Has Murphy Lab Changed? - Jerry Cantrell "Wino" ML Les Paul Custom

yeatzee

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Many of you saw my original review of a heavy aged R0 Murphy Lab that was part of the earlier run of ML guitars. You can see it here if you missed it:


In it I went over in detail the finish on the ML, the suspect areas, the type of checking, how it felt, etc. Well I recently got the opportunity to take a look at a brand new Jerry Cantrell "Wino" signature Les Paul Custom from the Murphy Lab and did a full on video review of it as well.


The video is quite long, definitely recommending clicking over to youtube if you want to use the timestamps I made. Specifically at the 28min mark I talk about how this compared to that heavy aged R0 I reviewer earlier, and I show some close up's that I compare between the two.

Let me just say, immediately when I held the Wino les paul I noticed it felt different. Seemed to me like it was a different lacquer formula than the heavy aged R0 I had. Beyond the feel, the checking is WAY different. Mostly vertical on the top, pretty sparse and only in certain areas. Basically zero spiderweb checking that was all over the heavy aged R0. Totally different. The problem areas where the finish flaking occurred on so many was also totally different, no signs of lifting checking anywhere on the guitar. SUPER interesting.

So that leads me to the question, has Murphy Lab truly changed? Beyond a new formula are they doing a different method to aging the guitars or is this just a weird unicorn that aged in a way that was absent the spiderweb checking? Can anyone chime in that has a newer regular run ML guitar? Does the checking on the Wino showed in the video match yours or does yours match the heavy aged R0 in the first video?

Anyways thought I'd share. I was pretty impressed with the Wino Les Paul overall and encouraged for future Murphy Lab guitars. If I was ordering one I'd want it to have aging very similar to what was on the Cantrell guitar personally.
 

Mattcran

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So... I had a total of (4) Wino's in my hands and I will say they varied widely, with the earliest serial number being the most different. The early serial had the least checking by far. The color was somewhat brighter red (almost cherry vs. wine) and it had only 2 or 3 of the gouges in the pick area (vs. 4). The checking struck me as odd originally (comparing to Tom's work). There were very few checks across the top and they were largely horizontal. It was like the top was cut up into 3" x 5"-ish rectangular sections with checking. The two mid-range serial numbers were much more Tom-ish. Heavy vertical checking that in places looked very similar to his (one line branching off another, etc). The backs were much more heavily checked than Tom's ever were though. The highest serial number was kind of in between.

Other general observations:
1. three had the shattered glass look around the back strap button, the other didn't
2. one had very heavy simulated buckle rash, the other 3 did not.
3. one had very heavy simulated pick wear above the strings, the other 3 did not.
4. two of them had pink-stained wood under the chips/gouges, two were bare wood color.
5. a couple pickguard brackets were substantially weathered, a couple shiny gold.

Anyway, I was actually surprised at the variability. Obviously the checking can be random, but if they were actually modeling a specific guitar, I would have expected the size, placement and look of the "blemishes" to be more consistent.

All were awesome though! I actually liked these guitars better than the Adam Jones. I can't compare to Adam Jones Aged though, as I only owned the VOS.
 

yeatzee

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So... I had a total of (4) Wino's in my hands and I will say they varied widely, with the earliest serial number being the most different. The early serial had the least checking by far. The color was somewhat brighter red (almost cherry vs. wine) and it had only 2 or 3 of the gouges in the pick area (vs. 4). The checking struck me as odd originally (comparing to Tom's work). There were very few checks across the top and they were largely horizontal. It was like the top was cut up into 3" x 5"-ish rectangular sections with checking. The two mid-range serial numbers were much more Tom-ish. Heavy vertical checking that in places looked very similar to his (one line branching off another, etc). The backs were much more heavily checked than Tom's ever were though. The highest serial number was kind of in between.

Other general observations:
1. three had the shattered glass look around the back strap button, the other didn't
2. one had very heavy simulated buckle rash, the other 3 did not.
3. one had very heavy simulated pick wear above the strings, the other 3 did not.
4. two of them had pink-stained wood under the chips/gouges, two were bare wood color.
5. a couple pickguard brackets were substantially weathered, a couple shiny gold.

