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Perplexed by RI/custom/VOS - send help


New member
Apr 26, 2022
Hi everyone,

Brand new member from the U.K.!

I have been recently been snagged down the rabbit hole in my pursuit of an R8/58/1958/VOS/CS/Reissue/aged LP burst 😳😳.

Pardon the tongue in cheek intro, but does anyone know of a source or have the patience to explain the wild swing in naming and approaches to creating the semi recent historic burst reissues?

In short, I’m on the cusp of buying a 58 historic VOS reissue secondhand, through either reverb or evilbay. I’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 4 that are all within driving distance to collect but not necessarily to make several trips to deliberate over the purchase, I’ve played enough of them to be comfortable with the variability in neck profile etc. and will also have the capacity to walk away once I see/try a specific one but there’s a couple of things causing mild concern!

First one - 2 out of the 4 refer in the ad to the word “Minty” does this mean anything to anyone? Mint condition? I’m struggling to find official reference to the term!!? And both aren’t mint condition they have mild ageing 🤷🏻‍♂️

Secondly, how much wear would you expect to see on a VOS? One of the guitars I’m keen on particularly has a fairly worn back, as you’d see on a Murphy for example (large island side patch through the lacquer and colour to bare wood where a belt would rub). This doesn’t put me off as I’m after a guitar I can play, but I’m struggling to establish if this was in the factory or someone has attempted a relic job (I’ve asked the seller but they received it in this condition when they bought second hand), it’s only 4 years out of the factory so there’s no way that amount of wear has occurred naturally, unless the owner hitches their belt with a cheese grater.

Also, the COA’s for all four have slightly different names - some are LP Standard and then the serial in a box underneath, others call it R8 Historic VOS? Is this just a production year thing or is there really that much variety in the custom shop offering when it comes to names? (All serial numbers appear legit FWIW)

FWIW they’re all 2016-2019.

In summary, I’m happy to do a bit of a journey to try a couple of these guitars out but it would be a whole weekend trip to see all 4 which isn’t feasible and I have a reasonable risk appetite for any of them as they’re well priced.

I suppose what I’m getting at, is I’d like to have a little more knowledge and understanding of both the ageing/relicing in factory on a VOS, plus some of the naming convention so I can make a more informed decision before visiting to purchase and hopefully as my research continues, be able to spot potential fraudsters early on!

Thank you so much in advance, I can send links to various auctions if this site allows and that helps explain what I’ve no doubt failed to do in this post.

London, UK

Les Paulette

Apr 3, 2021
Welcome Chris!..wow my eyes are exhausted from reading your post.. I'll have a better reply after I nap..


Active member
Jan 30, 2019
You can try using the search function here. It’s a bit tough to navigate sometimes but, it might fill in a lot of holes that you’re wondering about. Oh and welcome to the rabbit hole, it’s quite warm and comfy down here!🙂


Active member
Mar 16, 2022
Welcome to the forum, Chris.

I would eliminate the one that you suspect may have been aged by a previous owner.

Sweetwater has a great description of the different levels of aging.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing your new Les Paul.


Nov 11, 2005
The Sweetwater description above is excellent.
VOS should only have a dull finish and hardware. No other aging or playware.
An aged guitar can still be mint, if it only has the Murphy or factory dings on it:)


Well-known member
Apr 6, 2005
Pardon the tongue in cheek intro, but does anyone know of a source or have the patience to explain the wild swing in naming and approaches to creating the semi recent historic burst reissues?


Over 20 years of marketing a concept, with alterations and upgrades, accounts for the 'wild swing' in nomenclature. Further, consumers use lingo, jargon, shorthand to expound upon the formal naming conventions.

I will take a crack, and others can amplify, refute, or fill in blanks as I shoot them:

First, everything in your 2016-19 range are considered of 'True Historic' (TH) specification, the lastest generation when Custom Shop updated build specifications including reproduction plastics to be closer than prior incremental yearly changes, of which were legion (and not all classified under a unified build naming). Gibson marketed as 'True Historic' in 2015 when the change was first introduced but then dropped the formal TH appellation and incorporated the spec changes into the model line. You will see folks still refer to TH to denote a guitar that was post-change, even where not formally sold as one in 2015.

