It’s finished. My hot rodded 1960′s Maton Flamingo Series 2.
Nearly a year ago, I did a story on a Maton Flamingo that was kindly given to me by Tim from Tym Guitars. (read it here.) Tim had received the guitar over 10 years ago when he bought an amp… the owner threw in the guitar for nothing. Tim packed the guitar away in his workshop and promptly forgot about it as it slowly got buried in various other guitars over the years. After guitarnerd got up and running, he remembered that he had an old Maton somewhere and said I could have it as thanks for the design work I’d done for him over the years, which was VERY nice of him and just another reason why I love that shop!
I was originally going to restore this one to original and hotrod my OTHER Series 2 Flamingo (yes I have two). But this one played so good and felt so solid that I decided to try and update it and make it my player. Don’t get me wrong, I love original vintage Maton Flamingos… but they’re not really built for the music I play. The pickups are notoriously microphonic, the bridges don’t intonate that well and the tremolos aren’t that reliable, tuning wise. So this one was going to get an upgrade.
First things to decide on were pickups. I decided early on on a Firebird mini humbucker, as they look similar to the original Maton single coils and I love the sound of them as a bridge pickup. For the neck, I used my main guitar (my pinstripe SG) as my guide and decided on a Danelectro style lipstick single coil. I love the sound of these pickups in the neck and if this guitar was going to be used… I needed it to sound like how I wanted it to.
Tim had a fair bit of trouble fitting these into the guitar, as I didn’t want any routing done as I wanted to be able to bring this guitar to factory original in the future if I ever wanted to. But the pickups were so high that some drastic surgery would be needed, so Tim cut the mounting legs off the pickups and mounted them directly to the body. The pickups are from GFS so they’re inexpensive and sound great.
Next up was the bridge and tremolo. The original straight bar bridge are pretty bad for intonation, so it had to go. So I decided to borrow from the Flamingo’s bigger sister, the Fyrbyrd, and get the full Bigsby set up. It looks great, sounds great, stays in tune and any new holes would be covered if I ever fit the original Flamingo tremolo again. Plus the added mass really does add a lot to the sound.
Next was the scratchplate. I’d ordered a new Maton Mastersound selector knob and surround sticker, so Tim went the extra mile and somehow removed the original volume and tone sticker from the old broken Flamingo scratchplate and fitted it to the new custom scratchplate he cut. This touch really makes the whole guitar. It almost looks factory original.
So how does it play? Fan-frikken-tastic! The neck on Flamingos are slim and narrow, so really comfortable for my little hands. Plus this guitar had been refretted with jumbos so there’s a lot of meat there to dig into. The slim body is lightweight, but with a bit of weight to it so that it feels solid… sort of like an SG.
I love how this guitar has turned out and look forward to playing it for years and years. There’s still some little tweaks I’m going to get done (tuners etc) but I’m really stoked with how it’s turned out. Plus it’s pretty much guaranteed I’m the only guy playing one of these rare birds as a live guitar which is pretty cool to a nerd like me.
And how sweet is it with it’s matching Maton guitar amp…. but that’s another story.