Up for sale, a 2011 Gibson Custom Shop Historic Murphy Aged 1959 Les Paul Standard "R9" in exceptional condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original Custom Shop case, COA, and hangtags. An exceedingly rare Les Paul produced years before the Murphy Lab concept was cemented, this Les Paul is one of sparingly few aged by Tom Murphy a decade ago, originally offered via Gibson's Japanese distributor Yamano.
While every R9 is rightfully judged in part by the quality of its top in addition to its tonal attributes, this particular example is stunning in its presentation, with tight, dimensional ripples of curly flame highlighted by the Dirty Lemon nitro lacquer finish and expert distressing courtesy of Tom Murphy. Lively, three-dimensional curly tiger flame extends across every inch of the top, very natural in its appearance and faithful in its figuring to many 1959 Bursts.
Tonally, everything stems from the acoustic properties of the instrument, and this Les Paul has a natural acoustic tone that's smooth, detailed and relaxed, with the worked-in feel of a genuine ‘50s instrument. There's great bark in the low end, and full, round sounding plain strings that deliver plenty of zing and also a richness that makes lead lines come through with great clarity and body. Weighing a particularly light 8lbs 13oz and balancing well on a strap, this guitar makes the most of the classic tonewood combination of a carved two-piece maple top and solid mahogany body. The sound is clear, lively, and harmonically complex in all registers, and the original Burstbucker 1 and 2 pickups do an excellent job of capturing everything we love about the sound of a vintage Les Paul Standard. There's plenty of power and articulation in the bridge position, with thick and round sounds from the neck pickup that are ideal for lead work while still staying defined. This Murphy Aged Gibson R9 guitar has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, playing flawlessly with low action, accurate intonation, and 10-46 strings.
The quartersawn one-piece mahogany neck has full baseball bat girth, as big and substantial a carve as any R8-R9, measuring .915" deep at the 1st fret and .999" at the 12th. On the extremely dark, tight-grained rosewood fretboard, the frets retain their full factory height, showing only light wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-8, with no wear further up the fingerboard. The headstock has the correct 17-degree angle, with a thin holly veneer on the face and Kluson-style single line tuning machines with transparent keystone buttons.
The electronics are untouched since the factory, with the Burstbucker pickups wired to a harness featuring Gibson spec’d CTS 500K short-shaft audio-taper potentiometers, 20 gauge bus wire, and the stock Gibson Bumblebee .022/400V capacitors. The corner of the control cavity has the requisite "R9" stamp too. The ABR-1 bridge and stoptail show light simulated patina on the nickel plating, and plastics include the quartet of ambered bonnet knobs as well as the pickup rings, switch surround, and pickguard.
The highly figured Dirty Lemon top is contrasted by the bold “brick red” hue of the back and neck, and there's virtually no aniline dye bleed on the binding. The grain on the carved maple top is extremely dynamic, with a bit of mineral streaking on the bass side and ripples of curly flame that grow increasingly tight behind the bridge. Murphy's factory aging includes tight, prominent horizontal lacquer checking across the top and headstock face. There are some dings and faint finish scratches on the back, ostensibly mostly due to the factory aging although a couple dings central to the lower bout could possibly be beyond the relic treatment. The neck profile retains a smooth nitro gloss that feels great on the palm.
The original black tolex Gibson Custom hardshell case is included, along with the original COA, hangtags, and paperwork from the original Japanese dealer.