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Sunday, February 17, 2013

C.R. Alsip Guitars Vintage DCDT,... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $2,999 USD with case + shipping 

C.R. Alsip Guitars is a manufacturer of handcrafted, American made custom boutique, electric guitars by master luthier Jake Willoughby, in Arkansas City, Kansas. 

This Vintage DCDT model has an alder body with the C.R. Alsip "drop top" flamed maple cap that flows into a 25" scale/12" radius maple neck with a matching maple fretboard topped with a 1-11/16" brass locking nut.  

Gold Grover machine heads, gold original Floydrose with FU-Tone big block upgrade, gold knobs and switch tip. 

Dimarzio Super Distortion (B), Dimarzio PAF Pro (N), 5-way switch (blade style), low friction 500K pots, switchcraft 1/4" jack.  


Amp used: 
Bogner Alchemist 2 x12
Peavey 5150 - Marshall 4x12 

Cables used: 

Selector position 1: Just Neck
Very 1978 factory neck - Has that snap and chunk with a boost in the mid's that gives you that unmistakable early metal hollow rhythm.

Selector position 2: Outer coils split 
Full Start neck with some added kick. 

Selector position 3: Neck and Bridge
An even balance of warmth and clarity with that rip your face-off blaring lead.

Selector position 4: Inner coils split 
Thick full vintage Tele with a hint of a P-90 in the mids. 

Selector position 5:  Just Bridge
Straightforward metal/intense rock blaring crystal-clear lead.

Action, Fit & Finish:
The finish is beautiful -- Her paint scheme reminds me of a muscle car. A gorgeous translucent orange over a flamed maple "drop top" cap that pops off of her black back and sides.  The action was low without any fret buzz and the intonation was dead on.

Reliability & Durability:
The guitar seems to be well made. It is solid through and through. There was no hum or crackles from the electronics and all knobs and hardware were installed snug and proper.

I have wanted to play a CR Alsip guitar for a little while now. I have heard wonderful things from artists, manufacturers of aftermarket high-performance parts, and with Facebook teasing me with gorgeous pictures of these beautiful guitars -- it was a treat to finally be able to pick one up and play her.

The reason why I have anticipated playing one of these guitars is because of its master luthier Jake Willoughby.  After speaking to him a few months back I quickly realized that he is a risk taker. I have found that most guitar manufacturers, especially independent luthiers do not take risks when it comes to their design and materials. This particular guitar has two features that I have never seen before, and that got me excited! To me that's what this industry is all about -- everyone knows that the traditional designs will be around forever, but anybody can build a traditional designed guitar by downloading the specs from the internet and using a saw. Jake took a risk by making guitars he liked that are different from any other designs on the market -- and they are amazing. 

One of my favorite features about this guitar is what Jake has dubbed a "drop top". The drop top is a solid piece of wood that is placed in a routed cavity in the face of the guitar. This is kind of like a cap, but the piece of wood that is used is substantially thicker giving the guitar a very snappy responsive feel. My second favorite feature has to be the patent pending SES (sustain enhancement system). This is a piece of brass that sits under the bridge where the bridge meets the body. When Jake told me about this I really didn't think it would make a difference in tone or sustain -- but I was very wrong. I'm not sure what type of sustain this guitar would have had without this feature, since I cannot compare it to anything else that is out on the market -- but she doesn't  lose volume of sound or depth  in her sustain as it rolls off.

I have my own OCD way of categorizing guitars from different time eras and I put them into four different categories.

Vintage: Pre 1959
The archtop going to solid body phase.

Classic: 1959 to 1969
Your dirty Les Paul sound or that ultra-thin with unwanted hum Fender.

Retro: 1970 to 1989
The experimental era hair band/rock/metal

Modern: 1990 to right now
We haven't figured this one out yet, so everyone is going back to other three and using the best from them.

If I did not know that this guitar was made this year I would've believed that it was a high-end boutique guitar made in what I have called the retro era. This is an amazing guitar that a true metal/rock player will enjoy for may years. 

What I would change:

My advice:
If you want to capture that true 1970 - 1989 retro rock sound, you need to play a CR Alsip guitar.

C.R. Alsip Guitars
Arkansas City, Kansas.

Posted 02/2013