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Maton EM125C - 6 String Acoustic Electric Guitar
Review and Description
Maton EM125C - 6 String Acoustic Electric Guitar - Review and Description

Maton EM125C
6 String Acoustic Electric Guitar

A well made and great sounding Acoustic guitar that upholds the Maton tradition of superior guitar building craftsmanship.

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 Maton EM 125C

A typical Maton EM125C

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The Maton EM125C (discontinued) is a finely made six string acoustic guitar with a cutaway (that's the 'C' in the model number) which also, in this case, has active electronics.

The standard active electronics was the (not very impressive) 3 Band AP4. This comprised of an under the bridge Piezo Pickup, Preamp with Volume Control and only very basic 3 Band EQ (Treble, Mid, Bass). At the time of purchase, it was possible to upgrade to the considerably more expensive AP5 preamp with 4 Band Equalization. However it appears that it is no longer possible to obtain the active AP5 components on their own.

The list price of the EM125C back then (September 1999) was around AUD $1,250, so this was not at all a cheap or budget model guitar.

The Maton EM125C appears to have been superceded by the 225, then 325 series, so you will only find one of these as a 'pre-loved' guitar. Depending on the guitar's condition, one might expect to pay anywhere between AUD $700 and $1,500 for an EM125C.

Note: I've seen this model list and sell (in 2016) for around AUD $1,000 (with a non-Maton case) which I have to say, I find rather surprising given that this is very close to the original new price of around $1,200 to $1,300, back in the late nineties. Definitely a guitar worth looking after.

Playing the Maton EM125C

As it happens the neck radius and general setup of Maton guitars happens to suit my hands and playing style, so there is an obvious preferential bias on my part. Suffice to say that (like all Maton guitars), the EM125C left the factory in 'Ready to Gig' condition. No fretboard work or neck adjustments required.

In fact, it still hasn't had any neck related work in the years that I've had it ... So I guess it won't really come as a surprise if I say that I still love playing this guitar. It gets a work out at least several times a week.

The EM125C Is what I call a 'boy's guitar', in that it's a tad too large to be comfortable for most females, though not at all a monster. I have included measurements with the EM125C specifications below.

Maton EM125C Sound

Bottom line ... I bought this guitar for it's acoustic sound. I tried out quite a few guitars (including other Matons) before deciding on the EM125C. And - it does mic up very well too (just FYI).

The Maton EM125C had the right balance of brightness/presence and richness of tone. I use a lot of harmonics in my acoustic playing and this guitar makes them sing. Which also means that it doesn't sound muddy when mic'd up.

The guitar projects quite cleanly. It isn't overly loud, but you can give it a thrashing without it getting boomy. Be warned though, both you and the audience will get to hear all your mistakes ... even the quiet ones ;-)

Under Saddle Piezo Pickup and Active Electronics

I guess it is fortunate that I bought this guitar for it's acoustic sound, because the standard AP4 active electronics were always one aspect of the EM125C that I found totally underwhelming.

So underwhelming in fact, that I customised the guitar by adding a standard single coil pick up (recently replaced by a dual rail pickup).

Out of respect for the quality of the guitar, I made sure that this was not a hack job. The output of the single coil pick up is integrated into the active circuitry, and thus is also controlled by the Volume and EQ settings. The mod includes two very tiny SPST sliding switches, giving four options:

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Piezo + Single Coil option is my preferred active/electric sound.

It is possible that an upgrade to the AP5 (with 4 Band EQ) may have made an improvement, but there wasn't an option at the time to make a comparison. Unlike today, where you can buy a Piezo Pick Up kit for acoustic guitars with Volume Control, 4 or 5 Band EQ, plus a built-in tuner for under AUD $50, back then an upgrade to the AP5 was around another $200 (or one sixth of the cost of the guitar).

Should you read a few related forum articles, you might find there are others who have also found the AP4 to be somewhat under-powered and disappointing. I'm currently looking into ways to either boost the output (so that it is at least comparable to that of my other acoustic guitars) or replacing it altogether with a newer system. Since I have already modified the guitar, replacing the electronics seems a relatively minor step.

Build Quality / Workmanship / Reliability

This is typical of Maton guitars in general and can be summed up in a word ... Excellent. The Maton EM125C has never faltered in all the years that I've owned it. It plays just as well today as the day I first tried it out in the shop ... it has never required more than the occasional set of new strings.

Strings for the EM125C

My personal preference are the light gauge DiDario Phosphor Bronze series strings. Nice and bright but can also deliver a rich tone. They do oxidise fairly quickly, but I'm prepared to put up with some dark smudges on my finger tips to get the sound that I want.

Value for Money

I'd have to say the EM125C was excellent value for money in it's day. You could pay a lot more for major brand acoustic guitars that didn't play nearly as well as this one. I actually tried out some more expensive Maton acoustics, and the EM125C was as good or better than most. The only guitar that beat the EM125C hands down was a (then) $5,000 limited 'Anniversary Edition' Maton acoustic. That guitar was and still is, as they say, in an entirely different league.

Would I pay around AUD $1,000 for an old EMC125 today? ... no way! Certainly not with the crappy AP4 electronics. For a few hundred dollars more you could get a nice new Maton with an equally great sound and much better active electronics. And if you threaten your salesperson with cash, they may even throw in a case free or at a very reasonable discount.

Maton EM125C Specifications

 Maton EM 125C 

Please note that the specs below have varied from time to time are are therefore not definitive. You may find guitars offered for sale that vary slightly. This includes of course the EM125 version without the cutaway and/or active electronics.

Soundboard: "A" Grade Solid Sitka Spruce
Rosette: Mosaic
Outer Binding: Ivory
Back: Queensland Maple
Sides: Queensland Maple
Neck: Queensland Maple
Headstock: Queensland Maple
Fingerboard: Rosewood with Dot Inlays
Bridge: Rosewood
Finish: Satin
Pickup: AP4
Pick Guard: Black with Gold "M"
Machine Heads: Chrome Diecast

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