Ghost Fret Review

manufacturer: Chapman Guitars date: 11/24/2016 category: Electric Guitars
Chapman Guitars: Ghost Fret
Rob Chapman himself used a Ghost Fret on his last tour and you can see why. It's just a strong, meaty, war machine.
 Features: 8
 Sound: 9
 Action, Fit & Finish: 7.5
 Reliability & Durability: 7
 Overall Impression: 7.5
 Overall rating:
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reviews (2) pictures (7) 32 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.2
Ghost Fret Reviewed by: DomRusky, on may 14, 2016
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 699

Purchased from:

Features: - Korean made in 2016.

- 22 "extra jumbo" frets, 24.75" scale, ebony fretboard with glow in the dark dots along the side (very useful!)

- Neck through with a thin C-neck contour maple neck and mahogany wings, very pretty from the back and a very smooth neck (no gloss) to aid faster playing.

- The body style is an explorer, takes a bit of getting used to if you're like me and used to playing telecasters and Les Pauls seeing as there's no body above the pickups to rest your hands on and a huge wing under your armpit. That being said, it really isn't an issue once you're used to it, couple of hours of playing and it feels natural. The guitar is well balanced in terms of weight, but again this wasn't something I was used to and every time I let go of the guitar stood up, it would slide so that the headstock was pointing (almost vertically) towards the floor, whereas I'm used to a Les Paul whereby the weight of the body keeps it at least horizontal. Not really an issue - just something to get used to.

- Pickup jack is angled upwards so a straight jack lead can be wrapped around the strap without stressing it at 90 degrees (I already use a 90 degree jack so this was a bit irrelevant for me but still works with it).

- Pickups themselves are Chapman Passive Aggressives (lots of ghost frets online are fitted with Seymour Duncans, this was only the first batch produced that had Duncans in - Chapman had them fitted in the first batch only, so you will most likely only buy new ones with Passive Aggressives in now) - twin humbuckers, with one volume knob and one tone knob with coil tap (very useful!). Standard three way pickup selector, sits nicely out of the way. I've read some people complaining about the volume knob being too close to the strings and catching it while playing, but I haven't done this once. Not a problem.

- Fixed Chapman bridge, I really hate floating bridges and since I don't use a trem this is perfect for me. No complaints at all.

- Tuners are hipshot locking tuners, very sturdy and useful. Pretty standard, good tuners.

- The guitar comes in a Chapman hard case. Very good/sturdy case. Again, I've read about some people complaining the case isn't protective enough, but it protects the guitar brilliantly, no problems from where I can see. I'd happily put the guitar in that case on a plane. The guitar also comes with strap locks, which are very sturdy although can be a bit fiddly. But a nice compliment to the guitar, courtesy of Chapman. Also comes with a big cleaning cloth - very handy! Although the guitar itself doesn't really seem to get fingerprints or dirt stuck to it easily, since it's a wood top and not a gloss finish.

**Criticism of the case - it fits the guitar perfectly, but it doesn't fit the strap locks - so you have to take them off if you want the guitar to fit in the case. They're easy to take off but can be a bit fiddly to put back on, so that could get annoying (only reason this isn't a 10/10!). // 9

Sound: This guitar covers everything. With the coil tap you can go pretty much anywhere with it. The pickups are designed (I believe, from watching videos) to be able to go from very clean, bright tones to nasty snarling distortion - hence the name Passive Aggressive. They do that perfectly. The coil tap is brilliant in taming back the humbucker and brightening up the sound.

My style of music is everywhere from clean blues to heavy metal, and this guitar covers all of it - seriously. I've not had a better sounding guitar yet, and that includes Les Pauls and telecasters costing over £1000. I wouldn't go as far to say this covers distortion as much as active EMGs would, but you REALLY DON'T NEED TO PAY HUNDREDS TO UPGRADE THE PICKUPS! I REPEAT: I was close to paying £150 for the fitting of Seymour Duncans instead of the Chapman pickups, but I'm so glad I didn't. These pickups are much more versatile and just as mean as any other passive pickups in the market. I seriously love them.

