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Parker Pickup Modification

Great News for Parker Owners

The biggest problem with the Parker guitars has always been the sound of the magnetic pickups. Many people buy a Parker for it's rich deep piezo electric acoustic sound, and easy playability. However, they usually become disenchanted with the DiMarzio magnetic pickup system that comes with all Parkers. The Fishman acoustic system is not my favorite Piezo Acoustic System, but it does sound great on the solid body Parkers.

The Parker guitar was probably the first guitar to be produced that successfully combined electric & acoustic sounds. Because the Parker Guitar is so extremely thin, Ken Parker had to design a special proprietary pickup that would actually fit the guitar. I believe Ken should have gone to Seymour Duncan, but instead he selected DiMarzio to build his pickups (I believe that was a mistake). I would speculate that this mistake was probably made due to simple geographic location. When Ken was in the original design stages for the guitar, he was located in New York, and so is DiMarzio. I would also speculate that the people at DiMarzio made it easy for Ken to simply just pop in again and again until the pickup was to his liking.

I had one of the first year original hardtail Parker guitars. It is one of the first ones made and it only took me about three months to come to the conclusion that the pickups simply did not have the bottom end or the balls that I was looking for. The newer ones I like even less. So maybe there was some cost cutting done or perhaps the magnets are less powerful. I simply don't know, I'm just guessing.

In any case I never bothered to do much about it because I knew that the pickups were a special reduced size and they were simply the only ones that would physically fit the Parker guitars.

In June of 2001 one of my customers traded a Parker in because he thought it ''sounded Rizzy,' To quote him exactly. "...like a fly buzzing around my head."  After he left, we were all sitting around having lunch and talking about (what else) guitars. The subject of the Parker pickups came up and we all concluded that the pickups just weren't making the grade.

Several days later, Jim Van Campen, one of my staff technicians brought in the traded in Parker to me and asked me to check it out. I plugged it in and was pleasantly surprised to hear a creamy fat bottom end, the deep brown sound that I could normally not get with a Parker. I asked him what he had modified?  He explained that he had adapted a pair of Seymour Duncan Black/Back TM pickups to fit in the Parker.

The amount of work to make each and every modification by hand was simply not economical so I contacted the folks at Seymour Duncan and explained what I would need. As usual, Seymour's staff  was extremely helpful, even though I was only starting out with 10 pickups.

So here's the bottom line...$375.00

My shop can now replace those Rizzy sounding DiMarzio pickups with genuine Seymour Duncans, and the price is affordable.  The total cost is only $375.00. That includes 2 Seymour Duncan Black/Back TM Pickups, with complete professional installation.  When the Job is done there is no way that you can see any trace of the modification.

You also get a choice of 3 different color combinations for no extra charge. Before you run to the phone, please read below.

Now Here's the Fine Print...

The system has to be installed by a qualified professional. That's us. No exceptions!  Parker guitars are like no other guitar, everything is different including the pickup mounting process. We screwed up several of the first installations that we did and we are supposed to know what we are doing.

All e-mail concerning this subject will be ignored. I simply do not have the time to answer questions and I wish to remain tight lipped about this process.

Simply pack up your guitar and include a LEGIBLE note with the information below.

Magnetic Pickup Recommendations for Your Parker Fly

Pickups installed in a Parker Fly will sound different than the same pickups installed in a conventional guitar, because the Fly is built differently. This is true whether your pickups are DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, EMG, or custom hand-wounds. Pickups only copy the acoustic properties of the guitar. They can shape tone but they don't create tone. It all starts with the guitar. Before choosing pickups, consider the tonal character of your guitar and the ease of pickup installation. 

Nothing sounds like a Parker Fly. They vibrate so much; you can actually feel it as you play.

All guitars soak up some of the "sound energy" of a vibrating string. Parkers soak up less "sound energy" so the pickups "hear" more overtone harmonics, which produces uncommon richness of tone. The frequency response extends much higher than other guitars due to the unique materials used in its construction (for example: lightweight tone woods, composite skin and stainless steel frets). Therefore a pickup, which sounds dark or muddy on another guitar, may sound more clear and bright in the Parker Fly. 

