ML-1 review by Chapman Guitars

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 6.4 (53 votes)
Chapman Guitars: ML-1

Price paid: £ 200

Purchased from: Anderton's

Sound — 7
The cheap Chinese humbucker was surprisingly loud and chunky, but the high e and b strings tend to get lost like that end of the pickup is somewhat weaker. The single coils aren't very HOT at all, but they sing well and aren't muddy so they are useful. Not too much noise from the single coils, the humbucker was dead quiet. The coil tap doesn't appear to do anything, there is no noticeable change in tone when it is engaged. The kill switch volume pot is unique and unexpected in a low-price guitar. Has a fairly loud sound when unplugged, I wasn't expecting that since this thing weighs about a metric ton.

Overall Impression — 8
I play blues, rock, and metal (terribly) and the guitar handles all styles well. She's not a beauty queen, but she isn't ugly either. She's not the most expensive guitar in the shop, but she has some expensive touches. If this guitar had a nice DiMarzio in the Bridge and swapped the money for the kill switch and coil splitter for some better single coils this guitar would be a major contender. Whether or not you like YouTube personality Rob Chapman, you have to admit he delivered a pretty decent guitar for a pretty small price here. I'm stuck between an overall score of 7 or 8, since there's not a 7.5 option I'm going to be generous and give it an 8.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Overall this guitar could be a monster of a work horse with a better set of pickups and some minor setup done. It's insane weight is a bit of an issue for long gigs, but the guitar feels solid enough to be used as a weapon during the zombie apocalypse. The finish won't last super long, but neither will the nitro finish on a guitar that costs 10 times as much. The hardware is excellent and well mounted, the strap buttons are firmly attached and heavy duty, the tuners are top notch. The only real downside of the guitar is the pickups - and from what I hear from other owners I likely just got a bad set.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Although the finish is super thin, it's just a tad too dark and hides the nice looking mahogany body. Mine had a couple flaws on the back that someone tried to cover up with a black Sharpie. The frets were ok, but some of the ends were exceptionally sharp and the 17th-21st frets seemed a tad tall. After a nice fret job the neck was quite nice. The guitar shipped with action set up for either tight-rope walking or slide playing - but a couple twists of the truss rod sorted that minor issue. The tuners work well, but the string trees needed to be loosened quite a bit to get the strings to stop snagging, I thing a single, long retainer would have worked better than the little tree versions. Like any guitar, a little tweaking and set up was needed, but the guitar was in fairly decent shape for something in it's price range.

Features — 8
Basic Hum/Single/Single Strat clone:

Body Wood: 3 Piece Mahogany
Body Colour/Finish: See-Thru Black Satin
Neck Wood: Maple with Thin Lacquer
Neck Profile: Thin 'C' Contour
Neck Join: Bolt On
Fingerboard: Ebony
Fingerboard Inlays: "Infinity" Logo on 12th Fret
22 Frets
Headstock: Reverse Tele Style
Nut: Bone Scale; 25.5"
Machineheads: Grover Rotomatic - 18:1 Ratio. (black)
Bridge: Wilkinson Trem (silver)
1 volume (Shadow Kill Pot)
1 tone (push/pull coil tap)
1 Scratch plate (uninstalled, in the gig bag)
2 hex keys for truss rod and trem adjustments
1 mahogany trem block with strange symbols on it
1 instrument cable (cheap, but usable in an emergency)
Monkeylord padded gig bag included