Anyway, I was actually surprised at the variability. Obviously the checking can be random, but if they were actually modeling a specific guitar, I would have expected the size, placement and look of the "blemishes" to be more consistent.

All were awesome though! I actually liked these guitars better than the Adam Jones. I can't compare to Adam Jones Aged though, as I only owned the VOS.
That's fascinating! Do you have any pictures you could share? Would love to know how you got 4 in your hands!

Did you check out the video, curious to hear where you thought the aging on this one fell compared to the rest. I believe it was #81. That's extra interesting that 3 of the 4 had shattered glass look at the strap button... would you say they showed signs of lifting or potential flaking like the one I showed in the video alongside the Wino?

I've seen a few photos of other wino's online now that owners are getting them and they all looked about the same from what I saw, but nobody has had any real good closeups of the aging.
 

calieng

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Many of you saw my original review of a heavy aged R0 Murphy Lab that was part of the earlier run of ML guitars. You can see it here if you missed it:


In it I went over in detail the finish on the ML, the suspect areas, the type of checking, how it felt, etc. Well I recently got the opportunity to take a look at a brand new Jerry Cantrell "Wino" signature Les Paul Custom from the Murphy Lab and did a full on video review of it as well.


The video is quite long, definitely recommending clicking over to youtube if you want to use the timestamps I made. Specifically at the 28min mark I talk about how this compared to that heavy aged R0 I reviewer earlier, and I show some close up's that I compare between the two.

Let me just say, immediately when I held the Wino les paul I noticed it felt different. Seemed to me like it was a different lacquer formula than the heavy aged R0 I had. Beyond the feel, the checking is WAY different. Mostly vertical on the top, pretty sparse and only in certain areas. Basically zero spiderweb checking that was all over the heavy aged R0. Totally different. The problem areas where the finish flaking occurred on so many was also totally different, no signs of lifting checking anywhere on the guitar. SUPER interesting.

So that leads me to the question, has Murphy Lab truly changed? Beyond a new formula are they doing a different method to aging the guitars or is this just a weird unicorn that aged in a way that was absent the spiderweb checking? Can anyone chime in that has a newer regular run ML guitar? Does the checking on the Wino showed in the video match yours or does yours match the heavy aged R0 in the first video?

Anyways thought I'd share. I was pretty impressed with the Wino Les Paul overall and encouraged for future Murphy Lab guitars. If I was ordering one I'd want it to have aging very similar to what was on the Cantrell guitar personally.
The differences I have noticed from original ML to the new finish were primarily an extremely strong smell when the case was first opened. Likely because these came direct from Gibson as a replacement guitars but it smelled of a very volatile substance not typical of nitro lacquer.

The finish remains thin and brittle and in areas where the wood may not have been perfectly clean (neck joint area) still did crack and flake off.

Thanks for your continued efforts to get the word out.
IMG_3585.JPG
 
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calieng

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P.S. I am not sure if my replacements even were a complete new finish. Check out the dye stain on the strap button and dye mark on the binding....so maybe my "new" ones were just old ones that were touched up. I do not know what the process is on the replacment guitars - new or customer returns that are repaired. So it may not be at all related to a true new finish like you were looking at....

IMG_3586 copy.png
 
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yeatzee

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The differences I have noticed from original ML to the new finish were primarily an extremely strong smell when the case was first opened. Likely because these came direct from Gibson as a replacement guitars but it smelled of a very volatile substance not typical of nitro lacquer.

The finish remains thin and brittle and in areas where the wood may not have been perfectly clean (neck joint area) still did crack and flake off.

Thanks for your continued efforts to get the word out.
View attachment 559645
P.S. I am not sure if my replacements even were a complete new finish. Check out the dye stain on the strap button and dye mark on the binding....so maybe my "new" ones were just old ones that were touched up. I do not know what the process is on the replacment guitars - new or customer returns that are repaired. So it may not be at all related to a true new finish like you were looking at....

