Some Concerns with my Ghost Fret Pro 7

#1
Hey guys, I'm a new member of the forums and a recent customer of Chapman Guitars. I've come to share my opinions of my new guitar.

Basically I bought myself a Chapman Ghost Fret Pro 7 from Guitar Center as a Christmas present for myself in early december and I've now had it for about a month. Overall, this guitar has been a mixed bag for me. Granted, the mixed bag leans in the positive direction, but that's largely because I have experience tinkering with the components and electronics of my guitars. That said, these concerns with my instrument may be relevant to perspective buyers as well as the Chapman team as they are in a direct position to take this feedback and improve their guitars.

First, the positive. As far as all the woodwork, fretwork, and finishwork goes, the quality is very high. The finish of this guitar is expertly handled and I can't see any finish blemishes whatsoever. It's applied very thin and the way they've handled their satin is really well done. Sure it attracts some finger prints but it is so much better than the typical satin finish on something like a LTD model. It feels much nicer in the hand than those and doesn't leave you looking like a greasy toddler that can't stop touching their guitar body under stage lights. The version of unicorn fade (I'll elaborate of what I mean by version of unicorn fade later in this post) that I received ended up looking like a darker, more evil version of the advertised finish which I am over the moon for. The neck is an absolute dream, no sharp edges on the frets, beautifully polished frets, a comfortable satin finish with a lovely rolled off edge on the board, which itself is very black with some almost imprecepetably lighter streaks of grayish white. The side dots and the 12th fret inlay are installed with very little to no ugly inlay filler, overuse of inlay filler is a massive pet peeve of mine so major points scored here. Overall it's clear that this guitar was very well made from a woodworking and finishing perspective. That said, not all is well with this guitar.

Out of the box this guitar had some minor set up issues which took me about an hour or so to fix. The biggest issue out of the box? The graphtech nut, which was so poorly cut along the middle and treble strings that when I went to put on my personal favorite brand of strings I found the stock ones to be tightly stuck in the nut slots. So I yanked them out and after some time with my nut files and some sand paper all is well. That said, considering the price point on these the nut should have been perfect from the factory. It's not the end of the world but it did kinda upset me. This is the pro line after all. Also, some truss rod adjustments were needed. Can't really fault Chapman for this, Guitar Center simply isn't putting in the time to set up their guitars when they're received from whatever warehouse they've been stored in so this is to be expected. I also have a minor issue with the input jack. It just feels cheaper than the rest of the hardware on the guitar. The metal feels thin and flimsy. It's also somewhat poorly fitted. I've included a picture. I would have much prefered that this input jack live in a recessed route rather than just on top of the wood. Mine bulges out in the center slightly, and gets caught on my pants occassionally. Also, why put the strap button the shoulder of this guitar? It's not a huge deal, I'm just going to drill a new strap button hole, but really it should come stock with the strap button on the back of the neck heel. This drastically cuts down on neck dive, something this guitar really suffers from.

Moving onto the electronics. I'm not a huge fan of the pickups that came in this guitar. There is something different about these 7 string pickups that just leaves me wanting compared to the 6 string ghost fret pro I played in store before ordering. I really tried to like them but they just aren't delivering on what I expected from playing the 6 string model. Oh well, not a huge deal to me, I'm pretty picky when it comes to pickups and I kind of expected I would be popping in some Keith Marrow Sig Fluence pickups as I loved the way the Schecter KM7 Mark III sounds. One issue with this, the way the pots are placed in this tight control cavity I sincerely doubt I'm going to have room to fit a 9 volt battery. We'll see when the pickups come in, backordered at the moment, but this is a potential problem that might require routing, or buying for an additional cost the fishman universal usb battery pack. My biggest issue with the electronics came about three weeks into ownership. I'm plugged into my practice rig and my bridge pickup cuts off completely. I pop off the control cavity covers and frankly it's a bit of a mess in here. Frayed wire ends, limited use of heat shrink tubing to properly protect joints and where they did try to use heat shrink tubing they didn't really bother to finish the job. It's all loose and sliding down off of the solder joints. Nothing looks obviously broken as far as the joints go but they aren't really filling me with faith in the quality of the wiring job. I plan on installing new pickups anyway so I'm not going to bother rewiring the thing myself to see if it's a bad joint or if the bridge pickup itself is somehow defective, but this is really disappointing. This guitar costs 1200 dollars. I shouldn't have my bridge pickup crapping out on me within the first month of use. I haven't even gigged with it yet, it's only been babied in my home for a month. I really recommend that the quality of this wiring job be improved in the future as its unacceptable at this price point.

