Price paid: A$ 1200
Purchased from: Better Music
Sound — 8
The MS503 is beautifully suited to my tastes in music, which are mostly of the classic rock variety, but go to a few extremes. On the one hand, I can flick on the coil tap and get a clean twang for country rock and blues, on the other I can Switch back to the humbuckers and get a warm bridge sound for jazz, or a heavy sound from the neck. I have Roland 30watt Cube which can simulate different amps such as a Vox, Marshall, etc and the guitar responds well under these different settings. On the amp's regular sound, the guitar can still pull off a variety of different tones. It is however quite noisy on the bottom end, the low E often drowns out the others, whether this is just a string problem I don't know, but it's a pain having to turn down the bass all the time.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is ultimately, for its price, very suited to me and my tastes in music. The action and scale are perfect for my hands, the weight is light enough that I can move around while playing, and despite my issues with the strings it gives great sounds. The variety of music it can generate from the use of the coil tap is fantastic. I wouldn't encourage everyone to buy one, but if you have the same musical desires as me it would be a fantastic purchase.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've yet to gig with this guitar, but I would anticipate it holds up well. The switches don't easily get hit by downstrokes during energetic playing, the strap buttons were so solid I had trouble getting my strap on. I wouldn't gig without having a backup because I'm not sold on those strings, I'd be afraid of one breaking on me.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action is smooth and low, and with the aforementioned small scale I find it a joy to play. There was a single small dent on the body, but otherwise no blemishes. One downer is that the guitar rattles occasionally when the bass strings are played, (again suggesting it has dodgy strings). The finish is quite pleasant, and the black pickguard goes well with the burgundy colour, giving it an SG vibe.
Features — 8
Maton is one of the few Australian guitar manufacturers, so part of the motivation for this purchase was to support an Aussie company. The guitar uses Queensland Maple in the (bolt-on) neck; has a Les Paul body style but with a flat top (and I should mention Maton's lovely headstock is very distinguishable from other brands). It has two Maton humbuckers, with a coil tap in the neck, plus two volume and a single tone, and a 3 way selector. These features are all quite high quality and perhaps the only thing the guitar is missing (except a tremolo arm for those inclined) is the extra coil tap in the bridge you get on some of Maton's other guitars. I should also mention the scale is smaller then the norm: great if you have small fingers like I do, otherwise it might be a pain in the neck (pun not intended) for others.