We were opening for Sammy Hagar in 2011, and I met a guy named Jake Willoughby. Jake and I got along real well. A few months later, Jake invited me to play a clinic at his music store, Willoughby Music. He told me that he wanted to start building high end guitars and asked me if I would be interested in playing one. I told him that I would certainly like to take a look at one; and if I liked it, I would let him know. Well, about a year later, he told me that he was going to start building me a guitar. He asked me a bunch of questions to get an idea of what I was looking for. Two weeks later, the Fed Ex guy shows up with a box and I opened it up. I was BLOWN AWAY! This was my first of my C. R. Alsip Guitars. The workmanship is stunning. It plays like a dream. The tone is gorgeous. I feel like I have found the perfect guitar for touring and in the studio. My guitars are equipped with FU-Tone upgrades to the bridge, block, and other hardware! These guitars also have Seymour Duncan Pickups In the bridge position, I have the Pearly Gates pickup, and in the neck position, I have the Alnico II Pro.
If I need other guitar sounds, I have a bunch of choices with my Signature Grem Guitars, Custom Yamaha Pacificas, PRS, Fender Strats, and my two trusty Telecasters.
For acoustic guitars I mostly record with my Yamaha Hand Crafted Guitars, but I recently got an old Gibson that I love to play as well.
(NO MORE) AMPS
In 2012, I was told by my long time friend, Mark Severns, that I HAD to get a Fractal Audio Axe FX 2. Now, for those of you who don't know Mark, he's a REAL tone snob. He's also a world class engineer who used to teach at Full Sail. Mark engineered a few FireHouse albums and he's also an amazing guitarist. Anyway, on his adamant recommendation, I bought an Axe FX 2. This was the greatest musical investment that I have ever made. If you haven't tried one yet, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's literally changed my world SO much for the better. Check them out at Fractal Audio.
FIRST TWO FIREHOUSE ALBUMS' GUITAR SOUND
I was always a huge fan of layering guitars to get a huge guitar sound in the studio. For the first two FireHouse albums, I recorded six separate passes of guitar tracks. Our producer, David Prater, first had me record a pair of tracks with his Fender Bassman. Each one of these tracks was a separate "pass" or performance, so it sounded like there were two guitars playing the same thing. Next, I recorded another pair of tracks using my mid 70's 50 watt Marshall. After that, I recorded yet another pair of tracks with my Soldano SLO 100. A mix of those six tracks are what made that wall of sound on the debut FireHouse album. Our second album, HOLD YOUR FIRE, had the same amps layered, but we added another pair of tracks with David's Music Man amp, so that album had eight tracks of rhythm guitar tracks just for the dirty rhythm sound.
I get many emails asking me what equipment I use on the road to get my tone. I've always wanted to have the best possible tone live, and FireHouse does a lot of flying around from gig to gig. The less I have to check underneath a plane the better.
Since FireHouse is a fairly diverse band, I need to be able to switch from clean to crunch to World War III tones with the stomp of a single button. I hate tap-dancing up there on stage, trying to turn off my delay, change channels, and add reverb in the split second where needed, all while trying to sing and play.
For these fly dates, my Fractal Audio Axe FX 2 has been my saving grace. I always have a consistent tone without any hum or ground issues. I go direct (no microphones mic'ing a speaker). The XLR outputs of the Fractal Audio Axe FX 2 go directly to front of house and to the monitors. The Fractal Audio Axe FX 2 also has a pair of 1/4 inch outputs. I connect these 1/4 inch outs to the effects returns of the amps that the promoters provide so I can hear myself up on stage and get some feedback when needed. My tone has never been more consistent. I have had this rig flying out since 2012, and I've never had any technical issues whatsoever. I can tell you that the Fractal Audio stuff is road worthy. I'd even go so far as to say that it's bullet proof. :)
I use CR Alsip Strings. They make the greatest quality strings on the planet. They have amazing tone that lasts and lasts.
I have been using In Tune Custom Guitar Picks now for over a decade. They make the best picks I've ever used and I highly recommend them to anyone.
I think I've tried every kind of cable on the planet and I have found that the best cables available in the world are from Four Star Wire & Cable. What makes these cables so good is simple. They have Very high shielding so there is no interference. Every night you just wrap it up and there's no tangling no spaghetti mess. These cables keep my live and studio rigs running flawlessly and sounding their very best, day after day, night after night.