These acoustic models pay tribute to the legendary designs that shaped the sound of 20th century music.
Gibson Custom Shop’s exclusive Murphy Lab lacquer and thermally aged tops enhance the resonance and tone of these acoustic guitars, while the Murphy Lab Light Aging treatment provides the played-in look and feel of a vintage guitar, with softened edges throughout. From the haunting Dust Bowl-era tones of the 1933 L-00 to the iconic midrange punch of the 1942 Banner J-45 and the 1942 Banner Southern Jumbo, to the famed projection of the 1957 SJ-200, and the rock ’n’ roll swagger of the 1960 Hummingbird, the Murphy Lab Acoustic guitars are a recreation of the most recorded and played acoustic guitars of all time.
“We are excited to unveil the Gibson Custom Shop Murphy Lab Acoustic Collection,” says Cesar Gueikian, President, and CEO of Gibson Brands. “It’s the natural evolution of the Murphy Lab, now established in Bozeman, MT, where our expert Murphy Lab luthiers under Tom Murphy have been applying the Lab’s aging techniques to our famous Gibson acoustic models for two years. Rest assured; this launch is only the beginning of more epic things to come out of the Gibson Custom Shop Acoustic Murphy Lab.”
1960 Hummingbird Heritage Cherry Sunburst Light Aged
Introduced in 1960 as Gibson’s first square shoulder, the Hummingbird arrived at the dawn of a new era in music and was rapidly embraced by the prime movers on the scene. Built with a thermally aged Sitka spruce top, the 1960 Hummingbird reflects the appearance and performance of those early icons. It features Light Aging by the skilled artisans of the Murphy Lab. The Murphy Lab Light Aged finish treatment, paired with lightly aged hardware, simulates decades of light play wear, giving it the unique character, vibe, and feel of an original example from the Gibson Golden Era.
1957 SJ-200 Vintage Sunburst Light Aged
This new Custom Shop 1957 SJ-200 offers details such as hand-selected maple for the back and sides, a headstock stinger, and our thermally aged top for the full vintage effect. It also features Light Aging by the skilled artisans of the Murphy Lab. The Murphy Lab Light Aged finish treatment, paired with lightly aged hardware, simulates decades of light play wear, giving it the unique character, vibe, and feel of an original example from the Gibson Golden Era.
1942 Banner J-45 Vintage Sunburst Light Aged
The allure and legend of the Gibson J-45 live on in the new Murphy Lab 1942 Banner J-45. Inspired by the holy grail of vintage acoustic instruments, luthiers in Montana meticulously crafted a J-45 just like the most popular and celebrated version in structure and components. The new 1942 Banner J-45 includes a Thermally Aged Adirondack red spruce top hand-sprayed with a historic-style burst, hot hide glue top bracing for better tonal response, and a bone nut and saddle. It features Light Aging by the skilled artisans of the Murphy Lab. The Murphy Lab Light Aged finish treatment, paired with lightly aged hardware, simulates decades of light play wear, giving it the unique character, vibe, and feel of an original example from the Gibson Golden Era.
1942 Banner Southern Jumbo Vintage Sunburst Light Aged
The Custom Shop Murphy Lab 1942 Banner Southern Jumbo features the vibe of a vintage Gibson acoustic that has been well cared for over generations. The thermally aged Adirondack red spruce top and rosewood back and sides have outstanding tonal response and superior playability. At home playing first-position chords or picking lead blues licks, the Southern Jumbo is a versatile instrument. Proudly displaying the "Only a Gibson is Good Enough" banner on the headstock, this custom instrument also includes an open slot bridge, a bone saddle and nut, and the classic 1.77" nut width. It features Light Aging by the skilled artisans of the Murphy Lab. The Murphy Lab Light Aged finish treatment, paired with lightly aged hardware, simulates decades of light play wear, giving it the unique character, vibe, and feel of an original example from the Gibson Golden Era.
1933 L-00 Ebony Light Aged
The L-00 is one of Gibson’s most iconic models. Developed in the early 30s, the L-00 was an industry standard for many years and is still popular with guitarists today. Delivering unparalleled projection not found in comparable small-bodied guitars and a tonality that is best described in Gibson’s 1934 catalog as a sound of “perfect balance,” The 1933 L-00 achieves all the advantages of an acoustic that is comfortable to play in your home while still producing Gibson’s characteristic rich, full sound. The 1933 L-00 features Light Aging by the skilled artisans of the Murphy Lab. The Murphy Lab Light Aged finish treatment, paired with lightly aged hardware, simulates decades of light play wear, giving it the unique character, vibe, and feel of an original example from the Gibson Golden Era.
The Gibson Custom Shop Murphy Lab Collection in Light Aging is now available at authorized Gibson dealers and on www.gibson.com.
This museum-ready flattop was built by a legendary Chicagoan luthier duo.
