If you’re looking for a new guitar, the Chapman ML1 Pro Modern is a great contender for anyone who wants a guitar with great specs without spending ridiculous amounts of money.
Chapman Guitars offer a Standard line made in Indonesia and a Pro line built in South Korea. In this review, we’ll be taking a look at a guitar from their Pro line – the ML1 Modern.
I’ll kick off with a bit of background on Chapman, then I’ll cover specs, my thoughts on the guitar, etc.
Let’s jump right into this review…
What are Chapman Guitars all about?
If you somehow missed all of the buzz surrounding Chapman Guitars in recent years, let me bring you up to speed:
Chapman Guitars was founded in 2009 by Rob Chapman – one of the first guitarists to make a name for himself on YouTube.
What started as a small limited run of guitars has grown into a guitar company that pushes the envelope year after year.
Chapman Guitars stand out amongst guitar brands partly due to the collaborative nature of their guitar design process.
Instead of just guessing the spec and designs people want on guitars, they allow people to vote for their favourite configurations on a regular basis. Quite a nice idea.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the ML1 Pro..
A closer look at the Chapman ML1 Pro
As I mentioned earlier, the Pro line of guitars from Chapman are made in South Korea by WMI who happen to make some of the best guitars in the world.
This is why other brands such as PRS, Schecter and ESP LTD have used this exact factory for their higher end import models. The quality is exceptional.
Before we dive into the spec, it is worth noting that the current ML1 Pro may vary slightly in specification.
In the case of this particular iteration, we’ve got a maple through-neck with a satin finish, ebony fingerboard, a volute headstock joint for extra stability and 24 jumbo stainless steel frets with rolled edges.
With exceptional upper fret access.
There’s also a dual action truss rod and glow in the dark side-dots.
The neck carve is stated to be a C shape. It’s fairly thin but not quite as thin as an Ibanez wizard neck.
The body features a beautiful flamed maple carved top in satin with a mahogany body. There are a few comfort cuts on the body and there’s a spoon cut that allows for great upper fret access.
A string-through hardtail bridge, locking tuners, 5 way selector switch and a pair of Chapman humbuckers round out the package. Later versions of this model come with Seymour Duncan pickups.
My thoughts on the Chapman ML1 Pro
This guitar is quite a looker and the same can be said for a lot of the Chapman lineup.
The build quality is excellent and the playability is right up there with guitars that cost 3x the price.
While the guitar has a modern feel and will appeal to those who are more into heavy rock & metal, it is still an extremely flexible guitar.
And it is great to see a hard case included – something not too many brands offer at this price point.
The lack of traditional fret markers may not be to everyone’s liking. This is something to consider if you plan to record instructional videos or teach with this guitar.
What about tones? The ML1 Pro offers plenty of sustain and resonance thanks to the through-neck design. The ebony fretboard provides a good balance of warmth and brightness. It’s a nice ‘middle of the road’ option between the tonal characteristics of rosewood and maple.
Positions 2 and 4 of the selector switch offer coil-split sounds so there are plenty of tones to be had. The pickups in this model offer plenty of clarity. They’re fairly hot in terms of output.
When cranking the gain, these pickups remain tight and controlled.
Rob has mentioned in various videos that part of the approach to their guitar building process is on making sure that all of the parts you can’t easily swap out – neck, fretboard, frets, body, etc – is as good as possible.
Some may take this to mean that the parts you can change – pickups, tuners, electronics, etc. – are of lower quality.
But in the case of this guitar, that definitely is not the case. I’ve had the guitar in my collection for a few years now and there have been no issues. The electrics have been spot on and the pickups sound great.
It is worth noting that the newer version of this guitar comes loaded with Seymour Duncan pickups rather than the Chapman branded ones.
Wrapping up this Chapman ML1 Pro review
While the ML1 Pro Modern will appeal best to rock and metal players, traditional variations of this line are available.
As you might expect, these come with a more traditional styling and configuration. This includes S-style and T-style variations – both with carved tops.
For those who want to go even lower, baritone and 7-string variations are available.
If you’re on a tighter budget, consider the ML1 Standard line as an alternative. These are built in Indonesia and come in at a more affordable price point.
The Standard line loses the locking tuners and have a few other changes but they offer excellent value for money.