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Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5812
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 - 10:51 pm:   Edit Post

Anyone know anything about Matao guitars? I picked up an Artist at the Guitar Show over the weekend. Very Alembic-like neck-thru. It apparently once had active electronics, but it was converted to a passive Les Paul type layout with a coil tap. All I've found is that it was made in Japan, at either Hoshino or Yamaki, in 1979 or 1980.

I'd post a picture, but we just moved and I don't know where half my stuff is, including the camera.

Bill, tgo
Username: willgunn

Post Number: 71
Registered: 2-2007
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 9:13 am:   Edit Post

Mateo was the "house" brand for a Bellevue WA - based chain of 13 music stores known as "Music West", which had locations scattered throughout Washington, Oregon and northern California. These instruments were indeed built to order for them in Japan, but I can't recall by whom. The only reason I know all of this is that I managed 2 of their locations in 1979 and 1980 while living in Seattle!
Senior Member
Username: gtrguy

Post Number: 780
Registered: 9-2004
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post

I have owned a couple neck-through Mataos and they were fine guitars. I did have to replace the pickups with better PRS ones. They also make a pretty good Strat copy. The ones I had were Alembic copies and were well made, with good action and balance. Because they are so little known, they are not too expensive, but they are pretty rare. I ended up selling mine on EBay because I was thinning the herd.
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1819
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 11:13 pm:   Edit Post

I had a really wacky Matao bass that seduced me with its active electronics (bass, treble, compression and expansion, which was a bit odd) and the vine inlay on the neck. I eventually tore out the electronics and pickups and put in an early EMG P/J set. It sounded OK, but the string spacing was pretty narrow. I eventually sold it when I got a custom 5 string made by Ron Gulliota as seen here played by a friend on the left. The bass I'm playing is a David King (same guy who made the knobs for the custom of the month) fretless 5. I don't miss the Matao, but I'll see if I can find a pic and scan it. If anyone wants to try to make sense of the electronics boards, let me know. I wonder if they were the same boards as used in your guitar, Bill. It would almost make more sense to have the compression and expansion circuits in a guitar than a bass.

Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1820
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 11:16 pm:   Edit Post

Here's a thread that discusses them. My bass looked pretty much like the first one pictured in the thread.

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