Using this through an Orange Crush amp at first, with OCD and tube screamer pedals, amongst a variety of high quality effects pedals - it handles them all perfectly. The range of tones I can get out of the pickups is astounding and it suits every genre I play. I could literally sit for hours and still find new output from the guitar I hadn't got yet - definitely not a one trick pony. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up to D standard with 11-56 NYXL's by the technicians at Andertons and they did a fantastic job. Little bit of tuning out of the box on delivery and it was perfect to go. All Chapman guitars are shipped in standard with 10-42 NYXL's (at Chappers' request), and rightfully should be. The strings are the best I've played yet, much more resonant and clear than standard D'Addarios and as far as tests and reviews online have showed they're proven to "last" longer too. The strings complement the guitar perfectly and from now on I'll be using NYXL's on all my guitars. The intonation, action, pickup adjustment, bridge etc. were all perfect.

As for flaws on the guitar, it's finished almost to perfection too. There's slight gaps in the wood around the dot inlays down the side of the neck, but nothing huge or noticeable. Other than that, all wood joints, top, wing joints etc. are pristine and very well put together.

The switch for the pickup-selector was a tiny bit loose - but just a half turn screwing it back in solved that, nothing to worry about. The control knobs and tuning pegs are all perfect. // 9

Reliability & Durability: This guitar will definitely withstand live playing. Chapman himself used a Ghost Fret on his last tour and you can see why. It's just a strong, meaty, war machine. Very durable. You always need a backup, but I'd feel very comfortable with this guitar if I for some reason didn't have one.

The hardware seems like it will last, only time will tell. Although nothing feels loose or flimsy so I can only assume the guitar's solid. The finish seems durable too - really no complaints. Perhaps would chip easily, but as for fingermarks and such there's no signs of it getting grotty like a gloss finish would. Giving this a 9 for now, but if it's still around in a year or so's time I'll revisit for the 10. // 9

Overall Impression: For this guitar I'll play anything from melodic hardcore to full metal - the guitar works perfectly for that genre. It could cover a lot more, but it sits in that realm without fault. I've been playing for about 7 years now and I've got a Les Paul Black Beauty 3, '72 Custom Deluxe Tele and an ESP LTD MH-1001 and this sounds nothing like any of them and is by far the most versatile in terms of sound. There are a few idiosyncrasies with the guitar in terms of the strap locks not fitting in the case, defects on the neck and such, but overall these are very minor flaws in what's otherwise a phenomenal guitar. Takes a bit of getting used to the balanced weight and the body's shape, but it's more than worth it.

My favourite feature is the coil tap, something which is new to me, as it opens up a completely new guitar in terms of sound. I can't stress enough how good the Chapman pickups are. There's limited content online reviewing them, but they really are fantastic. The Seymour Duncans are nowhere near as versatile.

I really can't think of anything I wish this guitar had instead. Maybe a wider choice of colours? But as of now, this is my favourite guitar I own. I can do the most with this just say in front of my amp and jamming to myself and finding new sounds and tones. // 9

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overall: 6.4
Ghost Fret Reviewed by: sombrero_mop, on november 24, 2016
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: eBay

Features: The Ghost Fret is a Korean-made, 22 fret, explorer-style guitar. It's pretty much what you would expect from an explorer in this price range. The neck is a thin C. The necks of Chapman guitars aren't bad, but it's definitely a love it/hate it kind of thing. It has a maple cap with a mahogany neck-thru body with a satin finish. It looks absolutely beautiful; no picture can do it justice. It has a string-thru Hipshot style bridge. This bridge, in combination with the neck/body, contributes to one of the guitar's downfalls, and I'll get to that later. It has Chapman Passive Aggressive passive pickups, and they sound amazing for the money. It also has a volume knob with a coil-tapped tone knob. Not as much as I would expect for a guitar in this price range, but I guess simplicity is key. The Ghost Fret comes with a case and strap locks, which is wonderful.

Overall, the features allow the Ghost Fret to really stand out as a unique guitar, and they also help contribute to the guitar's versatility. The Ghost Fret is absolutely beautiful looking, and no amount of pictures can really encompass what the guitar looks like up close. However, they are definitely other guitars out there that offer just as much features for less.It's just a really nice looking, average explorer.

