The Gibson Custom Shop debuts the first Murphy Lab collection

Gibson Murphy Lab Sample
(Image credit: Gibson)

For those who can't afford the six-figure sums required to secure the services of a Gibson Les Paul that was made back when Eisenhower was in the White House, the high-end Murphy Lab's first collection might be the next best thing.

Headed by Master Artisan Tom Murphy, the Murphy Lab operates out of the Gibson Custom Shop but works to a different brief. Their electric guitars go through a different process where they are authentically aged, endowed with period-correct components and a build, sound and playability that evokes the Gibson Golden Era. 

This took some time. Adam Jones' signature 1979 Les Paul Custom was the first Murphy Lab we recall seeing. At the turn of the year, Gibson offered the first glimpse at the what this back to the future project would offer. 

But good things come to those who wait, and now, after going through a painstaking process under the watchful eye of Master Artisan Tom Murphy and his team, the first collection is available to buy. 

Altogether, there are 50 guitars in the first collection, with four degrees of ageing available: Ultra Light, Light, Heavy and Ultra Heavy. See above for the difference between each finish. Integral to the process was developing a nitrocellulose lacquer that would look aged beyond its years. 

You've got all the usual suspects here: dead-on 1959 Les Paul clones in a variety of bursts, 1957 Les Paul Special in TV Yellow, ES-335s, Firebirds... It's quite the sight for Gibson aficionados. 

Yes, they are pricey. There is no getting around it. The cheapest are the '57 Specials, which retail at $4,299, while the two Ultra Heavy Aged '59 Les Pauls will set you back $10,499. But that was always going to be the case, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than picking up a 'Burst on the vintage market.

Check out the whole Murphy Lab collection at Gibson, and check out the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at the process. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.