The New Australian EA80C and Messiah EM100C Models
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Maton Guitars Chief Designer Patrick Evans talks about his experience re-imagining these classic guitars
How and When the project came about?
During 2011 it became increasingly clear to us that our customers had become more educated in tone and that our higher end models needed to reflect this development. Changes in the value of the Australian dollar also impacted our comparative value against competitor’s guitars. The bar had been raised in terms of tone and we needed to step up to the challenge.
At the same time we had been working towards improving our tone in the Custom Shop and Andy Allen, our Custom Shop Luthier had been continually pushing the envelope in terms of voicing individual guitars and experimenting with different tonewoods. It was brilliant timing that Andy’s personal development as a guitar maker and our need to revisit our acoustic tone came together at the right time. So this project is the result of five plus years of tonal development and understanding in the Custom Shop combined with many years combined of guitar making knowledge through our Maton tradition and history.
What improvements have been made in construction/materials?
The Australian series now has a Victorian Blackwood neck and Mulga (desert acacia) fingerboard and bridge which provides great sustain and a unique tone as well as a distinctive look. The headstock also features a mother of pearl shape of Australia. The Messiah has a Mahogany neck and the headstock features a stylized mother of pearl Maton “M”, a design used on some of our electric headstocks through the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Both models have scalloped X bars and tone bars as well as an increased curve on their back. This has the effect of lowering the plate frequency of the face and raising the frequency of the back which increases bass response as well as overall projection. The backs are also slightly thinner which produces a greater range of interesting upper partial harmonics. Both models are finished in our new UV cured finish which is super thin (under 400 microns) and which allows the wood to vibrate to its full potential. Our gloss guitars now sound better than they ever have!
How do these improvements affect the sound?
We’ve basically produced a fuller sounding, richer guitar that stands up against any competitor. You could say we’ve liberated the sound. It still sounds like a Maton, only now it’s realised its full potential.
Who was involved in the process?
This was an organisation wide project but the key drivers were Andy Allen (custom shop), Mike Foley(sales), Mark Malmborg (UV finishing), myself (production design and development), Tim Hackett (brace shaping and body building), Zev Feldman (body prep), Sam Burl and Ryan McCormack (assembly), Dario Comacho (UV gloss finishing), Ron Benson (setup), Ian Chappel (materials sourcing) and Anthony Knowles (production implementation). Many areas of expertise needed to come together to make this happen successfully.
I understand that some of the learnings that went into the guitars came from the custom shop, could you elaborate?
The main input from Custom Shop was how to improve tone without compromising structural integrity. As well as producing one off, beautiful guitars for customers, Andy also often builds guitars that are never supposed to leave the factory. These guitars are experiments where we push the boundaries of plate thickness, brace shaping, neck angles etc: just to find out where the limits are and better understand the variables that come together to produce these things we call acoustic guitars. As a result of these experiments we know we can produce a fuller, richer sounding guitar that will age beautifully, improve over time and still withstand the forces of string tension and general wear and tear.
In my opinion these are the best production guitars to ever come out of the Maton factory and I am confident they will hold their own against any make of guitar.
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