From a small backyard workshop Maton Guitars has grown into a truly great Australian success story. Currently Maton employs more than 60 people and remains 100 per cent family owned and operated.
Firmly established now as Australia’s favourite and most successful guitar, Maton is gaining acceptance on the world stage as an instrument of the highest quality. It is following Bill May’s vision of making hand crafted guitars at an affordable price that are as good as any in the world. His philosophy still rings true today: “If you make a good guitar, the right guitar, people will want it.”
Bill May's philosophy meant that “precision in work is very important. Individuals are important – I must have them. I feel it is the right way of life for a man to come and work and to give his ability to a job which means something to him and something to the end user.” Bill May.
Bill’s enthusiasm proved infectious and lives on today in current staff members who embrace the high standards of quality on which Maton was founded. Bill was particularly interested in experimenting with Australian timbers and these principles continue today with impressive results.
Beloved and respected entertainers in Australia such as Tommy Emmanuel (who bought his first Maton, an MS500 model in 1959), John Williamson, The Finn Brothers, Paul Kelly, The Seekers, George Golla and Colin Hay have been seen on stage and television playing a Maton and the company’s turnover expanded. “I have spent my whole life playing music to people in Australia and I love playing an Australian-made guitar – the Maton,” said Tommy Emmanuel.
International performers such as John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and even the late Beatle George Harrison have played a part in spreading the word about Maton guitars. helping lift Maton’s reputation and international profile.
Canterbury Road was Maton’s home for 40 years from 1949 to 1989. Bill’s health began to fade and in the early 1990s he passed away 6 May 1993. Right to the finish, Bill took a keen interest in the family company’s newly emerging directions as did his widow Vera.
Bill had already prepared to hand over his and Vera’s company to his daughter Linda and son-in-law Neville Kitchen who have proudly kept faith with Bill’s vision. Maton moved to bigger premises at Bayswater but within just a dozen years, these proved too small to cope with back orders, particularly internationally.
The 2003 move to the current premises in Clarice Road in Box Hill required an investment of millions of dollars to make the new factory `state of the art’. It was a tough assignment – to retain quality while boosting guitar production. Linda and Neville Kitchen say that their workforce has lifted the bar when it comes to production standards. This has been helped by the introduction of locally designed computer programs and high technology that have allowed workers more time to do what they do best – make guitars by hand in a safe, climate controlled environment.
Every worker on the factory floor plays guitar and their passion for their craft is clear as they devote themselves to making instruments they would want to play.
The spirit of Bill May lives on and he would be proud of the results being achieved today.