[quick NGD] Chapman GhostFret Pro Explorer style

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by mbardu, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. mbardu

    mbardu SS.org Regular

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    There have been a couple of guitars I got earlier in the year that I didn't talk about before.
    This one will be a quick one, but like last time, it doesn't have a ton of NGDs online so hopefully that's helpful.

    ChapDSC01742.JPG

    This is the 5th Chapman I've got over the last couple of years, mostly out of sheer curiosity.
    Got a couple of both the first Pro Walnut ML and Norsemans (1st and 2nd gen). This is the first GhostFret.
    And long story short, this is the best of the bunch.

    Now for some quick thoughts.

    General fit and finish: very nice. Structurally, the guitar is spot on - really nothing to say. Cosmetically, if I were to look for something, I could find a few small rough spots in some cavities, but nothing egregious, far from it. On some brand new custom high end guitar...maybe i'd be a bit rustled (on some brands it would be par for the course). At this price point, I consider that nitpicking .

    chapDSC01929.JPG

    Looks: Subjective, but come on! How much stripey wooden goodness can you get :) . Awesome match between the body top, the fretboard and the headstock overlay. Have not seen that particular wood combination elsewhere so it looks pretty rare. Loving it!

    chapDSC01934.JPG

    Comfort: Comfiest Explorer I have tried bar none. The difference with my old KE2 is basically night and day. The guitar is compact (very compact for an Explorer style), slightly beveled on top, short scale, and balances perfectly (no neck dive in sight). In fact it's one of the comfiest guitars I've owned period, including ergos - which I was not expecting from an Explorer type. And that's especially true sitting down. The shape of the top works wonders for the right arm. Being an E-type, it does pull your fretting hand naturally closer to the higher frets (lower frets are harder to reach), but that's not as pronounced as on the typical longer-scaled modern Explorers.

    The guitar is also very tactile for lack of a better word. The finish is very slightly open pore, and that includes the top.

    ccChapDSC01743.JPG

    Playability: Nice flat-ish fretboard with short scale and stainless steel frets on a satin neck. For me, it doesn't get any better than this.
    Sadly, upper fret playability is not great- which is typical of those guitars though, no surprise there.

    chapDSC01931.JPG

    Electronics: 3-way, 1-volume, 1-tone. Push-Pull for split. Nice clicky switch and smooth controls. The output jack was loosening easily when I got it, but a bit of tightening is working so far. Pickups are OEMs, I suspect higher-end Korean G&B. Although the controls themselves are smooth, the actual pots are typical import stuff. If you want to heavily rely on modulating the volume, they could use an upgrade.

    Sound: Much to my surprise, this does not require a pickup upgrade. Like, at all. I was quite disappointed in the sound of the other Chapmans I've tried (even including those with all sorts of SD pickups), and this one sounds much better. As it is, the pickups are medium-high output, with just enough grit for a traditional hard-rock sound. They are perfect for their job. The split is nowhere near a realistic single-coil sound, but it is very nice regardless, and doesn't lose too much level.

    chapDSC01920.JPG

    Frets and fretwork: this punches quite a bit above its class. Stainless steel frets are well seated, well crowned, and polished, perfectly level. Nothing sharp, nothing out of place. Don't have anything bad to say about the frets really- they're just great.

    chapDSC01925.JPG

    Conclusion: Got this guitar for not too much $$$, and it's great.
    Wanted to try out of curiosity, but it's better than I had hoped. In a sea of imports, this is much better than most PRS SEs, and maybe just a tad better than the good Korean Shecters I have seen and owned. But based on my experience with other Chapmans in the "pro" range, I'm guessing those guitars in general are also more variable, so I'd advise anyone to try before buying. For example, as much as I would recommend this particular one- and pick it any day in a blind test- I would probably only recommend half the other "pro range" Chapmans I have tried so far with the same enthusiasm, so make of that what you will!
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  2. Supernaut

    Supernaut SS.org Regular

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    Looks great! Thanks for the detailed review.
     
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  3. Crundles

    Crundles SS.org Regular

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    That's a nice top.
     
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  4. shadowlife

    shadowlife Contributor

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    Beautiful in every way.
    It's great to hear that the pickups don't need changing.
    Congrats.
     
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  5. mbardu

    mbardu SS.org Regular

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    Yeah pickups were the best surprise on this one. Especially in comparison with the other Chapmans with "branded" pickups.
    A bit more aggressive, but they remind me of the quality of the early PRS SE245 G&B pickups, which were also extremely good for stock import ones.
     
  6. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    That looks like fun.
     
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  7. Dawn of the Shred

    Dawn of the Shred Chugs and Sweeps

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    Congrats man
     
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  8. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

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    The one Chapman dealer in Ontario dropped them because the necks were warping and Chapman would do nothing about it. So be wary, I guess.
     
  9. Humbuck

    Humbuck Can't stop, won't stop

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    I dig it. I've never gotten a chance to check out a Chapman but I would like to.
     
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  10. mbardu

    mbardu SS.org Regular

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    Well at the end of the day it's not a guitar built in a super unique way by a unique manufacturer. Pretty much a "typical" high end Korean import similar to the top of the range Schecters or LTDs, built on the same machines and with the same materials. Don't see any reason why the necks would warp more than on any other such guitar, especially considering this one has a 3-piece quartersawn neck.

    As I said though, I've seen good and bad in that "pro" range so at least I'd still recommend trying before buying - or at least buy with a return option.

    Quite a bit. Great guitar to pick up and just riff in Eb.
     
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  11. Chokey Chicken

    Chokey Chicken mouth breather

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    I've always liked the looks of the ghost fret. Definitely one of the better Ex-clones out there, and this one is particularly nice looking. I'm not a huge fan of natural finishes unless there are dark woods involved, which this one clearly has.

    As far as the pickups go, I'm actually pretty impressed with how far OEM pickups have come. My last half dozen or so guitars have kept the stock pups in them. Nothing like the muddy yuck-fests of yesteryear.
     
  12. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

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    It's less about QC issues coming from the factory and more about the manufacturer standing behind their products and honoring the warranties. The tech I use at that dealer (Cosmo Music) recommended I stay away from them after telling me how many Chapman's he's seen come back and his experience trying to get their warranty department to do anything to fix the issues. I did play a few when the shop had them and liked the feel of the guitars and that's why I was considering buying one. They're definitely pretty looking! Just make sure you keep an eye on the neck.
     
  13. mbardu

    mbardu SS.org Regular

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    That's two different things indeed. I could see someone being concerned if there is a pattern of those guitars having bad necks. Maybe that happens- or maybe that particular shop wasn't lucky with its stock (again- no reason to think they're built differently compared to other high end imports). So no matter what, try before you buy.

    But if the concern is about support and warranty for import brands, then it's another question altogether. Would be great if support on that was awesome in general, but I've learned that one should probably tamper their expectations a bit on that front with import guitars. When it's not about fine print in the warranty terms ("you have to register your guitar within 3 days", "warranty and support only applies to 1st owner", "you have to prove that the guitar didn't get humidity and temperature change"...), any type of support is usually unresponsive at best. At least that's my experience trying to get something fixed (with Charvel and a Dean imports) that led absolutely nowhere.
    It's something else entirely if you have a problem with a Suhr or Anderson, or I've even had good success with Carvin support or PRS (even for a second hand guitar) for that matter - where they will take care of the customer. But on imports (maybe there are exceptions? Never owned a PRS SE with such issues), at least as far as I'm concerned, you're pretty much on your own regardless of brand. Which sucks, but that's also a different price point, so I get it.
     
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