Parker Fly Bass Appreciation Thread

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

  1. pica


    Nov 26, 2009
    I saw one years ago at my local guitar store. Think they were asking almost $2,000 for it. Nice lookin bass. Be cool to have one.
  2. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    I think (but don't know for a fact) that the design was done in a similar way to the original Fly guitar, with a very slim and fragile wooden main structure with an exo-skeleton covering the back of the body and the neck. Steve Swallow played one of the prototypes for many years, another ended up in Alan Caldwell's posession, and a third lives in Ken Parker's home, I'm told. The white that made the cover of BP is also "at home" with Ken. That model was never released, it was announced but never made it on the market. I am not sure if it was the design itself being too spacy, or if it had anything to do with structural intergrity and strength....

    Mine is the one of the original Fly basses that finally made it to the market, I think sometime around 2001/2002. I also have one of the later Hornet basses, with a more traditional neck-through design. It's much more "traditional" both in construction and sound (and also quite heavy, which is quite the opposite of what Ken Parker was going for). My Fly is one of the lightest basses I own.
    lowfreqgeek likes this.
  3. CryingBass

    CryingBass Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    "Fly Desires" would be a great name for a band! Go ahead someone, use it.

    One of my favorites is Adrian Belew. See him below in a photograph that Tony Levin took that I affectionally call "Nesferatu with Guitar". Love this guy, and with Julie, he was Slick. Not playing a Fly below.

    I almost bought an A.B. signature Parker Fly guitar with "sustainiac" pickups. Not only did they sound good while playing, just being able to say "sustainiac" when a dude asked about my ax made me want to smile.

    But I never scored a Parker Fly Bass. And now I must. Curses!

    ( Be sure to buy some of Tony Levin's photos, he is a Bass God )

    MrWalker likes this.
  4. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Haha yes, great band name!
    The bass is awesome. I've been wanting a Parker for decades and I don't regret finally getting it. I guess the icky regret would be not getting it earlier

    And sorry for inducing GAS...

    I agree... Sustainiac.... Would be cool to be able to use that.
    CryingBass likes this.
  5. CryingBass

    CryingBass Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    See what you did? I hope it is as mint as the seller says it is. Oh well

  6. It's a bucket list bass for me to try shame they are so hard to find and so spendy
    MrWalker and CryingBass like this.
  7. chriscarcinogen

    chriscarcinogen Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    The City
    Warning, bad old joke:

    So a guy walks into the music store and says "I need some strings for my Parker Fly."

    Dealer says, "That seems like a fair trade."
    dabbler, Bob_Ross and MrWalker like this.
  8. BargeOn

    BargeOn Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Steve Swallow played one in the early 90s. He recorded and is pictured with it on his 1994 album Real Book.
    Good album and a great pic of Steve.
  9. It’s surprising that a laminated mahogany (a generally stable wood) neck covered in cf would twist or warp. I think there might have been an underlying cause such as sitting on a stand beside a furnace vent or something similar.
  10. CryingBass

    CryingBass Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    now you tell me! :)
  11. Bassinthemudd

    Bassinthemudd Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2020
    I have a 2005 EBMM StingRay, which has the stock piezo option (discontinued.) It came standard with a 3 band EQ which was shared by both pups. Also included was a blend control.

    I had the bass modified to have individual outputs, with the humbucker running into a new East 2 Band preamp, and the piezos running directly out to a Red Eye outboard preamp by Fire Eye, which is a great preamp designed for piezos.

    The blend knob became the additional output jack, and the 3rd tone control became a series/parallel switch for the humbucker.

    I typically run two rigs placed right next to each other, but I can also run the Red Eye preamp into the Aux In of my amp head if I want a single cab setup.

    I am in complete agreement that being in control of the individual signals from each pup is extremely powerful.

    I also have a Peavey G Bass that is being modded to include Graphtech Ghost saddle piezos, which will give it the same configuration as my StingRay.
    MrWalker likes this.
  12. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Sorry :) But not!!!! :D

    Very interesting configuration and solution! That's definitely a great way to achieve the same versatility as the Fly bass. Thanks for sharing! I think a lot of people dismiss pieozs as "unusable" because they don't have the opportunity to eq it properly. Steve Swallow is eq-ing his piezos quite hard, rolling off a lot of treble and boosting bass. And a high pass filter is usually a good idea to cut the boominess. It requires very different handling compared to magnetic pickups. Thanks for sharing!!