A note on CS versus the other CS: in 2015 there were the short-lived 'CS' series, which introduces confusion since CS is also used as an abbreviation for Custom Shop (CS). These would best be characterized as non-TH reissues, with 'lesser' specs to differentiate from the TH series, most notably a shorter tenon. This caused consternation among informed buyers as some regarded them as not worthy of Custom Shop (versus USA line), with speculation that USA production white wood guitars were being shunted over to the Custom Shop, thus calling into question other factors like wood selection. I believe this was debunked but the outstanding issue remained, why cut corners regarding the short tenon when all other Custom Shop guitars were made with the long tenon, are the production savings really worth the confusion in marketing and brand damage, etc.?

Burst = you've used Burst shorthandedly, and casually. For many, Capital-B Bursts refer only to original vintage 1958-1960 Les Paul Standards, with the sunburst finish. People abuse this terminology but most appreciate the context and allow for slips. I try to use Capital-B when denoting the originals and lower-case-b for any Les Paul or other guitar with a sunburst pattern finish... YMMV.

Reissue = a guitar which represents an approximation not strict reproduction that's representative of a specific guitar from Gibson's history, including Gibson Les Paul Standard Reissues.

Historic = refers to Reissues, name derives from original marketing and original name of the Gibson division that made them, 'Custom, Art, and Historic' now the Custom Shop or Collection.

58 or '58 = 1958, that should be clear, right?

R8 = a Les Paul Standard Reissue aka 'Historic' spec'd guitar from the Custom Shop, with characteristics of a typical or more accurately Gibson's stated objective or perspective of how an original 1958 Les Paul Standard should represent, given the constraints of modern production processes, material supply sourcing, and safety or other factors such as durability or variations to enhance aesthetics such as sunburst color variations. And to their marketing, as a way to differentiate product: usually characterized by plain-top or less figuring in the maple, and a beefier neck profile. As you state, there are variations in neck profile given the hand crafted aspects, and well, wood selection for tops is essentially a sorting pile, and white wood that's carved then finishes may reveal more or less figure post-sort and join, so an R8 may ultimately possess a more figured top than an R9/R0. Plus, there are made-to-measure (M2M) and dealer-runs, etc. which alter specs.. especially neck and tops, yet are still designated as R8s.

VOS = 'Vintage Original Spec' aka Specification, the marketing term for Reissues that appear more akin to older guitars. This was first affixed to a specification upgrade iteration before True Historic where changes were made to the overall specifications but given further changes (to plastics and hardware) has subsequently become synonymous with its most essential characteristic: lack of final buffing to high gloss finish, and slightly aged hardware. This provides the patina of an older guitar by leaving its surface with slight finish aberrations to the extent it's not Glossy, not glass-like in appearance. Also, buffing compound residue adheres to the entire guitar especially certain crevices and hardware, referred to as VOS 'gunk'. VOS production outweighed fully finished 'Gloss' production and became the de facto default production specification, and you (or a dealer) would have to specify Gloss to obtain a non-VOS Reissue. Folks who bought VOS but weren't too sanguine about the VOS finish would then take measures to 'de-VOS' or de-VOSify guitars via cleaning, buffing, and polishing, sometimes to the achieve a gloss standard, although VOS hardware will show as clean but never As-New nickel.
- Note: nowadays, VOS isn't used as a specific model designation at least for the Les Paul Standard Reissues (although dealers and sellers may list them as such). VOS is used in the particulars of a model's specification under Features/Finish, etc.

