Friday, December 4, 2015

Chapman: ML-3 Modern

The Chapman brand in guitar-dom is, by now, a notable name in mid-price guitars. While observing a strict QC discipline, it adds little to costs. The ML-3 Modern here is a Tele-style model with a reverse headstock & sporting a dual humbucker combo that departs from any traditional voicings of its inspiration reference. Having fused elements of both the traditional & contemporary, what’s in store for players looking for a deserving 6-string in this price bracket?

Quality/ fit/ finish
As this model hailed from the renowned World Music (Korea) factory which is currently handling other mid-priced assignments from respectable names in this industry, this category is a mere reiteration of the fact that production standards have been up there all along. An end-to-end inspection revealed much vigilance in crafting this guitar. We note how well-fitted the hardware are as all surface mounted appointments sit flushed against all surface tops. I’ve seen some skimpy workmanship in this aspect lately but the ML-3 is a safe bet. The finish level (or the lack thereof to be precise) is also impressive as the satin overcoat for both body & neck were evenly applied & proved to be inspirational at play time.

Playability tone
There is no overtly slim or tapered neck profile here to appease the excessively shred-inclined among us. Yes, there’s sufficient playability to bring us there but the overall neck carve is equally inspirational for bluesy bends as well. However, those X-jumbo frets make heavy metal & all things bent on destruction very enjoyable. A thing to note here is the instrument’s very heavy physique (mahogany!), weighing a hefty 4.2kg puts the ML-3 in the same league as the ‘50s Gibson Les Pauls. Those among us with physical frailty- you have been warned.

The manufacturer did well in including high output pickups here & the neck humbucker proved to be a proponent of clarity under high gain settings. The bridge humbucker was equally adept in this light; it could be more appealing in terms of cleans but I doubt anyone of us would want one for this application. It would perform better, in my opinion, if there’s a tad more focus in the lower frequencies. I expected more bass-end propulsion in tandem with the heftiness on offer but it didn’t materialize so get some external EQ implement ready to address the matter (if your amp doesn’t already feature a decent EQ section).

Thumbs up to that Hipshot-type fixed bridge in supplementing a very comfortable palm placement. It also added much ease to palm muting.

No Tele-type tones on board the ML-3 Modern, the coil-split facility would give you adequate single coil enjoyment from time to time, do not expect more. On the contrary, we should welcome the ML-3 Modern in view of what it was tailored to be; a great, drive-friendly instrument with a reasonable asking price. Weight issue aside, the ML-3 Modern is a deserving member in the Chapman line-up that offers a great contemporary voicing without wimping out but faces stiff competition from Ibanez, LTD & Schecter in this division. 

Rating: 80%

Chapman: ML-3 Modern (bag included)
Availability: Musicark
Price: $1,000.00 (list)

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