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Murphy Lab Nitro vs. Custom Shop Plasticized Nitro

garagemonkey

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I can't really answer the question as asked, but I was in Nashville this summer and did the guitarist touristy thing. First stop was Gruhn's where I played a genuine '58 ES-335 with '59 appointments. I forget exactly what the tag said but it was something like $75,000. It had been set up by Gruhn's and it was an amazing experience. After a bunch of other places I ended at Gibson Garage and played a brand new Murphy Lab ES-335. Long story short, the $7,500 Murphy Lab flat out killed the genuine '58. In fact, it was probably the single best guitar I've played in my 40 years of noodling on fretboards. I'm still kicking myself for not buying it on the spot, 'wrath-of-wife' be damned. (I also played a Murphy Lab R4 and it was crazy good as well.) I don't know if there's some secret sauce they're drizzling into the wood pores or if they're just hand-picking the best stuff off the line to Murphyize, but I'm just about positive there's no plastic in the '58's finish so grain of salt...there's good and great guitars of any caliber and wouldn't be surprised if there's regular custom shop or ever non custom shop Gibsons that'll kill a Murphy Lab. One reason why I tend not to buy 'em until I've played 'em.



 

Pat Boyack

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The best sounding guitars I have ever played were two '59 Dot neck ES-335s. Nothing since has come close. Vintage or new.
 

Dr. Green

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The quote from Matt only says they reverse engineered the brittle feeling, not that there are less plasticisers used. And in that quote he also said that getting that feeling involved more than just changing lacquer. The fact that it had to be “reverse engineered” to me implies more ingredients, not fewer. It is not necessarily “purer” or more original in any sense- it is literally just engineered to feel like that.

The funniest part of this is that even Gibson USA uses nitro for the very stated reason that it improves guitar resonance etc over a poly for example.

Also, wouldn’t plasticisers be a good thing, that means the lacquer is able to move with the guitar. A brittle finish is surely like a rigid encasement so that’s bad right? Genuine question. I get that brittle leads to more checking and more pleasant looking checking but not all vintage guitars have checking, does that mean their tone is terrible?

have you compared a historic with a Murphy first hand ?
 
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Dr. Green

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The best sounding guitars I have ever played were two '59 Dot neck ES-335s. Nothing since has come close. Vintage or new.

unbelievable - we agree on something - best Guitar tones I ever heard was Larry Carlton on a vintage ES-335 into a real Dumble overrdrive
 

Pat Boyack

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Folks @matkoehler added some comments relevant to this discussion, see link
"Incorrect; two different lacquers but this idea that our Gloss/VOS lacquer is inferior because of plasticizers comes from a video circulated over a decade ago...and it's not true. All lacquer, even ML, has plasticizers, and the video completely embellished the effects. It is not some rubbery/plastic type of lacquer...it is classic nitrocellulose lacquer finished very thinly (even under the historic thickness spec on average) and it will breathe and continue to get thinner over time and yes, check (though not designed to do so like ML lacquer). Hope that helps."
 

Dr. Green

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SO THIS IS INTERESTING

from Mats quote on the forum and the one I posted from an interview on guitar.com

1) Historic nitro does contain plasticizers

2) VOS / gloss nitro is a "classic " nitro which he states will get thinner and is not rubbery and will check with time

3) there are 2 types of nitro used on historics

4 ) they researched old instruments from the 50s and 60s to come up with the other type nitro for the aged Murphy lab guitars

5) the actual formulas including the percentage of plasticizer used for both types of nitro are trade secrets and are not given out

6) the internet comments about the first formula nitro being plasticky are falsehoods started from a single video created a decade ago

7) the aged Murphy lab nitro was reverse engineered from vintage guitars to have the proper " brittleness "

8 ) there was no mention if the TYPE of plasticizer used in both versions of nitro was similar or if it was the same as a vintage guitar

9) there was no mention if any type of sealer or other base coat is added before the nitro is sprayed and if so what it is made of ?
 
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Pat Boyack

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8 ) there was no mention if the TYPE of plasticizer used in both versions of nitro was similar or if it was the same as a vintage guitar

9) there was no mention if any type of sealer or other base coat is added before the nitro is sprayed and if so what it is made of ?
So based on your own experiences touching guitars (I also assume you play them?) as well as advice from experts at a local music store which "TYPE" of plasticizer do you prefer? What about sealers? Base coats?
 

Dr. Green

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So based on your own experiences touching guitars (I also assume you play them?) as well as advice from experts at a local music store which "TYPE" of plasticizer do you prefer? What about sealers? Base coats?
would not matter - cant use them anymore is my understanding :

"Gibson use to use Nitro-Lacquer that was made by Forbes-PPG. Paul Smith told me that in the finishing room in Kalamazoo they use to use a heater coil in the drum of lacquer to heat it up before they shot it on. With the heater coil it would warm it up and make it flow easier. Can't do that shit today with all the OSHA stuff "

- TM1 post on the les Paul forum 2007

( and yes I have played a guitar before and have owned 5 historics at one time or another - why all the condescending comments - what exactly are you saying i am incorrect about ? )
 
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JPP-1

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those that have both a Murphy Lab LP and a Custom Shop LP

why are the Murphy Lab's sounding better ?

is it he finish being harder and cracked, letting the wood vibrate more ?

or are the Murphy Lab guitars more dialed in ? Meaning better setup - tweaking the nut slot and bridge saddle slot so more string actually makes contact with their counter part - pickups more dialed in based on individual guitar

what say you ?
What say I. You are asking a question based on a premise that hasn’t been established -therefore the whole thing is specious . I know this is the MSM‘s stock and trade but can we refrain from this on the LPF

I love my Murphy Lab. I also love my Murphy painted, my Collector’s choice, my Brazilians, my Wildwood 60th. Every guitar is unique. with it’s own tone. To my knowledge, Murphy pulls the wood blanks out of the same pile as the rest of the Custom Shop and the only difference is the finish/aging.
 
