Guitarist Rabea Massaad has revealed that he’s leaving Chapman Guitars after 10 years as a signature artist. He broke the news through his social media channels, claiming that he has “deliberated for a long, long time” before ultimately making the decision to part ways with Rob Chapman’s and “Captain” Lee Anderton’s company.
His statement in full reads:
“So this is something I’ve deliberated for a long, long time, but I figured as we approach the end of 2022, it’s an opportunity for change with the new year, and so it’s time to do what I feel I need to do for myself and move on from Chapman Guitars as a signature artist.”
“It’s been an amazing 10 years, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the love and support I’ve received from Rob, Lee and everyone at Chapman Guitars over the time I’ve been with them.”
“They gave me a signature model guitar when I was literally just starting out, and it was such a nice, cool and kind gesture, opportunity and platform for me to grow as an artist, and as a product designer.”
“It was Something Rob and Lee really didn’t need to do, and I assume was potentially a risk at the time! But they wanted to because they’re friends and wanted to help me grow, and that is something I’ll be eternally grateful for.”
“Rob, Lee and myself have been good friends for a long time, and I’m grateful for all the good times we’ve had together at Chapman. Just to be crystal clear it’s all good for those wondering! We are still friends and there are no bad vibes between us at all. Just love and support!”
“There are still some of my guitar models left and available from various retails and online, but after they’re gone, they’re gone. I have mine and I’ll play them from time to time, because they’re something I’m immensely proud of and it’s a truly great memory and achievement I’ll hold onto forever.”
“But at this point in my career, I need to go out into the unknown and see what happens.
“So with that, it’s time to say goodbye.”
“Thank you Rob, Lee and Chapman Guitars”
The musician has also shared a YouTube video where he discusses this decision in more detail, heaping praise on both Rob Chapman and Lee Anderton, and stressing there is no bad blood between any of them.
In the video, Rabea said:
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I just feel like I need to do something for myself – just go out there on my own if that makes sense.”
“I’ve been with (Chapman) since the beginning of my career, with meeting Rob and Lee, and how amazing that relationship grew and what they were able to do for me as an artist – offering me a signature model guitar when I was literally nobody in the scene or in the industry.”
“That was such an amazing gift that they chose to do for me – that’s huge, so thank you to Rob and Lee of course for believing in me for so long.”
“They believed in me as an artist before I was even doing anything, and that’s why this was such a difficult decision – I’m a big believer in being loyal to your friends and to your family, and it was a difficult, very hard decision to come to.”
“I’ve been with Chapman Guitars for 10 or 11 years, and I’ve had a signature model with them for the most part of that. And it’s been great – I’ve had an amazing time, and Rob and Lee are some of my closest friends, we’ve had a lot of amazing experiences together and done a lot of cool stuff.”
“So I’m eternally grateful for their support and friendship over the years, and their advice – all the guidance they’ve given me in different ways with different things – as a product designer, as an artist, as product demonstrator, teacher – all that kind of stuff, it’s thanks to Rob and Lee for that in a lot of ways.”
“Really I just feel at this point… I just feel like I want to move on, for myself. I don’t know where the road goes, but I want to see what happens.”
“It’s time for me to go out there on my own, and there isn’t another reason than that for me to want to do this for myself. One thing I need to make perfectly clear is that me and Rob and Lee are still good friends, there’s been no bad blood, nothing like that, they’ve completely understood that reason, for me wanting to going out there and seeing what happens kind of thing.“
“They were totally supportive – “Totally get it, you do you man”. They were lovely about it – “door is always open, do your thing”, which is amazing and I’m so grateful for that.”
“It’s worth saying that I’m not going to stop using my (Chapman signature) guitars – I love my guitars, I’m proud of them, I like the fact that people like them too and they like playing them – it’s something to be immensely proud of. Again, it’s like a gift from (Rob and Lee) that they believed in me for so long.”
Rob Chapman also left a comment on the video that read:
“Love you dude, good luck with everything and you will always be an important part of the Chapman family tree!“
Chapman Guitars was formed in 2009 by Rob Chapman, best known for his long tenure as a co-host on the Anderton’s YouTube channel, and guitar company Barnes & Mullins, with the first run of 500 ML1 guitars selling out in February of 2010. At some point Barnes & Mullins stepped out and the company found a co-owner in “Captain” Lee Anderton of Andertons Music in Guilford, and one of the biggest guitar gear YouTube channels.
