Since the 1950’s sales of the electric guitar in popular music has been largely dominated by two American Companies – Yet for one of the most famous guitars ever, the Les Paul, it was somewhat of a false start regarding sales and popularity – However it is fair to say that we can attribute the birth of a new style of blues and certainly a new voice, to August 1966, when Clapton plugged his Les Paul into a Marshall ‘Bluesbreakers’ Combo – From that moment on wards, the fat warm overdriven tones of a Les Paul have been heard around the world on a regular basis – As such, for many guitar players, a wish list might start with the following criteria :- Gibson – Les Paul – 1959 – And today we can now add a forth key ingredient to that wish list :- Tom Murphy, or should I say Tom Murphy Aged – It was around 1999 when we first became aware of Les Paul’s that had all been historically aged, one by one, by Tom – Yes they command a premium price, but they deliver a premium performance, with all the boxes ticked in the desirable aesthetics chart – So after a small build up, can I introduce you to this Gibson Custom Les Paul 1959 Reissue Tom Murphy Aged ? – Yes a used model from 2012, that is complete with tags, certificate (signed by Rick Gember, Ed Wilson and of course Tom) and the vintage style brown Lifton case
Let me update you on a few key details following my evaluation :-
- Whole guitar weighs 8lbs and 9oz – So totally credible LP weight – more important is the guitars natural vibrant acoustic character
- Dark chocolate even grained rosewood fingerboard
- Gibson vintage PAF humbuckers – AL3 neck measures 7.6K and AL5 bridge that measures 7.99K
- All vintage spec and lightly aged hardware including ABR bridge with no wire retainer
- Neck measures .910″ around the top nut end and gently fattens out to 1.00″ at the 12th fret – More of a comfortable fat C profile, that is not overly chunky with slimmer shoulders, so less of a handful
- Aged from tip to toe by Tom Murphy – licks nicks – plenty of lacquer checking and a smokey mellow vibe about the burst finish that captures the character of good old ‘un
- Still has the Gibson Custom sticker on the switch back plate and scratchplate
- If you know where to look you can view the TM initials within the ‘aged’ finish – A recent trade mark on appropriate Tom Murphy models
Tonal character :- Yes an LP sounds like an LP, yet each have their own subtle variations in character, that is not always easy to describe with a few chosen adjectives – Yet what becomes instantly apparent after trying this LP through clean and overdriven amp channels is that it always sounds musical, warm, fat and full, with excellent clarity – And playing around with the volume and tone pots allows you to add so much soul and emotion into your playing – It is totally responsive to you and the amp, so much so that you can leave the amp alone and just handle it all from the guitar – Clean up an overdriven setting, or push a subtle gain setting into more of a screamin’ demon – On clean amp settings you’ll hear a full clear and melodic voice that possesses a lush quality about it – clear and smooth with good depth – Bell like chimes on the plain strings, with organic rounded lows
Now set it up on overdriven amp settings, but not to much gain initially, so you can hear the guitar breathe and respond to you and subtle variations on the volume pot – Overall you’ll hear a big tone, that is always musical, warm and organic – Big clear lows on the bass end, but not muddy – Fat mids, with crisp sweet highs that glisten, but not thin or overly bright – It can bark with that throaty bite, yet it can be sultry and smooth – It sounds more tight and focused on the bridge pick-up and more lush, with a velvet smooth texture on the neck pick-up – Now play around with the gain level on the amp, until you reach that sweet spot – Now roll off the volume pot to around 6 or 7, then use this setting as your base camp, for more of a ‘chilled out’ approach – Then wind it back towards 10 when you require more gain, sustain and a hint of bite to cut through as required – This approach ensures it is loaded with soul and expression, to deliver all the emotional content you need to enrich your playing – Hence it is fully responsive to you, from driving boogie riffs to power chords and crunch rhythm, to moody melodic riffs, or scorching lead licks – Again it is this approach that is probably the guitars greatest attribute and ensures it is loaded with character waiting for you to explore
Re-strung and set up with 10’s and a sensible action that allows you to dig in and bend as well as handle a few cascading melodic licks, so it still responds to a light touch – As always I can fine tune the set-up to suit individual taste
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.