The Maton name is a derivative of the words “May” and “Tone”.
Until the mid 1930s an Australian guitar manufacturing industry was virtually nonexistent. Good quality guitars were hard to find and at this time the best guitars came from the U.S.A. Bill May, a Melbourne-born jazz musician, woodwork teacher and luthier decided to change all that.
During the early 1940s Bill established a custom guitar manufacturing and repair business known as “Maton Stringed Instruments and Repairs”. This enterprise was so successful that Bill was able to convince his older brother, Reg, to join him as a full time guitar maker and in March 1946 the “Maton Musical Instruments Company” was born.
Maton is still a 100% family owned Australian company, now operated by Linda & Neville Kitchen (Bill May's daughter and son in law). Showing great faith in the potential of the company, Bill opened up Australia's first major guitar making facility in Canterbury, Melbourne, in 1949. More than 300 different models were created at the Canterbury factory, a staggering testimony to the creativity of the Maton team from that era.
Maton called the Canterbury factory home for 40 years until it was time to upgrade to a more modern and spacious facility in Bayswater, Melbourne, in 1989.
After 12 years at the Bayswater factory it was time to relocate to an even larger facility in the inner Melbourne suburb of Box Hill, in an attempt to satisfy the overwhelming demand for the handcrafted instruments. The new purpose built facility is four times the size of the old factory in Bayswater. From this new factory the company will be able to meet its current demand and further develop international markets. The success of this Australian icon is largely due to the inspiration and creativity Bill May possessed and was able to reproduce in his instruments. Having established Maton as Australia’s longest running and most successful guitar manufacturer, and pioneering the use of many Australian wood species in guitar construction, Bill May is regarded by many Australian luthiers as the founding father of their industry.
Bill May’s importance to the history of Australian music was recently recognised at the Australian Music Association Awards where he was posthumously awarded their highest honour and inducted into the hall of fame.
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