NVBD 60's rare MOT Oz weirdness - or if Barbarella played bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dynacord, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    ...it might be this one. The mighty Maton Ibis.

    In long looking for odd-ball basses, this one had long caught my eye on the archived site of a defunct Australian shop with a prohibitive "NOT FOR SALE" in bold:

    Maton Ibis bass


    Reading the description, and finding similar info elsewhere, I knew the odds of finding one were slim as there were only 200 (+ or -) made in 1963-64. There are a couple others mentioned here on TB i.e. I played perfection tonight. but it is clearly not a common bass.

    The Maton guitars of that time are very sought after (and were played by the likes of George Harrison and Keith Richards back in the 60's) and the current acoustics are well regarded - the Fyrbyrd is a real stand out of 60's retro-kitsch:

    Here's what was written about these basses and this one in particular from that site (copied with permission)

    "Want a bass that sounds great, has loads of character and stage presence, is a '60s vintage, and has a full scale? In fact its 35" scale length is a full inch longer than the mere 34 inches of a Fender Precision/Jazz bass!

    This 1963/4 vintage Maton Ibis bass has all those qualities in bucketloads, and is a very rare instrument. The chrome-plated pickup cover is missing, the 3-position 'tone' control knob has been changed, and the two-piece body has been re-glued a bit clumsily in the past, but otherwise this beautiful (in a quirky way!) bass is all original, including the finish. There are plenty of playing marks on the bass (look at the detailed photos in the 'more pictures' link below), but overall it's in great shape, with very little wear to the original frets and fingerboard, and having a great action.

    The best visual feature of this vintage Maton has to be the amazing 'swirl' thick plastic pearloid scratchplate and bridge cover. Photographs will never do these items justice, with the almost 3D effect they display in the flesh. Very cool!

    I have not been able to determine the range of serial numbers over the life of the Ibis bass (the Maton website incorrectly says they were only made in 1964, and offers no serial range), but this is the first I have ever come across. Serial number is 246. I know that the 1963 catalogue showed the Ibis bass (a client paid 63 pounds 6 shillings for a Flamingo in 1964, and the Ibis Bass complete with plush lined case was £115 pound 10s).

    The Maton website describes the pickup as multiple-poled and divided "Magnametle", and it sounds great despite the tag! I describe the pickups as having very strong output, very even string-to-string balance, and beautiful vintage warmth. It also identifies the body wood as Putts Pine (Silver Silkwood), the set neck as Queensland Maple, and the fretboard as Rosewood (EDIT: my understanding is the fingerboard is actually the local Australian wood "black bean"). Original list price in 1964 was £94.10s. The average weekly wage in Australia was about £15 pounds per week in 1964.

    There is no case with this bass.

    July 31 2017 - I just received an email from Rohan Moran which sheds a lot of light on the history of this bass!

    Hi there. Regarding the red 1964 Maton Ibis Bass.This bass was bought new in 1964 by my father, Jim Moran. It was gigged about 6/7 nights a week in a well-known band called Peter and the Panthers, and was played through a Goldentone amp during this period. Around 1971 after a gig it was left behind the rear wheels of his car, and he accidentally backed over it, destroying the original case and leaving a huge crack in the body that was glued back together. Around the same time he built a new case for it, and that explains why the original case is gone. He sold it around 1971/72 and bought a new Fender Musicmaster, which is now an old Fender Musicmaster! Sure would love to have a play of that old bass. I have a few black and white pics of it from around 1964. Cheers."

    As he says, it is indeed a 35" sacle. Also note that the polepieces slant much like with Nordstrands today.

    I'll also post the original period catalog here - via Tony Giacca/The Guitar Nerd:

    Maton Catalog.jpg
    Maton Catalog Ibis.jpg

    In searching, nearly all examples spotted were either of the two burst finishes. I did find one in black here on TB and photos of two in white. Then the red one shown plus Maton has one more in red in their company museum. Most had slab bodies but some - I assume later production - have elbow and belly contours.

    Inspired by @JIO and his recent Burns restoration/resurrection I wanted to see if I could find the remains of one as a project. I posted on the Vintage Maton Facebook group simply asking if anyone knew of one for sale. Within minutes the owner of the "not for sale" red one commented and we quickly sealed a deal where we both came away feeling happy with it. He took it to a local shipping shop and it made the trip half way around the world and arrived here in perfect shape. Have also been in touch with the original owner's son (a gigging guitar player in Australia) and love knowing the backstory on the bass - other that the missing years in the middle.

    Have cleaned it up. First impressions are great. Light and comfortable (not crazy about the sticky feel of the paint on the back of the neck - like the look - but the neck profile is very nice and thin). Finish is clearly original and nitro - a lot of checking and quite a bit of play and banging about wear along with the reglued seam and a bit of missing paint on the edge by the strap button related to the seam repair. Sounds terrific. I can't say it better than @WinstonNilesRum did in his thread "My God! It sounds like a f***in' BARFIGHT!!"
    Have tried different strings. I think it likes rounds best but some G and D string buzz which needs a slight fret dress. Tried flats but a little too nasal sounding to my tastes with the pickup position where it is. Have a set of LeBella nylon wraps on it at the moment and like the feel and sound now - but would still like to take care of the frets and get some rounds on it (fine with rounds and higher action as is. These are just first impressions, of course.

