Parker Fly Bass Appreciation Thread

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrWalker, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    I purchased a Parker Fly 5-string around two years ago now. I have strung it E-C and use it extensively for smaller jazz combos (trios/quartets) where the bass perhaps "normally" would be an upright bass. However, with the extremely responsive design of this bass, the ultra stable neck that allows whatever action I like, and with the fantastic piezo implementation on this bass, it works fantastic in this setting. Steve Swallow is a huge inspiration for electric bass in this type of setting, and I usually use only the piezo pickups. I vary the attack from anywhere from over the fretboard and back to the rear pickup, and I use a lot of palm muting as well.
    I think one of the key design elements of the electronics that makes this bass so versatile for me, is that the magnetic and piezo circuits are independent of each other. There's a tone and volume control on the piezo, and a two band eq and a volume control for the magnetic pickups, as well as a master volume for the entire mix. It's perhaps a little fiddly for some, but when you get used to it, it's super powerful. It allows me to dial in the perfect tone for both magnetic and piezo pickups, and then blend them freely. And then I can control the overall volume of the final mix. Especially the separate tone control for the piezo is important, as basses that don't have them tend to get harsh (in my ears, at least). The piezo seems to require a different eq-setting than the magnetic pickups, and being able to adjust them independently is crucial.
    I have yet to find another electric bass that can do what the Parker Fly can do for me, and I'm extremely happy that I found this bass at a reasonable price. I baby it quite a lot and hope that it will never give up on me.... as the brand has now disappeared and the Fly basses are going up in price, and replacement parts are probably hard to impossible to find, especially should the electronics get fried.
    The only bass that I have found the somewhat captures the same vibe, is the Ltd TL-4 (by ESP), which is a somewhat different design. It captures the sound, but not the ergonomics, which I also happen to be very fond of. I know that many consider the upper horn a turn off, but to me, the shape of the bass, including the horn, is just super comfortable, especially when playing sitting down (which I do 90% of the time). And with the light weight it's no problem standing for any length of time, either. I don't find it hard to find a similarly comfortable playing position standing up, but I prefer sitting down if I can.
    I also have an early Ibanez Affirma bass, which nails the piezo-sound quite well, however, it has no separate piezo/magnetic tone shaping possibilities. Which means that whenever you change the mix (using a blend control, which I feel is less optimal), you also have to start adjusting the eq... which is a downside.
    So... bottom line, to me the Parker Fly is a gem and I can't ever see myself parting with it.
    Anyone else have a similar love relationship with the Parker Fly?
    Or has found a bass that can do the same tricks as the Parker can?
    I'd love to learn about other successful piezo implementations... so I can continue my piezo jazz combo work should the Fly ever fail me (which I hope it never does).
  2. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    I wanted that bass so badly. When I had the money the only one available had a bad defect. Had the guitar version for years but it was wasted on me so I sold it. I envy you.
    Bob_Ross and MrWalker like this.
  3. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Thanks :) Yes, I was lucky... I know :)
    I also have the guitar version... and another PB61 as well, in fact, the neck-through Korean version built in the Washburn-days. It's a good bass, and reflects some of the design ideas, but maybe not the essential ones (like weight, resonnance and piezo implementation). I own the guitar simply because of the design and uniqueness. I'm just in love with that backside :)
    Maybe the bass doesn't quite catch the same level of sophistication that the guitar does, but it's still a pretty unique design and well thought out. Two pioneers merged on these instruments, the imagination of both Ken Parker and Larry Fishman makes these instrument truly special :)

    I would very much like to know if there are any instruments out there that come close, especially on the electronics part. I've heard good things about Rick Turner and Rob Allen... but I guess I would have to check out Harvey Citron's basses... Steve Swallow went from Parkers to Citrons, so maybe that's where I need to go if the Parker should die on me.
    TrevorG likes this.
  4. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I have serious doubts about your story. I see no Fly!

  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You've been here long enough to know the rules. Pics man!:cool:
  6. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    :D :D
    Sorry, my bad...

    A81E5138-442B-46CA-9494-746D203FA3A4.jpeg F2C5B0D6-2B10-4F54-ADA6-D22E6D39CAA6.jpeg 015FF801-239E-4593-9F64-4A4BE1A424D7.jpeg D52EBD47-1FAA-4E6F-824D-C4DBFF352812.jpeg
  7. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I just wanted to join in on the rant about no pics no bass guitar, then I googled that thing.