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This guitar is awfull, very poorly built. You can feel with your hands that the wood is total crap. Recieve it today, tomorrow i will return it. Sorry to all the Chapman fans, i like the guy myself but i do not recommend this guitar to anyone. He should be more honest in his promotion. This is not a great, amazing guitar. Not even for begginers
    which one did you buy? the chinese ml1 or the ml1 reissue? i believe there is a major difference.
    can i just say. the ML guitars are made to be customized. thats the reason they're cheap and come with stock pickups etc. and pickguards to add on. you're supposed to modify it
    So I managed to get down to Andertons this weekend and got to play with one of the latest batch of ML1's, I was very impressed indeed, this is a lot of guitar for the money and has a solid feel to it, the tone range was great and the playability was lovely, in fact I liked it so much I bought one, the ONLY negative thing I can think to say about it is that it's a bit on the heavy side. I can't speak to the first ML1's from China, but this batch from Korea are very good indeed.
    1 : No because they are trash 2 : Yes as im a guitar tech people bring me all sorts of trash to setup. 3 : He used cheap Chinese lumber and a fly by night factory in china which doesn't exist anymore... The fret boards and the models i worked on were a mess. Looked like the cheapest of ebony ( if it actually was ebony???) had been kiln dried too fast. Too porous or was it actually stained rosewood???.The necks i seen were already warping....Fret wire was crap...Plain as.Fret finish was below par for a guitar of even that price. Time will tell if any of the woods or hardware hold up but the examples i seen were already falling apart 4. Leo Fender was an innovator and inventor who changed the face of guitar and mass production of guitars forever. I suggest you go and read a f**king history book before making childish comparisons between an inventor who changed the world and a dildo on you tube trying to market cheap s**t to kids who dont know any better. Here i will help you on your way 5 To an untrained ear maybe. Sound is science , get used to it. Thats why it's called audio engineering...Otherwise it would all be badly recorded crap. So sound quality is not subjective. The experience to the listener is subjective Thats why we have engineers who innovate and change the face of design. Not market ripoff designs on you tube Nice try with those straw man arguments. Now a question for you... Why would i pay chapman guitars money up front for guitars which are not made yet?? When i can just purchase off the shelf. I can buy a genuine brand new Gibson USA studio for just about the same price. An Indonesia Ibanez with dimarzios and a hard case. An Ibanez Premium with a semi hard case for the same price. A USA Godin with padded the same price. . The les paul copy hes touting in ony 30 cheaper than a genuine les paul studio All the previous companies i mentioned actually have stock and make guitars people want.They design and innovate and further their own designs and have pedigrees behind them. So explain to me why in f**k would i buy a chapman again?
    You're so bitter I can't help but think there's more (personal?) going on here than simple dislike for the guitars he's trying to sell, should I come across a Chapman guitar I'll make my own mind up as to whether I like it or not. Happy New Year
    Im pretty sure i answered all your questions... Yet you couldn't even answer the simplest of mines. Strange huh?....Massive fail with that recently signed up for sock puppet account.. Bitter? Hell no..Just as honest as a ray of sunshine with no time for bullshitters like yourself..If its marketed as a $150 guitar that's fine cause that's what they are. Kids telling me their cheap chapman Chinese cumbersome shitty blocks of wood are so much better than Fender LTD Ibanez Gibson PRS is complete horsecrap. Sorry if the truth hurts and wasn't the reply you had hoped for. My hope is one day this guy will come up with an idea of his own...Maybe even a headstock that isn't straight ripped off another guitar company would be good. But im not holding my breath. Merry Fuckmass to you too.
    I've never played a Chapman, but this Rob guy sure knows how to market himself. He's a very clever guy that was able to achieve so much with average guitar playing and songwriting skills.
    Its Korean or Chinese crap marketed to children who aren't old enough or experienced to know any better. The monkey chapman guy is clownshoes as is his fake ass guitars built by a third party Chinese company. Cheap ass uncured wood shitty bridge materials and electrics are a joke. Chapman knows though he can offload this crap to any stupid kids and make a fast buck himself Via you tube. surprise !!! THE GUY WANTS TO MARKET STUFF TO YOU!!! BTW Tons more guitars for the money which are far superior. Just go to your local shop and play them then haggle for money off as your paying cash. Don't encourage this fool if you have any brain cells at all. Leave monkey chapman for the little one's and sheeple
    Please please please does anybody have one they would be willing to sell/swap with me??? If interested pls email at
    @MM14 He doesn't have a guitar company. He gets John Hornby Skews to build the guitars. Or whatever generic Asian guitar factory that's cheapest and can pump out cheap crap from cheap lumber.It amazes me the amount of people are taken in by simple marketing scams.
    If you bothered to do your own research you'd find out it is his own guitar company, at first Barnes and Mullins a UK wholesale distributor offered him a a signature guitar but in the later stages Barnes and Mullins backed out. Since then Rob continued the project by himself and the project turned into the ML-1, after that Chapman Guitars was born from Rob's own pocket which makes it his guitar company. Please refrain from typing in all caps it makes you look like an imbecile
    If you bothered to think for yourself you will realize the guy has built nothing. He offered you a bunch of generic parts that were already available.Got a cheap manufacturer and cheap lumber.Is he over there inspecting the lumber? Has he bought his own CNC machines?Does he have a few years Luthier experience? No? Well he doesn't really own a guitar company innovate or build anything does he?And you're a simpleton for believing him.He owns a marketing brand on you tube. I doubt if its even a limited company. I wonder if the tax man even knows about him? If you look around for the money he charges there are far better guitars brand new for the same price from Ibanez,Ltd,Fender,Vsg,Esp ect and the list goes on. All with pedigrees and designs which make monkey nobs guitars look like the complete chancer he is.. They are marketed for kids and parents who want there kids to play.. Yeah and sheeple like you,... "Woody tones" is that a technical term? You complete bell end look at the guys write up of his own gear....A complete tool and a total nob jockey . Sheeple and gullible people like you will always be there for the fleecing. His music is about as original as his guitars. Complete uninspired generic soulless crap with a flaccid guitar technique to match...Im sure his generic 2 octave licks are enough to impress you or any other school kids around. Ive never know any other legitimate guitar company that wants a deposit or the money up front months before the guitars are even built.!!! His own money??? ahahaha you clueless fool.. You are a total sucker. One born ever minute and you're too stupid to admit it.
    You seem to have a very strong opinion on this guitar can I ask you a few quick questions. 1. do you own a Chapman ML1 2. have you ever played a Chapman ML1 3. What proof do you have that the wood's used to make ML1 are unseasoned 4. Do you think that Leo Fender was personally present while every single part of every guitar that bore his name was made or do you think he trusted his workers to quality check their product 5. Sound quality is a very subjective thing so how would you describe a guitar to someone who hadn't heard it for themselves I look forward to your reply