Future interest in Parker - up or down?

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jamiecrain
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Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by jamiecrain »

Hi all,
It might be my imagination, but since the recent disappearance of the Parker website and forum there seems to be more interest in the brand, at least on Facebook. Lots of fans worldwide.
What does everyone else think? Will it lead to Parker becoming a collector item, or even a resurrection of the brand? I have no inside info but i’m still curious and would love to see the brand come to life again once again.
My Parkers are awesome guitars but I feel that the decline of the brand takes the shine off a little.
Thoughts?
J
Mr303
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by Mr303 »

As with anything FB I suspect any uptick is due to social media contagiousness in the relatively small number of Parker enthusiasts on there. But I’m not on FB either.
Even though there are lots of fans now there were obviously never enough people to keep the brand viable.
For someone like me that plays with friends or at home a fine light instrument that costs more than common guitars wouldn’t generally make economic or practical sense if the guitar sits most of the time.
I feel for a gigging/working musician Parker’s are like a fine tool more needed than wanted but many folks didn’t know about them or wouldn’t justify the cost. I rationalized getting my ‘97 because my fingers go numb quickly and my shoulders hurt from years of construction and of course the Parker alleviated many of those issues right away for a longer period of time than using even light SG styles etc.

The prices on Reverb make me think people do consider the collector value of the line and there is something to that line of thinking. However the brand in its final form will never be revived do to tooling etc and the ongoing ignorance of the general guitar playing populous.

I showed pictures of my Deluxe to a couple “ weekend band” musician friends I haven’t seen in years yesterday, (they both have old Les Paul’s and they are very much still enamored with the “classic” they’ve had since high school). They’ve never given a thought or felt the need to find a lighter better guitar, the status quo is ok and easy to live with. That was true until I told them my ‘97 weighs 5lbs 8 oz. “my LP is almost 15lbs!” was one comment.
Parker’s shine and always will.
I’m really disappointed I never had a Parker when I was young, it would have allowed me to be a much better player.
Ok that’s my 2 cents worth.
Cheers
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

I think what we're perceiving as renewed interest in the Parker guitars has more to do with it being on our radar than it does with any sort of large-scale interest. I've seen the used prices fluctuate on Flys since 2015 when USM shut down, but, unlike other brands with more established "collector value" status, you can, even now, get a Fly in near-mint condition for a little less than what it sold for new. The prices on Reverb also do fluctuate quite a bit, and, if you're quick to the draw, you can snag a good deal; part of me thinks that it's really just the same couple-hundred or so of us out there selling our guitars to eachother over and over again! :lol:

Part of the effort of "Fly Clone" was to help with the "Oh crap: my fretboard is lifting!" scenarios that will likely creep up regardless of whether Parker Guitars ever resurfaces; I think some of what we're perceiving as a sudden resurgence in Parker interest in these small social groups may also be related to those types of concerns. Hard to say.

I wouldn't rule out a Parker Guitars comeback, but, as @Mr303 noted: the original tooling is lost and would need to be rebuilt in order to service the Flys and NiteFlys we have. However, Ken has said several times: "we were making $10,000 guitars and trying to sell them for $3000"; he also told me, to paraphrase: "if there was a way to make money with a Fly, we would have figured that out". Unlike the marketplace for nearly all other instruments, someone can buy an electric guitar at nearly any pricepoint; the $700-ish price point for a good guitar is normalized, so why would someone buy a Fly for five times that amount? :| The electric guitar marketplace is unusual because, if you're a violinist, a $700 budget is a joke! I'm not really sure where a new Parker Fly would stand today and it would be odd to think that, without cutting major corners, the Fly would somehow, now, be a profitable product. The "$10,000" Ken was referring to was not the cost of materials; it was the cost of the sweat equity required to make the Fly!
jamiecrain
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by jamiecrain »

vjmanzo wrote: Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:25 pm I think what we're perceiving as renewed interest in the Parker guitars has more to do with it being on our radar than it does with any sort of large-scale interest.
Very possible you are right.

I find it interesting though that there are brands out there like Aristides who are innovating with materials and *appear* to be profitable. And they aren't cheap. They are different to a Fly of course in design and spec but even so, there are lots of people willing to drop $3k+ on a non-traditional guitar. I may even get one myself one day if they make them light enough...
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

jamiecrain wrote: Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:44 pm I find it interesting though that there are brands out there like Aristides who are innovating with materials and *appear* to be profitable.
I think you make a good point with Aristides; it looks like they sell direct to customers, a model which, of course, didn’t really exist when Parker Guitars was on the ascent. I’m sure the injection-molded approach makes production a lot easier/cheaper too!

