The History Of Chapman Guitars: A Beautiful Story

Rob Chapman has gone from being a gear reviewer on YouTube to a partner managing of one of the most talked about guitar brands on the planet.

Chapman Guitars has been on the up since their inception and we take a look at the history of this small but brilliant British company. Read on for the history of Chapman guitars...

Jed Van Wyngaardt

Jed Van Wyngaardt

Chapman Guitars ML2 British Standard

Chapman guitars have established themselves as genuine contenders in the highly competitive market of electric guitars. They’ve done this by offering a number of different guitars that suit a number of different styles. Most importantly, their core standard range has always remained affordable.

Not only are their guitars affordable, despite using high-quality woods and hardware, but they’re also collaboratively designed.

It all started with the ML-1

The concept of collaborative design was born with the first Chapman ML-1. In a series of videos, Chappers put out a vote to the public for what each individual aspect of the guitar should be. This included body shape, woods used, pickup style and hardware too. This is still the way that Chapman Guitars choose to design their newest releases.

By getting the public to vote, people felt like they’d invested in their own little way to a guitar design that would suit other guitar players like themselves. Rather than a guitar designed by marketing analysts trying to follow the current trend. Ahem *offset guitars* ahem…

Easy To Modify

One of the early unique selling points of the Chapman range was the fact that they were (and still are) so easy to modify. This allowed guitarists to take on the project of turning a blank slate into the guitar of their dreams. The initial run of ML-1 guitars was the perfect starting point.  This has been a part of the Chapman ethos ever since however it’s worth noting that they’ve turned up the quality in hardware, wood choice and pickups since inception. This has resulted in some stunning guitars for the money.

They also refuse to go through third-party distribution which means that they’re able to keep the price down.

Chapman Guitars Between 2009 and 2019

The years between 2009 and 2016 are where Chapman Guitars really found their niche and defined themselves. They did it all! From releasing brand new models, body shapes and signature models to limited edition one-off runs. Here’s a timeline of guitars released between 2009 and 2016 in order:

  • ML-1 – Stands for Monkey Lord-1. This was the first Chapman Guitar and still exists to this day. It had an HSS pickup configuration in a natural satin finish.
  • ML-2 – This was the second Chapman guitar to come out. It’s a singlecut, dual humbucker modern rock and metal guitar.
  • ML-3 Modern & ML-3 Traditional – Both of these guitars are T-shaped and had either an SS or HH pickup configuration.
  • ML-7S – a 7-string with an ML-1 body shape and a Mahogany body.
  • ML-7T – a 7-string with a ML-3 T-style Ash body.
  • ML-1 CAP10 – The very first Chapman signature guitar for Lee Anderton – the Captain. It was based on his favourite Mahogany-bodied strat with an HSH pickup configuration.
  • ML-1 BEA – The Rabea Massaad signature model with Seymour Duncan humbuckers.
  • ML-3 RC – Rob Chapmans signature T-style guitar.
  • Rob Chapman Signature Ghost Fret – Incredibly popular metal guitar – For the explorers amongst us…
  • ML-1 Natural Ash – A limited edition run of swamp ash ML-1s.
  • ML-1 CAP10 Blackout – A limited run of the Captains signature model but with all the white reversed for black.
  • ML1 CAP10 America –  A limited run of the Captains signature model but with a cherry sunburst finish and Maple fingerboard.
  • ML-1 Hot Rod – A limited run ML-1 with a single humbucker and Floyd Rose tremolo system.
  • ML-2 Classic – The ML-2 in a gold sparkle finish with 2x Seymour Duncan humbuckers.
  • ML-1 Norseman – A special ML-1 designed by Chapman guitars in conjunction with Norwegian retailer, Evenstad Musikk.
  • MLB-1 – The first 4-string bass in the line-up.
  • ML1-8 RS – The Rob Scallon 8-String guitar.
  • ML1 RS – Rob Scallons 6-string signature guitar.
  • Chapman V2 Standard guitars announced.
  • Snake Oil Fine Instruments pedals announced at the NAMM 2019 show.

NAMM 2017 : The Pro and Standard Series

It was at the NAMM 2017 show that Chapman made the decision to split their entire range into 2. This is when the Standard series and Pro series were formed.

The Standard Series – The Standard Series guitars are all made in Indonesia and have bolt-on Maple necks (with varying fretboards). They also feature veneers instead of thick Maple caps and have gloss finishes.

The Pro Series – These are made at World Guitars in South Korea with 3-piece Maple through-necks. They’ve also got solid carved tops, stainless steel frets, hipshot open-gear tuners and this is the range that you’ll see signature and satin-finished guitars.

The Chapman British Standard

This is where Chapman guitars have really come into their own. They’ve stepped it up with the release of British-made high-quality instruments to go along with their Pro and Standard series. If you want a guitar that’s a bit more bespoke and practically hand-made then the Chapman British Standard is it.

This is where the growth of the company in less than ten years really shines. They’ve gone from making affordable Chinese-made instruments to creating guitars of absolute wonder whilst never losing what made them successful in the first place. This was the fact that they listened to what the audience wanted and gave them the chance to democratically vote for the best solution!

These are the best of the best!

The Chapman range is now a 3-pronged beast with the Standard, Pro and British made range of guitars and you can read more about them here. 

The Chapman V2 range comes out

Chapman guitars moved the factory that produced their standard line in 2018 and made a couple of tweaks to the guitars on the way. These aren’t drastic changes by any means but every little bit helps when it comes to making a great guitar. So whilst they retained the design elements of the initial Chapman Standard range, these subtle changes are what you’ll find (and love) on the Chapman V2 guitars.

What’s new with the Chapman V2 Standards?

  • Improved baking process – all tonewoods are now baked and dried on site, improving consistency, durability and resonance in one go.
  • Redesigned rolled fretboard edges – the rolled edges have been further rounded for a smoother playing experience.
  • US-made pickup magnets – the Standard’s now feature US-made magnets designed specifically for use in guitars, rather than generic magnets.
  • Tweaked finishes – the staining and finishing process has been streamlined for extra consistency. They straight-up look prettier!

Snake Oil Pedals NAMM 2019

Chapman Guitars announced that they’d be entering the pedal world with Snake Oil Fine Instruments. Starting with a boost and drive, these high-quality pedals are anything but Snake Oil as they really do deliver on what they promise. These pedals are handmade over here in the UK and are housed in a sturdy metal chassis – just as you’d expect.

Chapman Guitars is proud to present its latest venture “Snake Oil Fine Instruments”. Offering a joyous richness of tone unparalleled by any other inferior brand, Snake Oil is the choice of the respected musician.

Where to from here?

It’s hard to predict where Chapman Guitars will be going from here but one things for sure, they’re on the up! We just hope to see more signature models, more incredible guitars for the price and more out of the ordinary finishes. A baritone in the Quicksand finish perhaps?

Whatever they decide to do, we’ll be behind Chapman guitars all the way and the latest news will all be available from Andertons Music Co.

Jed Van Wyngaardt
Jed Van Wyngaardt
Jed has worked on our shop floor, handled guitar content on the site and now leads the digital content team. He's equal parts rock frontman/guitarist and wannabe folk singer-songwriter. Jed's a PRS, Tele and Orange Amps lover with an unhealthy obsession with fuzz, octave and ambient effects.

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