Gibson’s Cesar Gueikian took to Instagram last night to demo a Les Paul that was off the books, not on the brand’s current lineup, and looked suspiciously like it could be a prototype – or even a finished model – of a forthcoming signature model for Mark Morton.
The Les Paul in question had a figured maple top, muted dark grey burst finish and black hardware – all very much in keeping with the Lamb Of God guitarist’s aesthetic – and similar to a Les Paul Morton posted a picture of on social media, though that one had chrome hardware.
Gueikian, Gibson’s president and CEO, is often the first officer on the scene when it comes to teasing forthcoming releases. Catch him in an AMA mood and he will, literally, tell you anything. His Instagram feed is essential for Gibson enthusiasts looking to get a bead on new models. On this occasion, he didn’t let on much.
Perhaps he didn’t need to; the guitar, not to mention the guitar amp, which was a Mesa/Boogie Mark VII, the sort of amp you’d demo a Morton signature model through, did all the talking with a few groove metal riffs through a high-gain tube amp. The mystery Les Paul had no pickguard. The uncovered humbucker pairing suggests that these were a set of Morton's signature DiMarzio Dominion pickups.
Morton had been playing Jackson guitars for nigh-on two decades, collaborating on his first signature guitar in 2006, before making the switch over to Gibson in September 2022.
Unlike the majority of the Jackson line-up, Morton’s Dominion eschewed sharp angles and edges, favouring a slightly offset body shape, and a shorter scale length of 24.75” that spoke to his love of Les Pauls – and he has a mighty collection of them. Speaking to Guitar World last year, he said that the design of the Dominion was influenced by his 1975 Les Paul Deluxe.
“A lot of the specs, particularly the handmade ones I was playing, were based on that ’75 Les Paul,” said Morton. “It was the same kind of slim neck. In fact, when we spec’d out the Dominion, we went fret-by-fret and measured my Les Paul, using it as the platform for the whole design.”
On Lamb Of God’s touring cycle for Omens, fans could buy meet-and-greet VIP packages that offered them the opportunity to take home an Epiphone Les Paul that was stage-played by Morton.
If this Gibson x Morton collaboration followed a similar pattern to Jerry Cantrell, Dave Mustaine and Adam Jones, we might expect to see versions of Morton’s signature model at different price points, from the Custom Shop to Gibson USA and Epiphone. Maybe the Custom Shop version will have a quilt-top, which is something we saw on the high-end Dominion models and on some of the Les Pauls presently in Morton's rotation.
Time will tell. But a year on from Morton signing on to Gibson’s growing ranks of metal guitar players would be a good a time as any to announce a new model was incoming.
The Gibson brands release schedule has been busy of late. On Tuesday, the brand announced the much-anticipated arrival of Murphy Lab acoustics with the launch five ‘Light Aged’ models. Last week, Epiphone unveiled its latest Les Paul Custom from the Adam Jones Art Collection, and in August we saw a quite exquisite signature Hummingbird acoustic guitar in a Bluebonnet finish for Miranda Lambert, aka the Bluebird.