Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Odyssey (part 1)

no one can claim to be "The World's Best Guitarist" that's strictly a matter of taste. which is why I refer to myself as "one of the world's guitarists".
but I do claim to play "The World's Best Guitar".

Adolf Rickenbacker made something like an electric guitar as far back as 1931. it was called "the frying pan" since that's what it pretty much looked like. but it was Leo Fender in 1950 who began producing his legendary guitars (the first one was called "the broadcaster") that would set the world on fire for electric guitars. so much so that 2 years later Gibson finally took the advice and design of a young whiz kid and put out their own electric "Gibson Les Paul". you could make a strong case that between these two designs, Fender and Les Paul, all guitars since have been sired. for nearly fifty years they reigned supreme, forever emulated but never truly improved upon. until Ken Parker.

if you go to and read through the section called "fly evolution" you'll better understand my bold claim but let me give you the short of it. ken parker spent 20+ years designing the most radical ergonomic masterpiece sculpted to a lean 4 pounds of beautiful wood and created to resonate perfectly. (the way to tell the virtues of an eletric guitar is to play it unplugged to see how well it sustains). my favorite part, the neck, is so smoothly comfortable it makes me play better and faster! it would be impossible to have such a thin neck were it not for ken's revolutionary idea of coating the back of the guitar in a thin carbon and glass space-age composite. thin as in the coating of an m&m. when baked into the wood the carbon composite gives the wood a tinsel strength 10,000 times stronger. you can stand on the neck (not mine! stand on your own) but even better you can depend on it having no funny notes or dead spots whatsoever. meaning perfect intonation. ken was also the first to use steel frets (duh) which never need replacing.

I take it you've seen me play and you know the abuse my guitars must endure through my reckless tremelo abandon. recently following a show in long beach,
Rusty Anderson (guitarist for Paul McCartney) came backstage.
"how did you do that!?" he asked.
"through all of that smashing about you never once tuned the guitar", he said.

the tremelo is for me the most important add-on a guitar can have. it allows expression. but for years players dreaded touching the twang bar for fear of tuning problems. the parker fly tremelo can be set for total freedom up and down. it has a beautiful spring to it but in fact it has no springs at all. another revolutionary design. when paired with Bob Sperzel's brillant locking tuning keys (standard on parkers) you have the well-tempered guitar rusty admired.

the neck plays like butter, the tremelo is simply amazing, the body weighs a third of most guitars, it stays perfectly in tune within 5 minutes of re-stringing it, okay, but what about the sound? wow! I'm glad I asked. most parkers come standard not only with gorgeous sounding magnetic pickups to die for but also a bridge piezo pickup which can be mixed together or played alone for acoustic guitar sounds. the sustain and juicyness of the sound is remarkable and can only be explained as "alive". but even that wasn't enough for yours truly.

it was 11 years ago on one of my trips to tokyo I heard a knock on my hotel room door. I opened it to find 3 young diminutive japanese men. "WE ARE KORG", they said. I figured I was about to be abducted into outer space! the nice young men had actually come to give me a new korg pedal to try out while I was visiting japan. and with it they gave me a new red parker fly. well, I liked the pedal just fine (9 different distortions in one box), but I loved the parker fly.

for the next 8 years I played the parker on and off when at home in the studio. I have a nice collection of guitars by different manufacturers, some of them I treasure dearly. but nothing played like that red parker fly. trouble was, I had painted myself in a corner with my dependance on bells and whistles like the Sustainiac, a pickup invented by Alan Hoover which gives you constant sustain when desired, or the Roland GK2 pickup which opens the universe of midi (guitar synthesizers, keyboards, etc.), or the Kahler tremelo. my onstage guitars were always customized with all of the above. I could not imagine playing without those as part of my arsenal, so much of my material relied on it. but I knew the parker actually made me play better.

so one day I finally called ken parker.


  1. Thanks Ade - I'm at the edge of my seat. Your whammyin' compadre, - S.

  2. Thanks Adrain for the Equiptment Guitar thread. I had been thinking of a Parker but I got stuck trying to buy all of the Guitars I wanted when I was 17 ... but could not afford.
    I am certianly interested in anything that can help me sound better and play faster. Guess I will have to check out a Parker.

  3. Adrian, your gold/yellow Fly ROCKS!

    I bought a P20, P40, and am looking at a black FLY. What is the name of the color of the guitar, and who did the paintwork?
    Thanks in advance.