by Jef | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
Gibson Play Authentic video featuring Mark Agnesi

Gibson Play Authentic video featuring Mark Agnesi  ·  Source: Gibson


Gibson has uploaded a video to YouTube featuring Mark Agnesi, its Director Of Brand Experience. And it’s a bit, well, odd. In the video, he warns builders that Gibson will take action against copyright infringements on their trademarked designs. The gloves are coming off at Gibson, it seems… 



Gibson’s latest YouTube video is entitled Play Authentic. Mark Agnesi starts off by running us through some of Gibson’s designs and trademarks. He states:

It’s a common misconception that a brand is just in a logo. The Les Paul, Flying V, Explorer, SG, Firebird, Thunderbird and ES shapes are trademarked shapes of Gibson. The design, from the components to the actual shapes are an integral part of the Gibson DNA.

He also mentions the Les Paul Custom’s Diamond headstock inlay and the 335’s Mickey Mouse ears as some notable features of the Gibson legacy.

Mark Agnesi Play Authentic Gibson YouTube video

Mark Agnesi – Play Authentic Gibson YouTube video

Play Authentic

He then goes on a mini rant addressing other guitar builders: “You have been warned, we’re looking out and we’re here to protect our iconic legacy”. At one point he talks about the film and television world, saying they can “reach out” to Gibson and “work with” them. He says they should stop “taping over” the Gibson logo, arguing that even if they do, they are still not avoiding trademark infringements. Yet he also assures us that, “This isn’t about us being bullies or trying to stifle the boutique market place.” Erm, OK.

The whole video seems a bit fraught. Maybe that’s why someone posted under the video: “Are they holding you hostage Mark Agnesi? Blink twice if you are in danger.”

How will this play with the players and customers out there? I’m a little concerned that this video will do little to win new customers to the brand. If Gibson wants to protect its legacy, that starts with building build high-quality guitars, ensuring manufacturing standards are excellent and that prices are reasonable. I’m a Gibson user myself and there are reports out there of some guitars with less than perfect detail work like poorly filed fret binding, even on instruments with a premium price tag. But hopefully this will end and we are seeing a return to form for the US guitar brand.

You can watch the slightly eerie video below. Make of it what you will. What’s your reaction? Let us know in the comments section below.

UPDATE 15/6/19

Gibson has now pulled the YouTube video. However, the internet has responded already, so see the The Guitar Show and BigDGuitars response videos below that I have added below, to get an understanding of what the players think about this now pulled Play Authentic video..

UPDATE 18/6/19 – Its Back!

Well, sort of, you have to now visit Reddit to see it in all its cringe worthy glory. As someone called PedalGuy69420, saved the video in full and uploaded it there for all to see.

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21 responses to “Gibson’s Mark Agnesi to guitar builders: “You’ve been warned” over copyrights”

  1. Pelle says:

    Looks like Gibson just pulled the video. I guess someone high up at Gibson agreed that casually threatening guitar manufacturers and content creators in an advertisement was probably a bad look.

    • Jef says:

      The video was a not very well thought out message to the guitar community. I think the brand needs to concentrate on making good quality guitars and taming their exorbitant prices first.

    • Jef says:

      If they are that high up and thought this video was ever a good idea. Then perhaps Gibson is paying too much for someone unqualified with common sense? You pay big bucks for someone, you don’t always get any intelligence for your money. Too many overpaid ‘experts’ giving poor advice.

  2. Mixho says:

    Haha, looks like the higher ups at Gibson removed the video because there are millions of dollars in brand loyalty and new customers that were getting flushed down the toilet in the blink of an eye.

  3. If one were to remove the multitude of ’boutique’ builders who are simply riding on the coattails of Gibson and Fender there would be few small builders left. Gibson really would be doing the boutique industry (and the guitar market) a favor if they were able to force (via litigation, I suppose) those companies to think for themselves and come up with a viable product of their own vs. pumping out Strat, Tele, and LP copies.

    I have no problem with Gibson or Fender or any other company suing to stop the endless flow of copies. It has made the guitar market incredibly boring… the last significant innovation was the Floyd Rose and that was like 40 years ago. It’s no wonder that the electric guitar isn’t as popular when there is very, very little innovation in the field; it’s basically an antique furniture replication business for all involved.

