If you nose around the more guitar-orientated parts of YouTube, you’re likely to have come across the works of Rob Chapman. As a vastly experienced session
guy/demonstrator he knows his chops and his entertaining vlogs for Andertons Music (the number one reason to visit Guildford) are hugely popular.
But there is even more to the guy, he’s taken his experience and set up Chapman Guitars, which ship UK designs to Korean manufacturers to give guitars with real character at a reasonable cost. The cheapest model is the ML-1, which comes in at £399. The model I’m holding is a very attractive, stripped down Ash model. The unpainted finish contrasts beautifully with the ebony fretboard on the maple neck – together with the discrete inlay on the fretboard and the reverse headstock, it’s a look that seems serious and mature.
But it’s the hardware that really impresses, with Grover tuners, a Wilkinson trem and a Tusq nut as well as own brand Guitarnivore and Victory pickups.
It’s all superbly put together. Woodwork is flawless and every joint is a tight as can be. The neck is a work of art, the 14” radius is lovely and smooth for lead work but comfortable enough for rhythm (the fretboard is lovely). Fretwork is polished to a tee and the satin finish to the neck makes playing in any position very comfortable. It feels worn in and there is a real sense of a proper, experienced guitarist looking at every aspect of this design.
Played acoustically, the guitar has a bright, resonant character but plugged in, things get very interesting. You have a standard s-s-h arrangement but only 3 positions on the selector – but the coil tap gives you an additional 3 sound options. It’s a subtle and clever arrangement that is simple but gives a wide tonal palette. And the tones are pretty good. Despite the looks, the tone range is more vintage than anything else, so single coils have a lovely transparency and clarity and the humbucker has a sweet nutty tone. Overdrive gives an impressive saturation to proceeding and that superb humbucker can maintain definition even with a lot of distortion. The Wilkinson trem and Grover tuners keep tuning solid even with a lot of trem abuse.
At £399, this is an awful lot of guitar. Its very well made, is an absolute pleasure to play and there is not a duff tone on it. Frankly it is as good as the new PRS SE and feels better made, and bearing how good the PRS SE is, what better recommendation do you need?