// 7

Sound: The sound and the looks are where the guitar really shines, however, that's where the mystique of the Ghost Fret ends. But for now, let's talk about it's sound. I personally play a lot of metal (I use a Mesa Mini Rectifier [no pedals]), but the Ghost Fret can play just about everything else along with it. The sharp, metal-esque look of the guitar is contrasted by it's sheer versatility in tone. While an explorer-shaped guitar running through a Mesa might immediately spell out "scooped mids, so brutalz," it's versatility and rich tone make it a challenge to make the Ghost Fret sound bad. The Passive Aggressive pickups sound wonderful, and are definitely some of the best for the money. The coil tap is also extremely convenient. The one area where the sound falls short is the volume knob. It's very, very scratchy. Having scratchy pots in a virtually new guitar is not good. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: When it comes to the looks and the finish, this guitar couldn't be any better, but when it comes to the action and the overall feel, this guitar couldn't be any worse.

Here's where the Ghost Fret falls short. The neck is the bane of my existence. The Chapman thin C shape just feels so awkward to play. It's almost like there's no "right way" to hold the neck. To give a better example, it's like the polar opposite of a compound neck. With a compound neck, your hand feels like it's in just the right place all the way up and down the neck. The Ghost Fret's neck, not so much.

The action was pretty bad too. Although I'm not going to go on and on about the action when I got it, as I did buy it used, I will however talk about how awkward that action feels. When I got it, the action was low. REALLY low. After weeks of intonation, I finally got it to where it was usable.

Anyway, the way the neck sits with the body, in combination with the string-through bridge, gives the guitar a "bridge cable"-like action. The neck sits very high with the body (there's about a centimeter between the neck pickup ring and the fretboard). Because of this, the bridge has to be adjusted quite high to compensate, or else there's buzzing everywhere. Now, with the fact that the strings meet the bridge at about 90 degrees, the action makes the strings feel like you're playing on high tension bridge cables.

Also, to add salt to the wound, the neck has SERIOUS neck dive. With the awkward neck and even more awkward action, the Ghost Fret is just not comfortable to play on and makes me not want to play the guitar at all. // 6

Reliability & Durability: The finish is very prone to dings and dents. The satin finish is great for hiding scratches, but a couple of dings, gouges, and dents will quickly ruin the guitar, as they stick out like a sore thumb. Also, the satin finish wears very quickly. The hardware is really a hit or miss. Pickups are great, strap locks/buttons are great, and tuners are great. However, the knobs not so much. The volume knob is, of course, very scratchy. Also the tone knob, as mentioned by other reviews, is perpetually loose. Honestly, the guitar looks like a high quality Korean-made guitar that could easily put an end to the "Korean guitars are as bad as Chinese guitars" argument, but it sadly doesn't. It feels like a cheap guitar that would last a week on the road. I know it isn't, but the entire Ghost Fret just doesn't feel right... // 5

Overall Impression: Overall, picking up a Ghost Fret in mint condition through a friend on eBay wasn't a bad choice. Many players would be delighted to find a guitar like this and would absolutely enjoy having it in their hands. But for me, that is not the case. The purchase was not an impulse buy, as I needed a guitar with great passive pickups for a reasonable price, but the amount of issues with the guitar makes me question my purchase.

I may have somehow gotten a dud Ghost Fret. But if a Chapman guitar can't come out of the factory as a playable guitar, or withstand having one previous owner, I'm not sure if I can still trust them. I've been playing for just about 8 years now. I also own an ESP LTD Snakebyte, which really raised my expectations for Korean-made guitars. I run both the Ghost Fret and the Snakebyte through a Mesa Mini Rectifier with a 2x12. They both sound equally great, but the Ghost Fret just feels lackluster in comparison.

If my Ghost Fret were stolen, I would be more concerned about who stole it and how they got away with it, rather than the actual guitar being missing. I guess I'm not very attached with it at all. If you're still interested in purchasing a Ghost Fret, I would recommend that you try it first and see how you like it. It's very versatile, so chances are it will fit your style. However, if the guitar feels awkward or uncomfortable, stop drooling over the looks and realize that you will probably end up disliking the guitar.

Honestly, I just wish Chapman Guitars would pay attention to the feel of the guitars rather than the looks. No pictures can determine if it's going to have terrible action of a horrendous neck dive.

Anyway, If the Ghost Fret simply felt like it was a higher quality instrument (no neck dive, no scratchy pots, no awkward neck profile) and offered more stylistic options (like a Tune-o-Matic bridge, upgraded pickup option, or 2 volume knobs), I would definitely be more interested in Chapman Guitars. I love Rob Chapman's work and I'm proud of him for starting such a successful company. However, I just can't seem to love his guitars... // 6

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