Sound choices:

Building fine pickups is a real art, but it doesn’t have to be mysterious. Basically, the guitar pickup is a coil of insulated wire wrapped around a magnetic core. It is positioned so the strings are within its magnetic field. These things can be altered to shape the tonal characteristics of a pickup. The main design factors for magnetic pickups are:

·Coil configuration and locations (for ex. a pair of Humbuckers, or three Single-coils, or two Single-coils plus a Humbucker)

·Wiring of the coils in relation to one another (for ex. series vs. parallel, in-phase vs. out-of-phase, hum-canceling vs. noisy)

·Magnetic field (several materials are available including Alnico ll, Alnico lll, Alnico V. Ceramic and Neodymium)

·Coil wire;  diameter, length, number of wraps, and overall coil shape.

Other things which have an effect on tone are: coil wire insulation type, potting, pickup covers, mounting plates, pole pieces, distance from string to pickup, pot values, etc.

The key point is, you can modify any number of these factors to impact your overall sound.

Other than DiMarzio:

There are three things to consider when retrofitting non-DiMarzio pickups onto a Fly.

· The Parker guitar body is so thin (just over ˝” at the neck PU) that special pickup mounting is required. Fly Humbuckers are anchored with two pole piece screws going into threaded brass inserts in the guitar. If a pickup doesn't have pole piece spacing identical to the Fly, modifications will be required. (The screws are 1.400" on center, on the diagonal of a 0.720" X 1.200" grid.) A direct coupled or solid mounted pickup is imperative for top performance when playing loud.

· Parker base-plate corners have a 3/8" radius. Most other pickups have a smaller radius and won’t fit into the pickup hole without modification.

· String spacing at the Parker Bridge is about 2.150". The pole pieces of the DiMarzio pickups are 2" apart ( 0.400" o.c.)***. Narrower spacing may diminish the sound of the E strings. So be careful if you attempt to do the modifications yourself.

Tech Notes:

  Flys built since April of 1999 are equipped with DiMarzio newer Parker Fly Custom Neck #PHWP1, and Parker Fly Custom Bridge #PHWP2. These are identified by a DiMarzio logo, which is 5/8" long.

From 1993 through March of 1999 Flys had the original DiMarzio pickups, which were based on the Air Norton for the neck position and the Tone Zone for the bridge position. These are identified by a DiMarzio logo, which is 3/8" long. These were the same pickups that Music Man was using in their Axis type model or earlier EVH but they sound worthless and weak in the Fly

Ed Roman

Frequently Asked Question on the "Parker Pickup Mod"

Q. How long will it take to do the Job?
A. Usually about 3 to 7 days.

Q. How long does it take to ship a guitar?
A. About 1 week if we are at the opposite end of the USA.

Q. Where do I ship it to?
A. Ship it to my Las Vegas store or the Connecticut location.

Q. Where can I get a shipping box?
A. Almost any music store will have a box that they will probably glad to give you free of charge.

Q. Will this modification hurt the resale value of my guitar?
A. I should think not. Besides, you won't want to sell it anymore after you make the guitar sound good. I never believe that an improvement to any guitar can be a detriment to the price. Especially when the mod is completely invisible excepting for the pickup brand name.

Q. Can I or anybody else tell that this mod is done by looking at it.
A. I doubt it! Especially because I couldn't when Jim first showed it to me. It never occurred to me to look at the actual pickup.

Q. Will this void my warranty with Parker?
A. The official answer here is yes. However, I should think not. It may not cover the new pickups, but I am relatively sure that any other unrelated problems would be covered. Besides I have been carrying Parkers for about 10 years and I cannot remember a single warranty situation. No one ever sends their guitar to Parker for warranty anyway, unless it's a finish or paint issue.

Q. I live very close to your shop. Can I come in and drop it off?
A. Yes, no problem. Just call and make an appointment.

Q. Can I wait for it to be done?
A. No. Unless you live outside the continental  USA and  you are visiting for one day.  Even then, we can't guarantee a same day modification.

Q. Where can I try one of these out?
A. Nowhere else but at Ed Roman Guitars. Trust me, you will love the modification.

Q. If I think of a relevant, intelligent question regarding this mod can I call you and pose it to you?
A. Yes you may. Just please don't call unless you are serious about actually getting it done.

Q. Can I pay by credit card?
A. Yes. But only if you live in the USA. You will also lose your cash discount and the price will be $264.00 complete.

Q. What do I do if I hate it?
A. Just send it back within 15 days time and we will put it back to 100% stock. You will only be charged $50.00 which will cover our labor costs.  You will receive a refund check for the difference with your guitar. To date, everyone who has done this modification has been immensely pleased.

     Ed Roman