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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As some of you know, I recently got my grubby hands on a MINT Parker fly after much research and demoing and annoying local music shop owners. Anyway, my only real complaint about the guitar is its' bridge pickup, it just sounds a bit thin on the tiny strings when you mash your fingers on 'em. I decided I would look around and see what I could find and found a PArker user's group on Yahoo. The following is a synopsis of a conversation between one of the group's members and Steve Blucher of DiMarzio fame about the pickups and some of the issues surrounding them.

"First, one fact that was a big surprise to me: All recent Parker
Deluxe/Classic/Select models come equipped with the second generation
("upgraded") DiMarzio Parker Custom pickups. He called these pickups P1
(neck) and P2 (bridge.) He implied that if the pickups on your guitar
have the "new style" DiMarzio (larger) logo then they're the newer custom
pickups. You can tell for sure by looking at the model designation in the
back of the pickup. My '99 Supreme's pickups have the new style logo so I
already have them on my instrument. I believe he said that Parker started
equipped all Flys with this newer pickup a few years ago.

The first generation Parker humbucking pickups were derived from an neck
Air Norton and a bridge Tone Zone. These pickups were not designed
specifically for the Fly (as I found out a Fly's pickups have unique
requirements which I will mention later..) Steve told me that he and
another Parker Fly enthusiast/DiMarzio employee designed the custom P1/P2
pickups for themselves and found that they were a drastic improvement over
the originals so they presented them to Parker. At the time Korg was
still distributing Parker guitars and these new pickups were analyzed in a
"big and fancy" Korg soundroom and compared against many traditional and
vintage instruments. Here they found that the new pickups also gave the
Fly a more traditional sound so they decided to go with them as standard
equipment. One of the biggest complaints from early Fly owners was that
they wanted more traditional sounds so this was one factor in Korg/Parker's
decision to make the change.

I asked him about custom pickups for the Fly and expressed my primary
complaint that the Fly's pickups were not focused enough and I felt needed
more output for the type of music I play. He asked what kind of sound I
was looking for and I told him something in the area of a distortion class
pickup, like a Super Distortion or an X2N. My favorite bridge pickup
lately is an EMG-85. Unfortunately, he told me that this is impossible.
Read on to learn why.

As I mentioned previously there are two significant design limitations for
any pickup in the Fly. 1) size restriction, and 2) native instrument
tonality. He told me that quite simply the pickup's output is dependent
on the size of the pickup's magnet. And the size of the Fly's pickup
cavity will not allow a large "distortion class" magnet (like an X2N or a
Super Distortion.) Secondly, the bright tonality of the Fly, which Steve
felt is one of its coolest features, requires that a pickup have a lot of
winding to reduce the brightness and produce a smoother tone. I guess this
is why the DC resistance of the P1/P2 pickups are so high compared to other
DiMarzio humbuckers.

Steve told me that the mass of most guitars reduces the string's treble
response. The Fly is different because of the partial composite
construction, the bridge, and (most significantly) the reduced weight. He
said that the Fly is one of the brightest guitars he's worked with (he
mentioned the aluminum bodied Able Axe as the brightest he's heard.) He
said that this brightness and even frequency response is a fantastic
feature of the Fly. It gives a pickup designer a lot of leverage and
gives the players a very linear and consistent tone. He told me
specifically that one unique result of this is that on a Parker
Deluxe/Artist/Classic you can not hear any (or as dramatic of a) difference
between a 12th fret D on a wound D string and a 7th fret D on an unwound G
string as you can on just about any other electric guitar. I tested this
on my Supreme vs some of my other guitars and he's right about this. I
never really noticed that before.

He said that the first thing that we should try is to raise the height of
the Fly's pickups. Push both E strings down on the 24th fret and raise the
pickups as far as they'll go .. HOWEVER, he said, DO NOT let the pickups
get "floppy" in the pickup cavity as this will cause the pickups to vibrate
and cause mid-frequency "howling" feedback. He said we might want to try
to put some foam under the pickup to make sure that it stays secure and not
loose. This will help those looking for a higher output/more focused tone.

We can also (obviously) boost the signal of the guitar with an external
preamp/line booster. [This led me to wonder if the guitar's onboard preamp
can be wired to do the same for the magnetic output... More on this

Unfortunately, he told me that the P1/P2 pickups are basically the
hottest/highest output pickup that DiMarzio (or probably any other passive
pickup manufacturer) can produce for the Fly. Basically, that's the end of
the story.

I then asked him exactly what exactly can DiMarzio do for us?