    Where is the next Les Paul (as innovator, not the guitar model), Paul Bigsby or Ned Steinberger? I

    • John says:

      I agree with forcing new products in the market only this will also be somewhat limited since there are only so many designs that are possible that haven’t already been done. I’ve built over 2,00 0 guitars and when it came down to developing an original body and headsteck it was difficult. Especially when you consider the details like ergonomics and have only the same choice as what has been done. There is no way to gain access to higher frets without cutaways for instance and if there were Steinberger did it already. Belly cuts make for more comfortable playing. Strats already exist. Dont put one in and it’s like a Tele. All cool designs are out there what shape body that isnt ridiculous looking is left to create. Ones that are out there are basically merging a couple of already out there shapes. Les Pauls design is anything but original in its shape . It is an acoustic guitar with a Florentine cutaway shrank down . It has a carved top to give it the archtop look. All been done before. When it comes down to it there were other solid body guitars that came before Gibson. O.W . Appleton pitched his to Gibson in 1943. Again not an original shape. Ted McCarty did come up with some great designs and that seems to be all that remained . Gibson reverse V should indicate the lack of available designs that remain. What is behind that one? It is a ridiculous stretch to have something new. There’s nothing . Boutique builders hinged their guitars on correcting all the manufacturing flaws Fenders had and refined the instument. If Fender and Gibson consentrate on quality and can make it possible for the musicians to afford them there would be no need for others building based on their designs.

  4. mojave rat says:

    I reckon this is what we can expect from a corporation with job titles like “Director of Brand Experience.”
    What an absolute load of shite.

  5. Aphonthy tye says:

    Is the pot calling the kettle black?? MAX GUITAR

    • Jef says:

      Kind of ridiculous to say what Mark stated in the Play Authentic video, when he supported ‘trademark’ infringement guitars whilst at Norman’s Guitars. Gibson are basically only still around because of Slash’s Derrig Les Paul in the late ’80s, the brand was dying up until that guitar.

  6. Pete Butler says:

    So threats are good advertising,, take care of your business and things will workout like they should! I personally don’t like bullies,,,AT ALL!

  7. Bearpaws says:

    After forty odd years of people “adapting” Gibson design, I would think they’ed be shit out of luck trying litigation.
    Apart from one high profile case against PRS (Gibson won the case but the judgement was later overturned), they have done little or nothing to protect their copyrights.

    Gibson, if you don’t want people buying copies of your guitars, do something about your rampant overpricing. I can buy a car or motorcycle for the prices you charge. Both of those more useful. The same goes for Fender and PRS! Your pool of professional musicians is shrinking by the year. Your brand no longer carries the elite symbolism it used to. Get with the program or disappear. Or get bought by the Chinese, same thing.

  8. Chris says:

    Kind of always felt like Agnesi was a dick.

  9. cubiculez says:

    I have frequently found over my many years of playing that Gibson products to be like “French Fries without the Salt”. There are so many better, more cost effective choices out there that I’m pretty surprised Gibson would hire some guy that right off the bat threatens independent guitar and mandolin builders with copyright infringement lawsuits. Or maybe it’s the only recourse Gibson has left before the company folds, who knows…? If I were Gibson and in the dire financial condition they were in, I would concentrate on producing the absolute best quality instrument for a reasonable price, in effect “why buy aftermarket when you can get the real McCoy for the same money.

    • Jef says:

      You and I are on the same page with that. The company needs to iron out the basic QC issues they suffer from and get rid of some middle management/advisors. Then spend the money on luthiers and guitar makers, as other guitar brands do not suffer from the quality issues that plague Gibson. We don’t need $7-10K guitars. We need consistent quality standard models, made for players, at prices that don’t make your wallet explode!

  10. nope notme says:

    None of the guitars showcased in the video was developed by the investor fund that bought up Gibson’s patents and whose strategy to viability is “lifestyle” branding, not R&D nor quality.

  11. Let’s just say it is not a great time to be in the guitar manufacturing business if you are an 800 lb. gorilla.

    How can brands like G and F continue to make a profit? If you took Economics 101 you already know there are two ways: 1) Sell more product or 2) Raise prices. The wide availability of decent used instruments kinda forced Gibson’s hand to choose #2.

    Although you just can’t charge more $$ without offering something to the consumer in return; hence all the bullsh!t nonsense like case candy, “VOS”, “Collector’s Choice”, “Wildwood Spec”, “True Historic”, “Really True Historic”, “This-Time-We-Really-Mean-It-Historic”, etc. Well you get the idea. And five figures for a new guitar? Don’t make me laugh.

    Since they can’t sell more instruments they are going to eventually price themselves out of the market.

    So. This is why we are seeing more nonsense like “Play Authentic.” The 800 lb. gorilla can sell more product if there is less competition in the marketplace. Only problem is that it’s a free market. Well enough analysis. I’m going to play my guitar.

  12. Mike Sanders says:

    I don’t blame Gibson. Backoff, come up with your own original trademarks and designs, stop feeding off Gibson’s reputation with models that closely replicate those of Gibson’s models. You can still get great tone and reputation from an original designed series of your own. They are just shapes people are familiar with. Build your own traditions.

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