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Is Gibson still passing the blame for finish issues? UPDATE November 2023

Is Gibson passing the blame for finish issues?
Gibson's Senior Director of Product Development, Mat Koehler appears to pass Murphy Labs finish issues on to customers.

After reports of a few select finish issues with the new Gibson Custom Shop Murphy Labs range. An official spokesman from the brand appears to be passing the blame on to customers. 

UPDATE 17/11/23

Looks like a number of Gibson customers are still experiencing some issues with Murphy Lab-aged finishes. This thread on the TGP forum highlights some pretty serious issues with flaking off Murphy Lab finishes on new 2023 Gibson Custom Shop guitars.

We first covered these finish issues back in 2021 and now at the end of 2023, it would appear that Gibson customers are still reporting issues and getting little help from the Custom Shop.

TGP user gnake shared this image of a Gibson 2023 R9 Murphy Lab.

Murphy Lab finish issue

Another TGP user UncleJesse shared this image of their 2023 ES-335 ’59.

2023 ES-335'59

2023 and still problems?

These two cases are based on two Gibson owners’ experiences in 2023, which is two years after we reported the original article on Guitar Bomb. They could be two isolated incidents and we obviously don’t have all the information concerning these two guitars.

However, if you are experiencing problems with your new Gibson Murphy Lab finish, we would recommend that you contact the dealer you purchased the guitar from.

Is Gibson still attempting to pass this issue off as a feature?

Another TGP user named Fogletone posts;

“Gibson decided to double down on their mistake and say that this was a feature, not a mistake. Even with the release of the acoustic line, they now have Tom Murphy himself saying people need to understand that the guitar will age by chipping as seen in minute 33:48 in the video below. He even passes the ownership of the flawed finish to the owners, “…that’s not a downside, you did it.”

Gibson Custom Shop Acoustic Comparison ft. Tom Murphy (Gibson Murphy Lab): How Aging Affects Tone

Below is the original article from 2021 when Mat Koehler was attempting to pass the buck onto Gibson customers.

Murphy Lab finish issues

A little while back in June, I wrote about the finish issues on some Gibson Murphy Labs guitars. At the time I reached out to one of the customers affected by this ‘finish falling off ‘problem, and they gave their side of the story.

Now, Gibson’s Senior Director of Product Development, Mat Koehler has done an interview with and goes on to blame customers for the fault.

Is Gibson passing the blame for finish issues?
Is Gibson passing the blame for finish issues?'s Gibson's Matt Koehler interview Gibson’s Matt Koehler interview

When asked about the issue with the Ultra Light Aged and the topic on the TGP Forum he replies to with the following statement;

“Oh definitely a storm in a teacup. I’m not aware of any issues relating to ES models, just a few Les Paul Standards that were ordered with very dark red aniline dye backs… the oversaturation made them a little more brittle, which made them more susceptible to severe checking when not properly acclimated. We have an acclimation notice on the outside of our boxes. It is especially important that our dealers and fans fully acclimate their instrument in its case when changing climates/temperatures… I would say at least five hours, minimum. Just like you would with vintage 1950s instruments. – Mat Koehler, Gibson Senior Director of Product Development

Gibson Murphy Labs finish issues
Gibson Murphy Labs finish issues

Temperature Changes to blame?

Not surprisingly, a huge debate has taken place over the weekend on the TGP forum, and I can see why potential customers would be put off by these comments. The suggestion that a sudden change in temperature would make a nitrocellulose finish fall off, is pretty ludicrous.

I’m sure a nitrocellulose finish may check, or crack with extreme temperature changes. But would it fall off? I very much doubt it, and I have worked with plenty of vintage guitars myself in my 49 years on this planet.

Gibson Murphy Labs finish issues, with nitrocellulose fallen off
Gibson Murphy Labs finish issues, with nitrocellulose which has fallen off in chunks

The topic is getting discussed elsewhere and the UK’s thefretboard forum also has a thread running discussing the issue. I can honestly say, I have never seen a vintage finish fall off unless there was some type of moisture issue in regards to how an old guitar was stored.

Gibson Murphy Lab finish falling off?
Gibson Murphy Lab finish falling off?

Evidence on video

Check out the video made by Yeatzee below to see an example of these Gibson Murphy Lab finish issues,  at the 26:30 mark. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, is this really the customer’s fault, or is it a problem with the manufacturing process?

Yeatzee Example Video

REAL Gear Reviews: Gibson Murphy Lab Les Paul (The Good, Bad, & In Between)
Tom Murphy (Gibson Murphy Lab) - His Most In Depth Video Interview EVER!



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