In praise of: Manson Matt Bellamy Signatures

The Muse frontman has some of rock's best riffs and the world's greatest boys' toys

Sonic maverick. Sci-fi anorak. Conspiracy theorist. Jetpack enthusiast.

Straight out of the blocks, Matt Bellamy was different, and when Muse's first royalty cheques landed after 1999's Showbiz his guitars started breaking the mould, too. Mirror-finished and metal- plated, rammed with onboard effects and pinging out laser beams, you'd have been forgiven for thinking these plug-in babies had fallen off the back of a passing UFO.

The reality was a little closer to home. In his early years as a Teignmouth teenager, Matt had often loitered at Mansons Guitars in nearby Exeter, and in the post-millennium, he approached owner, luthier and guitar tech Hugh Manson to co-create his first signature model. "We just sat down with paper and pencil and sketched the shape out," recalls Hugh, "with Matt saying, 'I want it bigger here, smaller there', or whatever."

Matt once told TG that "all my Manson guitars are influenced by the Fender Telecaster", and that's apparent in the bolt-neck single-cut shape that Hugh plated in aluminium to create the iconic DeLorean. "It was all covered in really rough file marks and looked industrially atrocious," recalls the luthier of his first attempt at the bodywork. "Matt turned up at the shop that day... and he goes, 'oh wow, I love the finish!'"

While Matt tended to favour a Kent Armstrong Motherbucker (bridge) and P-90 (neck), it was tech that marked out his early gear. The DeLorean featured a built-in, hand-controlled Z.Vex Fuzz Factory and MXR Phase 90, and the guitarist soon had a taste for effects black magic, pimping subsequent models with everything from a Z.Vex Wah Probe (the 007) to a MIDI screen controller for operating a Korg Kaoss Pad (the M1D1).

"Now, of course," says Hugh, "I get loads of kids coming in wanting all sorts of effects fitted inside their guitars!" Hugh is understandably too busy to take your commission for a DeLorean clone, but does periodically release batches of the hand-built MB-1 (an off-the-peg replica with many trademark features for £3,249), and throws us mere mortals a bone with the MA-1 (which nails the vibe, from £969).

Bellamy's Manson timeline

1997

Matt Bellamy visits Mansons Guitars as a teenager

2001

The Delorean makes its debut in the video for Hyper Music.

2006

Bellamy uses the midi-screen equipped M1D1 guitar for the first time.

2009

Manson launches the first batch of Official MB-1 replicas


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