View attachment 559648
You are absolutely right about the smell, this thing was quite pungent... well beyond the traditional vanilla nitro smell that came on my ES345.

Ya that finish checking looks nothing like what was on this guitar, no spiderwebs, no lifting that I could notice anywhere. That just looks like same as the early ML stuff you shared / was on the R0 I looked at.
 

hellzington

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So... I had a total of (4) Wino's in my hands and I will say they varied widely, with the earliest serial number being the most different. The early serial had the least checking by far. The color was somewhat brighter red (almost cherry vs. wine) and it had only 2 or 3 of the gouges in the pick area (vs. 4). The checking struck me as odd originally (comparing to Tom's work). There were very few checks across the top and they were largely horizontal. It was like the top was cut up into 3" x 5"-ish rectangular sections with checking. The two mid-range serial numbers were much more Tom-ish. Heavy vertical checking that in places looked very similar to his (one line branching off another, etc). The backs were much more heavily checked than Tom's ever were though. The highest serial number was kind of in between.

Other general observations:
1. three had the shattered glass look around the back strap button, the other didn't
2. one had very heavy simulated buckle rash, the other 3 did not.
3. one had very heavy simulated pick wear above the strings, the other 3 did not.
4. two of them had pink-stained wood under the chips/gouges, two were bare wood color.
5. a couple pickguard brackets were substantially weathered, a couple shiny gold.

Anyway, I was actually surprised at the variability. Obviously the checking can be random, but if they were actually modeling a specific guitar, I would have expected the size, placement and look of the "blemishes" to be more consistent.

All were awesome though! I actually liked these guitars better than the Adam Jones. I can't compare to Adam Jones Aged though, as I only owned the VOS.
Interesting! Seems very different from mine.

1. No shattered glass look on mine
2. No simulated buckle rash, just a little bit of extra checking around the deep curve on the top of the body where your stomach would kind of rub against it (we talked about this in the video)
3. No pick wear (or very little, such that I didn't notice)
4. The wood under the chips on mine is also pink/red stained a bit, but you can see a little wood
5. My bracket is pretty weathered

I would have thought overall that these would have been much more consistent. I'd love to see photos of yours showing this stuff so I could compare it to mine. Mine seems like a very light aging job by these standards. @yeatzee called it an super-light aged relic, which feels right by some of the other ML standards, and maybe also by some of the other ones that were produced.

I'm also curious how/why you bought four? (But rock on!)
 

hellzington

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I have one that was built in June and the checking looks like this on the neck along with a fairly deep long finish crack, on the body it looks like this wino checking, but the neck has tons of tiny cracks. It's a black custom. The tips of the head stock started to flake off and im afraid the neck will do the same. Do I send in for warranty? Im not even sure... mine also has the pungent, Similar to blue cheese smell, haha
Yeah, that sounds pretty common with the first ML run. A lot of "shattered glass" checking with very brittle, paper thin nitro that peeled off in chunks. Many people have also commented on the smell. I would absolutely talk to your dealer and see what can be done. Huge chunks of the finish should not be flaking off like that.
 

calieng

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I have one that was built in June and the checking looks like this on the neck along with a fairly deep long finish crack, on the body it looks like this wino checking, but the neck has tons of tiny cracks. It's a black custom. The tips of the head stock started to flake off and im afraid the neck will do the same. Do I send in for warranty? Im not even sure... mine also has the pungent, Similar to blue cheese smell, haha
I am sorry to constantly be beating on Gibson lately as I do really love Les Paul guitars and my True Historics and Brazilian models are fantastic. Most folks who work there are good people - just not the management.

BUT - this ML finish thing may very well be just the tip of the iceberg. Be careful because the cherry pore filler issue may have been just the first round of problems. The thin brittle finish along with any new additive they are using in the nitro may create other long term problems with the finish. Just be careful before investing in these guitars. The VOS is a safer more proven finish when in doubt.
 

jrkhav

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I am sorry to constantly be beating on Gibson lately as I do really love Les Paul guitars and my True Historics and Brazilian models are fantastic. Most folks who work there are good people - just not the management.

