The Cadillac of Australian guitars… the Maton Phil Manning Custom Stereo.
Phil Manning is an Australian blues player who played in legendary Australian blues band ‘Chain’… he was known as ‘Australia’s Eric Clapton’… I guess every country has an Eric Clapton and Phil was ours. At the peak of Chain’s popularity in the mid 70′s, Maton & Phil designed this monstrous beast of a guitar. Here’s Phil sporting his #1 Custom Stereo on the cover of his solo album ‘I Wish There Was A Way’. (sorry for the crappy quality pic…)
The beautiful example shown in this article is owned by Bindi from Melbourne/Bendigo band ‘Killer Birds’. It was originally owned by her uncle, and is one of the first 50 made which makes it a 1974.
Bindi’s modified it by getting rid of the complicated stereo switching. Funnily enough, Phil Manning himself did the same thing. Apart from that, Bindi’s Maton is in great condition.It’s also my favourite colour for PM Custom’s… my example was the dark red version which… while it looked cool… wasn’t the classic PM look.
The finish is quite beautiful… it’s a great piece of wood. The knobs look VERY Guild, which makes sense. While a lot of people call this Maton’s Les Paul, I think it’s more Maton’s Guild Blues Bird. Have at look at this…
Guild… plus they’re both semi hollow. While the Guild’s hollow chambers are hidden, Maton did something really special.
The chambers are fitted with beautifully cut pieces of contrasting maple. And look at that gorgeous heel sculpturing. Remember, this was 1974… Gibson’s heel design at this stage was still firmly stuck in the 1930′s.
The headstock was also a beautiful work of art. The truss rod cover was a nicely cut piece of tortoiseshell. And look at the grain… it’s looks like the wall of a 70′s Swedish sauna.
The neck on Bindi’s Maton is very nicely worn. Her uncle obviously loved this guitar and played it a lot. It felt great. Plus it has the great laquered fretboard, which is very Rickenbacker.
I was alo surprised on how light this Phil Manning was. Mine weighed an absolute ton, which is the reason I finally got rid of it. It was nearly unplayable. Bindi’s feels like a lighter than average Les Paul Custom. Basically, out of the 3 Phil Manning Custom’s I’ve played, this is easily the best. It’s inspired me to look for another Phil Manning Custom, because if Bindi’s is this light, maybe another one out there for sale is as well… *fingers crossed*
If Maton were serious about their new custom shop, they would be pumping out these babies. They are the pinnacle of Australian guitar design… This is a real guitar.