Light As a Feather, Fat Tones
The MS500/HC’s semi-hollow body makes it quite light, and playing a few chords unplugged revealed a singing resonance that can be heard and felt. The unique design of the cutaway and the heel joint make playing in the 17th position and above a little tricky, especially if you have smaller hands, but the neck has a slim, comfortable shape and a smooth satin finish for a faster, slicker feel. Action right out of the case was a little higher than I prefer, but I was able to lower it to a more satisfactory level with a few adjustments.

To evaluate the Maton’s tones, I dialed in a clean sound through a Paul Reed Smith 30 amp, with all the tone knobs set to 12 o’clock. The semi-hollow body made dialing in a warm, rich, jazzy tone easy, and chords rang out nicely with plenty of sustain. The hollow chamber also imparts a warm, musical midrange and a trace of reverb-like resonance. The MVB1 and MVS1 pickups are quite responsive to the resonant qualities of the body and exhibit a lot of tonal range. The combination of the neck pickup with the coil-tapped bridge pickup was a favorite—serving up a nice blend of deep, low-midrange tones with some high-end snap that I could easily adapt for jazz, funk, blues, and country riffs.

Next I plugged into a Fryette Memphis Thirty amp, again keeping the tone knobs at a neutral setting and adding some amp overdrive. In this setting, the guitar was perfect for heavy ’70s British rock—especially when playing power chords in a chugging rhythm. Pickup clarity was excellent in almost any combination. Chording in the neck position sounded tight and heavy without being muddy or too muffled. And the Maton proved perfect for bluesy leads—delivering impressive sustain with only a minimal amount of overdrive.

With the gain cranked and the amp fully saturated, the MS500/HC roared. Again, chords were chunky, with plenty of bite and clarity. Using both the neck and the bridge pickups in single-coil mode gave me access to a world of cool, Brian May-style tones. Perhaps the guitar’s only limitation in terms of tone shaping was that, at times, I wished the guitar had an additional volume knob so I could switch between a cleaner sound for the “Cool” neck pickup and a dirtier sound for the “HiFi” bridge pickup.

The Verdict
The Maton MS500/HC is a retro-handsome, well-crafted, semi-hollow variation of Maton’s first solidbody electric that doffs its cap to both Maton’s history and the guitars of the late ’50s in general. It is versatile enough to handle the softest jazz chords to the loudest hard-rock power chords—all while maintaining clarity. And the semihollow design and coil-tapping pickups offer a vast range of tones with the resonance of a hollowbody guitar and the sustain and bite of a solidbody. Lightweight, distinctively styled, and sonically multi-faceted, the Maton MS500/HC is a jack-of-all-trades that stands out from the pack.

Buy if...
you’re looking for a lightweight, semi-hollowbody with retro flare and some modern flexibility.
Skip if...
you don’t like shorter-scale guitars or prefer solidbodies.

Street $1657 - Maton Guitars -