BUT - this ML finish thing may very well be just the tip of the iceberg. Be careful because the cherry pore filler issue may have been just the first round of problems. The thin brittle finish along with any new additive they are using in the nitro may create other long term problems with the finish. Just be careful before investing in these guitars. The VOS is a safer more proven finish when in doubt.
Interesting point...what else do you think would happen in the longer term on the MLs that already have these early finish problems?
 

calieng

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Interesting point...what else do you think would happen in the longer term on the MLs that already have these early finish problems?
No I was speaking to the "new" finish not the original run. I already had to return one new replacement ML guitar that the finish shrunk over just a few days and flaked off around the neck joint. There are other post from people with chips coming off the headstock and a couple I have seen with finish coming off the top wood (not just over the cherry pore filler areas).

Basically it is a thin brittle finish that will not be as durable as the VOS finish and it remains to be seen if these additives in the nitro or the freezing process (if they are still doing that) will cause some other long term deterioration of the finish. Nitro finish is organic and is constantly decomposing.

I have a 2015 Murphy Aged True Historic '59 that is just now starting to loose a few flakes here and there. It had a more stable and durable nitro that was applied a fair bit thicker than the current finishes. So it took many years to decompose and flake the way ML do after only a few days or a few weeks or a few months.

How ML guitars hold up after a year or 5 years etc remains to be seen. Matt (from Gibson) stated that they stopped production for 2 weeks while they changed the finish. 2 weeks is not long enough to see how the finish will hold up. They should have had some guitars out in use for several months to be sure they will hold up before approving a new finish again to resume production. They are just rolling the dice and flying by the seat of their pants at our expense.
 
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Mattcran

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Here are some of my photos to elaborate on my previous post about variability:

Example 1: This one had pretty wide and random (often horizontal checking). Divided the back of the guitar into the largest chunks



The top had pretty straight vertical checking. Note here though... this was the only one that had only ONE gouge in the pick area (vs. 4). This is something that I thought would have been very consistent when modeling a specific guitar. Also note that it's very pink.



Example 2: 4 pick gouges, fairly shattered look checking on parts of the top. Pretty wide/sparse / somewhat strange looking checking on the back. Probably the most natural in reality, just not what I'm used to from the Tom Murphy world!







Example 3: Fairly straight, somewhat Murphy-like checking on the top. Still 4 pick marks, but in the 2nd pic this one had what I'd describe as pretty heavy simulated pick wear. None of the others had it. It had heavy pick wear, but not buckle rash. Neck joint is pretty clean and not fragmented.







Example 4: This is the one I fell in love with and was originally going to keep. I felt the checking in the first pic (on most of the top) was very Murphy-like. However, this guitar was also the most heavily aged. Note what I was describing as heavy simulated buckle rash. Neck joint was pretty clean with a few checks and some orange peel.







 

KeoRS

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It's a bit of a bummer that there seems to be a limitation on the amount polishing/compounding/cutting + buffing they are able to do on the aged finishes. My ML guitar had the same type of orange peel showing on the sides. I wonder if it will be the same when I get it back from the Custom Shop (if I get mine back and not a replacement).
 

davidos

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I think these are Murphy in name only... I heard he's in there very sparingly... Like once every 6 weeks, if that. They licensed his name... Like all those Trump apartment building in NYC...
 

mudface

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Here is my custom, you can see how the neck has a large deep crack that is deeper than the other checking. And the checking on the neck is like broken glass where as the checking on the body is more subtle.




And the gold hardware looks brand new, or barely used.

But none of the checking looks to be lifting.... looks good to me.
 
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hellzington

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Here is my custom, you can see how the neck has a large deep crack that is deeper than the other checking. And the checking on the neck is like broken glass where as the checking on the body is more subtle.




