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Author Topic: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far  (Read 658 times)

Offline Mossman

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New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« on: December 25, 2017, 10:17:56 AM »
Hi everyone, I'm brand new to the world of Parkers.  Picked up a NiteFly M and now I'm hooked, so I bought four more.  This forum has been incredibly helpful. 

So far the most useful information I've learned is that Parker serial numbers are not completely reliable as a dating tool, that the "NiteFly History" and "FAQs" on the Parker Website are occasionally wrong, and that dating can be assisted by looking at numbers printed on some springs (Fly) and scribbled on back of pickguard (NiteFly).  Also learned that old Sperzels are often the culprit if trem will not return perfectly to tune after use (this goes for both Fly and NiteFly).  And that Parkers are happiest when the neck has zero, or almost zero, relief (this I didn't believe until I tried it).  Oh yeah, and it's a really good idea to invest a couple of bucks in a score of 3/32 ball bearings.

It's hard for me to resist tinkering.  My immediate projects have been new pickups for the NiteFly SA.  I went with a Pearly Gates in the Bridge (based on some enthusiastic endorsements here) and Fralin Split Blades in neck/middle.  Verdict is the PG is a significant improvement over stock, but the Fralins do not sound as Stratty as the original DiMarzios.  I actually really like the sound of the stock single coils but can't live with the noise.  In the next week or two I'll be loading my other HSS NiteFly with Duncans - a JB and two "classic stacks".  I'll do a comparison then and post my review.

I'm going to leave the Fly pups alone for the moment.  I really like the Gen 2 pickups.  I'll live with the Gen 1 in the 1994 for awhile before I decide whether to swap in some Gen 2s from Reverb. 

I'm in my fifties, and make my living as a lawyer and professor.  I get to live a 'fantasy camp' lifestyle with rock and roll on weekends.  My band plays covers from 60s to contemporary, and we gig quite a lot.  I'm going to play New Years with a couple of the Parkers and no other guitars (usually I take a motley collections of Strats, LPs and EBMM).  I've dumped all my Bogners and Soldanos and my live rig is now all Fractal.  We'll see how it goes!
1994 Fly Deluxe (Black)
1998 Fly Deluxe (Plum)
1999 Fly Deluxe (Green)
2006 Refined Fly Classic (Natural)
2008 Refined Fly Deluxe (Heather Grey)
1998 NiteFly NVF4 (White)
1999 NiteFly NVF7 (Black)
2000 NiteFly SA (Transparent Blue)
2006 NiteFly M (Oil & Wax)
2006 NiteFly SA (Sunburst)

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Big Swifty

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2017, 03:51:12 PM »
Mmmm...

Using the spring as an assistance in dating a Fly is far more unreliable than the serial number.

The serial numbers on Flys are in fact very consistent, though they can be confusing.

http://forums.parkerguitars.com/index.php/topic,7128.msg68163.html#msg68163

Old Sperzels might sometimes be the cause of whammy/tuning issues, however it's rare. Usually can be fixed by tightening the tuner button screw a little.

B.S.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 05:13:00 PM by Big Swifty »
94 Fly Deluxe
2010 DF 524
The system can't get you in your dreams.

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Mossman

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2017, 06:52:10 PM »
Yeah I must respectfully disagree with the characterization of Parker serials as "very consistent".  Yes, the Fly models are more consistent than the NiteFlys, but that's faint praise.