Now we're moving into slightly more obscure territory. I'll just say it, this guitar doesn't really look like the stock photo of the ghost fret pro 7 in unicorn fade on the chapman website. I've seen some other owners posting their pictures of their unicorn fade ghost frets on reddit and some facebook groups and it's fair to say there is a HUGE amount of variance in this finish. Some of these pictures I've seen look nothing like the stock photo and I mean that in a pretty negative way. I'm personally lucky that I like the way my finish turned out, the dark version of this finish I received fading nearly to black on the edge of this guitar looks absolutely evil. This finish lottery is something that potential buyers should be aware of. The only thing I really aesthetically dislike on my particular ghost fret is the ebony veneer over the headstock. It's not even close to the look of the stock photo. It's a streaky ugly brown and doesn't match the fretboard at all. It's not enough for me to make a return but as a really picky person this is a let down. Other owner's photos seem to confirm that there are many instances of this out there in the wild. I understand that there is an amount of variance to be expected in this kind of finish work but the headstock veneer especially is not at all what I signed up for. I simply want customers to be aware that this is a risk they're taking with this guitar.

Weighing the good against the bad, this guitar is an easy keep. I'm a huge fan of the explorer body style, I own 4 similarly shaped guitars and among them the ghost fret pro 7 is extremely unique. A 7 string near baritone scale explorer is not something that gets made a lot or really at all and somewhat similar 7 string guitars end up looking like crap to me as a hardcore explorer fan. Schecter's E-1 specifically looks as if they threw some random corners on an explorer body. That screams "don't sue me Gibson!" more than it screams "I'm the coolest guitar shape ever made, lets play some music!" The ghost fret takes that iconic shape, stays true to it where it's important, and updates it to be more comfortable, to weigh less, and to look more contemporary. The fact that I could get this lovely model in a really cool modern finish and as a near baritone 7 string is the reason I bought it, and that really hasn't changed for me. The negatives here are somewhat minor, and the most important parts of this guitar were largely handled well.

I'm only really writing this because for whatever reason content regarding this guitar seems pretty light, nobody has really reviewed it extensively to my knowledge, and I really like Chapman Guitars and wish them the best!

I've included an imgur link for the images relevant to this review.
 

Chu

Well-Known Member
#2
Thanks for the review, it makes an interesting read.

No intention to take anything away from your post but it reminds me a lot of my own gear purchases. Over the years I've bought (all new) a Japanese Jackson that had the tone pot wired in wrongly, a Gibson Les Paul with a completely dead tone pot (maybe this explains why I never use tone controls!) a PRS SE with a terrible nut (made in the same factory as your Chapman) and iffy toggle and even my USA PRS has a couple of blemishes in the finish if you really look.

All of those guitars have become truly loved by me and yet you could argue they should never have left the factory like that. I've also spent enough time working in manufacturing to realise why these things happen.
 
#3
Thanks for the review, it makes an interesting read.

No intention to take anything away from your post but it reminds me a lot of my own gear purchases. Over the years I've bought (all new) a Japanese Jackson that had the tone pot wired in wrongly, a Gibson Les Paul with a completely dead tone pot (maybe this explains why I never use tone controls!) a PRS SE with a terrible nut (made in the same factory as your Chapman) and iffy toggle and even my USA PRS has a couple of blemishes in the finish if you really look.

All of those guitars have become truly loved by me and yet you could argue they should never have left the factory like that. I've also spent enough time working in manufacturing to realise why these things happen.
I appreciate the response, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that's learned to love his guitars despite some factory issues. I normally buy used and sort out any issues the guitars have myself, I didn't really think I'd be doing that with a new one though! I think this is the first new guitar I've bought in about 10 years. When it comes down to it the most important thing is if the guitar feels right. Everything else can be fixed.
 
#4
If it makes you feel better....I feel the same about the 2 Norseman ML1 I bought a few weeks back. I love the guitars but I am disappointed with some aspects of the guitars. To be fair I bought a charvel recently and there issues with that guitar as well. Stuff you don't really come around to noticing u til a week or so after you get it home and spend some quality time with it. Just seems to be the norm anymore, they certainly don't build em like they used to lol
 

Chu

Well-Known Member
#5
If it makes you feel better....I feel the same about the 2 Norseman ML1 I bought a few weeks back. I love the guitars but I am disappointed with some aspects of the guitars. To be fair I bought a charvel recently and there issues with that guitar as well. Stuff you don't really come around to noticing u til a week or so after you get it home and spend some quality time with it. Just seems to be the norm anymore, they certainly don't build em like they used to lol
The Jackson (built in the highly regarded Japanese Gakki factory) and USA Gibson i referred to were both bought and made in the 90s..... Maybe they do make them like they used to...
 
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