Cascade Guitar Lab
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Parker

Ken Parker has described himself as a "toolmaker" although he primarily builds guitars these days (he once built clocks). In the early nineties after years of tinkering in upstate NY, he unveiled the Parker Fly Guitar, and it has remained iconic and perhaps even a bit infamous to this day. Parker Guitars can safely assume Gibson is not going to sue them for patent violations.

There is no guitar in the world that looks or feels like a Parker Fly.

Seemingly determined to rewrite the rule book, Parker designed the Fly using an extremely sleek and light design. He used woods (basswood & poplar, initially) that weren't staples in modern electric guitar manufacturing (although most would agree poplar sounds much like alder). He designed his own extremely unique and effective trem system complete, with a "Step Stop" and a "Tension Wheel." He used a Carbon-Glass exoskelton to reinforce the wooden frame of the guitar. He used hardened Stainless Steel frets on a Carbon Fiber fretboard and developed a patented process of bonding the fret wire to the fretboard. He worked with Larry Fishman to create a combination of standard magnetic pickups and piezo pickups that came standard on all Fly's and has now become common in the music industry.

Korg USA invested in the line, but Parker and Korg parted ways in 2000. In 2003 Ken Parker sold his stake in the company he founded and disappeared, only resurfacing fairly recently building custom archtops. Around the time Ken Parker bowed out a NAMM '03 press release announced the "Refined Fly." Some great new features were added, but some Parker fans felt it was simply an effort to create the guitar's electronics more cost effectively. In 2004 the Parker Brand was acquired by US Music Corp. Production of Parker Guitars was moved from New England to Illinois and a number of people from the original production team moved as well. Still, many assume US Music will do to Ken Parker what CBS did to Leo Fender. This is unlikely. US Music is relatively small and since there aren't posters of Jimi Hendrix playing a Fly in many bedrooms... it is probably a good idea for USM to keep producing a high quality overall product.

Players have described the Fly as everything from "fugly" to "a masterful work of art and design melded together to make an instrument beyond anything ever created before."

 


PARKER LINKS
Parker Color Chart 1

Parker Color Chart 2
(unofficial but better)

The Ken Parker Story

Parker Guitars Forum

Refined Fly vs. Original

Adrian Belew Sig TANG

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Parker Guitars

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