For example, there are several documented cases of Parkers with serials like "31", "5" and "52", which doesn't help with dating.  We have at least one with no serial number at all.  There are rumours these may have been employee guitars or NAMM show guitars, but the truth is nobody knows WTF.  Then we have a NiteFly with a serial number of 060059 USA, which "should" indicate a guitar built in 2000, but in fact the guitar is from 2006.  There are numerous examples of this (I own two 2006 guitars with serial numbers that according to the FAQ page indicate 2000, a year before the models were even offered) because US Music changed the dating system after 2004 - and after the protocol on the website was written, it hasn't been updated since '03.. Then you have the problem that the serial numbers were put on the guitars when they or (in the case of NiteFlys) the necks were painted, not when the guitars were actually assembled, weeks or perhaps months later (which is why the date written on the back of the pickguard can be more accurate than serial).  You have further problems dating because the NiteFly History often misidentifies the models, and gets the dates of their production wrong.  And then you have the Parker Catalogs, which can show the wrong picture with a guitar (for example, right up until the 2007 catalogue the Nitefly SA picture is of a 2000 model - you can see by the identical woodgrain they just recycled the same picture for seven years, even though by 2001 the SA no longer had the pickguard stereo button on it.  Then of course you have a former Parker shop supervisor saying they sometimes made mistakes with the serial numbers "that's why pencils have erasers on them".  And on and on and on.  You might define all this as "very consistent", I think that Parker was more concerned with building great guitars than paying attention to the serial numbers or the paperwork, and it shows.  It's too bad really because it isn't rocket science: you make your first guitar 001 and you number up as you go.  Easy peasy, but Parker never mastered that.  Using date codes is cool, but you have to do it all the time consistently, and they didn't.

As for the spring dating, agreed it's hit and miss because they could have been swapped out anytime after (though not likely with an earlier-dated spring).  But if you have a serial that does not accurately tell the date, the date on the spring, and any paperwork accompanying the instrument, may be your best clue in some cases.  And if you have (as I do) a Fly whose serial says it was built in August 2004, and a spring dated late September 2004 (with the original owner never having replaced it), you can infer that the guitar was probably completed on or after the spring date and not on the serial number date.  This really only matters with the 'transition' guitars in 2003-04.

As for the Sperzels, yes you can tighten the adjusting screw on the peg if the string is returning sharp, but then you sacrifice ease of operation as the pegs get very tight.  But the Sperzel's problems are way beyond that when they get worn, you often see pegs that no long grip the string properly.  People crank them down with pliers and ruin them.  The Parker trem is really superb.  People fuss about the ball bearing pivots but practically speaking they will last forever.  And before folks recut the nut slots they should really take a hard look at the Sperzels.
1994 Fly Deluxe (Black)
1998 Fly Deluxe (Plum)
1999 Fly Deluxe (Green)
2006 Refined Fly Classic (Natural)
2008 Refined Fly Deluxe (Heather Grey)
1998 NiteFly NVF4 (White)
1999 NiteFly NVF7 (Black)
2000 NiteFly SA (Transparent Blue)
2006 NiteFly M (Oil & Wax)
2006 NiteFly SA (Sunburst)

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Big Swifty

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 06:05:33 AM »
I'll stand by my initial comment, Fly guitar serials are very consistent, though can be confusing.

http://forums.parkerguitars.com/index.php/topic,7128.msg68163.html#msg68163

Yes there are a few rogue Fly serials out there and sure, who knows where they came from. Some guitars have been put together by individuals from spare parts and seconds, even dumpster diving. i've seen a couple of prototype Fly's advertised around the place, quite probably there were a few made on spec for trade shows or whatever, there are refinished guitars etc.
But these are exceptions rather than the norm. and there’s only a handful that have come through this forum in the last 10 years or so,  so you know… the total number of Flys made i figure would be at least 10 thousand, (my guitar was the 4th guitar made on the day according to the serial number, you can do the math) so yeah, i’d call that very consistent.

As for the rest of it…*sigh.. my opinion: these things are guitars, not industrial/life and death/must know provenance down to the nth moment/part etc etc.
Maybe this info is of paramount importance to collectors, dunno.
No, it's not rocket science, but neither is it as simple a process as suggested. Have a gander at dating saxophones with their serial numbers sometime...or maybe other more famous brand guitars..i'd say Fly's numbering are a world ahead of those.
A body was made in August, yet the spring was made in September.... That's they way they made them, that's the way they numbered them, that's the way they put 'em together. Seems common sense to me to completely finish all the painting/stencilling/finishing etc before bolting the pups etc in.

