Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

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vjmanzo
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Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

The original Parker Flys produced in 1993 shipped with magnetic pickups based on the existing DiMarzio Air Norton (neck position), and ToneZone (bridge position); the Fly versions of these pickups were the same as the stock DiMarzio versions and simply had a different way of mounting to the Fly (through two of the pole pieces; see the manual for more info). These pickups, which are colloquially referred to as "Gen 1" pickups, are easily identifiable by the small, thin block lettering on the pickups themselves (shown below):
Fly_Pickup_Variants.jpg
Around 2001, the "Gen 2" DiMarzio" pickups (PHWP1BKL neck & PHWP2BKL bridge) were developed for the Fly by Steve Blucher. They are identifiable by the larger lettering on the pickups themselves in one of two varieties (shown above). The Gen 2 pickups have a stronger output signal than the Gen 1 pickups.

The Fly Mojo (2003) was the first Fly to be outfitted with Seymour Duncan pickups (Jazz in neck and JB in bridge) though, prior to this, a handful of guitar shops, such as Ed Roman Guitars, offered services to route the pickup cavity of Fly guitars to accommodate non-OEM pickups. Around 2012, all Fly models were available with Seymour Duncan pickups (see "A Summary of Fly changes..." for more info).

One common complaint about Gen 1 pickups and Fly pickups in general are that they are "too cold" or "too hi-fi". Players who are unhappy with their stock pickups should experiment with adjusting the pickup height prior to replacing their pickups as your favorite and familiar pickups will invariably sound different in a Fly given its unique design.

Note: these Fly pickups are not active pickups. However, they are buffered through active components in the piezo preamp, which require 9 volt power. See the electronics section for further information on wiring and ways to allow these passive pickups to bypass the active electronics.

Adjusting pickup height is easy to do: just loosen to hex-head screws in the pickup using the T-Wrench 3/32" Hex Adjustment Tool that came with your Fly. Loosening the screws will allow the pickup to move freely vertically if you pull it up or push it down or remove it completely. Experiment with the height that sounds best to you. Once you find a tone you like by moving the pickup closer or further from the strings, you just re-tighten the hex-head screws.

From the Fly manual: Each DiMarzio humbucking pickup is secured to the body by two hex-head screws. On the coil, closer to the bridge, the mounting screw is the screw under the B string. On the coil, closer to the neck, the mounting screw is the screw under the A string. Turn the screws clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. To adjust pickup height, unscrew both pickup mounting screws. Raise or lower your pickup to the desired position with your fingers. Retighten both pickup mounting screws flush with top of pickup. Do not over tighten.
On a Fly equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups, the screws to loosen are under the E strings.

The Fly pickups have a thin, soft foam cushion underneath the pickup, which can be removed if you feel that you need to lower the pickups even further.
Dimarzio_Gen2_pickups.jpg
Replacing pickups:
DiMarzio Pickups — Dimarzio will wind nearly any pickups in their lineup in a baseplate format that can be installed in a Fly

Seymour Duncan Pickups (for Fly Mojos and most post-2013 Flys) — Seymour Duncan humbuckers will fit any Fly with existing routing for Seymour Duncan pickups, which includes all Fly Mojos and most Flys made after 2013; you will need to carefully remove the mounting tabs from the side. A “trembucker”-spaced pickup must be used in the bridge position.

Wiring guides and electronics information beyond what is covered in the manual can be found here.


Personal Recommendation: I feel strongly that the most significant timbre change you can make to the Fly or NiteFly is to change the strings to a different brand, material, and/or gauge. The manual suggests D’Addario strings as that’s what Ken used in the Parker Guitars factory and afterward on his archtops. Even within the D’Addario brand, there are many many different lines of strings made of different material: pure nickel, steel, flatwound, etc. For very little money and time invested you can experiment with a variety of starkly different timbres. There are, of course, many other string manufacturers out there besides D’Addario. If you find a string set you like, you can then have the guitar properly set up to accommodate whatever new strings you’ve chosen. Simply, easy, and lots of fun!

If you’re sure that the pickups are a factor you want to adjust, then, as noted, first experiment with adjusting the pickup height. Dimarzio knows what they’re doing with regard to pickups, and the ones in the Fly are no exception! The pickups will respond timbrally to the string depending on how close or far it is from the strings, so if you need more gain, raise it a little higher—a little goes a long way!

See also Modifying Pickup Baseplates about and Replacement Pickup Wiring

#PickupPreferences #PickupIssues
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

I never see this bit of trivia mentioned: The Gen 1 neck pickup, despite being based on an Air Norton, isn't actually "aired" in the same way Dimarzio airs their pickups. So you can add non-conductive spacers around the magnets to decrease inductance in the event that, say, lowering the pickups the maximum amount and removing the foam spacers in the rout is still too much output for one's tastes.

