question on pickups - prerefin era

Discussions of every Fly in every variation including Deluxe, Classic, Mojo, Artist, Supreme, Stealth, Concert/Bronze, and custom Flys
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Xav
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question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by Xav » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:44 pm

Hello guys!

Happy to have found this forum while the traditional Parker forum seems to be dead for now :(

I have questions for pre-refin ear Parker owners regarding the DIMARZIO pickups:
- do you guys prefer the GEN1 or GEN2 pickups and why?
- has anyone ordered and installed other pickups on their Flys (I see DiMarzio proposes a certain number of their references in 'Fly format' such as PAF PRO, AIR NORTON etc.)
- for people who have replaced their pickups, is it a job anyone can do (I have the experience replacing pickups on traditional guitars) or does it really require a professional to do the job?

Many thanks !

Xav

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vjmanzo
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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by vjmanzo » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:54 pm

Hey @Xav,

I’m sure others here have their own thoughts on Fly pickups, but I figure I’ll just mention my own take, which is that, fundamentally, the Fly guitar, unplugged, has a good, clean, consistent timbre throughout the fingerboard, so, unlike other guitars where you might need to rely on pickups to flatter or subdue certain timbral characteristics of the guitar (especially in certain regions of the fingerboard), you can really get far with any of the stock pickups set to an appropriate height and with a fair amount of time/effort spent on dialing in a good amp sound.

The Gen 1s have been criticized for being cold, but, really, if you adjust the pickup height, you can really get a lot of warmth. The Gen 2s are very similar to the Gen 1s in terms of their response though they’re slightly hotter. The Duncans are the most “shaped” of the stock Fly pickups, and also sound great, though, IMO, the JB can be a bit harsh if it’s set too high.

My suspicion is that Parker Guitar’s decision to introduce Duncan’s into the Mojo had more to do with appeasing the perceived demand from customers who thought that their favorite Duncans will translate well into the Fly; that is not really the case: any scoop-y or boost-y pickup that sounds great in a Strat won’t necessarily sound great in a Fly.

To say what I’m saying plainly: the Dimarzio Fly pickups were implemented to be more like “translation” devices of the Fly’s inherent timbre than “tone-shaping” devices. Factors like tonewood, strings, playing style/technique, pick thickness, and amp settings have far greater impact on the timbre of the Fly than the pickups and are far easier to tweak (well...maybe not technique! Lol). The narrative Parker Guitars created about the tonal differences between the body woods in the Fly is also worth reading.

Have said all of that, Dimarzio will work with you to your heart’s content to wind any of the more pickups to fit a Fly:

https://www.dimarzio.com/node/1720

You can find the Gen 2 pickups on Reverb and eBay somewhat more readily than the Gen 1s, so if you’re buying a Fly with Gen 1s, and you suspect you’ll find them “anemic” or “sterile” or whatever other words people have used to describe them, it may be a good idea to buy a set of Gen 2s. Swapping pickups on a Fly is straightforward and we have wiring guides and schematics on this site.
Fly Mojo '05, Fly Deluxe '07 w/Sustainiac, Fly Mojo '08 w/Sustainiac, Fly Concert '97, Fly Classic '03, Fly Deluxe '97, Fly Artist '10, Fly Deluxe Redwood '93, Fly Bass FB-4 '03, NiteFly NFV3 '97, Fly Mojo 12-string ‘11, Fly Concert ' 98, Fly Maple Custom '01, Fly Nylon '99, Fly Stealth '00 info

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by Xav » Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:33 am

Thanks a lot VJ!

so if I get your point the GEN1 might have been criticized by many Fly owners for being too 'neutral' in a way, and maybe lacking bass or treble etc. as some people were probably expecting their Parker to sound like their other guitars.

The links are interesting, I am going to study this and indeed I saw that DiMarzio still takes customer orders for pickups that will fit in the fly so it is a very piece of news !

Xavier

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by vjmanzo » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:32 am

Happy to give my thoughts on this; as I said, others certainly have other opinions to share.

