1965 Maton Fyrbyrd 650

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Next up in the 2015 Guitarnerd Maton army… an ultra rare Fyrbyrd FB650.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been busy this past year spring cleaning my guitarnerd guitar archives and selling off a lot of the guitars I hadn’t used for a long time, replacing them with rare Matons. After a lot of stressful wheeling and dealing, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve just about ticked every box. A big one was restoring this beauty.

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The Fyrbyrd 650 was Maton’s first major update of the Fyrbyrd, with them mostly keeping the same pickups and hardware but changing the body to their “broadline” style and the neck to the same half slotted design as the Wedgtail. The body has similarities to the Fender Stratocaster, with the twin horns and the forearm cut giving a very Strat-like feel. Like the original Fyrbyrd, the FB650 is still offset though so it ties in slightly to the previous design.

When I originally got the guitar, it was a mess. The whole guitar was spray painted from head to toe in metallic red, all the parts were in the guitar case compartment and worst of all… the neck had the dreaded “Maton-twist”. And this one was a BAD twist. As is was, it was unplayable. But it was pretty much complete and came in it’s original Stamford case, so it was definitely do-able.

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I decided on a two-prong approach to restoring the guitar. Tim from Tym Guitars usually does my repairs but his time nowadays is better spent with his awesome guitar pedals than fixing yet another of my broken guitars. But/… he is a master at untwisting necks. He’d done the impossible to my junk-shop yellow Fyrbyrd so I knew he could do the same here. So the plan was, once Tim had untwisted the neck, the guitar would be sent to Matt at Matt’s Guitar Service for a full restoration. The neck took A LOT of work for Tim to untwist… over 8 long months Tim slowly eased the neck back into shape until I finally was ready for Matt to do his work.

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I was so keen to play it I almost was going to get Matt to just bolt it together but fellow Maton nerd Greg T found out this particular FB650 was originally red which made it only one of two red FB650′s I knew of. Most were sunburst or Jungle Green. So I made the decision for Matt to go all out. About 3 months later and the guitar was ready.

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While I initially just bought the guitar to add to my Maton collection… something unexpected happened. After playing it, I realised this was the best Maton I’ve ever played. In every way, this guitar just suited me perfectly. The original Fyrbyrd’s are great, but honestly they’re very quirky. The bodies are a bit small, the necks are quite big, the switches get knocked while I strum. I mean… I love them dearly but they are what they are.

This guitar on the other hand was a rock machine. A nice, not too heavy but still substantial feeling body. Three VERY fat Maton single coils which sound like the best Dearmond Goldfoils ever. The neck is like a huge Danelectro lipstick… but fatter. Heaps of clarity and that tubular sound I love. With the middle and bridge pickup selected, it sounds like a massive PAF… warm and creamy but with some sparkle on the top. And the bridge is biting but still with great bottom end… perfect to cut through with a lead break. The switches are moved further away than the ’63 Byrd and have been rotated so that they aren’t knocked when strummed. And the tone control is split into a separate treble and bass expander, which is a great idea!

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The neck is the same super slim and slightly narrow neck that is on my Wedgtail, which with Matt’s refret made this my dream neck. It’s almost Mosrite like, but a little bit Fender as well. Totally different to the ’63 Fyrbyrd. I fly over this neck… I know it sounds crazy, but this guitar makes me a better guitar player. Plus it has that amazing headstock that only the rarest and most desirable Matons have.

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So yes… I’m extremely happy with this guitar. I play it every day and can’t put it down. I love the look, the rarity (they made less than 100 of them) and most importantly… the sound. And it’s totally at home with my other ‘Byrds.

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Another thing that made me happy is that on my way home from picking up the guitar from Matt’s… I dropped into another Brisbane guitar shop and bought this.

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The 12 string version of my FB650… the majestic Fybyrd 1220 in the original Jungle Green with it’s VERY hard to find oversized Stamford case. I honestly never thought I’d get one of these, but a friend of mine had spotted it the day before and texted it to me. So I nabbed it (after selling one of my other Matons!) And it sounds magnificent. I can see why Neil Finn uses one.

Yep… I’m pretty happy. Now I just need a band to play these beauties in!