    I have a few other basses with Graphtec systems, and two of them have been upgraded with Edmire Music's Piezo Excellence system (Norwegian vendor: Log into Facebook). You can use this system to add the brilliance from the piezos to your magnetic sound directly (passively, in fact), or you can split it and feed the piezos into whatever you want using a stereo output.
    I've also seen someone here on talkbass split the piezos and magnetic pickups on the Spector Spectorcore to separate preamps. Same basic idea. And you're right, it's possible to expand your favourite bass with a similar piezo system using graphtec (or RMC) pickup saddles.

    In my opinion this is amazing thing with the Fly... it's already taken care of. So that's a favourite feature of mine. In addition I love the way it plays. I'm in love :)
    CryingBass and Bassinthemudd like this.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I have a fretless Willcox Lightwave Saber VL (equipped with an IR optical and piezo pickup) that’s remarkably versatile. Possibly because the optical pickup allows your strings to be made out of any material. Excellent preamp plus an “ice” tone feature for the piezo. Definitely a tone machine. Especially when paired with the sonic flexibility a fretless neck provides.

    I also have a fretless Godin LR Baggs Acoustibass (forerunner of the A4 series) that has a really good acoustic sound. But IMO it’s somewhat hampered by the Baggs preamp. Not super versatile. But it’s still very good at the thing it does do.

    Then there’s the Epihone El Capitan ABG. Absolutely gorgeous range of tones. I suspect that’s largely because Epiphone went to Shadow Electronics for the pickup and preamp. Shadow wrote the book on that IMO. They were one of the first companies to seriously enter the pro piezo market, and the results show. German electrical engineering at its finest. AFAIC.

    When it comes to piezo pickups, I personally think they stand or fall on the preamp they’re paired with. So that’s something to also take into consideration.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
    Bassinthemudd and MrWalker like this.
  14. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Sorry for a very late response! Been a bit hectic here the last few days!
    Yes, the Willcox Lightwave! I actually have the HexFX, and I agree, it has a bit of that piezo magic going on! It's a very different creature than the Fly bass, as mine has almost no contours whatsoever... but it works, so who cares. A bit more traditional shaping-wise (with respect to playing position), but electronically it's definitely got a bit of the same vibe going. Good reference!

    The Godin I've heard a lot of good things about. I guess the later ones are upgraded with RMC piezos? don't know if the preamp is changed, though. Never played one. Would be interesting!

    I also agree with regards to Shadow. Did try them a couple of times, and they seem very well made.

    Absolutely agree with your final comment! Piezos require preamps, and hence are very dependent on how well that works. Which makes me think maybe an external preamp might be a better way to go in the end... as it ay be more sophisticated and already a few alternatives exist for guitar and double bass. :)

    Thanks for your comments!!!
    40Hz likes this.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Off topic, but I have to ask. Do you use the HexFX feature and how useful do you find it? It’s something I’ve been considering lately. :)
  16. Bassinthemudd

    Bassinthemudd Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2020
    Another nice thing about an external preamp is that it is transferable.
    MrWalker likes this.
  17. MrWalker


    Apr 3, 2002
    Not really off-topic, as it's bass related :D
    I use it, and it's useful. I mean, if you're looking for a GK-compatible unit it's as good as anything else out there. Will track useful above low A-string, not so good below. So I've got mine tuned E-C. I have used a Roland GK-unit on several basses before, and I like it. Gives me some options. I tend to use it for chords and solo stuff in the upper registry more than for doubling bass lines :)
    The bass itself has a few minor issues, but nothing that I cannot get sorted by a good tech if I just get around to bringing it in (a couple slightly high frets for my liking, but I'm sure they are within industry standard). But you do need a good Roland GK synth unit... I guess I've got the GR-55... Which is a bit limited. I wish Fishman would release their solution for bass, but doesn't seem like they are going to in the near future, unfortunately.

    Yes, very nice point. I've got a Fishman Platinum Pro... I should use it more often! :)
    Bassinthemudd and 40Hz like this.
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