    I like many things about the concept behind Parker. I just think that the person responsible for the shape of body and headstock should be severely punished and forced to carry a Parker guitar or bass everywhere at all times, openly admitting who was responsible for the design when asked.
  8. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Well, I will admit that the original Parker Fly guitar and the early prototypes that were made for the Parker Fly Bass looked better (or at least different). And I know the body shape is absolutely not for everybody.

    But to be honest, I like the shape and look of the bass as well. What isn't apparent is the extensive shaping that is done to the body itself. It is wider at the base where it rests on your thigh than it is at the top. And in addition it's slightly curved as well. And due to the longer lower curve, it rests slightly different on the lap which is super comfortable for sitting down (at least the way I'm playing this bass). So I wouldn't want it any different at all :)

    And before you start getting distressed... here are the photos of the prototypes :D
    flybass.jpg flybass2.jpg
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  9. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    You see, I'm no stranger to non FSO bass guitars.
    My main Axe is a Le Fay Karlsson:
    Karlsson (19 05 17 02).jpeg
    Which gets weird comments more often than not when I pull it out of the bag, but I love every bit of it.

    With that Parker, I very much like the idea with the pickups and the piezo system as well as the carbon fiber neck - plus I love a shaped body that clutches to your torso.

    I am very glad that you like the looks of the Parker Bass ̶a̶̶b̶̶o̶̶m̶̶i̶̶n̶̶a̶ creation, because I'd hate to see you play that thing just because it's buttery smooth and awesome sounding but you'd think it was as ugly as I do ;-)
  10. Bozendoka


    Mar 13, 2011
    I always wanted one of these but never was able to come up with the cash. As an aside, my cover band was trying out guitarists recently and one came in with a Parker Fly guitar. He didn't make the cut but the guitar sounded great!
    MrWalker likes this.
  11. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    haha yeah, I'm very fortunate in the respect that I like the bass!
    The body is built up from several layers of acoustic guitar grade sitka spruce, capped with quilted maple on both sides to harden it. The neck is a multi-laminated mahogany affair with an exo-skeleton... it's not a completely carbon-fiber design such as Status Graphite, the way I understand it at least :)

    I think your LeFay looks awesome!! I guess I'm just a strange person when it comes to bass fascinations :D
    Bassinthemudd likes this.
  12. Torren61


    May 25, 2011
    I like the first one (I had a Parker Fly guitar) but the second one looks like a Klingon Bass.
  13. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    hehe yes, it does....

    Don't know why the white one never entered production. They came very close to launch it, but maybe the design was too expensive to build... the eventual Fly Bass that they released is a quite extensive departure from the guitars. Maybe they figured out the design was too fragile as a bass?
    Anyway, the bass feels a lot more solid than the Fly guitar I have. They obviously saw a reason to redesign it from the ground up. :)
    Bassinthemudd and Torren61 like this.
  14. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I like the guitars, but the basses never really tugged my heart strings. Only played one once though. The price was good, and I probably should have bought it just based on the price.
    MrWalker likes this.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Very - as in very very - nice bass. Congratulations! :):thumbsup:

    Has a chance to jam with a friend’s on a few occasions. Really nice bass. Extremely responsive and had its own sound. Would’ve bought it from him (he was primarily a guitarist) but he traded it in towards the purchase of a Rick Turner Renaissance before I knew he wanted to get rid of it. Pity that. No knock on a Renaissance (also nice) bass. But IMO the Parker was a far more versatile instrument. So it goes.

    I once found one on sale at a decent price. Unfortunately the neck had a twist (which probably explained the unusually good asking price) so I passed. Maybe someday. ;)
    MrWalker likes this.
  16. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Thanks a lot!! :)
    Too bad you missed out on your friend's Parker! And twisted neck... ouch.... just had to double-check mine... no twist! I presume that's one of the failures the carbon exo-skeleton is supposed to prevent. So probably not bullet-proof, then?!
    I agree with you, the versatility is outstanding, I agree totally. Both the magnetic and piezo sound is great in my ears. The Renassaine is also a creation that stands out from the crowd... it's definitely not main-stream.

    I wonder if there are other piezo-equipped electrics that achieve the same degree of versatility?
    40Hz likes this.
  17. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    Very cool.
    MrWalker likes this.
  18. chriscarcinogen

    chriscarcinogen Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    San Francisco
    That's funny, I remember the cover of that buyer's guide.

    IIRC, the bass on the cover had some type of honey-comb body with a type of "skin" covering it...
  19. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Always wanted to try one. My local music store had one, but I was clearly to broke for them to let me touch it back then.
  20. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    That was the original version. I think they did that with a wood veneer at some point, but not sure if the OP's bass was the same or the later all-wood version. I always wanted to try one, but never had the opportunity.