Vintage Guitar Scene: Maton Alver

Where do guitar names originate?  It’s generally known in guitar circles that the founder of the Australian guitar company Maton was Melbourne-born jazz musician, woodwork teacher and luthier Bill May, and that he came up with the name as a derivative of the words “May” and “Tone”.  What’s less well-known is the origin of the Alver brand that was used on a range of Maton student guitars between 1952 and 1971.  I had heard that Bill May’s wife Vera was the reason for the ‘ver’ part of the name, but was unsure of the origin of the ‘Al’.  Dr Google was unable to come up with an answer for me, so I asked Neville Kitchen, Maton Managing Director and Bill’s son-in-law.  Neville confirmed to me that Bill May came up with the Alver name as a combination of the names Alma (his brother’s wife) and Vera (his wife).

As my first guitar was an Alver I’ve maintained in interest in these guitars, and have collected a few over the years. I recently rediscovered the receipt for my first Alver – purchased by my father and myself at Allans in Melbourne in 1962. The guitar cost 21 pounds, 19 shillings and sixpence (approx. $44), which was a lot of money for a schoolboy in 1962. I had earned the money by pruning on the family vineyard after school and at weekends over the winter. I traded my first Alver to buy an electric guitar a few years later, but the guitar pictured is an identical model that I bought in Perth in the 1980s for around $120.  There’s no serial number – Alver guitars were made in batches of 30 and identified only by batch numbers (This one is from batch B88).  Although only a budget priced plywood guitar, the Alver was a well made and structurally sound instrument, and there are many surviving examples still in good repair.  Alma and Vera would be proud.

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About Ben Rogers 16 Articles
Ben Rogers has played guitar for a long time, and has accumulated an odd assortment of guitars over the years. He plays around Melbourne with Instrumental Asylum – a surf/spy/guitar-noir group, and also with his gypsy-jazz combo The Ben Rogers Trio.

5 Comments on Vintage Guitar Scene: Maton Alver

  1. I have just purchased a Maton cft 175 acoustic guitar serial no.153
    I can find very little on these guitars I have emailed Maton but no response as yet!

    Sean ( I have taken a load of pic’s and done a short video)

  2. G’day Ben,

    I was just wondering, what type of strings would you reccomend for the Alver 2C – as I have the electric version. Also, while on the topic of Alvers, mine has a wedge knob as a replacement to the original volume knob. Any ideas as to where one could track down an original knob (if not a replica).

    Thanks in advance,

    Dave

  3. Hi Dave, re strings for your Alver 2C – It depends on what sort of sound you’re looking for, and whether you like lighter or heavier gauge. If you want a warm mellow sound I suggest flat wounds such as D’Addario ECG-24 (11-50). For a brighter sound any round wound electrics will work. Heavier gauge will give a stronger sound, but 10-46 would be fine. I don’t know of any sources for original parts, but the Facebook group “Vintage Maton Guitar Appreciation Society” would be able to help. Cheers, Ben

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