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New Yorker article on Ken Parker

clayville

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Feb 25, 2004
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The Parker Fly guy. I think I've only ever picked up a Fly once, and so could be relaying info many of you already know, but the article was to me an interesting profile about him and his new guitar quest: an acoustic archtop called The Olive Branch.

It's made from a laminate of some of the composite materials he used in the Fly and traditional tone woods, with the composites hidden inside, out of sight for the most part. He has apparently produced an extraordinarily lightweight guitar (3 1/2 pounds) that has a very rich and versatile acoustic sound.

Anyway, it's a well-written article for a general audience that doesn't insult guitar geeks (that I noticed :) ). It isn't available online, but there's a 7 minute+ audio that has the author talking quite a bit along with clips of the Olive Branch here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/2007/05/14/070514on_audio_bilger
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
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:hmm

Lots of talk about them but I really don't see a lot of people actually playing Parkers.
 

juniorspecial

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May 6, 2003
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Yeah, I'll read the article. I get The New Yorker, so I'll check it out.

What I'm really looking for is some reasonable explanation for why Parker guitars have to be so dorky looking.

I tell you, I'd sooner go onstage wearing nothing but a pink panty girdle than to have to gig with one of those guitars.
 

Rich R

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Jun 4, 2002
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The Parker story is really interesting--his early ads were great, and the guitars were fun to play.

His problem is that guitarists aren't interested in switching to 'newer. better' instruments. For better or worse, we 'like' all the traditional stuff!

I think that any designer looking to sell large quantities of a new instrument needs to tap into a fundamental urge to create a new music, one that requires just such a new instrument.

That is why Parker has failed to change our way of playing, or what we want to play, or how we want to play it.
 

Buffaloe

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I've played one in a GC, and they play really fast. Can't say they sound all that great, but I'm a hollow body guy.
 

WordMan

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Feb 5, 2004
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Yeah, I'll read the article. I get The New Yorker, so I'll check it out.

What I'm really looking for is some reasonable explanation for why Parker guitars have to be so dorky looking.

I tell you, I'd sooner go onstage wearing nothing but a pink panty girdle than to have to gig with one of those guitars.

The article discusses the looks of The Fly a lot - with different folks like Keef being quoted asking why it has to look so bad. Parker is adamant that a new-tech guitar should have a new look - and that appears to have been part of the problem with selling Flys, along with some fundamental business issues.

I have never played one myself - the local stores never carried them, and I have always heard that the necks are quite slim which isn't my cuppa. Oh well, guess I'll have to make do with my inferior, normal stuff...:2cool
 

Geetar

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Nov 18, 2004
Messages
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I've spent quite some time playing mine over the past 6 years, and it's the combination of the tone-free stock sound and the truly awful "dig-into-the-sternum" design that finally consigned it forever to the cupboard under the stairs.

Great idea, wonderfully light weight, appalling ergonomics.
 

sidekick

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Jun 20, 2005
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I got a Fly Deluxe for my daughter a while back.... Interesting guitar, but does not have the 'soul' for an older guy 'into the blues' like me. Very light, playable and quite versatile though and the neck is slim.... Unusual 'board' material and stainless steel frets....That side, (over time) is probably low maintenance, but the electronic side might be costly.... Sometimes you see 'backing' musicians using them on TV 'talent' shows in the UK etc., ..... More than likely, a useful working-musicians 'tool'. Reeves Gabrels highly regarded them, (I remember) and The Parker Co later expanded the range to include a Les Paul style body-shape.
 

Wisertime

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The Parker Fly is all Mark Farner uses these days. He loves them.
 

DrRobert

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Jun 12, 2003
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I owned one of the early FDVs, before there were all the models there are now, just stop tail and tremelo. It's one of those good new/bad news things:
-Very light, balance well
-The stainless frets play and bend super easy, you do have to develop a lighter touch in the fretting hand so they don't rattle.
-Advanced electronics and mechanics, with a truly revolutionary bridge, super solid tuners, very stable to temp and humidity changes
-Horrible DiMarzio pickups that mount with a screw thru 2 pole pieces, so you can't switch in your favorite Duncan. I had Seymour rewind mine, it only helped a bit. Somehow I just couldn't dial out a certain degree of harshness. The center position is coil tapped for a faux "tele" sound, which worked better before the pickups were rewound.
-The acoustic bridge is OK, no better. About the same quality soundwise as the Fishman Powerbridge.
-They don't look as dorky as a Steinberger, everytime I break one of them out all the musicians rag on me about the headstock.
-The Fly neck is super thin.

In view of all the problems, I gave mine away and bought a Nitefly (the version with the composite neck and wood body). I gained about 4 pounds (I'd guess it's about 9 even) but I could slot in some of my favorite Duncan pickups for a really decent electric tone. The neck is beefier-actually a nice feel not unlike one of the small V 60s strat necks. The frets are still killer and it's a cinch to play. The tuners are really good, and with the super stable neck, it only needs slight tuning from gig to gig. REally the only downside besides the silly looking headstock and the average weight is a certain lack of expressiveness. It's like the guitar sucks a small amount of dynamics out of your playing. Certainly no worse than 95% of the guitars out there, but not up to the standards of a 60s Gibson. I feel similar about PRS guitars, so you can see where I'm coming from.

Anyway, Ken's a genius, his guitars are worthy axes and everyone should try one once with their eyes closed. That said, what's with the freakin' price? This is mostly a CNC guitar, with mostly solid finishes and they cost over $2k new?
 

sidekick

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Jun 20, 2005
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.....-Horrible DiMarzio pickups that mount with a screw thru 2 pole pieces, so you can't switch in your favorite Duncan.....
I think this is a problem that others thought also.... They have tried to address with thee the Fly Mojo model.... Probably a better Fly for the more confirmed Gibson guy.
 
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