“He's Got a Guitar Collection That Would Make Any Guitar Nerd Jealous”: Watch Gibson TV’s New Episode of ‘The Collection’ Featuring Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell's "Red Eye" 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard
(Image credit: Gibson)

Jason Isbell is no stranger to a great guitar, and in Gibson TV’s new episode of The Collection the four-time Grammy Award winner gives host and Director of Brand Experience at Gibson, Mark Agnesi, a close look at his hoard of six-string treasures.

“Jason’s episode of The Collection is possibly my favorite episode of the show to date,” says Agnesi. “I see him as more of a guitar curator than a guitar collector. Every guitar in his collection is there for a reason and helps him tell a musical story.”

From his formative musical days to his current approach as one of the guitar world’s leading players, Isbell shares stories and gives insights with an intimate tour of his extensive cache of classic instruments.

Recalling his memories of being a guitar-obsessed teenager, Isbell says: “I stopped playing sports in school and just played the guitar all the time. And so any time I had any money (when I was 16 I worked at Walmart pushing buggies) I spent it all on Chandler Tube Drivers and Cry Baby [wah wahs] and all that kind of stuff.”

Since then, Isbell as amassed an impressive collection of vintage guitars that would “make any guitar nerd jealous.” And though they may be rare, collectible pieces they are also the guitarist’s tools of the trade – instruments he takes out on the road to perform with.

Making up this stockpile of Holy Grail axes are a bunch of incredible vintage Gibsons, including a ‘64 Firebird III, ‘61 Les Paul SG Standard, ‘56 Les Paul TV Special Tenor, ‘61 ES-335TD, ‘46 Gibson J-45, ‘60 Les Paul Custom, ‘53 Les Paul Goldtop, ‘59 Les Paul Standard “Red Eye” and 2019 Custom Shop “Red Eye” Replica.

“Two pickups and that middle position – that’s the magic thing for me, because you’ve got so much versatility,” says Isbell cradling his famous ’59 ‘Burst. “If you’ve got good, old pots and your wiring harness works like it should then you can get a lot of different tones.”

Of course, Isbell’s world-class collection doesn’t just end there. He also gives us a look at a ‘34 Martin 000-28, ‘65 Fender Telecaster, ‘58 Fender Stratocaster, ‘53 Blackguard Fender Telecaster, ‘60 Fender Stratocaster, ‘30s National Style 3, 70s Gretsch White Falcon, and a ‘59 Gretsch 6131 Jet Fire Bird.

This year sees the tenth anniversary of Isbell’s landmark album Southeastern and on September 29, a “reimagined and reamplified” edition is set for release via Southeastern Records/Thirty Tigers.

In addition to a remastered LP, this special ten-year anniversary reissue appears as 3CD and 4LP Deluxe box sets. A selection of Southeastern apparel is also available.

Catch Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on tour now.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.