I mention this because I tried it before auditioning lower output F-spaced, double-hex Dimarzios in - and even aired those in the course of my tinkerings.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

I vaguely recall a thread on the old board about drilling holes in the pickup routs so that standard-length humbucker screws and/or polepieces could fit in the guitar once the baseplate was trimmed to fit. I believe it pertained to the now-obsolete Carvin H22 pickups, which had 22 (!) screws sticking out the baseplate. What I don't recall is if the bits in the poster's drill press were marked to 1/8" depth, or if they were even sufficient (As I recall, isn't there only about 1/4" of wood between the bottom of the neck rout and the CF?).

Don't worry - I'm not itching to mangle a Fly (and have swapped the same baseplates and hex screws between quite a few Dimarzio pickups to avoid doing so). But I am curious to know others' thoughts and experiences in forsaking their Gen 1s or 2s. For what it's worth, my two Flys currently have a Gravity Storm set (too much output for my tastes) and PAF Joe/PAF Pro-Lite (still not where I'd like it to be).

I understand that auditioning pickups is all part of the fun in tone-chasing, but it irks me that the Roland COSM pickup models I run each guitar's 13 pin-out into sound better to me than the "real" pickups.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

I have the Sustainiac driver (in my neck pickup cavity) secured with a single piece of 3M heavy-duty double-sided tape, and in order to get it to sit at the right height, my tech had to route about 5-6mm of wood. You do have some material to work with to accommodate pole pieces, but not much!

For what it’s worth: I am happy with the Gen 1 pick ups, and I do like the Gen 2 pickups as well, even though they’re a little bit hotter. My tastes have changed through the years, so, I was once content with the JB bridge pick up in my Mojo, and now I feel it’s a little too harsh; when we did the 12-string Fly Mojo mod a couple years back, I opted to swap the stock JB pickup out for the Hazz bridge (so, SD Jazz neck and bridge), and I really like that! The Jazz pickup on a Fly in the is really, in my opinion, a great warm sound.

I’m always curious to hear what others have Come up with regarding pickup experimentation. I really like Lace pickups, and I seem to recall that @billy installed one of this for someone in the neck position and just barely got away with it being secured to not a lot of wood!
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

Do we have info concerning the S2 Fly’s single coils? I recall that Ken settled on Blue Velvets for the Nitefly, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more specific than “Dimarzio Custom” listed for the singles in the S2. I know I could just ask Steve Blucher but, in light of his email backlog, I may as well ask here first.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

Ken thinks they were the Blue Velvet's as well, @mmmguitar, but he said he doesn't really remember. I have some old records that suggest that the only single-coil pickups being purchased by Parker Guitars at the time were similar to (if not the same as) the NiteFly pickups, so I'd guess the S2/S3 had those, but I don’t know if they were the Blue Velvets. If anyone has the S2/S3 and wants to check, DiMarzio usually puts that info in a sticker on the bottom of the pickup, but here's what I have on these old documents from 2001/2002 (which I’m sure are accurate) that have pickup groups in various purchase orders.

One set of NiteFly pickups (HSS set) from the time were:

PSCN1BKL (neck)
PSCM1BKL (middle)
PHWB2BKL (bridge)

I looked up the numbers quickly just now, and I found these for sale on an old listing that referred to them as NiteFly pickups:
0485DB7F-B81D-4180-ACB3-9B39FD65B03F.jpeg
I have an old invoice that says these pickups were purchased by Parker guitars as a set for the "Fly 2":

PSCN2BKL (neck)
PSCMBKL (middle)
PHWP1BKL (bridge)

PHWP1BKL and PHWP2BK are, as you know, the Gen 2 pickups used on the Fly, so I believe the "Fly 2" mentioned above means the “Fly S2”. I think PSC refers to “Parker Single Coil” pickups; I haven't looked up those models in DiMarzio's catalog, but they are similar in naming convention to the ones used in the NiteFly.

Incidentally, I believe one of the HH NiteFly's (possibly the NiteFly M?) used the PHWN4BKL & PHWB5BKL pickups, but I haven't looked up those models in DiMarzio's catalog. Here's the other info I have on NiteFly pickups in 2001...

NiteFly MIDIFly (HSS) used:
PSCN1BKL (neck)
PSCN1BKL (middle)
PHWB2BKL (bridge)

NiteFly NFV5 (SSS) used (these appear to be the codes for DiMarzio Blue Velvets):
OSC71BKL (neck)
OSC71SBKL (middle)
OSC71BKL (bridge)

Which I found in an old listing that referred to them as NiteFly pickups:
8ECEB830-D539-4D70-AEDC-045D93DB9FC9.jpeg

NiteFly NFV6 and NFV7 (HSS) used:
PSCN1BKL (neck)
PSCN1BKL (middle)
PHWB2BKL (bridge)

NiteFly NFV8 (HH) used:
PHWN2BKLR (neck)
PHWB3BKL (bridge)

Also, the Fly Bass (FB-4 and FB-5) used DiMarzio's:
Ultra Jazz 5 neck PJ547BKU
Ultra Jazz 5 bridge PJ548BKU
Ultra Jazz 4 neck PJ147BKU
Ultra Jazz 4 bridge PJ148BKU

And while we're at it: the Fly Jazz used the PHWJ1BLK and PHWJ2BLK with gold pole pieces that Ken and his team supplied.

