The Australian semi-hollowbody combines retro and modern
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Maton was founded in 1946 by Bill May, who created the company’s name (pronounced MAY-ton) by combining his last name and the word “tone.” Back in the ’40s, quality guitars weren’t readily available in Australia so Maton quickly became the founding father of the Australian guitar industry. They began manufacturing high-quality acoustic instruments and ventured into electric guitars in the late ’50s. Their first solidbody electric was called the Mastersound in 1958, and the MS500 series followed soon thereafter. It quickly became a favorite for many musicians—including George Harrison, who played a Maton MS500 early in his career. The guitar was reissued in 2008 as a 50th-anniversary model, and now Maton has introduced a semi-hollowbody version of that guitar— the MS500/HC reviewed here.
Proven Design, New Twists
The 24.5"-scale MS500/HC has a maple bolt-on neck with a rosewood fingerboard and a Queensland maple body with a Blackwood tone cap. The pickups are Maton’s own design—a coil-tapped MVB1 in the bridge position and an MVS1 neck unit that has alnico magnets.
As you’d expect from its origins in the late ’50s, the MS500/HC exudes a retro vibe. Everything from the pickups and pickguard to the headstock with the original logo from 1946 contributes to the throwback nostalgia. One of the coolest features is the 3-way, gearshift-style rotary pickup selector, which features kitschy setting names: “Cool” for the neck pickup, “Midway” for both, and “HiFi” for the bridge pickup. The shape and position of the switch allow for fast and easy switching between modes. Plus, there’s something about having a rotary switch with a little handle that’s a lot more fun than a regular toggle switch.
The Queensland maple body and blackwood tone cap are probably not a tonewood combination most American guitarists are used to. But because Maton is based in Australia, they have access to a wide range of woods that aren’t available elsewhere. This particular combination is probably most analogous to the maple-and-mahogany-cap construction used for Les Pauls. These timbers help Maton make unique, quality guitars while keeping materials costs a little lower.
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 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.
you’re looking for a lightweight, semi-hollowbody with retro flare and some modern flexibility.
you don’t like shorter-scale guitars or prefer solidbodies.
Street $1657 - Maton Guitars - maton.com.au
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Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
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The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
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The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
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As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.