I think it’s far to say that Flys are not for everyone; they have a unique look, feel, and sound, and, to paraphrase Ned Steinberger: “look, feel, and sound”, in that order, are what most people use to inform their guitar purchases. I do feel that Ken Parker was/is right when he said that he built the Fly for the “80th percentile”; it’s not for everyone!

If you’re looking to get a Les Paul sound, you can buy a Les Paul and it will just work. A Fly is versatile: it has great-sounding pickups that represent clearly what the instrument is doing and “what the instrument is doing” is sounding like the most timberally-balanced instrument you’ve ever played! :D You can use the Fly as a starting point to sculpt a Les Paul sound, but it doesn’t sound like that out of the box; I think that’s where the problem begins for most people regarding the Fly’s inherent timbre and the pickups.

I don’t think we can say that all guitarists have the same understanding of how to dial in a good sound on their guitar or on an amp. A telecaster into a Vox, for example, is a combination that just seems to work without much extra knob-tweaking, but, with a Fly, you have lots of options, which makes the Fly quite versatile, but I don’t think most guitarists know what to do with those options.

For example, the fact that you can blend in the piezo with the mag pickups or route it out separately; I hear people say “nobody uses the piezo”, but that’s not really true. If you are open to learning/experimenting with what that acoustic-ish timbre blended with the mags can bring to your sound, then the Fly is a great instrument and very versatile! I think the versatility probably appeals to a certain type of player, but, again, it’s not like plugging a Tele into a Vox.

I should also mention: the Fly is very easy to play and very transparent: what you play is what’s going to come out with a nice strong signal and a very pleasing timbre. If you are a sloppy player, I think the Fly is less forgiving than other guitars, which have “a sound” that masks a lot of the nuance of what’s being played.

So, the pickups take the blame for the Fly’s overall timbre, but really that’s not entirely fair: it’s probably that the whole guitar is a mismatch for some players.

The Fly has incredible sustain; you don’t need to rely on the pickups for this whereas other guitars do! The Fly has an incredibly even and consistent tone everywhere on the neck; other guitars need to rely on the voicing of the pickups to compensate for areas of the guitar register that sound thin or too muddy.
Fly Mojo '05, Fly Deluxe '07 w/Sustainiac, Fly Mojo '08 w/Sustainiac, Fly Concert '97, Fly Classic '03, Fly Deluxe '97, Fly Artist '10, Fly Deluxe Redwood '93, Fly Bass FB-4 '03, NiteFly NFV3 '97, Fly Mojo 12-string ‘11, Fly Concert ' 98, Fly Maple Custom '01, Fly Nylon '99, Fly Stealth '00 info

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by hlrowe » Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:15 pm

Glad to find this site! Many thanks!

I've had a 2005 Deluxe since '07 and really just started messing with it this Summer. It was packed away. I really like the bridge pickup but the neck always seems a bit thin. I'm probably not dialing it in correctly yet. At this point I'm not sure whether to leave it in, maybe send my fly to Indianapolis (or drive there since I'm in a Cincy suburb) for a Sustainer, or put in a different DiMarzio. My Fishman also quit working and the tone pot doesn't work. Yes, I did change the battery (almost forgot that part) :D This Fall/Winter I will probably put in a Graphtech Ghost system to replace the Fishman stuff. I've used the Dimarzio Pickup finder but really can't decide what to get if I do replace the neck PU. Maybe a Humbucker from hell?

I don't gig. Recreational player noodling in the basement. I use the fly primarily for 80's stuff like Rainbow and Dio. Really any heavy blues based rock.

My rig is the Fly into an Audiobox USB through BiasFX 2 Desktop software out to an original Bose PAS. No additional hardware. It sounds terrific. The Bose is pretty much a FRFR array. My ear with the fly prefers all the Marshall amps and my current favorite is the Divided by 13 amp. Just started to learn Purple Haze (one of my first albums I bought in late 60's) and believe it or not I get a really credible tone into a JB Fuzz (assuming Joe Bonamassa clone) into a Plexi 69 with an analog delay. The fly also loves the Klon pedal on Richie Blackmore stuff.

