"I know people are going to get mad at me": Why would anyone mod a $20,000 guitar? Mythos Pedals' Zach explains why he changed his Murphy Lab Les Paul

Zach Broyles
(Image credit: Mythos Pedals / YouTube)

Zach Broyles isn't just a talented effects designer who founded Mythos Pedals in 2010, he's also a keen electric guitar modder. We saw that up close with his upgrade work on the already impressive $500 Epiphone Les Paul Special, but now he's gone to the other end of the Gibson scale – he's modded [*checks notes*] a 2024 $20,000 Murphy Lab '59 reissue Les Paul with a Brazillian rosewood fretboard. Er, what?

"It is a really special guitar," says Zach of his purchase from Wildwood guitar that's one of a run of 50. It was love at first strum (a Go chord) and it's a light one too; 8.15lbs. "It really is as perfect as I would ever want a Les Paul to be". So why would he want to change his ultimate 40th birthday present to himself?

It's one of my hobbies – one of my pastimes

For the same reasons he mods all his guitars. "I know people are going to get mad at me – they're not gonna understand why I have done this, and that's ok," Zach pre-empts.

"My reasoning for doing this most of the time is just because I enjoy doing this," he explains. "It's one of my hobbies – one of my pastimes. I love learning about all the companies making incredible replica parts, how to further improve an already fantastic instrument – be it in small hardware changes, be it in pickups or just minor tweaks in its setup. All these things are really interesting to me and part of the journey, in my opinion."

Zach Broyles

(Image credit: Zach Broyles / YouTube)

I can relate to what Zach calls "the rabbit hole". And you do learn a lot about the variables that can make a guitar better, or worse, for you. It's personal and not for everyone, and Zach has been swapping pickups since he was 16. It's the same passion for sound and details he brings to Mythos's work. So even considering modding a $20k dream 'Burst proves just how into this side of things Zach is. But what did he change?

I love making small changes that to everyone else, don't really matter. But this isn't everyone else's guitar, it's mine

Zach used what he calls his "curse of knowledge" from his hours of research into vintage Gibsons over the years. He got to put it to use and expand it when he worked at Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville. "Working there at the time that I worked here was incredible," he remembers in the video above. "We had some many 'Bursts come in, so many incredible guitars…" 

From working with these Les Pauls and the repair staff at Carter he became familiar with their details, and the facets that made them great. He clearly wanted to use that to make this guitar his.

"I love making small changes that to everyone else, don't really matter. But this isn't everyone else's guitar, it's mine," reasons Zach.  

He removed a small area of grey cloudiness on a part of the Murphy-aged pickguard that was probably due to some kind of relic'ing compound. He changed the switch nut to a specific vintage preference. The pickups went too, as Zach felt they were really close in output. "I wanted more punch from the bridge," he says.

Zach chose RS/ Fralin True 60's pickups that he actually demoed above several years ago. And went with the Jimmy Page uncovered bridge humbucker approach that also inspired Tool's Adam Jones. Who can argue with that? The truss rod cover was also swapped out for a rolled cover – just another personal aesthetic choice. 

More surprising is the decision to change the tailpiece. "The original was fine," explains Zach. "But Crazy Parts have really great replica pieces and their relic'd replica tailpiece has a nice round edge that is indicative of some 'Bursts that have been played that I like the look of. I just felt it fitted the overall aesthetic better."

That's it for now – though the copper plating peaking through on the bridge is clearly on his mind. But Zach knows more than anyone that he's "incredibly lucky to have it", adores it and now just needs to play it – and he will be! 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.