The Fly Mojo used the Seymour Duncan Jazz neck SH-2N BLK and the JB bridge TB-4 BLK.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

I bet professors hated grading your papers. Thanks for all the detailed homework.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

@vjmanzo I've tried to unscrew these screws, but the pickup does not raise or lower... am I supposed to COMPLETELY unscrew them before I can move the pickup up and down physically? Also.. once I do get the height I want.. do I have to screw both screws ALL the way down again? Not sure how this works.. Do not want to force anything/ turning and break the pickup or cavity or anything like that..


Not sure as I've never adjusted them and they seem to be harder than expected.


Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

mmmguitar wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 12:47 am I bet professors hated grading your papers. Thanks for all the detailed homework.
🤣🤣🤣


@rmora88, unlike most pickups, turning the screws doesn’t raise or lower the pickup; you have to loosen the screws first and then physically position the pickup at the height you’d like, then tighten the screws again. You don’t have to unscrew much to get the pickup to move; once the screws are loosened from the body inserts, you can move the pickup vertically. This is how the pickups mount in the body:
A4AEDD83-5D99-4D56-AF6B-CB07AAF5208B.jpeg
Try pulling the pickup up toward the strings just to get a sense of how they move; it’s possible that the pickup in your Fly is already as low as it can go, but you can get them a little lower (if you’d like) by removing the foam that they’re sitting on.

Once you get the height you like, clamp down the screws again.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

Thanks for the tip! But do I have to unscrew them off ALL the way? Or does just a bit help move it up? I'm trying to RAISE the pickup closer to the strings for a slightly hotter signal is all. But when I unscrew them halfway, and grab the bobbins (the pickup itself) to move it up, it seems pretty stuck in its place? So not sure if I'm unscrewing them enough?
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

You have to loosen the screws until they completely exit the bosses/threaded inserts in the body - It’s only when the screws thread into the bosses that the pickup becomes set in place. Once you unscrew both mounting screws until the pickup moves freely, you use one hand to hold the pickup at the height you prefer and then thread each screw back into the body to set it at the height you were holding it.

Being as the Fly is the only guitar with this quirk, it’s rather counterintuitive on paper. But once you do it and have that “Ah ha!” moment, it’s cake.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

Ahh!! I see ok, I will try that later today and let you know how it went. At this point, I'm just worried of even messing with it hahaha... just wanted to do my "final touches" to the set up.. plays phenomenal now.. but would like the action just a tad bit lower but afraid it will buzz... I should only adjust the action 1/4" turn at a time on each side, correct?
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by jb63 »

Yes! 1/4 turn.
This whole mess of adjusting the truss rod, raising and lowering each side of the bridge, raising and lowering the pickup height, even tuning and adjusting the floating bridge...

...it may take a whole afternoon at first, but it is essential to learning how the guitar itself works and the changes you can make.

I still remember my first go-round with the '96 deluxe, then the refined classic.
Those were some frustrating afternoons!

But you can do it!
just plain lost
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by mmmguitar »

I’m thankful for having been previously traumatized by Floyd Rose and TransTrem setups before I ever touched a Fly. I think my initial response to looking over the front and back (with the plate removed) was to roll up my sleeves and set a handkerchief aside.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

Thanks so much you guys!! I'll report back.
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

Here is the Deluxe in IBB!


Set up the best it has EVER been.. love the set up so far. I've dreamed on this guitar since 13, and let me tell ya. Feels surreal but so, so good to own a Parker Fly.


Definitely into adding more to my collection. =)



(Currently playing the Parker Fly through a 1993 Bogner Ecstacy 101B, going through a Bogner 4x12 UberKab and a 2x12 Custom Made Birch Cabinet loaded with 1972 Altec-Lansing Speakers... with some of my effects/ boosts... sounds unreal)
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

mmmguitar wrote: Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:04 pm I’m thankful for having been previously traumatized by Floyd Rose and TransTrem setups before I ever touched a Fly. I think my initial response to looking over the front and back (with the plate removed) was to roll up my sleeves and set a handkerchief aside.

Before I start with the pickup height... should I know anything that can go wrong with doing so?? Anything? Any tips will help.


Thanks!
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

In general, if pickups are too high, the magnets will pull on the strings while you’re playing, but beyond that, I don’t think there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Go for it! 😉
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by rmora88 »

vjmanzo wrote: Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:32 pm In general, if pickups are too high, the magnets will pull on the strings while you’re playing, but beyond that, I don’t think there’s a lot that can go wrong.

Go for it! 😉
Will do! I meant as in, I have not unscrewed both pole pieces in order to pull the pickup height up more, but in doing so.. if I unscrew the 2 screws off completely from the cavity.. would it be hard to aim it back in and screw it back in??
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Re: Fly Pickups (Gen 1, Gen 2, and Other)

Post by vjmanzo »

Nah, I think Marc said it best when he said “once you do it and have that “Ah ha!” moment, it’s cake.”
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