Somewhat related note: does anyone remember Switch Vibracell guitars? I have one of them (similar concept of injection-molded synthetic material); it’s a good-sounding guitar FWIW, but Switch also went under. It didn’t have high-end finishings, but it also was priced at around $300.

It’s hard to innovative with guitars, and, it seems, most guitarists are not into innovation—“ouch” if you’re a manufacturer!
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by Mr303 »

VJ wrote

Somewhat related note: does anyone remember Switch Vibracell guitars? I have one of them (similar concept of injection-molded synthetic material); it’s a good-sounding guitar FWIW, but Switch also went under. It didn’t have high-end finishings, but it also was priced at around $300.


I had a vibracell for awhile. Interesting concept for injection molding a guitar body.
Pseudo Parker shape and it weighed a ton, but had good tone and sustain.
Played well but heavy as a boat anchor. Get the theme?
Mine was bright green. Bought it for 180 from Music Go Round sold it on Craigslist for 300.
A rarity indeed to make money from an off brand like that Switch.
I see them every once in awhile for sale.

Ok those aristides guitars are very nice but they’re like a Parker, rare enough I probably will never get to fondle one and that price point hurts.
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Notes_Norton
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by Notes_Norton »

I agree, most guitarists are not into innovation on shapes or brands, but instead many are open to modding.

I think if a few 'guitar gods' decided to play Parkers exclusively, there would have been enough sales to sustain the company. So many players are influenced by what their idols play.

I bought my Parker DFs because they are light weight, contoured, balanced, stay in tune well, have only one volume and tone control, are built well, and have a scale and radius that fit's me and how I play.

They are workingman's tools, and now that Parkers are no more, I hope they last until I get to the final coda of life.

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Mr303
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by Mr303 »

Notes_Norton wrote: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:37 pm
They are workingman's tools, and now that Parkers are no more, I hope they last until I get to the final coda of life.
Ain’t it da truth man!

Thus the need for a CLONE project eh?

Hopefully old Fly’s never die they just sustain away.
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

Mr303 wrote: Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:01 pm old Fly’s never die they just sustain away.
:lol:
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MadMac
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by MadMac »

Parker’s shine and always will.
so true... so well said!
much more in the future... when musicians are more open...
I’m really disappointed I never had a Parker when I was young, it would have allowed me to be a much better player.
same here... me too...

i‘m sure with today tech... producing a new machine to make the fly would cost a fractal of back in da day‘s...
also working in tech... to produce today a Fly would be much cheaper and with better quality as back in the day‘s...
today you get a precision from machines ... that you can not keep up with as a human...
take a robot who does all the basic work like we see in the videos how to make a fly...
he would do it with a precision and speed ....
a Fly Deluxe would cost today 2000 $...
problem was the bad marketing and the bad distribution in beginning...
if you look back... and watch the webpage on waybackmachine....
no there was zero marketing that reached those who would like to buy...
all those 10 first years ... marketing was not good and to me that was the point...
if you don‘t know outside of the USA that Parker exist...
they came over here in germany around 2005/6 ... but that was way too late...
look how PRS did the marketing ... they survived... ;-)
in my life i‘ll saw sooo many innovative products... just a few made it...
biggest problem was always bad marketing and/or quality problems...
look @Apple... if you like or not... but quality & marketing are excellent...
and that gives a long time relation effect... quality and if you can read everywhere what great quality and durability those products have...
quality was there... not always... the Nut from 93-2005 for example...
everything is high end on a parker but the nut is cheap ... looks cheap and falls of after some years...
i‘ll have enough picture examples collected over time that i‘ll post soon ...
why this cheap nut and why not glued proper to the neck...
why is it not aligned like it should and you find on cheap china guitars...
these for example are things that many of my music friends criticised...
you don‘t believe...
see here...
Parker Fly Classic from 98‘ ... expensive Guitar for that time... but see the Nut...
204E46D1-154A-4ED8-9064-D2D172CDD960.jpeg
7A260CD6-EABB-4E5D-BC4B-C3C39C32DC01.jpeg
to me... a no go by that time... if i‘ll pay over 3000 for a guitar... i‘ll expect this to be done perfectly...
because it‘s such a important part of the guitar ...
Parker did all the years 93-2005 wrong... and i‘ll ask myself all time why... why this cheap @ this important part...
show that a professional guitar builder ... what do you expect does he say... ?