The initial promise of Chapman guitars was to have readers of Chapman’s forum vote for the features that appeared on the guitars, and then sell them at a very reasonable price with starter electronics/pickups, allowing the buyer to upgrade the guitar to suit themselves over time.
The guitars were mainly built by World Musical Instruments in South Korea, who have also build guitars for companies such as PRS SE, BC Rich, Ibanez, LTD and more. Controversially, the guitars would ship directly from the factory to stores who were then tasked with doing the QA/setting up the guitars for sale, something that was ultimately very unpopular with guitar stores who complained of receiving large quantities of guitars that needed a lot of work.
Rabea has been intimately involved with Chapman guitars since meeting Rob Chapman in 2011, being it’s first signature artist and designing several of the headstock shapes, such as the main “reverse tele” headstock, as well as their V and 7-string headstocks.
When the brand launched in the US, in partership with Riff City, Rabea was one of the faces alongside Chapman as part of the “Chapman Roadshow” that took the instruments to clinics around the country, though ultimately Chapman would abandon Riff City for Guitar Center, arguably leading to the collapse of Riff City as a company.
Over the years, Rabea also has played in several projects with Rob Chapman, most notably Dorje, who released three EPs as well as two albums – 2015s ‘White Dove‘ and 2016s ‘Flowers Of Life‘.
Dorje’s lineup was also notable for the fact that it was essentially Rabea’s main band Toska (also featuring drummer Ben Minal and bassist Dave Hollingworth), with the addition of Chapman on vocals and guitar.
Toska made a name for themselves playing across the UK for many years, including several increasingly high profile festival appearances, right up to the announcement of their dissolution in late 2021, stating:
“We have been playing music together since we were 17 years old, through many different bands, and many different situations and we have always stuck together with a common goal. To be the best we can be together, to give you guys the best music we can write and that we perform that music to the best of our ability.
“When we were sat in our first rehearsal space, aged 17, dreaming about what it’d be like to be a successful band, to have tours, fans, albums and live sessions… To walk out onto the stage at download festival, look at each other and say, ‘we actually did it’ is a collective dream come true. For which we are eternally grateful.“
Rabea first reached national attention as one of the team/occasional hosts of the Andertons Music YouTube channel, one of the first channels to reach a large and wide subscriber base doing primarily gear demos. For a time he presented the popular “Sounds Like” series with Matt Hornby, who at the time was also a director of Chapman guitars.
However, their partnership on the series came to an unannounced end in 2020, around the same time that Hornby left his position in the company. Although there wasn’t an official statement on the matter, we looked into the UK’s register of companies and noticed that the company filed a “Termination of Director Appointment” for Matt, adding that the termination date was on July 24 that year.
Over the past few years, Rob Chapman, the Chapman Guitars co-owner, has gotten into the spotlight for certain controversies surrounding his work. This came to a head late 2019 when YouTuber KDH addressed several of the issues that many from the online guitar community have already noticed, drawing together several videos by other YouTubers as well as forum comments, leading to an online shitstorm as KDH took down the video due to widespread threats from Chapman’s following, resulting in far more exposure for the video which was quickly returned.
Chapman did make a statement that many saw as sidestepping several issues raised, and ultimately did more damage than good. A second more direct apology was well received but for some the damage was done.
Around the same time, Chapman appeared less on the Andertons channel and would soon move to Malta. The brand has continuted to release updated versions of Rabea’s signature guitars, and even announced a Made In England “Workshop” series in the last few weeks, which features nine new pre-spec’d ML1 X guitars, all featuring various combinations of high-end components and based on the flagship ML1 S-style build.
The workshop also allows customers to spec their own build, choosing from a variety of tone woods, headstocks, neck shapes and finishes. Being a UK premium made guitar, the nine ML1 X guitars are priced at £3499.99 for UK residents and £2999.99 for non-UK, definitely a premium price.
As for Rabea, he still lists Chapman on the list of brands he endorses, alongside Victory Amplification, Universal Audio, Bare Knuckle Pickups, Strymon Engineering, GigRig, TwoNotes Audio Engineering, Dunlop, Andertons Music and D’Addario.
The guitarist recently release his own Neural DSP plugin (see our review here) that caused a large splash in the guitar community on it’s release, due to the range and quality of tones available. While he has been promoting Chapman on his channel as recently as a month ago, it seems as his profile as a guitarist rises, including collaborations with artists such as Plini, a gig with Frogleap and appearing at STORMZY’s headlining Glastonbury have Rabea ready to see what’s next.
Photo: Chapman Guitars