When Parker Fly guitars were introduced in July, 1993, they were strange aliens from a distant guitar planet, sporting a radical design, composite body, and neck, and one of the most original headstocks in history. I loved the concept, but just couldn’t get jiggy with the composite body, which only weighed about five pounds – it just didn’t feel heavy enough to be a serious guitar, I felt.
My, how times have changed. Since then, Parker has extensively employed traditional wood for its bodies (though necks are still composite), as well as create the more affordable NiteFly line, with bolt-on necks.
To that end, this month we’re looking at the NiteFly Mojo Flame, a drop-dead gorgeous solidbody. In my mind, it’s kind of like a “Les Parker,” with its a AAA flamed-maple top, brilliant cherry-sunburst finish, and chrome-covered humbuckers. So on one hand you’ve got this classic retro vibe, but on the other are all these cool Parker appointments, such the slick composite neck and fingerboard, dual piezo/magnetic-pickup systems, and that fabulous body design. If the original Fly struck you as too futuristic, this one should appeal to your more traditional, time-honored guitar inclinations.
For features, the Nitefly Mojo Flame has a solid mahogany body with maple cap, bolt-on neck (22 frets, 25″ scale), Sperzel locking tuners, GraphTech nut, Fishman 6-Element piezo system for acoustic tones, and a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers (Jazz in the neck and JB in the bridge). There’s also a non-floating, dive-only tremolo system also stays in tune extremely well.
Unlike my typical in-studio tests, I gave the Nitefly Mojo Flame an immediate “gig test,” since it showed up at my house two hours before my band was to take the stage. Normally, I wouldn’t have taken the chance, but this Parker felt so good right out of the box that I just went for it. I was not disappointed, either. The tuning was dead-on, and the guitar just felt great onstage – the body’s ergonomic shape is comfortable and the neck lay comfortably in the palm of my hand. Running through a Marshall tube combo, the Nitefly roared for the bluesy lead parts, but also shined on cleaner rhythm sections – good choice on the Duncans. This axe definitely helped make the gig a rousing success.
There are huge number of tones one can conjure up from the Nitefly Mojo Flame. The toggle switch closest to the neck allows for either neck only, bridge only, or the inner coils of each humbucker. There’s also a push/pull knob for coil taps, which is a little on the noisy side when there’s too much gain on the signal. I would use this circuit mostly for clean Strat-type sounds, but if you’re looking for a full-bore Stevie Ray sound, I’d use a real Stratocaster.
On the acoustic side, the Nitefly also has an active piezo system, often used onstage. Personally, I like to just add a smidge of acoustic to my electric solos, as well – it gives my overdriven tone a crispness I really like. Conversely, you can play a mostly acoustic part, but just have a dash of electric in the background. There a lots of tonal possibilities here.
The piezo system is activated via a second toggle switch on the body, allowing you to jump between magnetic pickups only, piezo only, or a combination of the two. (The bottom knob works as a master volume for the acoustic pickup.) You separate the electric and acoustic signals coming out of the guitar via a Y cable – for best results, plug the electric into a conventional amp and the acoustic into a mixer or acoustic amp. The whole shebang runs on a 9-volt battery that should give about 200 hours of use.
The Parker NiteFly Mojo Flame is a formidable axe for the 21st century. Traditionalists won’t be able to keep their eyes of that cherry flametop finish and chromed ‘buckers, while modernists will groove on the super-fast neck and awesome electronics. What’s not to like here? No question, this sweet guitar got my mojo workin’ overtime.
Parker NiteFly Mojo Flame
Features Solid mahogany body with maple cap, Sperzel locking tuners, GraphTech nut, Fishman 6-Element piezo, Seymour Duncan Jazz and JB pickups, non-floating tremolo system.
Price $2,498 (list), $1,789 (street).
Contact Parker Guitars, PO Box 388, Wilmington, MA 01887, phone 978-988-0102, www.parkerguitars.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.