Not to mention that given the fretboard/fret construction and the issue with fretboard de-lamination and frets falling off on some Fly's of a certain era, it's far more valuable info to know when the body/neck was actually made rather than when the bits and pieces were finally bolted together to go out the door.

But perhaps you're right; they were more concerned with making good guitars rather than serial numbers and paperwork.

Good thing too, i reckon.

"... (though not likely with an earlier-dated spring).." interesting conclusion...choice of spring is to do solely with string gauge, nothing to do with the vintage of the spring. FYI, one of the three springs i have has no date on it whatsoever.

And on and on..

No idea about the Nitefly series, i have no more than a casual interest/knowledge of those guitars.

But then, this is the Fly forum...

Oh, and if you’re having whammy/tuning issues, check for binding at the nut first.

B.S.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 06:33:28 AM by Big Swifty »
94 Fly Deluxe
2010 DF 524
The system can't get you in your dreams.

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline mmmmgtr

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 10:42:13 AM »
A few thoughts, all are IMHO and YMMV....

1) Serial numbers are interesting to me mainly as a curiosity of the "vintage". In the end,  I really don't care much.  However,  my experience had been that the serial numbers I've encountered were very consistent (owned 15 different Parkers over the years,  looked at more than 10x that).  As an item that is easily removable and designed to be replaced, it seems that dating using the spring would be subject to inconsistency. Granted,  the suggestion is to use the spring AND the serial number as a 2 step authentication, but a changed spring could bring question to a properly serial number dated guitar.  I do understand for some the serial number may be of significant importance, just not to me.  I play 'em....

2) With my Parkers, tuning issues have almost always been related to binding at the nut. Those slots are cut really tight and typically for 9s. I use 10s. The nut slots seem to be cut to fit 9s, snuggly.  A quick trip to my local tech with fret files and no more tuning issues.  I've NEVER had an issue with the Sperzels.


3) There are MANY threads on pickups here.  My personal favorites are the hybrids that were originally (I believe) implemented by board member Alex. I'm not sure if he is around anymore.  I have two sets of hybrids he made,  and I've since made some of my own.  Here is a thread discussing them....

http://forums.parkerguitars.com/index.php/topic,8273.msg88589.html#msg88589

Anyway,  welcome to the forum.  It's always nice to have another Parker enthusiast on board!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 11:17:25 AM by mmmmgtr »
 

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Mossman

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2017, 11:46:21 AM »
Thanks mmmmgtr.  These are such amazing instruments I'm quite pissed that I didn't get one 30 years ago (but if I did I would probably never have stopped playing it and missed out on the whole family/career thing).  And yeah, Big Swifty, I agree that there's not much more than academic interest in precise dating.  The biggest problem is with the Niteflys because same serial number can be almost 10 years apart on models that are quite similar in construction and features.  Judging from the trajectory of second hand pricing on Reverb, the USA flies are moving towards 'vintage collectible status', so provenance will become more important, even though from what I've seen the US Music 'Washburn factory' Flys are every bit as well built as the original "Ken Parker Era" pieces.  Fortunately the trend doesn't seem to have hit here in Canada - I bought my two Flys for the equivalent of $1300 and $1550 USD, in excellent shape, and the four NiteFlys for between $650 and $750 each.

