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The (pre refined) Parker Fly

This is my Parker Fly classic. It has been made in August 1996 and is one of the real classic Fly guitars produced long before the days the company was bought by the U.S. Music Corporation (2003). I have been the first and only owner and have all the original accessories this instrument was shipped with.

Some links:

Check out my Parker Fly gallery

Get some older/actual catalogues here

Download the 2003 Parker catalogue

Historical background:

The first Fly guitar ever left the original factory in Wilmington, MA in 1993. Already in 1999 the pickups, custom DiMarzio "GEN1", were changed to the GEN2 version (also by DiMarzio). In the mid nineties, GEN1 pickups were criticized for having a much too "hi-fi tone". Lately the GEN1 pickups have gained more attention and are now categorized the real deal for a Fly by many people.

In 2003 some more aspects of this guitar were changed: The layout was reduced from four knobs to three, as well as the entire electronics were exchanged for a cheaper version that was used on the Nightfly exclusively until then. Also parts of the hardware have been replaced for cheaper ones, making the production more cost effective. Differences between the pre refined and refined Parker Fly are explained here.

Parker Fly electronics - some technical details:

The Parker Fly is has quite complex electronics installed. The heart of the pre refined electronics is the Fishman Board (it reads „Fly 1 REV 1 FISHMAN“). All connections to pots and switches are done by ribbon cables (schematic see here). Swerving from the use of conventional wiring was another important aspect for Ken Parker in creating a very modern instrument. The ribbon cables work very fine but have one disadvantage: They are quite fragile, torn very easily and almost impossible to replace, as there aren‘t any spare parts available. If your Fly has this issue you can either convert the wiring to a point to point wiring or ask members of the Parker Guitars Forum who have done this conversion if they would sell you their (intact) ribbon cables.

My Parker Fly had this issue and I didn‘t want to change its original state. The problem has been caused by the battery clip cable that was wound around the ribbon cable. I would have never identified this as a trouble maker. But every time I changed the battery, I tore a little of the ribbon tape py pulling the battery cable. And at some point the switch for the piezo pickups didn‘t do its job anymore. I tried to repair the tape: Soldering didn‘t seem to be an option for me as the ribbon is so fragile. Also I didn‘t manage to short cut the broken parts with conductive silver coating (the conductive paths are so near to each other, so the the coating always touched the next path no matter how careful I covered it with tape).

In the end it took me more than two years to find someone willing to sell me an unharmed set of ribbon cables that I installed. Of course I led the battery cable that was wound around the ribbon cable in the Parker factory the direct way this time. So there won‘t be any ribbon cable problems in future anymore!

Dating a pre refined Parker Fly guitar:

The serial number on a Fly reveals its date of manufacturing and much more. Parker Fly guitars made before 2003 use a six digit serial: The first three digits indicate the day that particular year, followed by the number of this guitar on that day (2 digits) and concluded by the year (one digit). The last digit ranges from 3The letters after the serial indicate the woods used.

So the serial number shown above 227086BMH for instance says

227th day in 1994 = August 15th

08 = eighth guitar produced that day

6 = 1996

BMH=Basswood Neck, Mahogany Body. This is the wood combination used on a Fly Classic. For the Fly deluxe a popular body and a basswood neck was used, so serial numbers ends with “BP“

But be aware:

Newer Parker Fly guitars use a seven digit code. But there is no common sense on how to interpret it. Serial starts with the letter „P“

  1. -Interpretation 1: Year (2 digits), month (2 digits), day it was completed (2 digits). The last number indicates that days production number."

  2. -So a fictional „P0912103“ means a Fly, finished as 3rd guitar on December 10th 2009

  3. -Interpretation 2: Year (2 digits), month (2 digits), followed what number this guitar was finished that month.

  4. -So a fictional „P0912103“ means a Fly, finished as 103rd guitar on December 2009