    Anyway, pics...


    The bridge is madness and like nothing I've seen before - the entire thing is a hing:


    Headstock is a love it or hate it thing. Tuning machines are surprisingly good - particularly as they are the sealed type:


    Serial number:


    The bridge cover is the same material as the pickguard and is semitransparent. Amazing that it still has it after 55+ years and that it wasn't destroyed - same with the pickguard itself - when the bass was run over:


    Tone selector:


    Makes a nice pair with my Meazzi Jupiter:

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  2. Great to see !
    MCF, TN WOODMAN and Dynacord like this.
  3. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    I know that you know! ;)
    RedVee likes this.
  4. So much for not for sale. Everything is for sale for the right price. Awesome you were able to persuade the deal. Super rare and to get the backstory even cooler.

    I think I can see where the Bongo headstock idea came from as well.
    MCF, themarshall, mikewalker and 5 others like this.
  5. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Yes, can imagine the bongo lineage even if just coincidence. Much like with the angled polepieces on the pickup. And who knew there were extended scale basses that early?

    It was funny how it worked out with the not for sale thing. I never contacted him because of it and figured the cost would be too high regardless. What we worked out was, I think, very fair to both of us. I still hope I might get the photos with the original owner back when it was new.
    Haroldo, JIO, RedVee and 1 other person like this.
  6. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    Wow. That's pretty cool, I really like the body shape.

    I feel like it's begging for a Goya Panther/ Nordstrand Acinonyx type refresh. Just enough to make it "modern" hardware-wise.
    Dynacord likes this.
  7. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    I actually sent photos to Carey previously. I totally agree - maybe a long scale companion model to the Acinonyx - he was obviously surprised by the pickup design and an update could use many of his.
    HaphAsSard and ModuMan like this.
  8. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Dynacord likes this.
  9. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    Oh, that would be VERY interesting! Well, if the Acinonyx can happen... maybe this can too!
    HaphAsSard and Dynacord like this.
  10. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Can't get much cooler than that David! :thumbsup: :cool: I guess he moral of the story is "it never hurts to ask"! Also that if you place a 'would really like' firmly in your mind that your receptors are always up for when one becomes available in the universe - whether tomorrow, or 5 years from tomorrow! How does the bridge design take advantage of it being a hinge? Does the string tension angle it? And the 3 selections are... treble, bass and ? (not CANE SELVATICO I hope!) :D Nice pics also - I'm going to shift a few over to my thread on distressed finishes -
  11. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    You have the COOLEST toys.....
    RedVee, MCF, woodyng2 and 1 other person like this.
  12. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Yeah, that one really worked out without even really trying...
    I have no idea what the thinking was with the bridge. The saddles are threaded but do not have height adjustment screws like a Fender - rather, there are the 2 screws at the front of the plate so either side can be raised or lowered. It appears like a more complicated way of addressing a more simple issue - but it does work even if an alternative universe approach.
    3 positions on the tone selector sound like normal, fat, fatter. I need to take a better look at what's under there. I only noticed one capacitor but did not look carefully. Also I'm assuming the pickup is single coil but if not it might be something with coils (but I don't think so).
    I may post some detail shots on your distressed finishes thread as well. It's not super beat up but it shows its age and was played A LOT.
    JIO and woodyng2 like this.
  13. RayWithFlats


    Mar 22, 2020
    on the 1
    Ha, I love the Captain Nemo tone selector switch.

    Good score, I love these threads. It’s always brilliant to see an instrument with a great past go to a player who’ll give it a great future.
  14. That is an amazing bit of Jetsonian retrofuturistic styling.
    Looking at the headstock, is it a neck diver? (Like an old Epiphone Embassy?)
    Congrats on your acquisition!
    Bassdirty and Dynacord like this.
  15. Dynacord


    Jan 1, 2005
    Thanks. Yes, it does dive a bit - though not all the way to the floor. If I let it go it comes to rest pretty much at horizontal. I have a '64 Embassy as well and they feel quite similar in terms of weight and size. I do think the Embassy headstock is longer (would have to get it out to be sure). The strap button is further forward on the Maton and even with the 12th fret so that clearly helps in comparison with the Embassy.
    HaphAsSard, RedVee and woodyng2 like this.
  16. roycroft_88


    Dec 9, 2010
    Wow! I've never seen one of these.
    Super cool, Thanks for sharing.
    Dynacord likes this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    That is so cool! I could totally see Barbarella slinging that at Durand Durand!
    Dynacord likes this.
  18. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010

    Space Age, man.

    HaphAsSard, Novarocker, JIO and 2 others like this.
  19. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    That is just amazingly awesome! WOW!
    Dynacord likes this.
  20. Gsnorgathon


    Jan 15, 2020
    Sea Addle
    Wow. Wowowow. Gape-jawed awe. Evidence that aliens have visited Earth. And that they love us more than we deserve.