A unique Fyrbyrd/Phil Manning Std hybrid.
So, you may have noticed that guitarnerd hasn’t had any Maton stories for a long while. This was after I noticed that guitarnerd was getting pretty Maton-heavy, to the point where I may as well have changed the name of the site to ‘Matonerd’…
So, for now on, instead of writing about every Maton I see, it’ll be every once of while and only on special/rare instruments. Like the one I’m about to talk about.
So what we have here is a 60′s non-Sharkbite Fyrbyrd… probably a 1963, that has most probably been modified by Maton in the 70′s. The story of my involvement with this guitar starts way back in 2005. I was playing a gig at The Annandale in Sydney with I think Sixfthick, but it may have been The Tremors… I’m not quite sure. I was admiring a red Maton Sharkbite Fyrbyrd that the support band was playing. This was the first Fyrbyrd I’d ever seen and I was in love…
Cec, my bandmate in The Tremors, mentioned that a friend of his had an old Fyrbyrd in parts under his bed and would probably sell it cheap. At the time I was saving my $$$ for the upcoming Sixfthick Europe tour, so I passed his details to Tim at Tym Guitars, who bought the guitar and quickly fixed it up to sell. The original scratchplate had disintegrated, so Tim cut a new one out of white perspex, plus he added a cheap Bigsby-a-like as the bridge and tremolo were missing, and added some machine heads he had lying around. This was just to get the guitar up and running to sell… not to be factory original.
The guitar was bought by the guitarist in my band, Dan, and did service in Sixfthick for a few years. The pickups sounded great… this was a Fyrbyrd on steroids… and the neck was slim and very playable. One night we played a gig with the Beasts Of Bourbon, and the Fyrbyrd’s original owner… Cec’s mate… saw his old Fyrbyrd and bugged out how cool it looked. He’d owned the guitar since he was 17 and seeing his guitar in action gave him severe sellers remorse. Fast forward a year and Dan sold it back to him.
Fast forward another 5 years and I bought it off HIM. I’ve always had fond memories of this guitars time in Sixfthick, plus now knowing some more about old Matons I knew how much of a strange example it was, so I inquired if he’d be interested in selling it… he was and it’s now a part of my small Maton family.
The weird thing about this particular Fyrbyrd… well, weird things… were the pickups and the headstock. The pickups and wiring were straight from a Maton Phil Manning Standard, and the headstock had been reshaped into a ‘beak’, with a 70′s Fyrbyrd logo added. This led Tim and I to believe that the guitar had been modified by Maton in the 70′s, possibly because the headstock had been damaged. The key clues here are the pickups… if this guitar had been modified by a regular repairer and had humbuckers fitted, they would’ve used aftermarket pickups like Dimarzios. Maton humbuckers are REALLY hard to come by, unless you’re at Maton. Also, the wiring is pretty much the same as how Maton fitted these humbuckers, with the splits and phase switching. This makes this particular Fyrbyrd a unique sounding machine.
Next is the headstock. It was such a weird shape, unlike any other Maton I’d seen. This baffled me until it was put forward by Greg T that the original Maton Fyrbyrd paddle headstock probably got snapped vertically, which has happened to one of Greg’s Maton Flamingos. So Maton probably reshaped it slightly and added a current (for the time) Maton Fyrbyrd logo. You can see that the edges and the back of the headstock have been resprayed a LONG time ago, but the body paint is original as you can see the faint imprint from the original Fyrbyrd sticker which probably was removed when the guitar got modified. The headstock area looks a little glossier due to the respray from the repair, but the colour matches exactly, which again points to being a Maton factory repair.
My plans for this guitar are to get it a little more factory original. An original Bigsby bridge and tremolo are on the cards, as well as some nicer tuners. At the moment it’s sporting some rare black Fyrbyrd knobs that I found on eBay, but I think a set of metal Maton knobs would suit it better. I have a little NOS Maton trussrod cover that would fit nicely as well.
Apart from that I’m leaving it as is. There are probably a hundred or so non-sharkbite Fyrbyrds out there… but only one of these!
I’m currently in the process of getting a replica Fyrbyrd sticker set made up for Fyrbyrd owners. Kieron in Adelaide has a machine with “lasers” that spits out these beauties. Here’s the first result. Look out for further details as they come!