Some people (like me) think it’s sacrilege when a vintage Maton is modified. In this case, it’s created my dream bass.
If you’re both a bass player and a vintage Maton fanatic, options are pretty limited. You could grab one of the excellent JB4′s or the new reisssue but I’m honestly not a huge fan of the JB4. Everyone who has one swears by them, but the look of them doesn’t really do it for me.
Initially to solve this I got Tim from Tym Guitars to custom build me a bass in 2007 that I designed to look like the Fyrbyrd. Over the last 9 years I’ve played it at probably over 100 shows and two Europe tours and it’s a great bass. Over the years the neck has cracked from an onstage bump in Madrid, Spain and been repaired a few times and the body has it’s share of knocks and bumps.
Recently, a fellow Maton collector had bought what he thought was a slightly modified rare Maton Ibis Bass. It looked in great condition so he grabbed it.
When he got it home he realised HOW modified it was. A previous owner had installed a fuzz pedal inside, using a screwdriver to route out the holes and pockets to fit in the home made pedal. To fit the battery, they dug out a hole ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK and screwed on a metal plate! It was an absolute mess under the scratchplate, which was a shame as the bass itself was in fantastic condition!
Soon after, he picked up a completely original Ibis Bass which was missing a few parts, such as knobs, pickup and bridge covers and the thumb rest… which this modified bass had. So he took all those parts off for his original bass and sold me the butchered Ibis for a great price, which I’m very grateful to him for. Thanks Jeff!
My original plan was to get Tim from Tym Guitars to take out the fuzz pedal and fit in a Rat pedal, as that pedal is 100% my bass sound. After a few months I changed my mind… I’d bought a 1984 USA Jackson Bass with EMGs that sounded absolutely amazing so I thought… I’ll combine the best ideas from the Jackson and put them into the Ibis. And here we are.
Steve from Tim Guitars did a fantastic job putting this bass together. The first thing he did was clean out that shit-tastic routing a bit, and then cut a new guard for it. I wanted it really simple, so I got him to take off all the knobs and switches apart for the volume knob (which was an old Goldentone amp knob I’d found) and fit some new EMG pickups. Handily, the metal plate at the back gives easy access to the battery for the pickups, so it worked out well! People may think that putting active EMGs in a vintage Maton is crime against humanity, but this is a working bass and EMG P-Bass pickups are fantastic. I’m not a fan of their guitar pickups, but their bass pickups are goddamn awesome, especially through my bass rig.
Another necessity was to change the bridge. The original Maton piano hinge bridge is a truly awful design and meant that the action was a mile high. My other playing basses have Bad Ass bridges on them, so Steve tracked down a Bad Ass style bridge with no notches cut into the saddles so that he could custom fit it to the narrower Maton neck. Amazingly Bad Ass bridges are no longer available (what the hell?!) so this is the All Parts version, which looks exactly the same and adds a metric ton of sustain.
Next up, Steve replaced the original Maton tuners as one snapped when tuning up and like all vintage Maton parts they’re impossible to find. So a set of brand new tuners were fitted and they work a LOT better. Plus they still suit that amazing looking headstock.
Steve called me to say the bass was ready, just in time for my last gig of the year with Sixfthick. I gave it a quick play at the shop and was amazed how low the action and how quick it played. Steve had done an amazing job… this bass played like a modern Fender Bass.
When I got it home, I added a Maton trussrod cover I had spare along with the volume sticker… just to add that vintage Maton vibe to it.
I played it that night and was smiling through the whole show. The bass was perfect. The EMG’s was punchy and clear, with heaps of clear bottom end and the sustain was crazy. It was a light bass to begin with and with the extra routing it’s REALLY light which is perfect for me as I’ve been having a few neck problems from my basses. I absolutely love how this bass has turned out and I’ll be playing it a LOT at upcoming shows.