Maton Guitars


September 17th 2014

An Instrument of peace to honour nation's fallen. Every instrument has its own character, but the Lone Pine guitar has something more.


''Maybe the Anzacs are looking over this one,'' said Andy Allen, chief luthier at Maton Guitars. ''It certainly has its own vibe going on.''

In a 20-year career, Mr Allen has had a hand in making more than 16,000 guitars - and crafted some specially for the likes of Tommy Emmanuel and Jimmy Page.

However, few mean more than the acoustic guitar he built five years ago from fragments of the former pine tree at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

More than 2000 Australians and 5000 Turks lost their lives at Lone Pine, on a plateau known by its sole Aleppo pine. One soldier souvenired a pine cone for his aunt, who grew four seedlings that were replanted throughout Victoria.

When the Melbourne pine, which succumbed to disease last year, lost a branch to a storm in 2005, the Shrine commissioned a furniture company to convert the wood into a boardroom table.

Mr Allen made the company an offer for any surplus wood.

''There was a lot of rot and knots and splits, and the timber hadn't been seasoned,'' Mr Allen said. ''We need to dry it to a specific moisture content before turning it into a guitar.''

After 50 hours' work the Aleppo pine front joined the body made from Victorian blackwood sourced from the Otways. A pearl inlay on the fret board depicts a soldier standing beneath the southern cross, his rifle pointing to the ground. And the story of the pine's more-than-90-year journey, from the Dardanelles to Mr Allen's workshop at Box Hill, was written inside the body.

Mr Allen doesn't play the Lone Pine guitar much himself. The ''resident rocker'' at Maton said he had too much respect for the instrument to ''rip a Guns N' Roses tune on it''. Instead, he entrusts it to people such as poet Jim Brown, who borrowed it recently for a performance of his poemThe Anzac on the Wall.

''Just holding it in my arms and playing the thing was a wonderful experience,'' Mr Brown said. ''I'll never forget it.''

Every guitar bears the properties of its provenance, Mr Allen believes.

''We talk about tone with guitars like you talk about wine - richness, depth and body.'' Which makes the Lone Pine guitar about a $40 bottle. ''It's not cask wine, put it that way, and it's probably not a Grange either,'' he said. ''It's got nice bottom but not as big as some, the mids stand out, you can taste the trebles.''