ML-1 review by Chapman Guitars

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.4 (53 votes)
Chapman Guitars: ML-1

Price paid: £ 369

Purchased from: Andertons

Features — 9
My antique sunburst Chapman ML-1 was made in Korea in 2013, designed by Chapman, made at WIC (the same manufacturer as PRS SE, some Ibanez and I believe also the Gretsch Electromatic guitars). The ML-1 has 22 frets, it has a 25.5" scale length, thin c-shape recessed bolt on satin feel maple neck. It has an ebony fretboard, and a 2 piece mahogany body (fantastic resonance)with a flame maple veneer. The body style is similar to a strat, but noticeably unique. The ML-1 comes equipped with a Wilkinson tremolo for the bridge. It also comes equipped with 2 Extreme Victory (Chapman) single-coil pickups and a single Guitarnivore (Chapman) humbucking pickup in HSS configuration. The ML-1 has coil tapping features along with a 3 way switch for great tonal range and variation. The ML-1 has grover rotomatic tuners and a free (30 pound value) gig bag with the Chapman Guitars logo on it. Really the build quality and the features of the guitar are fantastic, the wood choice for both the body and the neck were a great choice as out of all my 5 guitars, the resonance on this is clearly a step above the rest. My only complaint would be the humbucking pickup, the sound is just not saturated enough for me, but that's personal preference, I know many people prefer the humbucker to the single-coils... which are decent, but not my favourite feature, I would describe the pickups as replaceable. I would say 8 or based on the pickups but due to build quality and the fantastic feel of the neck I'm going to give it a 9. Generous.

Sound — 8
The guitar definitely works for my post-rock type genre, at least for the music I write. Definitely good for a single coil rock sound whether you look at Hendrix or the Pearl Jam type single coil lead... it works for what I play. My only complaint is the humbucker, it's just not warm or dark enough for me, personal preference, that's just me... will be looking for a replacement Seymour Duncan or something. I've used the guitar on Fender Frontman, Twin Reverb amps and on a Marshall MG15CDR, no complaints at all... I'd love to try it on a full stack though, not just combos... they do the job. No complaints with the compliance of the guitar with certain amps, everything has been satisfactory with some tweaking of settings. The single-coils have a rich woody sound, especially the neck, which is an absolute favourite of mine. The humbucker is bright and hot. The variations of tone are great due to switching and tapping, it really is quite versatile.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up very well and with great care, the feel of the neck is great, the frets were put on and rounded well. I was getting a little fret buzz on the bass side but it was shipped to me over the whole of Europe, who knows what could have happened. Nothing a little 5 minute setup couldn't fix. Pickup placement is perfect, no complaints here. The top was well bookmatched, the finish was a little darker than the pictures and even the finish of other Antique Sunburst ML-1's I've seen others play on YouTube. I do not mind though, it looks a bit less flamboyant and a bit more natural, once again a subjective matter.

Reliability & Durability — 8
The ML-1 is weighty beast, I would recommend getting a comfy strap for long gigs but this thing is built like a tank. The neck is well bolted on, no wobbling at all, the flat headstock also ensures less breakage risk like you might have with a Les Paul or any guitar with a break angle. Strap buttons are solid as heck. Tone knob is a bit wobbly, easy fix. I probably wouldn't gig it without a backup if I could help it, not because I don't trust it but because from experience I know that anything can go wrong. One should never gig without a backup.

Overall Impression — 9
The guitar is near perfect for me, only the pickups could really be improved upon. I've been playing guitar for about 11 years or so, this is definitely up there as the best or second best guitar I own. If the guitar were stolen, I would probably buy another one of the same model, maybe a different finish, just because I like variety. I'm not really into buying the same guitar over and over but this is definitely great value for money and it wouldn't break my bank to get another. This guitar really is a fantastic guitar, despite the lack of heritage. You don't really get the feel of "Oh gosh I have a Fender/Gibson" as Chapman is a newer company, but let me tell you, give it a while and Chapman will be giving those companies a run for their money. Definitely a great guitar... not just great for its pricetag, but a truly great guitar.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think chapman guitars are a bit naff too, nothing new just copies of stuff thats already been done. I think from what he's copied the orignals are far more stylish too. Why buy a strat, tele or LP copy when you can buy the real deal or hundreds of other copies. Any well made guitar set up right is a good guitar. I think the slant hes has given on his copies looks a bit crap too Ok the guy can play guitar well, and some of his youtube videos are good. But he wants to be a business man now and rip everyone off or make someone suffer making cheap copies from china or whatever.
    By your logic we should all by Merc's because Karl Benz was the first to invent the automobile and everything made after it is a naff copy.People buy guitars for any number of reasons like price, location, availability, fondness of maker, style or just plain impulse.I think you are perfectly within your rights to not like the styling but you are way off when you say just get a Fender/Gibson or whatever, without first looking at why people buy a certain brand compared to another.
    to be honest, im not so pleased with my ML1, the fret ends were sharp as hell and intonation was totally off.