DiMarzio can't produce a -hotter pickup- because of the magnet size
restriction.. BUT.. they can produce Fly pickups with tonal characteristics
similar to other DiMarzio pickups. Here are the models that he mentioned
in particular:

PAF ( But I don't remember him mentioning PAF Pro specifically... )
Fred ( In my opinion a Fred would sound awful in a Fly... )
Norton ( My favorite DiMarzio pickup.. This might sound very good! )
Breed ( No experience with this pickup )
(obviously Tone Zone and Air Norton...)

He also said that they once put an Evolution's winding into a Parker pickup
for a customer and while the pickup didn't have the same high output as the
Evolution it did have the same type of sound. This might be a solution for
some of looking for a more focused distortion tone.

And that was basically it. Although I will also say that I mentioned Ed
Roman's black back Parker Fly replacement offer and we discussed this topic
at length. I will share a few points that he expressed to me. First, I
read that Parker selected DiMarzio because DiMarzio was in NY and local to
Parker. Steve said that Parker in fact received pickup submissions from
many manufacturers and selected DiMarzio after objective analysis. Parker
thought that the DiMarzio pickups sounded best in their guitars. I guess
this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone and I must say that Steve said
nothing bad about anyone or any other pickup manufacturer. Also, it is my
opinion that DiMarzio clearly seems to have done the most R&D for Parker
Guitar pickups and I think it's very unlikely that a pickup from a
different manufacturer will be any dramatic improvement over what we
already have. I could be wrong, but I will personally no longer consider a
Duncan or a "black back" replacement in my Fly.

That's basically it... I hope this was as informative for other Fly owners
as it was for me. Steve is THE MAN in my book and the fact that he loves
his Artist is a good thing for us all. Keep in mind that the reason why we
have the upgraded pickups is because people at DiMarzio are passionate
about their personal Parker guitars. After talking with him I have a new
found respect for the thought that went into the Fly.. Good luck to all!

So, there you have it, I discovered I have the newest Pups already and a quick way to tell (per DiMarzio) is look at the logo and if the DiMarzio is italicized, they are the newest version, otherwise you have the old version.

Anyone else tried other Pups in their Parker?


· Registered
4,216 Posts
That's some great info!

I knew a while ago that they changed the pickups around 1998 or 1999, but didn't have any specifics on what changes were made. I'm pretty sure my '98 Fly Classic has the original pickups, but i'm not 100% certain. I generally have no complaints about their tone, but i would like to have a bit more warmth and depth... they sound a bit too sterile and modern. It sounds like the newer P1 and P2 pickups might do the trick.

Replacing them myself looks like a scary job, though. :?

· Registered
4,539 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thats what I thought too Darren, but its pretty easy.
The 2 screws that adjust your pickup height ( check your manual ) are what hold them in. Remove your strings, remove those 2 screws each pickup, and it comes right out. Desoldering is a little more delicate, but you seem like a fairly detail-oriented person so I don't think you'd have much of a problem. Just resolder the new pickup wires back in place of the old ones color for color. Its a direct swap as the MFR is the same.


· Registered
1,357 Posts
That's some good reading!

I had a fly classic back in '98 and was really unimpressed with the output and overall tonality, although I loved the look and feel of the guitar. Sounds like it may be worth checking out one of the newer flys to see if the new pickups make a drastic difference in the tone.


· Registered
132 Posts
my fly classic is a 98, and i think it must have the old style pickups...its the logo on the front of the pup, below the polepieces that would be italicized, right? i might have to look into upgrading. i love my fly, but i find that it has a real "open" sound that doesn't have the presence that i'm looking for in high gain situations...switching back and forth between my fly and my ibanez 7 string i can really tell a tonal difference (ignoring the obvious low b... :)) i use a dod bass eq to boost and shape the stock pickups in both guitars, and while i use only a slightly different slider setting (identical except with the fly the 3 lowest frequencies are set to give it a bit of a bass boost, while with the seven string, i set it to cut the mud) for the two guitars, the fly just doesn't have the same thickness that the 7 has. i had thought it was just the inherent difference due to the parker's design and materials, but it sounds like the newer style pups might help to close the chunk gap :eek: and an evolution...i'm very intrigued...
so i've not dealt with dimario before, is an average joe like me able to get a pup in that winding (say evolution), and would that be some sort of custom wound price, or the same as their stocked pups?

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1,416 Posts
bduersch said:
That's some good reading!

I had a fly classic back in '98 and was really unimpressed with the output and overall tonality, although I loved the look and feel of the guitar. Sounds like it may be worth checking out one of the newer flys to see if the new pickups make a drastic difference in the tone.

I had a gold one back in 97 and I also found the sound remarkably uninspiring....even through my Rivera and that was hard to do. Acoustic tones kicked serious tail though and that neck....oh the neck
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