Gibson Custom Shop Wildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1954 Les Paul Standard – Ultra-Aged
When you search "Tom Murphy" on Google, nary a single guitar-related thread comes up. Every page is about another fellow named Tom Murphy who plays catcher for the Seattle Mariners. When you dig deeper and search "Tom Murphy guitar" you might find a profile from his hometown paper in Marion, Illinois that traces his story arc from his origins as a guitar-obsessed teen to his time as a Nashville sideman to his tenure at Gibson Guitars, where he was a project manager in charge of reissuing a little-known obscurity from Gibson's history: the 1959 Les Paul. Go further down the rabbit hole and you'll find a list of clients that will make your jaw drop: Jimmy Page, Dickey Betts, Joe Perry, Billy Gibbons, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, and Gary Rossington. Why do so many rock stars seek out Tom?
The Murphy Magic
The answer is simple: the man is a certifiable wizard. Facetiousness aside, consider this example: after Peter Frampton's famous Les Paul Custom rested in pieces in the debris of a crashed cargo plane for thirty years, Tom was able to bring it back to life and make it sing again. Some might chalk that up to magic, but it's much simpler than that. He's just a master craftsman who has honed his skills for decades.
As a professional player, Tom gained the sort of intimate knowledge of guitars that can only come when you're struggling to make a repair during a set break during a four-hour gig. He also saw untold thousands of real-life roadworn guitars, which gave him an excellent sense of what an aged reissue should look like. Finally, as a finish specialist for Gibson, he absorbed as much knowledge as he could from his peers. Because of his training and real-world experiences, his guitars look as authentic as can be.
Dipped in Gold
In this case, all that glitters really is gold, because Tom Murphy has been kind enough to partner with the Gibson Custom Shop to build a run of Wildwood Spec gold top Les Pauls for us. Obviously, the gold top Les Paul Standard has a rich historical pedigree; after all, it was the first Les Paul! Where would we be without Les Pauls? One shudders at the thought.... Anyway, we believe that Tom's immaculate top carves, spectacular paint jobs, and general meticulousness have made these guitars into fitting tributes to the Goldtop's legacy.
If Tom had done reissues from one year of the Gold Top's glory days, we'd have been happy. But he was kind enough to apply his skills to three models: a '54 with a wraparound tailpiece and P-90s, a '56 with a Tune-o-Matic and P-90s, and a '57 with a Tune-o-Matic and humbuckers. Each one is awesome in a unique way, so let's dive deeper and examine why this particular model inspires and excites us.
The Glory of '54
The methods Gibson Custom uses to craft the Wildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1954 Les Paul Standard aren't far from the ones they used in the fifties. They select high-quality, resonant mahogany and maple, which gives the guitar a good balance of warmth, clarity, and sustain. They attach each piece of wood together with hot hide glue, which is an old-world manufacturing technique that results in the greatest possible energy transfer between the pieces. Hide glue may be tough to work with, but it's worth it, because it makes these guitars tremendously resonant acoustically
Once you plug in, it's all about one of the best combos in all of music: P-90s and a wraparound bridge. Gibson's Custom Shop P-90s are lovely. They have sweet bell-like chime in the highs, touch-sensitive midrange that can snarl, punch, or sing depending on your mood, and warm, robust lows. They provide the perfect combination of sparkle and punch for general rock riffage, the right amount of twang and sparkle for country, plenty of chime for jangly indie music, and the correct snarling attitude for punk. The neck pickup works beautifully for mellow jazz excursions, thick Sabbathian riffage, and beefy single-note lines. When you flip to the bridge pickup and play a few power chords, you feel like you're piloting a monster truck over the ruined carcasses of junkyard jalopies.
P-90s are pretty awesome by themselves, but they work even more magic with a wraparound tailpiece. Because there is more connection between the strings and the bridge with this setup, it gives the guitar more resonance, responsiveness and sustain. When you add that extra dollop of sonic sauce into the equation, one thing becomes clear: the Wildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1954 Les Paul Standard is a fearsome beast, indeed.
Wildwood Guitars is proud to present our line of Tom Murphy Goldtops. Tom is a legend, and it is an honor to work with him and our friends at Gibson Custom. We believe that the products of our collaboration set a gold standard for looks, tone, and playability. We invite you to take one for a spin and experience the magic of Gibson Custom and Tom Murphy. Once you do, we're sure they will enrich your music-making experience and bring you joy for a long, long time.
|Brand||Gibson Custom Shop|
|Model||Wildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1954 Les Paul Standard|
|Finish Color||Murphy's Gold|
|Top Wood||2-Piece Plain Maple Attached with Hot Hide Glue|
|Top Carve||Murphy Carve|
|Body Wood||One-Piece Lightweight Mahogany with No Weight Relief|
|Neck Wood||Solid Mahogany|
|Neck Shape||Chunky C Profile|
|Neck Dimensions||.920 1st - 1.030 12th|
|Fingerboard||Rosewood attached with Hot Hide Glue|
|Inlays||Aged Cellulose Nitrate Trapezoid|
|Width at Nut||1.69"|
|Frets||22 Historic Narrow-Tall|
|Pickups||2 Custom Soapbar P-90|
|Controls||2 Volume, 2 Tone and 3-way Toggleswitch|
|Case||Historic Brown/Pink Lacquered Gibson Custom Hardshell|
Click Here to learn more about what makes a Wildwood instrument so special...