Price paid: £ 449
Purchased from: Andertons
Features — 10
This is a review of a standard Chapman ML-3 Modern, the full specification of which can be found at the Chapman Guitars website.
- 2015 Korean Manufacture
- Solid Mahogany Body with Mahogany Top
- Recessed Bolt-on Maple Neck with Ebony Fret Board
- Telecaster style body
- 25.5" Scale Length; 24 Frets
- 13.8" Fretboard Radius
- "Hard Tail Deluxe" Bridge
- Body located truss rod adjustment
- Nickel hardware
- Chapman "Passive Aggressive" Humbuckers
- Coil-tap on tone control
- Supplied with Gigbag.
Sound — 9
The Chapman ML-3 Modern is configured with two humbuckers linked to a single volume and single tone control. Pick up selection is taken care of via a 3-way selector switch (much like a Les Paul i.e. bridge/ neck+bridge / neck positions). However, the tone control, when pulled out, acts as a coil tap giving a single coil effect from the humbuckers.
As far as the sound goes when playing on a clean tone the guitar is hugely versatile as you might imagine with a dual-humbucker coil tap. Going from an extremely rich full tone using a full humbucker in the neck position through to the very identifiable twang you might expect from a single coil Fender Telecaster in coil tapped bridge position... and everything in between. Obviously the sound you will get will depend a lot on your personal set up (amps, effects, playing style etc). All I can say is that I found the ML-3 Modern to be extremely versatile and, in combination with my amp and pedal settings, I was able to achieve pretty much any sound I was going after to a certain degree. You can expect to get a very full "Les Paul" rock tone when needed but, for example, I was also able to get that very distinctive "scooped" out of phase 4th selector switch position strat sound, although not as "Fender-esque" as a strat, if that makes sense.
Essentially, if you have played a Fender HH Telecaster or similar you will have a good idea of what this guitar is capable of sonically. Very pleasing to the ear and can cover a very wide range of music.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I was fairly happy with the way the guitar was set up as it came from the factory however I always think that this is somewhat of a false measure of a guitars quality. I immediately took the factory strings off (10's) and put a set of 11's on and gave it a full set up to how I like a guitar to play. It's what most guitar players do I imagine. This goes for adjusting pick up height, the truss rod, saddle height and intonation too. These features are adjustable for a reason and are never going to be 100% how you like them from the factory. They are supposed to be personalised. But as far as the ease with which I could do all of this I cannot argue with the quality of the hardware. The tuners are accurate and solid, the saddles adjusted with no issues and the whole bridge seems well constructed.
The tone pot doesn't have enough resistance for my liking and turns incredibly easily which is a bit frustrating as it is also the pull switch for the coil tap so I catch myself double checking to see that I haven't turned the tone down accidentally on occasion but it's largely a minor issue as I don't gig very much. It could be correctly relatively easily with a new pot if it really needed it (maybe under warranty if I took it back to Andertons). The pot functions completely fine despite this. Other than that the guitar seems solidly built with little room for complaint besides that mentioned above.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have had this guitar for less than two weeks so I cannot comment on it's gigging durability or long term reliability. HOWEVER... I chose the natural finish and it marks up incredibly easily. Pick scratches, rings, bracelets, rough skin, feathers (probably). If you want your guitar to look brand new for years after you've purchased it do not go for the natural finish. I love the look of it but the back of the guitar will take a battering from any belt buckles or zips and the fact that there is not scratch plate means the front will eventually look pretty scratched up too.
I don't consider this to be a real negative of the guitar model itself because a black option is available but you should be aware of the ease with which it can pick up nicks, scrapes and scratches in the natural finish.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I am extremely happy with this guitar. The best way to describe it is like having a Les Paul and a single coil Telecaster all in the same package, that sounds and feels American made, with a Korean made price tag. It is unbeatable value for money as far as I am concerned just taking into account the tonal range of the guitar alone. But the feel of the guitar is also excellent and can stand next to others 3-4 times the price.
I am 100% happy with my purchase and if it was lost or stolen I would get another without hesitation. It can also replace the need for taking 2-3 different guitars when gigging or recording which is a massive bonus if you can't always take a huge rig with you to cater for a lot of different songs. One thing worth mentioning is that it is quite a heavy guitar, not drastically so though. I highly recommend this guitar.