'Wear (on a VOS)' comment - Per above, there is no Aging or wear apart from the lack of final buffing, and slightly aged hardware. There should be zero wood wear, dings, finish cracks, or white wood exposure like buckle wear. If these are present on a VOS guitar it is either: (1) VOS Aged by Gibson, or (2) honest player wear via use, or (3) someone attempted to 'relic' the guitar via post-factory means, either by themselves, via a skilled luthier, or from one of the services offering such aging, such as the company Historic Makeovers. The latter would provide an additional COA or some form of receipt indicating the additional treatments.

Aged = Gibson factory-aged Reissue guitars, in varying levels (another nomenclature has evolve with the advent of the Murphy Labs). Truly factory-aged guitars should be noted by COA, receipt, etc. as distinct from someone's attempt as explained under Wear, above. The 'Aged' designation does NOT denote aging by Tom Murphy, these are referred to explicitly as 'Tom Murphy Aged' although Gibson Custom Shop employed similar techniques and personnel trained by and is some cases supervised by Tom Murphy in their aging efforts.
- Again, upon advent of the Murphy Labs, this has been more formalized, and aligned with a specification standardized process, and overseen by Tom.

Gibson Aged Level of Aging = generally referred to in terms from Light to Heavy, now more formalized under Murphy Labs as Ultra Light, Light, Heavy, Ultra Heavy.
- See 'Aged' above and also updated definitions per Gibson Murphy Lab here.

Murphy, Murphy Lab Collection =
- Pre Murphy Lab, look for COA or formal receipt designating personally relic'ed by Tom Murphy, and Tom hides his 'TM' initials near the Volume/Tone controls. Search for examples, but don't overpay unless you can authenticate via COA and other documentation.
- Post Murphy Lab, you are getting Gibson's formal attempt to codify, standardize, and scale the effort of one person, Tom Murphy, utilizing techniques, standards, ingredients, specifications that Tom developed over the years, formalized and passed onto personnel duly trained and supervised by Tom, but not personally relic'ed single-handedly by Tom. Although he governs and has some hand in the process.


Well-known member
Apr 6, 2005
Continued -

Mint = Mint is a formal collectors term for an item which is untouched, New-In-Box, unopened or otherwise unplayed and unexamined except with gloves and other protective measures. For musical instruments, this term is extended to include a particularly excellent example of a vintage un-ravished by effects of time or handling.

Minty = Not Mint. Not a formal term, but indicates the item is in the opinion of the holder, as close to or representing a condition to be indistinguishable from mint to the untrained eye. Thus, should be classified as Excellent, but Minty is informally used and often abused to advertise what the holder believe to be a particularly excellent example. Often these aren't strictly Excellent, many times are Very Good, VG+ as well, but the seller feels they are worthy of advertising as such. In guitars it is eye of the beholder, even if qualified as expert.

COA, and COA inscriptions = Yup, morphed not only through yearly model but also by whoever was filling it out by hand. Too unstructured to really apply formal conventions here. I have seen model name and serial number, but also some form of product code indicated over the long-term. Also the COAs varied in size, content, covering (or not) in different slip cases, etc. If they show one, folks here can look over and provide authentication opinions.
- Product codes = Sometimes used on COAs, also used on some receipts, and printed on labels from the factory, along with barcode labels, etc. These have changed over the years... Here's one of mine: 'LPR93LHVOFTNH1' which translates as:
-- LPR9 - Gibson Custom Shop 1959 Les Paul Standard (aka 'Burst') Reissue
-- 3 - made in 2013, also see NH1 below
-- LH - Left Handed
-- VO - VOS Left Handed Electric Guitar
-- FT - Faded Tobacco, formal name for one of the available finishes from that model year, these change formal names even if they are substantially the same 'color' and the paint codes used and sunburst finish patterns employed also vary year to year as to what's acceptable to the designation, even though each guitar varies, and also varies per person applying the finish in the paint booth.
- NH1 - Nickel Hardware, although the '1' at the end may be to denote 2013 versus 2003.

Hope this helps. Come back to the thread with specific concerns on condition or authentication, folks always lend a hand. They will also provide opinion on tops, etc. Good luck on the hunt.

Post you pictures, and ...

Grab a good one!