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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

C.R. Alsip Vintage WTF Terzetto, (Review)...

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $3,699 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 WTF Terzetto model has a Honduran Mahogany body that seamlessly flows into a 25.5 scale/14" radius Honduran Mahogany through body 60's C approaching 50's D/U shaped neck topped with a bone nut and a StetsBar.  

Chrome Grover 18:1 machine heads, chrome knobs, chrome pickup mounting rings, FU-Tone PMS (pickup mounting system) and a chrome StetsBar Tremelo System. 

Brian Jeppson handwound Green/Moore 59 clone (N) Brian Jeppson handwound supernatural alnico 7 (B) on a 5-way switch (blade style), (2) low friction linear 500K pots, (1) vol (1) tone, (1) on/off mini toggle vintage/modern switch wired with (1) 220K resistor in parallel with (1) 471pf capacitor on the volume pot, (1) momentary kill switch and a switchcraft 1/4" jack.  


Amp used: 
2013 Indigo Amplification McD20 1x12
1972 Fender Bassman 50 through an Eminence Private Jack 1x12
2013 Marshal 1974x 1x12
2005 Pevey 5150 through a Marshal 1960A 4x12
1971 Music Man 1x12

Strings used: 
Dark Horse 10-46 

Selector position 1: Just Neck
1959 Green/Moore LP. 

Selector position 2: Outer coils
Fat Strat neck or a thin mini-bucker in series. 

Selector position 3: Neck and Bridge
A bright PAF middle with a slight quack.

Selector position 4: Inner coils 
Vintage meaty P-90 bridge without the hum.

Selector position 5:  Just Bridge
Harmonically rich modern rock lead tone with bell like qualities, never ending sustain and a power boost. 

Action, Fit & Finish:
The finish is raw wood with two coats of tru oil gunstock satin finish. The action was low without any fret buzz and the intonation was dead on.

Reliability & Durability:
This guitar is 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.

A few months ago Jake Willoughby, CEO and Founder of C.R. Alsip Guitars was on a talk radio show I co-host (Gear Guys Radio). While we were on air a few things came up during the interview that made me want to have him build me a guitar and document it showing how a guitar is handbuilt in his shop from start to finish, but that is a different story that will be covered as a feature editorial in September. Today we are looking at the finished product from that build, and the result is an amazing representation of a vintage styled handbuilt American made masterpiece with modern amenities

One of my most prized possession is a 1959 Les Paul JR, but she is a one trick pony and I would never bring her out to a gig in fear that she may wind up going home with someone else against her will. When Jake and I spoke about this build I wanted him to build me a usable guitar that incorporated some of the design and tonal characteristics of my 59, but also I wanted him to give her the versatile of a modern guitar like a PRS. My idea was to give the player (me) the ability of dialing in a variety of different tonal possibilities from a vintage traditional Les Paul, to a modern PRS and of course, my 59 LP JR wrapped up in a small body flat top double cutaway with a Fender 25'5 "scale. What we ended up with is what I consider to be the best elements of all of the classics wrapped up into one truly usable guitar. So, to the review.....

When I first picked her up and felt her neck I knew that Jake nailed it. I asked him to make a neck that felt like is was made in 1959 but was worn down over the years. What he did was give me the girth of a 50's D/U but brought her down slightly to a very husky 60's C. I am a fan of fat neck for two reasons, (1) I have large hands and (2) 65% of your sustain comes from the neck (mass = tone). Next I did what any guitar player would do -- I put her on my lap, wrapped my hand around her neck and diddled her for about an hour unplugged. What I was looking for was the body vibration, note sustain and clarity. I normally only do this for 10-15 minutes while trying out a new guitar, but the tone and volume I was able to get without an amp was just amazing. Jake uses a bell brass system under the bridge he calls the SES (sustain enhancement system), and we installed the FU-Tone PMS (pickup mounting system) under each humbucker to enhance the guitars natural sustain. With the combination of the two and the neck through design, the string vibration amplified and resonated throughout the guitar to the point that the neck had a slight vibration from sound transfer -- much like you would find on a vintage guitar that has 50 + years of stick on her. Once I plugged her in I heard the tone and sustain that most vintage players can only hear on youtube and than dream about. From her neck pickup having that unmistakable clear Green/Moore buttery tone that can be used for rhythm or lead, to her insanely hot modern sounding alnico 7 bridge. I was able to dial in every tone I wanted including a vintage P90 bridge when using just the inner coils from each humbucker. 

Since I received her a few weeks back I have used her in the studio, at a gig and a jazz/blues open mic jam. I can honestly say that I was able to dial in everything from jazz and blues to modern rock using the vintage/modern mini toggle making this C.R. Alsip the only weapon I needed to bring. One of the nice features of this guitar is the StetsBar tremolo system. I enjoy the ability to dive and shimmy without the fear of the tuning stability problems that traditional tremolo system have. The StetsBar has a unique design that even if you break a sting the other five stay in tune allowing you to finish the song without switching guitars.  

Over all this is one of the best guitars I have ever played that truly captures not only what we refer to as vintage tone, but what we expect to hear and feel form a vintage guitar that features modern amenities. The best way to describe this guitar would be if you had a vintage guitar and updated the hardware and electronics. I will enjoy playing her for many years, and the best part is that Jake will be including the WTF Terzetto in the C.R. Alsip lineup so anyone that wants to own this guitar can. 

What I would change:
Not a damn thing. 

My advice:
If you are a vintage guitar player that wants that true vintage experience with modern amenities, this is it. 

C.R. Alsip Guitars
Arkansas City, Kansas. 

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Posted 8/2014
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