“Every single spec is the same as a vintage guitar from the late-’50s would have”: Mark Agnesi says this Gibson guitar offers the best value of its whole lineup

The Gibson Garage in Nashville, TN
(Image credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images)

Gibson’s Director of Brand Experience Mark Agnesi is used to dealing in high-end gear. But what if he had to pick something off the shelf – placing an emphasis on value, rather than vintage? 

Well, putting him on the spot somewhat, Guitar World challenged him to do exactly that in a recent interview.

“If I had to pick one guitar out of the whole catalog, and I was on a budget, I would probably go with the Les Paul TV Special just from Gibson USA,” says Agnesi, with only moment’s hesitation.

“Man, that guitar is killer. It's under $2,000. And that's a lifer, you know? You can do a lot with that guitar. And it looks like you're playing a vintage guitar.”

It’s a smart pick. The Les Paul Special doesn’t just look vintage. For a modern build, its spec list is incredibly faithful to the original design – featuring a nitro finish, Vintage Deluxe tuners, and it’s hand-wired with Orange Drop capacitors, to boot.

“Every single spec is the same as a vintage guitar from the late-’50s would have,” reflects Agnesi. “I think that's probably, value wise, your absolute best bang for the buck.”

Gibson Les Paul Special TV Yellow

(Image credit: Gibson)

This is some praise, coming from Agnesi. Alongside VP of Product Mat Koehler, the former Norm’s Rare Guitars manager is one of Gibson’s foremost vintage guitar experts – not to mention, the man in charge of its Certified Vintage program.

It’s good to see the TV Special get some love. When it comes to Gibson’s regular catalog, the spotlight is naturally drawn by the cash cows: the Les Paul and SG Standard, the ES-335 and, on the acoustic side, the Hummingbird and J-45.

On a similar tip, we ask if there are any guitars in the Gibson lineup that he considers somewhat underrated.

“Maybe in the acoustics,” considers Agnesi. “Like an L-00. Sometimes people pick them up and just bang and strum on them – and that's not the guitar for that. So I think some people overlook it sometimes. 

“But if you're really doing the fingerstyle blues thing, like, that's the guitar that has the sound. I think people might overlook that particular model because it's not your classic ‘pick it up and strum on it’ like a J-45, or a Hummingbird.”

Gibson's 1933 L-00 Ebony Light Aged acoustic guitar

Gibson's Murphy Lab Light Aged 1933 L-00 Ebony  (Image credit: Gibson)

As previously reported, in the same interview, Agnesi spoke about the playing habits of the top tier of guitar collectors, insisting that “everyone I know that has bought a ’Burst in the last five years is playing that guitar every single day.”

Keep an eye out for the full interview, including an in-depth discussion of Gibson’s Certified Vintage program (currently offering Kirk Hammet’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘Sunny’ for sale for a cool $500k), Agnesi’s Murphy Lab habit and why a vintage obsession doesn’t mean Gibson is getting left behind.

For more on Certified Vintage, head to Gibson.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.