Gibson Is Charging Thousands of Dollars to Perfectly Age Your Guitar

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Photo Credit: Gibson

Some seven months after giving fans an early look at technology designed to make newly crafted instruments appear antiquated and worn, Gibson is charging customers thousands of dollars to perfectly age their guitars.

Gibson CMO Cesar Gueikian teased his company’s guitar-aging technology – developed by Tom Murphy, who has headed the Gibson Custom Shop’s aptly named Murphy Lab since December of 2019 – via a series of Instagram posts in late August of 2020. More than a few individuals quickly expressed their opinion of the “aged” instruments, but Gueikian didn’t specify when exactly the units would become available for purchase.

Now, however, fans can officially buy artificially aged guitars from Gibson – though the instruments aren’t cheap, according to product listings on the 119-year-old company’s website. Included in “The Gibson Murphy Lab Collection” are a light-aged 1959 Les Paul Standard Reissue finished in factory burst ($6,999) and a light-aged 1963 Les Paul SG Custom Reissue in classic white and with a long maestro vibrola tailpiece ($7,199), for instance.

Interestingly, Gibson has emphasized the substantial amount of work that goes into creating these “aged” reissues, noting in the product description for the aforementioned Les Paul that the unit “is not just a tribute to the priceless original models — it’s a clone of them.” Bearing this information in mind, the Nashville-headquartered entity could in some ways be competing with its older models on the used market by aging reissue guitars in-house.

And in a video entitled “Introducing the Murphy Lab,” released earlier this month to promote the launch of the Lab’s seemingly old guitars, Tom Murphy explained in relative detail that he and his team also work to make the instruments feel (not solely appear) authentic to players.

“To go along with what appears to be wear on the guitar,” said Murphy, “the guitar needs to feel like it’s actually been played. Not damaged, just played and broken in.

“If they don’t feel old, it doesn’t help to make them look old. So part of that, of our aging, creates an old feel too,” finished Murphy.

Besides launching its “aged” guitar line, Gibson has made several noteworthy moves to this point in 2021. Kicking off the year, Gibson acquired boutique amp maker Mesa/Boogie and announced a joint venture with Gene Simmons to develop electric guitars and basses.

February saw the company ink a massive brand partnership with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) in China, and earlier this month, Hard Rock Hotels higher-ups announced plans to convert the original Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gibson factory into a hotel.

8 Responses

  1. Michael

    Just can not get my head around why people want new guitars to look old. I know there is a market but the whole idea of owning an old guitar is the journey that guitar has been on over the decades. Gibson and Fender must be counting their lucky stars.

    • Angelito

      Indeed. The dings on my ASAT date to 1993 and are part of great memories.

      Vanity. I bet the same turds spend hours on their hair each morning.

      • Tanya

        Judging others for what they like, just because it isn’t your thing, is childish. Grow up.

    • Will

      It’s the same as people buying aged, damaged and various washed of jeans for a higher price. It is a quick, albeit more costly, way to purchase legitimacy and a look.

      Not for me, but definitely for some people.

  2. Wil

    These are nice guitars, obviously, however the price is only for brand-name investment purposes, not necessarily for playing purposes although that would be excellent too. But for players with modest means that want the same look, the same sound quality and playability, you can order one made in China from DH Gate or Ali Express that is almost as perfectly faux-aged as these, then replace the electronics and have a great guitar for 1/4th the price. Minus the electronics, the Chinese copies I’ve bought are well-made.

    • Appreciative guitarist

      If you would rather own a bootlegged Chinese guitar than a real Gibson, good luck. The idea that the knock offs are anywhere near Nashville quality is absurd.

      • Urias

        No thanks to the Chinese knockoffs. They are really not the quality that is needed, unless you just want to hang something as art. That, they can do.

  3. JAS

    I think Gibson has lost the plot…..

    It is sad that there is a market for fake ‘old’. I would much rather have brand new Les Paul, except they actually don’t make them like they used too…

    The Les Paul for me, is the ultimate iconic rock guitar. I own a Pearl brand Les Paul copy, I bought in ’78, that is the closest I have ever seen to the real thing. It weighs a ton and plays like the real deal. If I ever decide I have the budget I would look for a well kept but used one from back then.

    Lazy people who have more money than brains, pay someone to fake the wear and tear that is supposed to be a badge of honour. Don’t even get me started on robo tuners……….