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Tribute to Edwin Wilson - RIP


Jul 15, 2001
Dear LPF Members,

I am so shocked and saddened after hearing about the untimely loss of a true friend to the Les Paul Forum - Edwin Wilson.

If you've been around long enough, you know that Edwin Wilson was instrumental to the success of Gibson Custom, and in particular the Historic line. I know that many members here met or spoke with Edwin from time to time. He was, without doubt, the guru in Gibson Custom of everything associated with making the Historic line the finest Les Pauls on the planet. In the early 2000's, when Gibson Custom held visits for member of the Custom Direct program, I met Edwin, and you could see him working in his "lab" on the latest updates to Historic Les Pauls.

I was honored many years ago to have Edwin travel to my home in Denver to measure and photograph my 1959 Burst for the Collector's Choice series (#6). Edwin was a very kind and humble guy who was so passionate about the Historic program, and was a person full of knowledge. It was a day full of learning about everything Les Paul, including how he sources wood for Gibson Custom, his encounters with some of our guitar heroes like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Angus Young, etc. etc. I also loved hearing about his trips to Europe to speak with groups about the Historic line, and his regular trips to Fiji to source mahogany and his trips to the northwest to source beautiful flame maple for tops.

With all the turmoil as Gibson headed to bankruptcy and Henry took short-sighted actions of desperation, Edwin and other wonderful members of Gibson Custom, like Rick Gembar, lost their jobs. Edwin eventually was hired by Heritage guitars to revamp their Custom line, and was traveling back and forth from Nashville to Kalamazoo Michigan. He and I corresponded at that time and tried to find a time to get together, but alas, it never happened.

This is an important tribute to Edwin. He often spoke fondly of the Les Paul Forum, and read our posts and incorporated our thoughts into his designs. I hope that others with fond memories will also comment. I know that Charlie and I will miss him terribly.






Well-known member
May 24, 2006
Thank you, Mike.

Thank you for acknowledging how poorly Gibson treated Edwin, Rick and also a number of long-tenured Gibson employees during the bankruptcy. I've heard details of this from a number of credible sources and frankly it made me sick. I've vowed since to never buy another Gibson product, and have held to it.

Thank you, Edwin, for your passion and commitment to the Historic Gibson guitars, the "second golden era".

Arnold M.

Active member
Mar 29, 2018
saying that I respected Edwin Wilson immensely is an understatement, I believe his fervour was driven by passion rather that the almighty dollar. Guys like him are one in a million. I think him and Tom Murphy have been the best thing that's happened to Gibson since Ted McCarty. Only the good die young ... such a shame. RIP


Well-known member
Jun 27, 2003
I met him once at NAMM. We chatted for about 10 minutes. Really nice guy and very engaging! Anyone know what he passed from?


Well-known member
Apr 26, 2016
I have several Wilson era Historic’s I really have positive vibes for these guitars they are something I really never see myself parting with . Thank you Mr Wilson these guitars are not possible without your knowledge !


New member
Mar 13, 2023
Condolences to his family. I hope that they find some comfort in knowing how much his passion directly created a positive impact on others. Many many people have found happiness in these vessels for personal expression that he helped to become reality.

For anyone else that reads this that’s been involved in the very cool journey from the late 80’s onward, please know that you’re appreciated. Thanks and shoutouts, and peace.


Well-known member
Apr 25, 2003
Like so many others on this forum, I am shocked and saddened hearing of Edwin's passing. Gibson's Custom Shop and the former Custom Direct program were taken to a much higher level due to Edwin's efforts. There are SO many of us who benefited from his work, sweating the details of what made Historic Les Paul guitars so magical.

My prayers go out to his family. Rest in peace.


Well-known member
Apr 6, 2005
Thanks, Mike, and everyone here at LPF for sharing their memories.

Very sad to hear this news. My condolences to his family and friends.

I only know of the man through his work and the stories I've gleaned here, as well as the many fine examples of which reside with me for the time being; my impermanence as their steward will be brief, relative to their lifespan.

I hope as examples of wonderful craftsmanship and art, these Custom/Historic Reissues will remain things of beauty, enjoyment, and appreciation for many moons to come. And they will stand as an shining example of passion in the pursuit of wonder, for the love of this uniquely captivating instrument.

Those of us lucky to own amazing guitars from his era owe him a debt of gratitude and thanks.

To your memory, kind sir, and rest in peace.


Well-known member
Jul 16, 2015
Edwin, you were the best. It is a supreme honor to have known you. I will always cherish THE Oxblood. The greatest guitar ever made. By the hands of Edwin Wilson.


Well-known member
Mar 28, 2009
I choose to remember the simple fact that Mr Wilson threw his heart and soul into building us all the best guitars possible, and he strove year on year to make them better.

He succeeded. A quite remarkable legacy of fantastic guitars.

I also choose to remember that I ceased to be a Gibson customer the day that the quarterwits in charge at the time sacked him.

I haven't bought a single Gibson guitar or product since.

That's how important this Gentleman and some of his colleagues were.

My respectful and sincere condolences to His loved one's.



Well-known member
Mar 24, 2005
I never met him or talked to him, but I've heard the name for a long time, both here and related to the Heritage guitars.
That was a great peice, Mike, and some great photos (personally, i think it's funny he was doing the measurements on your kitchen counter.)

Ed A

Well-known member
Jul 16, 2001
In 1999 I was privileged to have Edwin give me a personal tour of the custom shop. It was such a pleasure to meet him and spend time with him. So passionate about his work. Edwin will be missed!!! RIP.


Active member
Aug 10, 2005
I am really saddened to hear this news. I met Ed at the 2006 SummerJam. He was so important to what Gibson Custom was doing back then.

I can't believe that both Edwin Wilson, and Rick Gembar lost their jobs at Gibson. What was Henry thinking? Two very talented and important people.