“Tom Murphy’s magnum opus”: Gibson has handed the Murphy Lab man its stockpile of Brazilian rosewood for these ultra-exclusive, $20k Les Paul ’Burst reissues

Gibson Custom Shop 1959 Murphy Lab Les Paul Standard Brazilian Rosewood
(Image credit: Gibson)

The Gibson Custom Shop has unveiled what it calls Tom Murphy’s “magnum opus”, in the form of a Murphy Lab aged 1959 Les Paul Standard reissue in six new finishes, each of which features a Brazilian rosewood fretboard.

Murphy’s name has been synonymous with the Gibson Custom Shop for a long time now, but was brought to the fore when the firm established the Murphy Lab in 2018. 

The move gave Murphy the resources and staff to properly focus on his finish-aging techniques and as a result, has made Gibson the market leader when it comes to the quality of its pre-aged models.

Now, in tribute to the Master Luthier, the firm has announced a new batch of reissues, based around the template of the iconic 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard. The series essentially gives Murphy carte blanche (and a batch of impossibly scarce Brazilian rosewood) to create his dream vintage-style LPs. 

There’s a further acknowledgement of the builder, in the form of six brand-new finishes, each of which has been named after Murphy: Tom’s Cherry, Tom’s Tea, Tom’s Lemon Burst, Tom’s Tri-Burst, Tom’s Dark Bursk and the Murphy Burst. 

The latter is only available direct from Gibson and the firm has limited the run to 50 instruments in each finish, presumably partly due to the availability of the Brazilian rosewood.

On that point, it’s worth noting that these are only available in the US. This is likely due to the fact that Brazilian rosewood is listed in the top category Appendix I of the CITES regulations and therefore subject to stringent import/export protections.

In terms of the other woods in the builds, Gibson is promising “super light weight” mahogany bodies and “AAAA-figured” maple tops, the latter of which it says have been picked over time and set aside for these specific builds.

The aging on all of the builds is also reported to be unique, even compared the Murphy Lab’s usual output, featuring custom-aged metal and plastics, alongside the heavy relic on the finish.

On the electronics side, you’ll find a pair of Custombucker Alnico 5 humbuckers (as opposed to the Alnico 3 units in the usual Murphy Lab ’59 reissues), plus the Switchcraft jacks/switches, CTS pots and paper-in-oil capacitors found elsewhere in the firm’s top-tier builds.

Gibson Custom Shop 1959 Murphy Lab Les Paul Standard Brazilian Rosewood

(Image credit: Gibson)

In the ultimate Murphy Lab move, the models also come package in one of Gibson’s aged Lifton Historic hardshell cases, alongside a leather-bound certificate of authenticity.

There’s also a Bigsby-equipped variant, which we must say looks particularly eye-catching in that Tom’s Tri-Burst finish.

All in all, it’s a dream list of high spec components and eagle-eyed craftsmanship, clearly intended to represent the best of the best of Gibson’s output and resources in 2023.

Of course, the corresponding price point is less dream-like – coming in a hair under $20,000 – at $19,999.

Recently, Epiphone announced its own ultra-premium 'Inspired by Gibson Custom Shop' 1959 LP reissue, in the form of the Epiphone Kirk Hammett Greeny Les Paul.

For more information on the 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue Limited Edition Murphy Lab Aged With Brazilian Rosewood Collection, head to Gibson.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.