But I have to keep reminding myself to spend more time practicing and less time researching and tinkering.
1994 Fly Deluxe (Black)
1998 Fly Deluxe (Plum)
1999 Fly Deluxe (Green)
2006 Refined Fly Classic (Natural)
2008 Refined Fly Deluxe (Heather Grey)
1998 NiteFly NVF4 (White)
1999 NiteFly NVF7 (Black)
2000 NiteFly SA (Transparent Blue)
2006 NiteFly M (Oil & Wax)
2006 NiteFly SA (Sunburst)

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Big Swifty

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 06:22:57 PM »
Yep, there seems to be a bit of renewed interest in these guitars over the last couple of years. I reckon now that the company is defunct and buying a Parker no longer constitutes active  support of an active entity (so to speak) it allows for a little circumspect investigation and appreciation of these guitars for what they are (which is a fantastic, innovative and all-round great guitar) rather than what they represented (which was OMG! That's not a (insert brand name here) I can't play one of those, what'll my buddies think??? I can't support that kind of radical thing going on, it could be interpreted as...making a statement!)

And with renewed interest come new opinions and all the rest...as we know, there are lots of "versions" of these guitars, so much so that i feel it's worth being specific and fairly exact about what is being referred too, help quell misinformation and assumption spreading too far.

Anyways, here's a couple of things that are worth noting about FLys i reckon..

The production of a Fly body was actually reasonably complicated, involving CNC machining/routing, vacuum bagging the carbon fibre, and heating/baking in what i believe were converted pizza ovens, and then the fretboard was glued on...at least i think that was the order in which it was done...or possibly baking then gluing then vacuum bagging...or first the wadding, then shot, then the powder, then tamp tamp tamp...

Anyway, a number of steps which required pretty stringent adherence to temperatures/mixing ratios/all the stuff you need to do to make sure things cure properly etc, so when u see a Fly with delaminating fretboard or frets popping off or something else like that, it's worth noting the serial if possible and being cautious with guitars around that number, as i reckon it points to "Freddy" had a bad day at the gluing station or left them in the Pizza Oven too long or there actually was a bad batch of resin/glue etc etc.

The other thing worth being aware of with Flys is the forward leaning bridge post "issue" which most Flys suffer from to some degree, including mine. This is more pronounced in some guitars than others (being wood it varies from tree to tree, guitar to guitar). Worst case, the leading edge of the bridge actually scrapes against the guitar body, but it's pretty rare. There was a kind of fix with derlin washers, but dunno the availability of these anymore etc. There has been discussion about this issue, mercifully doesn't effect my guitar to an appreciable extent, a bit of a lean (if you look real close) but it plays fine. If it ever worsens (which i doubt, given it's been stable for 20 odd years now), i would consider shimming with paper... great stuff, cheap, and is after all wood fibre.

EDIT: Not due to wood compression at all, see guide referred to in posts below: http://forums.parkerguitars.com/index.php/topic,10146.msg144738.html#msg144738

Pickups..i've had to rewind the pups on my guitar 3 times so far, twice the neck and once the bridge. High E string can get caught under the lip of the neck bobbin if you get a little heavy handed/over-excited in the picking/whammying department, which could break a strand of the coil wire. Or..the pre-refined guitars have a rubbery pad under the pup to provide seating. Given the transverse mounting design of the pups, it is possible to screw them down to the point where they twist a little as the rubber compresses, which creates stress in the windings and eventually they may break. I reckon that's what occurred with the bridge pup. Took 25 odd years, but still...I've taken the rubber stuff out and shimmed under the pups with (someone elses) business card to create a firm flat seat. So far so good. Also ran a drill through the mounting holes just to break the threads in the plastic bobbin so as to allow the pole piece screws to slide freely through. That way you can be sure pickup is tight against the body/shim when the screwed down.

Springs...there was a change in the manufacturing of the springs, from bending then tempering which made for unreliable results, to tempering then bending which is apparently far more reliable. Happened sometime after the company changed hands. I guess they tested each individual spring against some standard to give it a number in the early days, always worth dbl checking.

And all sorts of other stuff.

There's a newish FB group worth joining:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1767445786910340/
I managed to get a whole pre-amp board with ribbon cables and pots and switches and everything earlier this year by putting the call out. Sure enough, someone had just gutted their Fly (in Holland no less...love the 21st century) and was happy to sell it all. Saved my ass, i can tell you..theres a thread around here with the bodgy repair job i initially did to keep mine going..

