Gibson Hires Sergio Villanueva as Head of Custom Shop, Launches Murphy Lab

Gibson Brands has announced the appointment of Sergio Villanueva (pictured above) as the head of its custom shop. Villanueva spent the last five years at Taylor Guitars as the plant manager of its new Tecate, Mexico facility. Prior to Taylor, he spent 25 years at Fender Musical Instruments, where he worked his way from managing strings production to eventually becoming senior VP of global manufacturing.

“I am excited to bring Sergio into the Custom Shop for this leadership position at such a pivotal stage for Gibson,” says James Curleigh, CEO of Gibson. “Sergio is a respected luthier who will bring a renewed sense of artistry and operational excellence to the Custom Shop. He is the perfect fit to lead our Custom Shop team into the future.”

Gibson has also announced the appointment of Tom Murphy as master artisan of the newly-created Murphy Lab at the Gibson Custom Shop. The Murphy Lab will focus on building historically-accurate guitars under Murphy’s leadership. He is a guitar-aging expert and was instrumental in the inception of the Gibson Custom Shop.

[Gibson's Tom Murphy]

“The Gibson Custom Shop is the pinnacle of craftsmanship, quality, and sound excellence. Each instrument celebrates Gibson’s legacy through accuracy, authenticity, and attention to detail,” says Cesar Gueikian, Chief Merchant Officer of Gibson. “As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Les Paul Standard, I can’t think of a more exciting time to launch the Murphy Lab under the leadership of Tom, who was instrumental in the inception of the Gibson Custom Shop and developed the process of aging.”

Gibson is distributed in Canada by Yorkville Sound. For more information, go to

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician, Canadian Music Trade, Professional Sound, and Professional Lighting & Production magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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