One thing I notice is there seems to be too much bass output with new strings. They are not that close to the PU. Even when cutting the amps volume almost to zero. I use 9 - 42 (usually Ernie Ball Super Slinky) with a 0.015 G. I use it for easier bending. I never break them even hitting them pretty hard. I may put in a Fender Hendrix set which also has 0.015 and has a 0.038 for the bass to cut down on the mass.

Thanks for hosting Doc! I will enjoy reading your research on the main site.

--Harry

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by vjmanzo » Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:57 pm

Hey @hlrowe! Glad you're here! Welcome to the forum!

Have you tried adjusting the pickup height of the neck pickup? It's easy to do: just loosen to hex-head screws in the pickup, then the pickup will move freely vertically if you pull it up or push it down; not sure which height will sound better, but you can definitely experiment with it. Once you find a tone you like by moviing the pickup closer or further from the strings, you just re-tighten the hex-head screws.

From the Fly manual: Each DiMarzio humbucking pickup is secured to the body by two hex-head screws. On the coil, closer to the bridge, the mounting screw is the screw under the B string. On the coil, closer to the neck, the mounting screw is the screw under the A string. Turn the screws clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. To adjust pickup height, unscrew both pickup mounting screws. Raise or lower your pickup to the desired position with your fingers. Retighten both pickup mounting screws flush with top of pickup. Do not over tighten.

I have a Sustainiac in my 2007 Deluxe and it sounds nice; very comparable to the tone of the Gen 2 neck pickup (what comes stock in a 2005 Deluxe). The Fernandes Sustainer won't fit in a Fly last time I checked.
Fly Mojo '05, Fly Deluxe '07 w/Sustainiac, Fly Mojo '08 w/Sustainiac, Fly Concert '97, Fly Classic '03, Fly Deluxe '97, Fly Artist '10, Fly Deluxe Redwood '93, Fly Bass FB-4 '03, NiteFly NFV3 '97, Fly Mojo 12-string ‘11, Fly Concert ' 98, Fly Maple Custom '01, Fly Nylon '99, Fly Stealth '00 info

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by hlrowe » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:54 pm

vjmanzo wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:57 pm
Have you tried adjusting the pickup height of the neck pickup? It's easy to do: just loosen to hex-head screws in the pickup, then the pickup will move freely vertically if you pull it up or push it down; not sure which height will sound better, but you can definitely experiment with it. Once you find a tone you like by moving the pickup closer or further from the strings, you just re-tighten the hex-head screws.

From the Fly manual: Each DiMarzio humbucking pickup is secured to the body by two hex-head screws. On the coil, closer to the bridge, the mounting screw is the screw under the B string. On the coil, closer to the neck, the mounting screw is the screw under the A string. Turn the screws clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. To adjust pickup height, unscrew both pickup mounting screws. Raise or lower your pickup to the desired position with your fingers. Retighten both pickup mounting screws flush with top of pickup. Do not over tighten.
Neck PU was sitting really low to the strings relative to the bridge PU. Adjusted it up and it is fine now. I also added some downward EQ to the bass. Very balanced now. Many thanks. I really should RTFM one of these days.

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Re: question on pickups - prerefin era

Post by vjmanzo » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:35 pm

My pleasure! I’m so glad that worked for you!!!
Fly Mojo '05, Fly Deluxe '07 w/Sustainiac, Fly Mojo '08 w/Sustainiac, Fly Concert '97, Fly Classic '03, Fly Deluxe '97, Fly Artist '10, Fly Deluxe Redwood '93, Fly Bass FB-4 '03, NiteFly NFV3 '97, Fly Mojo 12-string ‘11, Fly Concert ' 98, Fly Maple Custom '01, Fly Nylon '99, Fly Stealth '00 info

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