Cost: $499.00 new
Huge thank you to Matt Hornby from Chapman Guitars for sending this over for review!
Overview and Final Score: 9.4
Chapman’s ML1 Modern V2 is an awesome take on the superstrat design, featuring a familiar body and neck profile with huge output from the Sonorous humbuckers. While the ML1 may seem and play like a metal-style guitar, it really shined in a variety of uses for me including covering The Black Keys and playing clean, fast leads over indie rock tracks from Life in Film and Walk the Moon. While this guitar will no doubt serve all your shredding needs, I think a more diverse cast of guitarists would feel right at home on the Modern V2, and for the price, you can’t beat it!
This guitar is loud, it blew away my other humbucker equipped guitars (Guild Jetstar and kit-assembled ES-335) while still retaining solid tone and clarity. Even with additional gain or drive engaged via pedals, individual notes could be heard in most chord positions on both the neck and bridge pickup. This guitar was unique in the fact that I really enjoyed the neck pickup tones even though I’m a noted hater of using the warmer, bassier sounds from that position on all my guitars. The pickups were well balanced in output as well, which made it easy to switch between the two positions while playing. The clean tones left just a little bit to be desired, as I felt the pickups were lacking a little in the mid section but that could just be my ear and I invite others to try out this awesome instrument for themselves. One great feature was the coil split function on the tone pot and I had a great time messing around with it, using the split as a rhythm tone before pushing it back in and using the humbuckers as a boost setting for big choruses or solos.
The playability is almost perfect on this guitar, with the only issue being the reverse headstock taking some getting used to. Because the tuners are upside and down and in reverse order compared to a normal strat or tele headstock, I often found myself turning the wrong peg but that quickly become normal. The only real issue is I believe the reverse headstock makes tuners slightly less accessible but overall that’s me just being picky. Otherwise, the neck was smooth and played wonderfully up and down the standard C shape. All 24 frets were incredibly easy to access thanks to a nifty contoured neck heel, and I really like the addition of jumbo frets that featured no sharp edges or build issues. The guitar has yet to go out of tune more than once at the time of writing (after a week of playing) and the tuning stability is borderline unheard of at this price.
Finish and Construction: 10
This guitar is built to last and looks phenomenal. The lunar finish on the one I received is top notch and drew plenty of compliments from friends and band members. The body is thin and comfortable to play thanks to a strat style body contour, and it feels just heavy enough to be sturdy but light enough to comfortably play for hours standing up or sitting down. The bolt on neck and Fender-style build really makes this guitar a great option for players looking to modify, upgrade, or repair potential damage themselves as a soldering iron and screwdriver will get you where you need to go.
For under $500, this is one of the best guitars you can get. Some people may find the humbuckers a little too one dimensional or metal-focused, but with an easy to access body cavity, you can swap them out no problem, and I personally found their high output to be inspiring. Thanks to elite playability and tuning stability, you cannot go wrong purchasing the ML1 Modern V2 and I think Chapman has staked their claim as being a major guitar brand worth everyone’s attention. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this guitar, as I went in thinking the price would indicate a cheaper, lower quality guitar from a smaller company. I was wrong, the Modern V2 should be on everyone’s short list of budget guitars to try out.