What grade of stainless steel was used on the Fly?

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Ken Parker
Fly Inventor
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Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:11 pm

What grade of stainless steel was used on the Fly?

Post by Ken Parker »

I was wondering if you could tell me what type of stainless steel was used on the Parker Fly guitars you built? Whenever one of the Fly guitars come in for a setup at my shop I am always amazed at how little wear there is on the frets. It seems to be a harder grade of stainless steel than the one I get from Jescar and Stew Mac?
The fly frets were SO much harder than the gooey stainless wire you can buy in the usual tanged style now.

I don’t like the new SS wire at all, as you suggest, it doesn’t wear as well as you would hope. I greatly prefer the “EVO” wire available from Jescar. It works better, and seems to last longer than their stainless wire.

The Fly wire was a half-round shape, just like SS cotter pin wire, which, incidentally, I used for the first tests way back when in Seymour, CT. (I lived and worked in Seymour from 1983 - 1990, and developed the Fly guitar there, did repairs, etc.)

For the production wire, I found a great wire company who was willing to work with me and render the toughest wire that can be rolled on this planet.

It’s primarily toughness, not hardness that you want in a fret. It needs to resist abrasion in order to stand up, especially to the unwound strings. The SS raw material that the Radcliffe Wire Company supplied was so tough that there was NO possible way for it to be rolled into a standard tanged fretwire shape, believe me.

I asked, and got a laugh from the owner, who said, “Ken, we can barely roll this stuff from round to half-round!”

They were using solid Carbide dies, and even so, it was a tricky job for them.

They ran a closed shop, so I was never able to see their machinery or setups. Apparently wire rolling is extremely competitive, and if I’m not mistaken, they had the contract to roll wire for HeliCoil, so I can understand their unwillingness to tour inventors!

I understand that some modern players have drunk the SS Kool Aid, and have inflated expectations thanks to the magazines, etc. Sorry about that. When I was a kid the Kool Aid flavor was brass nuts. In the final say, we’re all crazy.

"It's not me that designed the Fly guitar, it was all of you guys." - Ken Parker
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