2012 Maton MS500 Mastersound

“1958 GH” Replica

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Rare color photo of George Harrison on stage with the Maton MS500 Mastersound guitar
By August of 1963, George Harrison already needed repairs on his 1962 Gretsch “Chet Atkins” Country Gentleman guitar. As repairs would take some time, the shop lent him a Maton MS500 Mastersound guitar to use.

In 1958, Bill May, Australian guitar builder and founder of Maton guitars, introduced the MS500 Mastersound series. The MS500 is a 6-string solid body guitar with two pickups, two volume and two tone controls and a three-way pick up selector switch. The original 1950’s MS500 models feature a 24.5” scale unlike the modern models 25.5” scale.

Harrison’s Maton had a unique combination of natural finish on the front, tobacco sunburst on the back and mahogany stain on the sides and neck. Also, while the MS500 model generally had a stop bar type tailpiece, Harrison’s guitar had a rare factory fitted Bigsby B5 vibrato. Although there is no way to know for sure, these unique features suggest that perhaps Harrison’s Maton could have been a 1958 prototype or very early custom production model that made its way to Britain.

Harrison borrowed the MS500 from Barratt’s Music Shop in Manchester, UK around the time the Beatles appeared at the Playhouse Theatre on 1st August 1963. Shop Manager, Brian Higham, remembered that Neil Aspinall, the group’s Tour Manager and Personal Assistant, brought Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman to the shop for repair and the Maton was given to him as a temporary replacement.

Higham recalled the Country Gent was the first one he had seen in person and he carried out the repairs on it himself. The Maton was returned to Barratt’s when The Beatles next performed in Manchester, for Granada TV, on 14th August 1963

So, Harrison had exclusive use of the Maton for about two weeks during British Beatlemania. Since the group was busy touring during this time period, old photographs reveal Harrison playing the MS500 during several live appearances.

After Harrison returned the MS500, Roy Barber, guitarist with the band Dave Berry & the Cruisers subsequently acquired it. Barber’s widow put the guitar up for sale in 2002 and John Marks eventually purchased it.

The Maton MS500 Mastersound in our collection is an exact George Harrison era replica built by noted luthier William Young.62_Gent.html62_Gent.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1

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