59-60. But just to confuse the issue another five show 1959 as their first production date and one the Supreme F.240 as 1960.  Now, some of the featured guitars remained in production until 1966.

So the date range of the guitars in the brochure spans some 20 years from 1946 to 1966, confused?  Ok let’s try this, the earliest discontinue date is 55 the latest start date is 60 so a five year Mexican standoff. Only one the Premier E.G.45A was made in 59-60. Therefore some of the Maton museums start and discontinue dates must be wrong as this catalogue covers all the above guitars and on the back includes a description of the AM 1, 2 and 3 series amps. So were then does that place the A series amps? Certainly in 1955 as they appear in a 1955 dated catalogue.

So were amps made before 1960?

Answer: YES they were. and here is the proof.

An almost mint condition AM3 fully working with a choke dated 6th October 1954. Smack bang  in the middle between 46 and 59. Serial number A4217. Three AM series amps have been documented to date, two AM1’s (serials A4021 and A4208) and one AM3 Serial number A4217.  A4021 also has a choke date of 1954. Careful with choke dates, this is the date the choke was made the amp must be equal to or later. It is ironic that all these amps serial numbers begin with A4, does this mean:

• A first series, and
• 4 being 1954?

The A.M.1/2 and 3 were probably the first series of Maton amplifiers.  Believed to be made by a local manufacturer (Philips?) and sold by Maton.  They certainly were professionally made and bare an uncanny likeness to some early Rose Music (Rose Morris) Goldentone amps.  Another story.

The build quality smacks of a serious professional manufacturing capability and follows the style of production radios from the late 1940’s to 1950’s. Far better quality in many ways than much younger amps. An unsubstantiated comment from an old dealer was that the early amp manufacturer wanted Bill May to commit to a large production order and he declined. This then smacks of a large manufacturer who needed numbers to justify a production run.  A smaller operation would have just built on spec so the comment makes sense and support the quality of production of the early amps.

These amps were often sold in combination with steel guitars.  This particular amp was originally sold with a steel guitar and had one original owner until 1990 and two owners since.  It is in amazing condition, working, with all original parts and hardly a surface mark on the “Leatherette” covering.

This description comes from the 1956 catalogue.

“Suitable amplifier for the beginner of both Spanish and Hawaiian Guitar. Special lightweight case for portability”.

4 1/2 watts Single Input, Volume and Tone controls
1 x 8 inch speaker
Size 12 inches high x 12 inches long, 5 ¾ inches deep ,
Original price: ₤38.15.0 ” (Note around 2 weeks average wage for 1955)
“Magnavox” 8P2 8 inch speaker, valves are KT61, 5Y3 GT,
Tone control markings = “Mellow – Normal- Brilliant”,
Volume markings = Soft – Medium – Loud,)

MATON AM3Maton series II amplifiers?

What is believed to be the second series of Maton is an example of a B series Maton amplifier. Both A and B series amps are very rare.
The Mastersound was probably the second series of Maton amplifiers.  Believed to be made elsewhere and sold by Maton.  They were often sold in combination with steel guitars.  Maton sold American made lap steels branded Maton.  This particular amp is in very good condition and has the addition of a Tremolo.  Matons records show a start date of 1960 however catalogues in this collection would date it as at least mid to late fifties.  Based on another amp serial number B4574 which has the transformed date of October 1958 this amp would appear to be earlier but probably the same year 1958.

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