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Murphy's Law

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 '57

The methods Gibson Custom uses to craft the Wildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1957 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.

Two Wildwood Spec Custombuckers sit within this resonant body of maple and mahogany, and they are absolute sonic titans. These Wildwood-exclusive pickups are meant to recreate the sound of one of our favorite sets of vintage PAFs, and they do a bang-up job of capturing that vintage Gibson magic. In both the neck and bridge positions, the midrange is quite touch-sensitive. When you play with a lighter touch, the midrange has a singing vocal quality. The more you dig in, the more rasp, snarl, and bite you get. This makes for a tremendously dynamic, expressive playing experience!

The bridge position has lots of punching power, and it also has delectable chiming highs replete with golden-hued overtones. The lows are nice and tight, but they are robust enough to make hitting the low E feel quite satisfying. So, you get the perfect combination of gut-punching power and sugary sparkle. Leads cut through a mix like a ten-foot-tall Ginsu, and chords sound muscular and sculpted.

In the neck position, you will find ridiculously thick yet clear sounds. The low-end is warm, woody, and deep, while the midrange is broad and throaty (imagine a hundred-foot-tall opera singer and you'll get a rough idea of how it sounds). The highs are open, clear, and sweet, with just enough bell-like chime. It's a magnificent pickup for rhythm work, because it is clear enough to maintain excellent note separation while also providing immense amounts of gristle. Single-note lines have tons of girth and mass, and they punch through a mix like the Kool-Aid man running through a wall.

This specific model is a tribute to the 1957 iteration of the Les Paul Standard, which showcased one of Gibson’s greatest innovations: the Tune-O-Matic bridge. With this simple, elegant design, Gibson ensured that players would get excellent intonation up and down the fretboard. And, it made changing strings a breeze! If you want precision and the muscle of humbuckers, this Gibson will surely delight you.

Marvelous Murphs

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
ModelWildwood Spec by Tom Murphy 1957 Les Paul Standard
Finish ColorMurphy's Gold w/Dark Back
Finish TypeGloss
Weight8.81 lbs.
Top Wood2-Piece Plain Maple Attached with Hot Hide Glue
Top CarveMurphy Carve
Body WoodOne-Piece Lightweight Mahogany with No Weight Relief
Neck WoodSolid Mahogany
Neck ShapeChunky C Profile
Neck Dimensions.930 1st - 1.020 12th
FingerboardRosewood attached with Hot Hide Glue
Fingerboard Radius12"
InlaysAged Cellulose Nitrate Trapezoid
Scale Length24.75"
Width at Nut1.69"
Frets22 Historic Narrow-Tall
BindingSingle-Ply Royalite
Pickups2 Wildwood Spec Custombuckers
Controls2 Volume, 2 Tone and 3-way Toggleswitch
TailpieceLightweight Tune-O-Matic with Long Stud
BridgeNon-Wire ABR
CaseHistoric Brown/Pink Lacquered Gibson Custom Hardshell

Why Order from Wildwood Guitars?

An instrument from Wildwood isn't just an ordinary guitar. It's your guitar. Each and every instrument we sell includes a full, point by point setup, an exhaustive evaluation, and expert shipping procedures, with first class, industry leading standards from start to finish. Why? Because you deserve it.

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Serial Number: 79974

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