just my thoughts and info about why...
M.
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You should have no difficulty looking at stains on the walls or the ashes of a fire or the clouds or mud, and if you look closely at these things you will find wonderful new ideas, because the mind is stimulated by insignificant things to new inventions.
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

MadMac wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:26 am i‘m sure with today tech... producing a new machine to make the fly would cost a fractal of back in da day‘s...
I’ve had similar thoughts; according the @Ken Parker, however, the issue was never the technology or materials: it was always the number of hours required to do the work. Parker Guitars had cutting-edge technology and many unique tools that Ken developed himself to speed up the process, but it was still, to quote Ken, “an impossible” process.

The main problem according to Ken is that the Fly can’t be profitable unless you sold it for $10,000.
MadMac wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:26 am ...there was zero marketing that reached those who would like to buy...

I understand your point, though it’s not entirely true. The above problem of manufacturing Flys at, for example, Fender’s price point is exacerbated by a “guitarist market” that is largely willing and conditioned to spend only a fraction of that as opposed to your average flutist that considers a $10k flute to be an “okay” kind of instrument.

Direct to consumer marketing a la Carvin/Kiesel, etc. would have helped, but the problem, as Ken has articulated many times, is that the Fly and other high-end guitars are for the 80th percentile and guitarists are shockingly conservative in terms of how and where they prefer their “innovations” to be!
MadMac wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:26 am the Nut from 93-2005 for example...
everything is high end on a parker but the nut is cheap ... looks cheap and falls of after some years...
Interesting thought—I have never had an issue with the nut on any of my Flys. I do know that the nut material is not cheap, and that Ken designed a hydraulic press mod to cut six price nut slots in each and every Fly.

It’s hard to know what the issue might be for the nuts or the Nut installation on your Flys unless you are the original owner and are certain that they weren’t replaced at some point.
mmmguitar
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by mmmguitar »

Speaking as someone who spent years reading every interview to do with Ken and the brand that I could find, I came away with the impression that the naïveté inherent in the “build it and they will come” strategy of convincing guitarists stuck in the 1950s to rush into the future all at once to buy a goofy-looking Steinberger or Fly is essentially what laid the uphill road for marketing the brand. The late Eddie Van Halen understood that celebrity endorsement was worth more in the industry than the objective quality of the product; which is why he (allegedly) tried to finagle a very one-sided deal. My apologies to anyone feeling “finagle” is too strong a word, in this context.

My sentiment concerning the Fly nut is that the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” mantra likely informed their being straightforward to service and replace by the typical neighborhood guitar tech. Personally, I would have minimized nut wear and maintenance by way of incorporating a common and hardy design such as a Floyd Rose nut and/or going with a headless anchor design similar to Ned Steinberger’s. In either case, minimizing movement of the string at its anchor points minimizes the wear - But I’m very much a function-over-form guy who defers to the wisdom of Ken’s generally well-implemented (IMO) aesthetic choices.
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

Interesting information, @mmmguitar; I’m not familiar with the conditions/terms of Steinberger’s deal with EVH. We work with Ned Steinberger in our lab, so I'll see if I can get the lowdown on that! Ned always spoke quite fondly about Ed and their interactions; Ned and I touched base briefly after Ed passed and, again, had only kind and wonderful things to say, so whatever contractual differences arose, it doesn't seem like there were any hard feelings. I think your point is absolutely right though: artist endorsements matter to a lot of people!

Somewhat related, in this video, Ken describes (at some point in the 2hr video!) that EVH loved his Fly and that his manager said he would walk around the house playing it all day long! IIR, in the video (or in a convo I had with Ken) he mentioned that certain endorsement contracts are prohibitive, so, for instance, players couldn't outright write or say "I recorded this with a Fly" if they had an agreement with another company. There is a video somewhere of EVH playing the cedar Fly Ken built for him with a custom "black-ish with red tint" finish!

