At the start of 2015, I made a resolution. I’d bought myself six guitars in 2014 (including my Chapman bass and my Harley Benton kit guitar), and I realised that this was a bit excessive – as well as rather expensive. I resolved, therefore, that I would only buy one guitar in 2015, and I did that in April when I got my Duesenberg Starplayer.
With my two Chapman guitars by that stage – the ML-2 and the MLB-1 – I was a fully paid-up Chapman Guitars follower. I was happy with both of those guitars, particularly the bass, and I was keenly interested in the forthcoming Explorer-shape Chapman model, the Ghost Fret. The design looked very cool, with ebony fretboards and nice flame tops, and after seeing the prototypes I’d decided that I would buy one in the future, once my self-imposed limit had expired. A Chapman Ghost Fret would be mine in 2016!
But then, Rob Chapman played a trick on me. The first batch of Ghost Frets was announced for September 2015, and as a gesture of thanks to his loyal supporters, Rob announced that this batch would be equipped with genuine Seymour Duncan pickups, a Duncan Distortion in the bridge position and a Seymour Duncan ’59 at the neck, instead of the Chapman ‘Passive Aggressive’ humbuckers that would be in the standard versions. Naturally, this made the first batch more attractive and more valuable than later batches would be, and so – with solid justification – I had to break my New Year’s resolution in order to avoid losing this opportunity.
I had another stroke of luck in relation to this guitar too. I was searching for a suitable guitar strap, and I noticed a blue leather strap on Amazon from Levy’s Leathers, which at the time was reduced to just over £10 – the normal retail price is around £30. I wasn’t sure that it would go with the guitar, but at that price it was too good to pass up, so I ordered one and fortunately it goes perfectly with the guitar.
The Ghost Fret is a nicely designed guitar, with a Maple through neck, Sapele Mahogany wings and a flame Maple top. The body is slightly small, which means the weight and general comfort are good. I do find that the large wing can get in the way of my right arm when sitting down, so I prefer to play it standing, where it’s fine. It has locking tuners and a coil tap, and overall it’s a solidly specced and pretty well made guitar.
As an aside, the origin of the name “Ghost Fret” may need explanation. The original concept was for a guitar with a combination of a fretless and fretted neck. The bass strings would be fretless, and the top strings would be fretted, with frets going only half way across the fretboard – hence the name “Ghost Fret”. This, however, proved too costly to manufacture and so the idea was abandoned, but the name stuck.
Like my Chapman Bass, I made a video review of the Ghost Fret on YouTube, which has had several thousand views.
These are taken from a post made by Rob Chapman on his forum before the guitars came out, so they might not be 100% correct. In particular, the one that I got has the Seymour Duncan pickups that they put in the first run (as mentioned above), instead of the Chapman “passive aggressive” humbuckers.
Canadian maple three piece neck – Through neck design
Book matched Canadian flame maple carved cap
Sapele mahogany wings
Hipshot locking tuners
22 extra jumbo frets
24 3/4 scale
Same neck profile as ML1-pro – Thin C
42 mm TUSQ nut
Two Chapman branded “passive Aggressive” humbuckers
Three way toggle switch
One Tone/coil tap
NYXL 10 – 42
Deluxe Black “Dragon Skin” Hard case
Schaller Strap locks included