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Pat Boyack

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would not matter - cant use them anymore is my understanding :

"Gibson use to use Nitro-Lacquer that was made by Forbes-PPG. Paul Smith told me that in the finishing room in Kalamazoo they use to use a heater coil in the drum of lacquer to heat it up before they shot it on. With the heater coil it would warm it up and make it flow easier. Can't do that shit today with all the OSHA stuff "

- TM1 post on the les Paul forum 2007
That's not what I asked.
 

renderit

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SO THIS IS INTERESTING

from Mats quote on the forum and the one I posted from an interview on guitar.com

1) Historic nitro does contain plasticizers

2) VOS / gloss nitro is a "classic " nitro which he states will get thinner and is not rubbery and will check with time

3) there are 2 types of nitro used on historics

4 ) they researched old instruments from the 50s and 60s to come up with the other type nitro for the aged Murphy lab guitars

5) the actual formulas including the percentage of plasticizer used for both types of nitro are trade secrets and are not given out

6) the internet comments about the first formula nitro being plasticky are falsehoods started from a single video created a decade ago

7) the aged Murphy lab nitro was reverse engineered from vintage guitars to have the proper " brittleness "

8 ) there was no mention if the TYPE of plasticizer used in both versions of nitro was similar or if it was the same as a vintage guitar

9) there was no mention if any type of sealer or other base coat is added before the nitro is sprayed and if so what it is made of ?
Now you are getting closer to the truth.

After YEARS of shooting nitro if I had to guess what Murphy is doing different?

He is adding MORE solvent (PLASTICIZER!!!!!) of the SPEED (or 'flash') dry variety and shooting it in a VERY humidity controlled environment with as fine a spray as he can.

The faster the solvent flashes (evaporates) the harder and more brittle the finish.

The slower (SLOW flash solvents (PLASTICIZER!!!) were created to allow shooting in more humid conditions to avoid other common problems, like cracking.

This has all changed over the years and the formula slides all over the place because of HPLV requirements.

As the new guns are less capable of producing the fine spray the old guns had different techniques are needed.

The 'formulas' have to change because of this.

And the idiot videos which show people stripping guitars tells you jack shit.

The stripper is what makes it look plasticky. Period. Has nothing to do with the finish IN MOST CASES.

Remember: Plasticizer is NOT a dirty word, it is a misunderstood word.

and it is your friend.
 
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Dr. Green

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" The faster the solvent flashes (evaporates) the harder and more brittle the finish. " - renderit

now we are getting to the meat and potatoes .........
 

MrNubs

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KIm LaFleur and Tom Murphy at one time had a working relationship

I doubt KIm gave up his formula to Tom

KIm was aging guitars with temp fluctuation before Tom

Tom said, Gibson we need to get on the more brittle Nitro train

and now Gibson potentially has 3 Nitro formulas, Gloss, VOS, Murphy Lab ... ea. diff. and age diff. ????

Duuuuuuuuuuuck Me

it's like there's some Voodoo chit in a Les Paul, you grab one, try it out, get some chill bumps, take her home and the next thing is you trip stumble fall face fucken first into the damn chase the tone rabbit hole. then you craw the duck out thinking yeah were in tone heaven and the duckers change the finish and now you clawing the sides trying not to reach bottom again cause maybe that new finish is the holly grail
 

jb_abides

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Duuuuuuuuuuuck Me

it's like there's some Voodoo chit in a Les Paul, you grab one, try it out, get some chill bumps, take her home and the next thing is you trip stumble fall face fucken first into the damn chase the tone rabbit hole. then you craw the duck out thinking yeah were in tone heaven and the duckers change the finish and now you clawing the sides trying not to reach bottom again cause maybe that new finish is the holly grail

Meanwhile, the heat slowly turns up, and the frog in pot goes to boiling!
 

ourmaninthenorth

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Played a lot of Custom shop guitars, played a lot of Murphy's (owned a steller 2001 Murphy for years) , handled one of the Murphy Labs at the Northwest guitar show last weekend - didn't plug it in, just handled it.

My one meaningful contribution to this thread - they've largely been, with very few exceptions, really first rate guitars that I'd have been proud to own.

I have never once factored the nitro formula into my observations of a guitar, ever. It's another of those historically accurate details that I have to take somebody else's word for, and openly admit to having a sneaking suspicion some bugger is trying to pull the wool over my eyes in a marketing smoke and mirror context - I'm not immune to same, but it gives me a terrible rash....

In a blind test....etc etc, you all know the drill.
 

Dport

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"Incorrect; two different lacquers but this idea that our Gloss/VOS lacquer is inferior because of plasticizers comes from a video circulated over a decade ago...and it's not true. All lacquer, even ML, has plasticizers, and the video completely embellished the effects. It is not some rubbery/plastic type of lacquer...it is classic nitrocellulose lacquer finished very thinly (even under the historic thickness spec on average) and it will breathe and continue to get thinner over time and yes, check (though not designed to do so like ML lacquer). Hope that helps."
To be clear here, I wasn’t very specific in my post about lacquer.

Mat has previously said in that thread that all Murphy Lab guitars use ML lacquer. So if it’s aged, VOS, or Gloss…if it’s a ML then it has ML lacquer.

in my experience/opinion, the HM lacquer looks and feels better than the ML lacquer.
 
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