Anyway, enjoy your Parkers!

B.S.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 06:05:50 PM by Big Swifty »
94 Fly Deluxe
2010 DF 524
The system can't get you in your dreams.

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline billy

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2018, 10:37:00 AM »
Welcome, great guitars for sure.

Agree with swifty and mmm on almost all points.

Spring dating is not reliable. They almost certainly bought these in large qty, and usage likely spanned across several years. Inventory of springs likely consisted of a few boxes under a bench, sorted by gauge. I’ve yet to own a spring that included a date on it. The newer springs are definitely more consistent after the usm updates.

If you’ve never worked in manufacturing then it can be hard to understand the issues with serializing anything. A lot has to do with the overlap of the serial between various functions, ie purchasing, manufacturing, finishing, mrb /scrap, order fulfillment, inventory, etc. Parkers are pretty good in that regard, especially when compared to other guitar makers.

I wrote and shared a document last year that shows the leaning post issue and some fixes. In most cases it has nothing to do with wood issues. The delrin parts are still available from wiguitar on eBay, but not the only way to fix it. It should show up in a search.
Billy

[always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.  e. e. cummings]

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Mossman

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2018, 03:08:22 PM »
Thanks for all the info.  I hadn't been aware of the 'leaning post' issue.  Do you know if it affects both Fly and NiteFly?  Now I have several of each... I'll keep an eye on it.

BTW I posted in the 'classifieds' section looking for a Fly S2 HSS.  Please let me know if you come across one for sale (I live in Canada so can't bid on the one currently on Ebay).

Cheers.
1994 Fly Deluxe (Black)
1998 Fly Deluxe (Plum)
1999 Fly Deluxe (Green)
2006 Refined Fly Classic (Natural)
2008 Refined Fly Deluxe (Heather Grey)
1998 NiteFly NVF4 (White)
1999 NiteFly NVF7 (Black)
2000 NiteFly SA (Transparent Blue)
2006 NiteFly M (Oil & Wax)
2006 NiteFly SA (Sunburst)

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Big Swifty

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2018, 06:01:10 PM »
Yeah nice billy, forgot about that guide.

Not wood compression at all, will the doofus who said that please leave the room!

Oh..

Ciao!

For now....

B.S.

94 Fly Deluxe
2010 DF 524
The system can't get you in your dreams.

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline billy

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2018, 04:51:12 PM »
lol, I'd be very sad if you used the door swifty...

As for the nitefly posts, the bushing used on those have better tolerances and probably you won't have that issue with them.

for the S2 HSS, I think a lot depends on which single coils you have.  My feeling is that any single coils will not sound great through the preamp, so you'd want to wire them direct and experiment with different types.

one other thing to reiterate for new fly owners is to avoid any kind of oil or lubricant on the fretboard- it can shorten the life of the glue holding the frets on.

one last thing, look up marco's guide to setting the spring tension on the trem, it's listed on the parker site under support, and will save you much grief and confusion.
Billy

[always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.  e. e. cummings]

Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far

Offline Mossman

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Re: New Parker Guy's Most Useful Tips So Far
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2018, 06:44:24 PM »
Yeah I did check out his trem set up protocol, and it was terrific help.  Thanks.  When you get that sweet spot it works so perfectly.  Played my big New Year's show (big for Kamloops, BC) with just a Fly and NiteFly and I could have used either as my sole guitar.  Covered everything and still toney and squishy and good.  Now I've hit seven I have to stop buying...
1994 Fly Deluxe (Black)
1998 Fly Deluxe (Plum)
1999 Fly Deluxe (Green)
2006 Refined Fly Classic (Natural)
2008 Refined Fly Deluxe (Heather Grey)
1998 NiteFly NVF4 (White)
1999 NiteFly NVF7 (Black)
2000 NiteFly SA (Transparent Blue)
2006 NiteFly M (Oil & Wax)
2006 NiteFly SA (Sunburst)