Back in 2009 Rob 'Chappers' Chapman, the self-annointed 'Monkey Lord', set about designing a guitar with the input of his legion of YouTube subscribers. The finished result - dubbed the ML-1 - hit the spot with the hirsute British guitarist's followers, and sold like the proverbial toasty baked goods. A follow-up single-cutaway model, the ML-2, parted punters from their lolly even faster.
However, if you weren't one of the few who bagged those original ML models, well, frankly it was just hard cheese. Your only hope was finding one on eBay. Until now, that is.
Yep, last year Chapman and his compadre Lee Anderton (of Andertons Music in Guildford) commissioned a factory in Korea to produce a fresh run of ML-1 and ML-2 models - a chimp off the old block, if you will.
Finish options have been boosted and the respective spec sheets given a light tweak, but the essential strands of the original guitar's DNA have been retained.
In a recent instalment of the pair's ridiculously popular YouTube gear video shenanigans, Chappers and Lee unboxed the rebooted Chapman ML guitars, and it's fair to say they couldn't have looked happier with what emerged from the cardboard boxes. Now, it's our turn to see just what they - and the many ML disciples - are so damned excited about. Let's take the ML-2 for a spin...
"You don't get a balloon for guessing where the inspiration for the ML-2 comes from"
You don't get a balloon for guessing where the inspiration for the ML-2 comes from. It's a big part Les Paul, of course... with a smattering of ESP Eclipse to add a modern vibe. Like it's inspiration, it's pretty hefty - the ML-2 weighs in at just over 4kg (about 9lbs), thanks to a mahogany body topped with a maple veneer. When you plump for the natural finish ML-2, you get an all-mahogany body. The maple veneer is only spec'd on the Trans Gloss finish models.
The ML-2 features through body stringing and a top-quality TonePros bridge. The latter features Allen screws that keep it firmly in place when you remove the strings. You'll appreciate that, trust us. Quality Grover machineheads secure the strings at the headstock end of the guitar, and they do a typically efficient job of keeping the tuning in check.
The ML-2 also features a chunky neck profile and we like how it flattens out ever so slightly on the back the closer you get to the body end. The maple neck is glued in to the body and the ebony fingerboard has a 349mm (13.75-inch) radius (that's a bit flatter than a classic Les Paul's 305mm/12-inch radius), plus it features two extra jumbo frets for a full two-octave spread.
Now, Chappers could have spec'd some ridiculously overwound humbuckers for this guitar, but he knows that the secret to great tone is not about outrageous output.
The Guitarnivore 'bucker that we enjoyed so much in the bridge position of the recently reviewed Chapman ML-1 has been fitted to the neck and bridge of the ML-2. Again, the pups have been direct-mounted to the body.
The wiring here is simple: you get a volume for each pickup, a combined master tone and coil-splitter, and a three-way toggle switch. With the switch down, the 'buckers are running on all cylinders. Pull the knob up and a coil in each pickup closes down for your single-coil sounds: textbook.
The Guitarnivores give a great account of themselves on clean and dirty settings in both humbucking and single-coil modes. There's a versatility there that many overwound or active pickups would struggle to muster. If you need a guitar that can pull off classic and contemporary rock tones, you're in the right place.