I don’t know Rob Chapman. I’ve never met him. One thing I can say—as an Anglophile whose other website (formula1blog.com) is steeped in the sport which of course means most of my friends are British (English). That already bodes well for Rob in my book…as well as Lee.
My other site enjoys a large presence in the F1 racing community and we serve 60,000 downloads per month of our F1 podcast. So how is it I have time to write about guitars and why am I talking about Rob Chapman? Here’s why:
I’ve played guitar for most of my life and while I can work my way around a fret board well enough to convince others I play guitar, I have ultimately been a Home-based guitar player. This entire site is built for people like me. People who aren’t going out on tour, signing record deals or YouTube stars. In many ways, I have experienced the same challenges that all of you do when buying gear, trying to emulate our influencers sound and chasing tone.
Building a Community
Rob and Lee tapped into that market in a very large way with their videos and Rob took that notion a big step further. He created a guitar company to seek buyers like us. It’s not a guitar intent on being the most exotic and esoteric build known to man. It is intended to be affordable, well built and played…a lot.
I’ve never played a Chapman guitar and before you discount this train of thought, let me say that I doubt seriously that they are anything other than nice to play, good sounding and well built. The point here is that Chapman guitars are focused on being the best quality instruments at an affordable budget. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a step up from the “first guitar” should be in that $800 range and that’s a comfortable place for parents of young beginners to expect to be.
It’s also a great place for more advanced players on a budget to be as well. Duncan pickups in some models, quality build and playability. Who doesn’t want that from their axe? A utility axe that can cross genres. I would have loved to have that back when I was playing live in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The Chapman Tribe
I don’t know Rob and perhaps I will find a Chapman guitar locally that I can play but the original question, in my mind, is that Chapman guitars is a very unique proposition that has capitalized on a community built through hard work and entertainment. A guitar and product intended to tap a market with nice appointments and good quality at an affordable investment level.
I tend to think Rob has created a social media tribe, queried the voice of that tribe and then tailored a product to reach that tribe where they need to be met. A budget-driven guitar with hot rod appointments and solid build and playability—not to mention scalability.
Rob isn’t tied to a heritage such as Gibson or Fender which means that any deviation from the established brand is a hard sell. He’s also not tied to an exotic reputation and therefore continually judged by some galactic notion that each new guitar has to have some completely outrageous and exotic wood and craftsmanship that only a 18th century luthier would understand. He can be agile, he can tack with prevailing winds of innovation and quickly adapt those elements into his line and models. Perhaps the best part of Chapman guitars is it scalability and open-source approach to evolution and I think that positions him for growth that otherwise has proven difficult for much older brands.
If there is a digital revolution or a return of solid state components, there is room for this evolution within the line and I think that’s pretty exciting to be honest. In 60 years the guitar has made precious few evolutions and while I say that, there are those who are breaking the barriers of conventional thought with more strings and scales and neck shapes as well as electronics. Still, I think the best future-proofing approach to guitar is to provide a platform for this evolutionary path with technology and Rob’s guitars are a perfect fit for that.
In the end, I don’t know Rob but I can read quite a bit about his grey matter via his moves with Chapman guitar and how he approaches a huge community that he has built. I try to do the same at my Formula 1 website but I do know this, even Rob has done that much better than I have at this or my other site.
If I were representing Rob here in the US, I would take some serious approaches to market based on what I think is really a guitar that models the PaaS model and I would approach distribution with a completely different message than…here’s a new guitar!
Who knows if Rob is a good guy? Anyone who calls himself the Monkey Lord must be complicated and yet I find complexity breeds simplicity and that’s exactly the approach I would take if Iw ere to start a guitar company. Well played Rob, next beer in the US is on me.
Hat Tip: Chapman Guitars