Gibson creates the Murphy Lab, a division of the Custom Shop dedicated to creating historically accurate guitars

Renowned guitar-ageing specialist Tom Murphy gets his own Custom Shop division, while Taylor's Sergio Villanueva comes on as the new head of Gibson Custom.

Gibson has announced that renowned guitar-ageing specialist Tom Murphy will join the company as ‘Master Artisan’ of the newly-created Murphy Lab, a division of the Custom Shop focused on delivering historically accurate recreations of the company’s most legendary instruments. In addition, the brand has also announced it is ‘elevating’ its Custom Shop, with Taylor Sergio Villanueva as its new head.

Villanueva spent the last five years at Taylor Guitars as the plant manager of its new Tecate, Mexico facility. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at Fender, where he worked his way from managing strings production to senior vice-president of global manufacturing.

JC Curleigh, Gibson CEO, said of the appointment: “I am excited to bring Sergio into the Custom Shop for this leadership position at such a pivotal stage for Gibson. Sergio is a respected Luthier who will bring a renewed sense of artistry and operational excellence to the Custom Shop. He is the perfect fit to lead our Custom Shop team into the future.”


The Gibson Custom shop’s new Murphy Lab will focus on building historically-accurate guitars, under the leadership of Tom Murphy – renowned for his expertise in meticulously ageing Gibson guitars.

Gibson’s CMO Cesar Gueikian noted the importance of the Gibson Custom Shop’s historic guitars and expressed excitement at the appointment of Murphy as master artisan: “The Gibson Custom Shop is the pinnacle of craftsmanship, quality and sound excellence. Each instrument celebrates Gibson’s legacy through accuracy, authenticity and attention to detail. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Les Paul Standard, I can’t think of a more exciting time to launch the Murphy Lab under the leadership of Tom, who was instrumental in the inception of the Gibson Custom Shop and developed the process of ageing.”

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