Made up of only three luthiers, CR Alsip Guitars is “tiny” by design. “We plan to stay small because we believe that once a company grows in size, then the quality of the instruments suffers,” says founder and owner, Jake Willoughby.
This young Kansas-based company came into the world in January of 2012, soon after Willoughby lost his mother (Connie Rae Alsip-Willoughby) to cancer. “It was apparent to me that there was no better way to celebrate her life than by naming the company after her,” Willoughby says. Her signature became the company logo. “I am proud every time I put a logo on a guitar because, in a sense, it’s my mom’s stamp of approval on each guitar.”
Being such a small-scale operation provides for far more intimate connections with end-users. “When a customer calls or emails, they’re talking to the people actually building the guitars,” Willoughby notes.
Some of CR Alsip’s customers include some pretty high-profile names who have already discovered this under-the-radar workshop – Frank Hannon [Tesla], Bill Leverty [Firehouse], Jason Jordan [Love & Theft], Dan Weller [Florida Georgia Line], Jeff Caughron [Jessta James], and more.
“[We aim] to make the best guitars we can. The things we offer that are unique are simple ideas like our SES (Sustain Enhancement System) that gives our guitars great sustain and superior clarity, or our Droptop that seems to be a hit with everyone because it stands apart from any other manufacturer out there. The response we get about our fretwork is amazing and we are constantly told that our guitars feel ‘well broken-in.’”
With a current turnaround time of roughly three to six months, from order to complete guitar, CR Alsip is currently selling factory direct, but “We would love to have a dealer network at some point,” Willoughby states.
“Our approach is still the same as when we started: We build guitars because we love to build, that’s what it is about – the art in building guitars. Getting a paycheck is a bonus in our eyes.”