You have to hand it to Parker Guitars creator and founder Ken Parker. For all the innovation in the music industry, it seems like most guitars are stuck in the 1950s. It's rare to see a guitar that doesn't sound or feel like the venerable Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul. And while you can see the influence of the double-cutaway Strat and the Dual Humbucker Les Paul, the Parker Fly was (and is) a truly a revolutionary guitar.
The first time I played a Parker Fly I noticed three things
immediately. It weighed next to nothing, played like a dream, and was
incredibly resonant. As someone whose weak back has always prevented him from playing a Les Paul or similar guitar for more than just a few songs, the 5 lbs Parker Fly felt like next to nothing. The composite fretboard with its stainless steel frets made sweep picking and long scalar runs almost effortless.
Drawing upon his many years of experience as a luthier, Ken Parker started making the Fly guitars in the early 1990s, and they were a huge success and popular with many players. The Fly inspired veteran guitarist Phil Keaggy so much that he even wrote an entire album of music devoted to the guitar ("On the Fly")
of the Parker's revolutionary design includes the wood choices,
generally lighter woods like Basswood, Spruce, and Poplar. The
relatively thin bodies are reinforced with composite materials to
withstand the pressure of tuning. Likewise, the fretboards are also made
of a composite material as well as stainless steel frets, which help
contribute the the Fly's even and consistent tone.
crucial element of the Parker Fly is the capability to blend electric and
acoustic sounds. The bridge features built-in piezo circuitry which can
be blended with the standard magnetic pickups as needed. The Parker
vibrato bridge is another Fly innovation, since it can be easily
adjusted for fixed, floating, or drop down only modes. Unlike
traditional vibrato systems, the Fly uses a single custom-made spring,
helping contribute to its slim profile and low weight.
Currently owned by US Music Corporation (the same company that owns Randall Amplifiers and Washburn), Parker offers numerous Fly models including several basses and new options such as the MaxxFly series. While not cheap, Parker guitars have been on the cutting edge of technology since their introduction.