The checking on the top of yours looks very good to me. I have a '73 Custom that's had the sh*t played out of it, and the top looks very similar. What is different is the neck and the hardware. IMO, the hardware on yours looks far too new and polished. My '73 barely has any gold left. The neck could be authentic but it's hard for me to say b/c the finish is coming off of mine. Here's some pics so you can see the checking and hardware wear.

PXL_20210818_162623501.MP (1).jpg


PXL_20210818_162709931.MP (1).jpg


PXL_20210818_162911874.MP (1).jpg


PXL_20210818_162655472.MP (1).jpg


PXL_20210818_162726575.MP (1).jpg


PXL_20210818_162739660.MP (1).jpg


Either way, yours is a beautiful Custom!
 

hellzington

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Here are some of my photos to elaborate on my previous post about variability:

Example 1: This one had pretty wide and random (often horizontal checking). Divided the back of the guitar into the largest chunks



The top had pretty straight vertical checking. Note here though... this was the only one that had only ONE gouge in the pick area (vs. 4). This is something that I thought would have been very consistent when modeling a specific guitar. Also note that it's very pink.



Example 2: 4 pick gouges, fairly shattered look checking on parts of the top. Pretty wide/sparse / somewhat strange looking checking on the back. Probably the most natural in reality, just not what I'm used to from the Tom Murphy world!







Example 3: Fairly straight, somewhat Murphy-like checking on the top. Still 4 pick marks, but in the 2nd pic this one had what I'd describe as pretty heavy simulated pick wear. None of the others had it. It had heavy pick wear, but not buckle rash. Neck joint is pretty clean and not fragmented.







Example 4: This is the one I fell in love with and was originally going to keep. I felt the checking in the first pic (on most of the top) was very Murphy-like. However, this guitar was also the most heavily aged. Note what I was describing as heavy simulated buckle rash. Neck joint was pretty clean with a few checks and some orange peel.







Awesome reply and photos, thank you!

Mine is most like your #4. It doesn't have the buckle rash but it does have well done vertical checking that's very "Murphy-like," especially on the top. Also like #4, mine has some of that chaotic checking on the back. Mine has zero buckle rash, though.

Super interesting that you said this was the most worn one! @yeatzee said mine was a super light aging job compared to the R0. Maybe it's one of the more heavily aged ones of the batch like yours.
 

Joe A

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I'd just get an old Norlin...seriously. The "new Gibson" seems a lot like the old Gibson to me, just more hype.
 

hellzington

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I'd just get an old Norlin...seriously. The "new Gibson" seems a lot like the old Gibson to me, just more hype.
Right on! We feature two Norlins in the video

I actually own three Norlin LP Customs: a black '73, the '79 Silverburst, and the '82 Wine Red. Love the Norlin Era at Gibson. Funky but fun LPs
 

AJK1

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Here are some of my photos to elaborate on my previous post about variability:

Example 1: This one had pretty wide and random (often horizontal checking). Divided the back of the guitar into the largest chunks



The top had pretty straight vertical checking. Note here though... this was the only one that had only ONE gouge in the pick area (vs. 4). This is something that I thought would have been very consistent when modeling a specific guitar. Also note that it's very pink.



Example 2: 4 pick gouges, fairly shattered look checking on parts of the top. Pretty wide/sparse / somewhat strange looking checking on the back. Probably the most natural in reality, just not what I'm used to from the Tom Murphy world!







Example 3: Fairly straight, somewhat Murphy-like checking on the top. Still 4 pick marks, but in the 2nd pic this one had what I'd describe as pretty heavy simulated pick wear. None of the others had it. It had heavy pick wear, but not buckle rash. Neck joint is pretty clean and not fragmented.







Example 4: This is the one I fell in love with and was originally going to keep. I felt the checking in the first pic (on most of the top) was very Murphy-like. However, this guitar was also the most heavily aged. Note what I was describing as heavy simulated buckle rash. Neck joint was pretty clean with a few checks and some orange peel.







Are these guitars Historics or Reissues ?
 

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