You likely already know that the first few hundred Flys had a white bone nut; the Fly Nylon still carried this. Regarding headless and locking nut guitars, Ken has explained the notion of a string's "afterlength" as the distance from the nut to the tuners. This extra length of string has no impact on string tension or instrument timbre, but does has an impact on how the string feels and, in particular, how slack/stretchy/tight the string feels. When you install a locking nut, you are essentially removing the afterlength from the instrument. Ken claims to have been the first third-party technician to have done a Floyd Rose install with locking nut when they first came out; the experience prompted him to explore a variety of things related to string afterlength and the elastic feeling of strings. One of many notes from a conversation Ken and I had in July of last year; paraphrasing Ken:
The larger the break angle, the stiffer the guitar feels; you reduce the elastic function by removing the after-length
If you have a locking nut guitar, you can experiment with this "stiffness" by unlocking the nut and noticing the change in "feel". For this same reason, Ken has strong opinions that the six-inline tuner configuration is ideal, and that's why we have it on the Fly. Again, there is no significant timbral benefit to having no headstock or a locking nut, but, having already designed a lightweight and balanced instrument, Ken preferred the feel that the Fly has and the use of a locking nut would have certainly changed the feel. Functionally, the Sperzel locking tuners provide the same functionality of the locking nut while retaining the string afterlength.
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MadMac
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by MadMac »

hello,
well here some images from my first 95‘ deluxe...
second owner... got it cheaper because nut was loose...
and you can still see that the nut did not fit perfectly ...
saw that more often if you look for ... on the bay too...
maybe will get another Fly from 95... but as a friend told me ... same there...
so hence my theory about the nut ... later in 2003 they used a better nut...
see first Mojo ... since than no problem with the nut...
maybe it‘s also a uneven neck @ this place...
would like to see more nut pic‘s ...

Fly Deluxe 95‘
B4BF5CF8-2770-41CE-9F41-989E2A98A073.jpeg
CA9E3823-D323-445D-BD45-6E89272CA2C7.jpeg
thx
M.
life is what you make it...
You should have no difficulty looking at stains on the walls or the ashes of a fire or the clouds or mud, and if you look closely at these things you will find wonderful new ideas, because the mind is stimulated by insignificant things to new inventions.
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

Thanks, @MadMac; I’m confident that what we’re looking at with that nut was someone else’s work. The best solution would be to have a guitar technician remove it, scrape/clean the excess glue that might be causing the issue and either regluing it or changing the nut completely.
MadMac wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:12 am so hence my theory about the nut ... later in 2003 they used a better nut...
Gotcha—as far as I know, there were only three nuts used at Parker Guitars:
  • the white delrin nut in 1993; same material used on Fly Nylon nut (1993 - 2015)
  • the graphite nut from late 1993 - to 2010
  • the Gibson-style nut USM used on some Flys (along with the graphite nut) from 2010+.
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MadMac
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by MadMac »

hello,
well thx for all the info & @vjmanzo
here is another one... same there as you see... so it‘s not a single
Parker Fly 95 too
6B50A63A-F9A7-4430-A4DD-AB91B6AAD843.jpeg
M.
life is what you make it...
You should have no difficulty looking at stains on the walls or the ashes of a fire or the clouds or mud, and if you look closely at these things you will find wonderful new ideas, because the mind is stimulated by insignificant things to new inventions.
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vjmanzo
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by vjmanzo »

Thanks, @MadMac; yes, I see what you’re referring to. 😑 It’s obviously hard to say with any certainty what has happened to a used Fly. I do know, for sure, that @Ken Parker and his team quality-controlled those Flys at a very high level, so it’s not likely that a poorly-installed nut slipped through the cracks.

Unfortunately, it seems, the same experimental mentality that helped develop the Fly and drives this forum also results in some “tinkering gone wrong” from time to time, so, if I had to bet, I’d bet that the nuts didn’t look like that when they left the factory. It’s possible though!
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MadMac
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Re: Future interest in Parker - up or down?

Post by MadMac »

I’d bet that the nuts didn’t look like that when they left the factory. It’s possible though!
yes good possible... with the age and temps on stage ... the plastic change maybe? ...
and i'll know what you mean... hehe
that happen when you love it... and you know you have a Mercedes ....
but the door makes noise... ;)
... i'll did not find a weak part on my two fly's except the nut...
and saw that on others too...
anyhow... not such big issue and is easy fixable ... yes :-)
all the best
M.
life is what you make it...
You should have no difficulty looking at stains on the walls or the ashes of a fire or the clouds or mud, and if you look closely at these things you will find wonderful new ideas, because the mind is stimulated by insignificant things to new inventions.
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