In the early 20th century, Chicago’s reputation was one of grit, and the city was full of factories, gangsters, and slaughterhouses. But in a small shop on the North Side’s Elm Street, brothers Carl and August Larson built fine acoustic instruments under a variety of brand names, including ornate statement pieces like this Maurer 595.
You could hang this on a wall in Versailles, and it wouldn’t look out of place. A 1920s 12-fret of impeccable beauty, the guitar positively drips with inlays. An elaborate pearl and abalone tree-of-life vine runs the length of the neck, from the top of the slotted mahogany headstock down its ebony fretboard. Within the herringbone purfling around the bound body and rosette, even more abalone decorates and dazzles. The ebony bridge features inlays of two ivory stars.
Measuring 15" wide and with a 25 1/2" scale length, the body is 3 1/4" deep, a bit shallower than you’d expect. It has a spruce top with Martin-style X-bracing underneath, and solid Brazilian rosewood back and sides. The neck is 1 7/8" wide at the nut, giving players more room across the fretboard.
This Maurer is a premium example of the work of the Larson Brothers, a pair of Swedish immigrants that occupy a unique space in American guitar craft. From about 1900 to the 1940s, they ran a tight operation that competed, in quality and innovation, with heavyweights like Gibson and Martin.
The guitar’s inlays, made of both pearl and abalone, run the length of the neck, from the headstock all the way down the fretboard.
Alongside archtops, mandolins, and harp-style guitars, the brothers built steel-string flattops like this Maurer—and started building them a full two decades before their rivals. But, while successful in their time, the Larsons were still very little-known in comparison. The fact that they didn’t release guitars under their own name, but a whole constellation of others—for their own brands Maurer, Prairie State, and Euphonon, for retailers like Wm. C. Stahl and W.J. Dyer, and more—didn’t help with name recognition.
Nonetheless, they were pioneers in modern acoustic lutherie, experimenting with reinforcement measures and building techniques. In 1904, August Larson patented his laminated bracing design, where he’d insert thin strips of harder rosewood or ebony within softer spruce braces, which helped add more rigid structure without too much more weight. He employed this technique in the Maurer 595 (you can see its “Pat” stamp inside the soundhole). In 1930, he patented a unique steel-rod contraption found in many Prairie State guitars, though not seen in our Vintage Vault find. Like most flattops built by the Larsons, this Maurer 595 also isn’t quite flat, thanks to another reinforcement measure the Larsons adopted. Built “under tension,” these tops have a permanent, slightly arched shape that, like their laminated bracing, helps withstand the pressure of steel strings.
You could hang this on a wall in Versailles and it wouldn’t even look out of place.
The precise level of detail and the problem-solving tenacity that the brothers brought to their work was no doubt spurred by August’s monastic devotion. Reportedly, he lived in the shop with a small bed and little furniture and was essentially married to his work (so much so that his one romantic marriage was short-lived). While it can’t be known who exactly did the inlay work on this instrument—August, Carl, or one of their part-time employees—it’s easy to imagine August hunched over a bench for hours upon exacting hours to get them right. And if not August himself, someone working with equal fervor in his shadow.
August Larson lived in his workshop, and it's not hard to imagine him or another dedicated employee toiling over the building of this guitar.
Photo by Jake Wildwood/Reverb
While we don’t know the exact year or have price lists for 1920s Maurers, this 595 represents the very top of the brand’s “best grade” guitars. So, it likely sold, originally, in the vicinity of $100, approaching the expense of higher-end Martins and Gibsons. Today, what had been low-end Maurers can fetch thousands of dollars, even in fair condition. Top-of-the-line builds like this 595 can fetch $20,000 or more if they’re collector-grade. Fortunately for all would-be buyers out there, this exact 595 has had enough repair work to be a little less expensive but remains in remarkably near-original shape.
Reverb seller Jake Wildwood, a self-described “country guitar doctor” that has worked on many Larson Brothers instruments, repaired the guitar, and writes that the work was minimal and quick: the removal of a metal bolt that had been placed in the heel, a neck reset, and some standard fret and setup work. Beyond the reproduction tuners, new bone saddle, and evidence of some repairs, this 595 is original. A 100-year-old guitar ready for its next century, with a current asking price of $17,000.
Sources: Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars, Vintage Guitar Price Guide, The Larsons Brother History (acousticmusic.org), Reverb listings and transaction data.
Watch PG's John Bohlinger take a swing at handshaping an acoustic neck. Plus, learn how Martin's master craftsman reverse engineers the company's gold-standard profiles from their most-heralded instruments.
Instrument design manager Rameen Shayegan leads Bohlinger into the Martin Custom Shop where he gets a crash course in how their team makes neck shapes that are snowflakes. However, the talented crew also divulges how they explore guitarcheology by reproducing some of the neck profiles that are on their most-iconic instruments within the Martin museum. This is one of the process that helped create the company's popular Authentic Series.
Watch the full factory tour here.