The Steve Swallow Parker fly knock off

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wilser, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. As I posted earlier, I have been in awe of this instrument ever since I saw it on the pages of Bass Player magazine back in the '90s. I have started building a 'copy' of it, as close as I can from the pictures I could get (not many). Here's a very early stage pic of the rough cut body. (nice wood, huh?).
  2. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    That is hot, man. I was really dying to have a Parker bass, ever since I saw one on the cover of Bass Player magazine. This was before I even started to play - perhaps seeing that bass helped make me want to play. It's a shame that when he finally released the bass, it was ugly as sin. His original ideas were so much better looking.

    I dig the body so far. Pretty cool.
  3. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    If Parker Fly's look like that, I'd give it another try.
  4. Yeah nice wood. Are you going to put a cable truss in it like Ken? You have been working on that haven't you? - you know, for authenticity? :D
  5. Hambone, you know, I'm not crazy! no man, I'm using conventional construction techniques to build a very unconventional instrument. I'll use a regular dual action LMI truss rod. I'm also gonna use piezo pickups and I'll try building my own custom preamp, if I screw up I'll probably put a bart pre.

    SCOTT, thanks for the link! it's nice looking at the carvings from another perspective, I will imagine that that instrument had the same big lower horn as the steve swallow one, just because of the very deep contour in the treble side. It looks like it had the same shape down there.

    I'll keep everyone posted of the progress.
  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    ...I had the same idea!
    I was thinking about building one of these myself with a Carvin neck-through neck!!!
    As I posted in another thread (What do you think of the odd Parker Fly?), I was disappointed in the new Parker bass after noting Steve's bass from a TV appearance with Carla Bley a few years back.
    I loved the airy tone of Steve Swallow's bass, and was surprised to see that the Parker bass was not constructed anything like the guitar.
    Please keep the pics coming!!!
  7. Yeah, it's a really radical instrument! I would have love to see that TV appearance! I have not seen steve playing ever, and I would love to. I have a lot of his records and have looked around for any DVDs that feature him either as a headliner or sideman to no avail. His tone is very notorious. I remember reading that he does not care much about his bass setup, he would rather be unconfortable playing a badly setup (action) bass that sounded right. For his tone he uses nylon core strings, VERY HIGH action and piezo pickup/preamp. He also plays with a pick over the neck. Great compositions! I wish he would be more mainstream so we'd know more about him.

    My bass will be set neck, that's the way I like it, even more for this one, because it's such a nice wood it would be a shame to split it up down the middle to run a neck through it. Also it will be 4 strings and fretless. I figured if steve can sound like an upright with fretted, imagine what it would sound fretless.
  8. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    ... I need your address. I found the videotape of the Steve Swallow, Carla Bley performance on Night Music from a long, long time ago. I'll send it to you.
  9. Really? you would do that? that would rock! it would really help me to get a different perspective on the instrument. I sent you the PM with my address. Thank you very much!
  10. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    It'll go out tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it!
  11. Mike! thanks a lot for the tape! it was very inspiring seeing steve and carla play. I did notice there are some slight changes that have to be made to the contour.

    The carvings on the body are really complex. And I already started with thicker wood than I should have. Anyway, I'll try to make the same carvings, but mine will definetly be thicker than his. Also, I can't see the neck to body joint, but it looks real weird. The neck is made of some white material (fiberglass?) and joins the body in an unclear manner.

    Here's the progress. (lack of it, really)
  12. wilser-

    looks like you can just do the set neck construction you mentioned before and then use a gouge to give the heel that scooped out appearance. much like you would on the top horn of a singlecut where it connects to the neck.

  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    sk - What's the scoop on this bass?

  14. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
  15. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    I'll be really interested to see how the bass turns out!

    Swallow's Parker bass has a reinforced Douglas fir neck and a cedar body. The neck is glued to the body, with interlocking wood "fingers" IIRC.

    I have a scan of an old 'Bass Player' article on Steve Swallow that details the spec of the Parker bass - I will type up some more info for you later.
  16. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004
    I love this bass!
    I am a huge fan of parker guitars, so I am curious to see how this turns out. Doesn't it seem like the Bongo is what the Fly bass could have, or should have been? Radical body shape, incredible electronics, etc...
  17. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yeah, I've been coming back to this thread to see if there's any new pics.... can't wait to see the progress of tthis bass, and it looks like there's quite a few others just as anxious to see what you come up with!!!
    I wanna do one of these, too!!!
  18. Oh my, I didn't realize so many of you were watching this thread. I haven't been able to make much progress due to new baby, but in the next couple of weeks I should be getting back in the shop.

    I have a couple of comments about the differences my instrument will have to the original.

    1. I will use regular electric wood instead of the odd choices made by Parker. My bass is a figured maple body and hard european maple neck with a normal truss rod.

    2. Mine is a 4 string

    3. Mine is fretless

    4. I originally thought of putting a piezo pickup only, but now I'm thinking I'll put in a Dimarzio P pickup with a wooden pickup cover. No piezo (sounds too thin and lacks 'life').

    5. I'll try to approximate the carvings as much as possible, don't know how well it will come out since I've never done a carved top instrument. Only thing I've carved is a Jatoba upright bass tail piece.

    6. The neck joint. I'll use a regular set-neck design.