Norseman brought me to the family

Greetings all. I’m Josh and I run Guitars Ruin Lives. Been curious about Chapman for a long time and a huge Andertons fan so I had to take the leap on a Hjarn finished Norseman.

I’ve had very little time with it. Pleased overall to say the least. I understand the choices they made with their buck and I see how they stand by them (focus on design and quality of construction over spending time on visual and fitting perfection).

Hope to contribute something worthwhile to the conversation here.

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Thanks for the welcome! The “issues” are not inconsistent with a guitar of this price point, when one takes into consideration the great and/or pricey things about the guitar. The Hipshot tuners, stainless frets, hardshell case, and frankly exquisite pickups with nickel covers and all the R&D that went into them surely don’t come cheap, nor does even a Floyd Rose 1000. The neck is not like any other I’ve tried and it’s wonderful. The switch feels substantial. The pots roll off predictably and musically. They have done all the right things where the rubber meets the road.

Were any of the above items not so, and instead I was playing unremarkable pickups, tuners, standard frets, it didn’t come with a nice hardcase, etc, then the below items would bother me more- for a $1,000 USD guitar made in Korea. On the flip side, if the below items were all what I might want them to be, then I would not be able to believe they could sell the guitar at this price. As mentioned above, I understand the choices they’ve made on how to spend their time and thus money.

Finish: The main noticeable item would be the Hjarn finish, the edges of which are less than clear/clean. There are also small finish pooling spots. This is apparent only on close examination (and I am spoiled on USA PRS and vintage Japanese Ibanez guitars). The staining on the front spoon cut creates a strange color impression as the mahogany and maple of course react differently, and the edge of the stained area does not perfectly match the edge of the actual scoop, leaving a ribbon of unstained maple on the inside of the scoop that gives an impression of accidentality.

Hardware/etc: One end of the input jack doesn’t meet the body; more than one back plate screw doesn’t seat properly. The neck bolts, while I can’t say they don’t seat properly, do have that appearance of not fully seating, though I think that has to do more with the lack of beveled edges on the screw holes. Again, I know it’s not realistic to expect that on this guitar but I’d be remiss not to mention it.

The knobs themselves (not their action, which would be the pots) feel of a caliber that is not consistent with the rest of the guitar. The tone pot moves noticeably more freely than the volume pot, which surely has to do with it being a different kind of pot due to the push-pull.

The Floyd 1000 is a Floyd 1000, and it would be unreasonable to expect anything more. But it is what it is, including the stiff and gritty feeling action of the fine tuners, the non-locking posts, and the softer knife edges which will wear faster and do not at all allow a perfect return to zero after whammy use especially after an up pull (no locking trem does, but the 1000 is noticeably less able to do so).

The trem claw bolts were over tightened leaving the base plate leaning significantly back into the body rather than parallel. The truss rod was over tightened leaving no relief and significant buzz between open strings and roughly the eighth fret.
This brings up an interesting point, these things are no problem for me as I’ve worked on my own guitars for a decade. But even mini pro players don’t have any knowledge of the finer points of their guitars. Early intermediate players don’t either. So is a “Pro” instrument bound for the local guitar shop before you can play it? In this case I fault Guitar Center, plus the fact it traveled from frozen Iowa to North Carolina. It may have been perfect back in Iowa (the relief issue at least might be understandable). To be fair I picked it up the day it arrived, about six hours after they received it. But I doubt it would’ve received even a once over at GC even if they’d had multiple days before this eager guitarist showed up. And with their internal corporate pressures for time savings upon employees, I understand that too. Still, the issue remained that if I weren’t an amateur and sometimes professional tech, I would have had this thing almost a week and still not been able to give it a proper rip.

It is important for me to conclude with the fact that this thing plays and sounds incredible. It certainly makes me wonder if the British line would give me everything I like about this one plus all the things I want in a no-compromise instrument.

Chapman may well be serving a specific niche in the market that no other company is. Perhaps if they have skipped the hardshell case and Hipshot tuners, more time could have been allowed for visual detailing. But then they’d hear “$1,000 for an Asian made guitar and we don’t even get a hardshell case?!” They have focused their efforts where the rubber meets the road to produce a truly professional instrument, and to get a substantially “better” guitar you’d be looking at a significantly higher price point, regardless of the company.

I could head on stage or into the studio with this guitar today.

Glad to be part of the family.
Several weeks later, happy to report the Norseman has become a keeper. Surprisingly the women in my life find it beautiful so there’s a vote of confidence if ever there was one:) Just goes to show that all the guitar personality markers (for example a Floyd means metal) are meaningless outside of actual guitar heads.

Other than the cosmetic issues mentioned before, my only actual sadness about the Norseman is the nut is a bit too high, making a perfect setup impossible. The lowest frets always feel like they require a little more distance in the fretting than they should, and attempting to lower it with neck relief of course has minimal effect that far on the edges of the neck. Overall I’ve not been able to nail the setup, there may be the slightest s curve in the neck but these things are hard to diagnose.

As always worh any “issue” I notice on the guitar, reminding myself it’s not a $2,000+ USA or MIJ guitar cures me of any woe. For the money, I’d say a pretty unbeatable instrument.

Above all it has brought a lot of joy to my playing and filled a niche untouched by my other fine guitars. Well done Chapman. This ought to be the last Chapman I ever buy but I sense that’s unlikely.
Woah, somehow I missed this thread
Welcome @guitarsruinlives (you know they don’t though, right;))
And I’m off to check out your unboxing vid!
*pours coffee and pops headphones on*
Well as you saw me say there, probably unsatisfying! I’m a weird one;). I haven’t been in the headspace to do any more in depth video work since getting it partially because I wanted to really get to know it to do it some justice with my limited skill set. Hope you enjoy the channel and no nonsense demos regardless and eventually there will be more Norseman footage!

Really appreciate you checking it out. Hope you enjoyed the Opeth too:)
I really like the aesthetics of the hjarn Norseman and I was just about to pull the trigger on one here in Thailand but your comments have given me pause for thought. I’ve got an Indo Jackson Soloist that costs around the same, maybe a bit less, and it has none of the fit and finish issues that you say you expect on a $1,000 instrument. I don’t expect them on a $500 instrument tbh so I’m caught in two minds now.

Edit: By the way, this isn’t meant to be a provocative first post: I’m hoping someone will jump in and tell me the fit and finish on their hjarn Norseman was perfect.

Edit 2: Never mind, I ordered one anyway as I'm impetuous and my curiosity got the better of me.

Edit 3: Arrived today and no fit and finish issues at all. I thought there was a problem with the push-pull coil split wiring as there was hardly any sound coming from the bridge pickup in the 'un-split' mode at first but I think it was just a little oxidation on the contacts as it fixed itself just as I was trying to send a sound clip to the shop I bought it from!
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