1964 Maton Fyrbyrd ‘non sharkbite’

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Finally! A relatively non-molested non-sharkbite Fyrbyrd has dropped into my little hands.

My recent article on collecting guitars has gotten a fantastic response. It seemed to hit a nerve with people whether they played guitar or not. Perhaps because so much of my friends and family are collectors, they could relate to the ‘red mist’ that overcomes you when you MUST HAVE THAT THING.

But there seems to be a slight mis-communication at the conclusion of my article. There is no way in hell I am stopping buying/trading guitars. I’ve been doing it for over twenty years and I can’t stop now. It still gives me joy and is a big part of my life. Plus guitarnerd would slow to a grinding halt.

So when I say ‘no more guitars’… I mean no “more” guitars. The amount I have now is more than enough. So if I come across a guitar that I’ve been after and it’s the right price… the rule is I must sell a guitar I currently have of the equivalent or greater value to buy the new one. That way I have to stop and think whether I really need that new axe, as everyone knows selling gear is a royal pain in the ass. For me to go through that and still want the guitar… that means I really want it and it’s not just an impulse buy. And that the guitar that is sold gets released into the general populace and is being played. Win, win.

I currently have a list of five Maton’s that fulfill this criteria. Instead of buying any and all Maton’s at random as soon as they come up (that dreaded red mist again)… I’ve made up a list of five that I’m concentrating on and so if any off the list come up… I can ignore them. Setting these rules on myself is needed so as to curb the impulse buying that collectors so often do. My list includes.

1. Red non-sharkbite 1964 Maton Fyrbyrd.
Now, I realise I have my red non sharkbite Fyrbyrd Custom, but that has been modified a LOT by Maton in the 70′s, and I want a relatively original example.

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2. 1970-71 Maton Fyrbyrd FB70.
This is the Strat shaped Fyrbyrd with the Strat headstock and the last in the series. I want this for two reasons… the neck on 70′s Maton’s are second to none (my 70′s Wedgtail is a dream to play) and also this will complete my Fyrbyrd set. I will have one of each main model.

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3. Maton Big Ben Bass.
My love of the Big Ben Bass has been well documented. While a few have come up, they’ve been too expensive for my tastes. Hopefully one will come up at the right price one day.

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4. Maton George Golla GG22.
This is the epitome of Maton’s craftmanship. They are stunning guitars that beat nearly any Gibson jazz box. And it’s my 40th this year so I think one of these would be a nice present to myself.

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5. Maton Ibis. Simply to complete my Maton ‘bird’ set. And that crazy headstock.

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And after some quick selling of a bass,bass amp and vintage Rat pedal… number one on my list was crossed off yesterday. Thanks to fellow Matonerd, Greg T, I now have a very sweet playing non-sharkbite Fyrbyrd to keep Old Yella and the Red Rat Rod company.

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The Fyrbyrd has been resprayed recently, and the neck may have been shaved a little which suits my small hands fine. It’s a real players guitar… fast neck and drop dead looks. The narrower neck has meant that a modified bridge has been made. I think a regular Bigsby would work with new slots so that’s on the cards. The previous owner drilled holes into the Bigsby moustache bridge base and the guitar body to screw it into place. I just have to make sure this is the right position and I may do the same.

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The original Bigsby tremolo is all there. The string pins have been removed to make restringing easier, which is a great idea. The spring has seized up, so a new strong spring will have this guitar string wobbly nicely.

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The pickups are in sparkling condition. They’re REALLY clean. And they sound really fat… probably partly due to being so close to the strings. I’ve actually been using the ‘Sound Barrier’ to choke back the output a little and get some more under powered twang tone. I do this on my yellow Sharkbite as well.

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The knobs are off an old 1940′s bakelite radio and are actually really comfortable and cool looking. I have a set of vintage metal Maton knobs that would be perfect for this guitar, but I have to unseize the tension screws. No big rush…

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As mentioned, the guitar has been resprayed. It’s pretty close to the original Maton Fyrbyrd Red, but a touch more pink. It’s bright and looks a million bucks with all the chrome and stickers. Speaking of which, the Fyrbyrd sports the rare ‘Maton Quality’ sticker which seems to go missing on most examples. As with the case with 50 year old glue, they’re starting to come off. I think some strong double sided tape may be needed.

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The headstock has been left unrestored, which is great. It’s crazed and yellowed and it’s a nice window into the history of this guitar. I’m guessing the guitar’s body was just as crazed which is why a previous owner resprayed it to make it look near new again.

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The fretboard is the usual Black Bean Wood and has the typical wear marks which is common on old Matons. I did some research and apparently a characteristic of this wood is that the fibres compact into themselves and cave in… hence the finger sized divots in hundreds of old Maton fretboards.

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I’m really happy with this guitar. Apart from looking amazing, it plays like butter. With a bit of work it’s going to be perfect for me. I’ve got two gigs coming up with the Arcolas and the Horrotones and this guitar will be starring in both.

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