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2 Questions... Parker Fly and Variax

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassman blue, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. Two basses I haven't heard too much of lately...

    What ever happened to the Parker Fly basses that I thought were going to be the next new wave?

    And anyone having any success with the Variax basses or are they just another fad?
  2. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I had a Parker Fly 5 for a very, very short time (I tend to try everything 'cool' that comes out!).

    The positives... extremely light, well made, great fretwork and playability (at least regarding the ability to get very low action).

    The negatives (of course IMO).... very, very tight string spacing (that, of course, could be a positive for some, but it's really tight... more like a guitar), very thin 'magnetic pickup' sound, kind of 'over the top' sound with the piezzo blended in.

    I think if this bass would have been released when it was originally announced (what was that... over 10 years ago or longer), it might have made a bigger splash... but now, composite necks, light bodies, piezzo pickups that blend with magnetic... those things are widely available.

    Anyway, I was so excited years ago when they announced that bass (I think it was some sort of BP NAMM article or something), and just couldn't help but buying one when they finally came out. I'm sure some TBers love them, but it was probably my least favorite bass of all time!

    Regarding the Variax.... I don't really consider myself that much of a purist... but I just can't even get myself to even touch one :D It just seems wrong :rollno:

    I'll look forward to hearing if some people are digging these basses, and in what context/playing situations they are used.
  3. relayer66


    Oct 10, 2002
    Zushi, Japan
    I think the Fly flopped due to the ugly design (the guitars look great IMO but the bass just doesn't cut it), and the reportedly poor sound. I would still like to try one if I get a chance.
    And there are quite a few people having success with the Variax, I am one of them. I've had it for a few months now, no complaints whatsoever. Feels good, plays good, sounds good, and it's almost as ugly as the Fly. I have used it in my home studio and it's a very flexible tool. Haven't played it live yet (I'm between bands), but I would not hesitate to. It seems perfectly reliable and practical. Haven't heard of one breaking yet. A lot of purists just don't like the idea of it, though some have said they don't like the sound also.
  4. The Variax is -not- -not- -not- (did I say not?) meant for live playing or jamming of any kind.

    It's a studio instrument, plain and simple.
  5. Indeed. mixed-smiley-010.
  6. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    Tried the fly, First glance, BEAUTIFUL!!! and great craftsmanship. It was very lightweight and all this before I noticed the tight spacing. I gave it a spin anyway KNOWING that the spacing would keep me from buying it. Plugged into an Eden head(dont remember which one) and a Bergantino 3x10 cab. I slapped it, right away I boosted the bass,but no thump, boosted tha amp, no thump, dissapointed. Parker uses all spruce in the bass design which might be what the problem is, I dunno, I just couldnt get any balls out of it. I also think if they would have kept the origonal design like Steve Swallows, it would probably appeal to masses more.
  7. weeding


    May 17, 2005
    Where the hell are the pick ups on that damn variax thing?
  8. relayer66


    Oct 10, 2002
    Zushi, Japan
    Ok...so you've tried it out live and it failed you? What are you basing that on, or are you just theorizing?
    Again, I wouldn't hesitate to use it live (besides the fact that it's fugly). In case you're wondering, I'm not a noob talking out my butt, I've been playing over 20 years, not bragging, just saying that I've played quite a few different basses in live situations (including your beloved Rickenbacker, which I deeply regret selling). I don't see why being powered by the direct box would necessarily compromise its reliability, if that's your concern. I seem to be one of the few fans of this bass on this forum. Still, I'd bring a J bass for a backup. :D
  9. relayer66


    Oct 10, 2002
    Zushi, Japan
    It's a piezo pickup under the bridge. Works damn well, picks up every nuance, finger sounds and everything else a magnetic pickup can, as far as I can tell.
    It's not a first, quite a few of the newer basses (eg the bongo) are using piezos, usually blended with the magnetic pickups.
  10. I owned one for about 6 months and had a bad live experience with the Vari.

    First off... I'm not small by any means, I lift weights and am in the best physical condition I've been in since God knows when, and yet the thing still is remarkably heavy! Try playing a gig for more than an hour and it will wear a nice strap-sized mark on your shoulder.

    Next... the battery life. When I played gigs, I did not have the benefit of finding a place or plug for the DI box the Vari ships with. With the atrocious number of batteries it took, the thing did not last under constant playing and died out on me moments before a gig. Like you said, pack a Jazz for a backup.

    Lastly... It just never cut through. I played through a Hartke rig (2x15 and the 3500 head) and even with all of the EQing imaginable, even turning the knob from bass to bass, I could never get a tone that fit the bill. Each model sounds decent, but none actually gave a distinct tone that would ever replace their original in my opinion.

    The only good word I can give on the Vari is that it does indeed record well.
  11. relayer66


    Oct 10, 2002
    Zushi, Japan
    It's really not any heavier than a Fender...it's an alder bodied bass with a maple neck, same shape and dimensions as a jazz. Now if you put all those batteries in it, it's going to be a bit heavier. Not sure why anyone would want to do that, I mean all you need is another socket to plug the DI into. Worst case, you could get a power strip/surge supressor and plug your amp and everything else into it. The battery option is more designed for a backup in case the DI fails. The DI itself is a nice little unit, seems solid with metal construction, and has a good sound.
  12. relayer66


    Oct 10, 2002
    Zushi, Japan
    I'll agree with you here, but some are better than others. I don't think any of them sound bad, just not quite as good as the real thing for the most part...but are you going to carry 24 basses around to get that variety? Well obviously not, the practical thing is to carry one or two good basses that have THE sound that you are looking for, probably a Fender Jazz in my case.
    Funny, the Alembic sound is probaby the best overall but sounds nothing like my Spoiler, not even nearly as good (but what does?). The Flea bass model sounds possibly better than the real thing, also a very useful sound (I had the real thing until recently but found the neck extremely uncomfortable).
    I just think the Variax gets an unfair bashing around here from people who have never tried it. Obviously you have, and it wasn't your thing, and that's cool. But just like in the other threads we've both contributed to on the subject, I've gotta come to its defense because I'm still having a lot of fun playing it.