How a Slash superfan ended up trading guitars with his hero… three times: “I was wondering if it was real life or if I’d died”

Todd Puma's Gibson Les Pauls, as traded with Slash
(Image credit: Todd Puma)

Trading guitars with Guns N’ Roses legend Slash is the kind of thing many of us would dream about doing just once. For New Jersey-based guitar player and collector Todd Puma, however, it’s something that’s been happening fairly regularly over the last few years – having now exchanged three instruments in total with the iconic cat in the hat.

Some Guitar World readers may already be familiar with the @gibsonmurphylab Instagram account Puma uses to showcase his rare and collectable instruments, which has a disclaimer in its bio to confirm that it’s not an official Gibson page but rather a Murphy Lab fan page centered around Puma’s personal collection. The fact that he’s followed by the Gibson Custom Shop account, Brand President Cesar Gueikian and Director Of Brand Experience Mark Agnesi – on the other hand – is enough to prove Puma is the real deal and an authority on both Tom Murphy-aged and ’90s-era Les Pauls. 

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).