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The Parker Fly
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
Parker Guitars was an American manufacturer of electric guitars and basses, started by luthier Ken Parker in 1993. The original company was acquired by U.S. Music Corporation in 2003, which was itself sold to Jam Industries in August 2009. As of November 2016, the brand was inactive after the factory in Illinois was closed. The official website states that the product line is being redesigned for release in 2017 once a new manufacturing partner is found.  Parker is most famous for making the Parker Fly.
Products and History
Parker guitars are characterized as thin and ultra-lightweight instruments; they are generally made from lighter woods like poplar, basswood, and spruce, although there are maple and mahogany Flys. They have composite materials (resin and carbon glass skin) to reinforce a thin carved body and neck. Fingerboards are composite and use stainless steel frets which typically last the lifetime of the owner. The combination of composite fingerboard and stainless steel frets has led to Parker’s reputation for the fastest neck in the business. Electronics include the integrated use of coil split humbuckers, single coil and piezo pickups with active circuitry. The proprietary vibrato bridge uses a unique flat steel spring which returns the guitar to perfect pitch every time. The vibrato has three settings; bend down only, full floating and locked.
In October 2002, Parker initiated the first production run of the Fly Bass bass guitar, in both 4-string and 5-string versions. The 5-strings were noted for their ease of use for 4-string players, both with respect to weight and string spacing. Parker 4-string basses produced in the original factory in Wilmington, MA shipped in 2003 and had seven digit serial numbers using the same formula for dating as the original NiteFly guitars while 5-string basses were shipped first and had six digit numbers that begin with 092 reflecting the 2002 manufacturing. Basses made by U.S. Music Corporation used the same seven digit formula continuing the 4-string serial number and dating. As with other Parker guitars, they offered both magnetic and piezoelectric pickups, with the ability to blend the two. The Fly Bass was discontinued in 2008 and Parker currently offers 4 and 5 string basses with the newer MaxxFly shape.
2003 was the last year of the original Flys, with the balance wheel on the face of the guitar and the four knob setup. In 2003 the Fly was "refined" with a new control layout consisting of a master volume, a master tone [coil split function is on this control as well] and a master volume for the piezo eliminating the separate volume control for the magnet pickups and the piezo tone control. Numerous other changes were made as well.
Several special edition Flys were introduced over the years. Among these were the Fly Mojo Snakeskin, stock guitars covered in snakeskin; the "Four Seasons" Fly Mojos with thematically corresponding finishes; and a koa Fly Mojo released as part of the Select series.
In 2010 the MaxxFly model was introduced. Based on the Fly model, it features a modified headstock, allowing the guitar to be hung on a standard guitar wall hanger, a modified top horn, which is more ergonomically and traditionally shaped, standardized pickup cavities, 22 frets instead of 24 and a slightly thicker, heavier body. It shares the same general construction as the standard Fly.
Ownership and Location
The original Parker factory was located in Massachusetts, but in 2003 the company was sold to U.S. Music Corporation based in Illinois, and manufacturing was moved there. The Parker custom shop opened at the U.S. Music Corp. headquarters factory in 2005.
US Music was sold to Jam Industries, Ltd., a Canadian Musical Instrument distributor, in August 2009.
Company representatives unofficially announced in 2015 that Parker's US production had ceased, saying a search for a new manufacturing facility was underway. Since, no new Fly models have been produced, but it is unclear whether other Parker-branded imports are still being manufactured in Asia. The last Parker guitars were manufactured in July of 2015.
The Parker brand remains inactive. Beginning April 2016, and remaining February 2017, the opening page of the official ParkerGuitars.com website states
The Parker Guitar line up is currently being updated for re-release in 2017.
Current and past Parker players include Adrian Belew, Todd Tamanend Clark, Juliette Valduriez, Johnny Clegg, Reeves Gabrels, Vernon Reid, Trent Reznor, Dave Martone, Joni Mitchell, Mark Farner, Andre Tonelli and touring guitarists Robin Finck, Danny Lohner & Aaron North of Nine Inch Nails, Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, Vince Genella, Saul Zonana, Stephen Rockford Hammond, Deron Miller of CKY and Beni Alimi of Future Rage.
Last Known Production Model Line-Up
- Parker Fly Mojo
- Parker Fly Deluxe
- Parker Fly Classic
- Parker MaxxFly DF824
- Parker MaxxFly DF842
Parker Select Series:
- Fly Artist
- Fly Supreme
Radial Neck Joint USA models:
- Parker MaxxFly DF1024
- Parker MaxxFly DF724
- Parker MaxxFly DF624
- Parker MaxxFly DF524
- Parker MaxxFly DF523
USA Nitefly Series:
- Parker Nitefly RF722
- Parker Nitefly RF622
- Parker Nitefly RF522
PDF Radial Neck Joint Models (Models ending in 5 feature the Graph Tech Ghost piezo system):
- Parker MaxxFly PDF105
- Parker MaxxFly PDF100
- Parker MaxxFly PDF85
- Parker MaxxFly PDF80
- Parker MaxxFly PDF70
- Parker MaxxFly PDF60
- Parker MaxxFly PDF35
- Parker MaxxFly PDF30
New and Other Models:
- Adrian Belew signature model DFAB842 MaxxFly
- Vernon Reid signature model MaxxFly
- Parker MaxxFly 4 & 5 String and fretless Basses
- Adam Dutkiewicz signature model MaxxFly (Discontinued)
- Parker SC and SC Mojo- the single-cut version of the Fly, also known as the PM60 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-Series acoustics (Discontinued in 2009)
- Parker P-Basses (Discontinued in 2009)
Parker Select Series:
- Fly Bronze (Discontinued)
- Fly Nylon (Spanish Fly)(Discontinued)
Bolt on USA models:
Parker Nitefly Classic(Discontinued in 2010) Parker Nitefly Swamp Ash(Discontinued in 2010) Parker Nitefly Mojo(Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P44 PRO (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P44 V (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-42 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-40 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-30 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-36 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker P-38 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker PM20PRO (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker PM24V (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker PM20 (Discontinued in 2010)
- Parker PM10 (Discontinued in 2010)