After a few years out of production, the Chapman Ghost Fret returns to the brand's lineup by popular demand! Featuring a compact Korina X-style body, powerful Seymour Duncan humbuckers, rock-solid roasted maple neck, and rolled ebony fingerboard with stainless steel frets—the revamped Ghost Fret Pro is a performance-centric workhorse optimised for high-octane rock and metal styles. Nick Jennison reviews.
I'm sure everyone reading this is familiar with the story of Chapman Guitars. The brainchild of YouTube star Rob Chapman and designed collaboratively by polling players and fans of the brand, these instruments shook the "guitar space" and saw mass adoption, particularly among younger players, thanks to their impressive spec and quality-to-price ratio. Back when I was still teaching face-to-face, it seemed like at least half of my degree-level students owned a Chapman.
Fast forward to 2023, and Chapman as a brand seem to be healthier than ever, with the launch of the ultra-high-end "British Standard" line, a slew of new signature models, and the return of one of their most beloved discontinued models - the Ghost Fret. This offset design clearly has some Explorer DNA, but to my eye, it's more reminiscent of a Jackson Kelly crossed with an inverted version of the Hamer GT Customs played by Glenn Tipton. Like the other guitars in the Chapman line, it's a modernist take on a familiar aesthetic. It's also a featherweight compared to Gibsons of a similar shape, weighing in at just 7lbs, likely due to its smaller, more elegant silhouette and Korina body.
It's a visually very striking instrument, not just for its shape, but the satin Korina top finished in transparent Sonic Boom Blue - a colour very reminiscent of the Blue Matteo PRS guitars of the early 2000s. It's a very clean and un-fussy design, with sharp lines, minimalist hardware and a single "infinity" inlay on the 12th fret. The roasted maple neck is finished in a very tactile satin, and the Macassar ebony board has glow-in-the-dark side dots to help you get around on dimly lit stages. It also sports 22 jumbo stainless steel frets - a very nice high-performance appointment.
Speaking of performance, this guitar shreds like nobody's business. The factory action is very low, but without a hint of choking or buzzing, making for an effortless playing experience that almost dares you to go faster. It's actually quite addictive. That's not to say that this is purely a shredder's guitar, but it's certainly one of the more "specialised" instruments in the Chapman range (as opposed to the ML3, for example).
That specialisation is very evident in the guitar's sonics. The Seymour Duncan Alternative 8 and Distortion pickups are hot and very mid focussed, with that signature Rob Chapman "cocked wah" honk evident in all three positions. It's a voice that sounds massive and articulate through a ton of gain, and whether you're playing intricate heavy riffs or searing solos, this guitar will make its presence felt in a dense mix. Through a Marshall-style amp, it's more Tom Scholz than Paul Kossoff—but then again, who's buying a guitar that looks like this to play the blues?? Interestingly, the midrange push does lend itself very well to vocal slide playing through a more distorted amp, and the coil splits are very convincing for modern, wiry distorted tones and super-processed cleans. If modern and aggressive tones are your bag, the Ghost Fret especially delivers.
The Chapman Ghost Fret Pro is a very welcome return—it's a guitar with a strong identity, and doesn't pretend to be something it's not. If you're looking for a one-axe-fits-all instrument that's at home in any musical setting, you should probably consider an ML3. But, as an out-and-out, unashamed rock machine, the Ghost Fret reigns supreme in the Chapman range. We're delighted to see it back.
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