By Louis Rivest
I’m a longtime fan of Tommy Emmanuel and I’ve turned dozens of my friends on to him over the years. So when my wife discovered that he was going to play at the RiverCity Music Festival on January 7, 2012, only a few hours from where we live in Vancouver, she bought us tickets.
When I arrived I learned that Emmanuel was going to conduct a Sunday morning workshop. I signed up, attended the workshop, talked with him for a bit, and even got him to autograph my guitar (see photo, left).
I asked him why he endorsed Australian-made Maton guitars and not one of the better known brands. Even before he answered I figured I knew the answer. Tommy is from Australia and, well, why not endorse the home team, right? But I was wrong.
He explained that Maton, a company that has been making musical instruments since the mid 40’s, was sort of annoyed to see Emmanuel, a world-renowned Australian guitarist, play mostly Japanese products. So they presented him with a prototype model they thought he’d be happy with.
Tommy used it for a while and returned it with an extensive list of modifications from the neck geometry to electronics in order to improve the product. Maton rebuilt the guitar to Emmanuel’s specifications. When it was done the company thought it had nailed it and presented a new version to Tommy. He played the guitar and reported that though the guitar was much improved, the electronics still did not compare favorably to what was on the market at the time.
It was returned for more improvements. It took time for Maton to produce a new set of electronics, but this time Maton was sure they got it right. Tommy suggested some minor adjustments and finally he endorsed the guitar and started using it. Tommy plays the following Maton guitars: EBG808TE, EBG808TEC, TE1, and the TE Personal.
At the NAMM Show in Anaheim, I met with Bill Warmoth, from Artisan Guitars, a Maton dealer in Franklin TN, who went through the technical features of the 808 with me. What impressed me the most was the separate and adjustable tiny microphone in the middle of the sound hole (see photo, above right). It can be adjusted to suit your style of play. It picks up all the sounds coming out of the guitar. The finish on these guitars is impeccable and worthy of a world-class instrument. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of them!
Maton now produces a Tommy Emmanuel Signature edition with a Kangaroo inlay on the Headstock (see photo, left). This is a feature found only on the Tommy Emmanuel Series. This series features a Mother of Pearl block engraved inlay on the 12th fret: “C.G.P.” It stands for “Certified Guitar Player,” an acknowledgement given to Tommy by the late Chet Atkins. (There’s also a cut-away version: MATON EBG808TEC.)
For more information about Maton Guitars or to find a local dealer, click here to go to their website.