Parker Wood and Tone Comparison and Fly Model Comparison

General FAQs, manuals, catalogs, schematics, serials, & guides
Post Reply
User avatar
vjmanzo
Site Admin
Posts: 729
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:35 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Parker Wood and Tone Comparison and Fly Model Comparison

Post by vjmanzo »

Tonewoods
Below is a comparison of tonewoods used on Parker guitars that originally appeared on the Parker Guitars website.
Parker Wood Guide.png
Official Fly Models
The various models of Flys denote the distinct wood combinations used. Most commonly:

Fly Deluxe - basswood neck + poplar body
Fly Classic and Fly Jazz - basswood neck + mahogany body
Fly Artist and Fly Concert and Fly Nylon - basswood neck + spruce body
Fly Mojo - mahogany neck + mahogany body
Fly Hardtail (aka “Fly Stealth”) - basswood neck + basswood body
Fly Supreme and Fly Maple Custom - basswood neck + maple body

More details on each model can be found in the catalogs from 2004 prior.

Fly Model Names
Unlike, for example, Fender Stratocaster models, which span from inexpensive "budget models" like the Squier to more expensive high-end models, the Fly has no tiers of "build quality". There is no "Fly Basic" to which a "Fly Deluxe" is superior; a "Fly Supreme" is not "Supreme in comparison to all other Flys"; the "Fly Mojo" doesn't, in any measurable sense, have any more "Mojo" than a "Fly Classic". ;) Each model has a unique name and, while they all have their own special timbral qualities, they are certainly all in the same family with regard to "feel", balance, tuning stability, and many other qualities that make Flys so great!

The main differences in list price between the Fly models had more to do with the particular tonewoods that were used; as a comparison, basswood tends to be a less-expensive wood than highly-figured maple, so the "Fly Hardtail" model (basswood body) had a lower list price than the "Fly Supreme" model (highly-figured maple body).

Fly Model Variants
There are several other tonewoods variants that have existed through the years as custom shop or special orders including Flys with bodies made of koa, butternut, walnut, and cedar. Ken regularly experimented at Parker Guitars, and sometimes he would get limited quantities of certain woods resulting in short runs of 50 or so Flys like the so-called "Fly Butternut" model. These models never received names that were officially noted in any catalog and they were, most commonly, guitars sold at trade shows like NAMM. The USM custom shop made it possible for customers to order Flys in various unusual tonewood combinations, whic resulted in more "unofficial" models. For example, there was an unofficial model that has been colloquially referred (on the old USM forum era) as the “Fly Virtuoso”: spruce neck + spruce body. Again: that name never officially appeared in any catalog.

The "Fly Tulipwood", as another example, was a variant of the Fly Deluxe and quite literally exactly the same as a Fly Deluxe with the notable exception that the poplar body wood was figured (less common for poplar). While building Fly Deluxes, Ken and his team simply put all of the “attractive looking“ pieces of poplar wood in a pile, and, eventually, then made a line of Fly Deluxes from these unique pieces of poplar. Accordingly, these Deluxes were painted with a transparent green finish as opposed to the usual Fly Deluxe treatment of painting the bodies with an opaque finish.

The model names in the catalog are, in some cases, less prescriptive of the woods used: the Fly Deluxe model is most commonly a Basswood neck + Poplar body, but, in the first batch of Flys made in 1993, the Fly Deluxe was a Redwood neck + Poplar body. Similarly, the Fly Artist model has been "Redwood neck + Spruce body", "Basswood neck + Spruce body (most common combination)", and "basswood neck + cedar body".
mmmguitar
Forum Veteran
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:25 am

Re: Parker Wood and Tone Comparison and Fly Model Comparison

Post by mmmguitar »

As obvious as it is that I should just ask Ken directly, I’m curious to know others’ thoughts: Why do you suppose swamp ash was good enough for the Nitefly line, but never an option with Flys? I’ve owned several guitars (mainstream and niche) with SA bodies, and find it odd that it was never implemented in the Fly line in a production capacity, even under USM or Jam.
User avatar
vjmanzo
Site Admin
Posts: 729
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:35 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: Parker Wood and Tone Comparison and Fly Model Comparison

Post by vjmanzo »

That’s a good question, @mmmguitar! I do know that @Ken Parker loves to experiment and did many one-off Flys of varying materials and wood combinations during his tenure at Parker Guitars!

I’ve tagged him in this message, but we’re supposed to chat anyway soon, so I’ll ask him!
Post Reply