Hands-On Review: Parker Fly Mojo Electric Guitar

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A whole new take on the electric guitar

By Vinton Burgess

Parker's mahogany miracle machine builds on the revolutionary design of the Fly with a host of new enhancements. The result is a high tech tonal monster with terrific sustain, stunning looks, and the fastest, silkiest neck in the business.

Magical materials

In broad terms, the evolution of technology has been the evolution of materials. We talk about the copper, bronze, and iron ages, not the axe age or the sword age. That's because the nature of the materials available has a huge impact on what can be made with them. Ken Parker has always had a firm grasp of this fact and was among the first to make extensive use of a revolutionary new material—carbon-glass epoxy—in solidbody guitar manufacture.

With a mind-boggling tensile strength and negligible weight, carbon-glass composite is one of the most amazing developments of the late 20th century. In the early 1990s, the marriage of carbon-glass reinforcement and great-sounding tone woods enabled Parker to create a fly-weight instrument with phenomenal stability and supremely organic resonance. He dubbed it the Fly. Since then. Parker's earned a world-wide reputation for quality, versatile instruments.

Mahogany mojo

Last year, for the 10-year anniversary of the design, Parker revised all the Fly guitars and introduced the mahogany Mojo. Few woods have influenced the sound of modern guitar like mahogany. It is porous and light enough to resonate freely while being stable enough to support steel strings. Unfortunately, until now you needed a couple of good-sized chunks of mahogany to build a stable guitar. And that meant weight on the shoulder.

Parker Guitars Fly Mojo Electric Guitar Dusty Black

By strengthening the mahogany with a carbon glass back, Parker was able to create the lightest mahogany guitar ever while retaining the mysterious, warm, and heavy tonalities that have made mahogany guitars the favorites of many of the world's greatest players.

I'll get to all the cutting edge technology in a minute, but first I have to rave about the rapturous experience of playing this thing. It's phenomenally light, like picking up a kitten. The next treat to the senses is the amazing fretboard. The strings glide over the frets like ice skates when you bend notes.

And this baby screams! I plugged into my Marshall and pumped her up to 11. Feeling the Fly Mojo's vibrant resonance, hearing miles of sustain, and marveling all the while at its light weight, it was a serious case of love at first solo.

On the other end of the spectrum, I dialed in a surprisingly robust and warm jazz tone from the front pickup with the treble rolled off. Then I added a little of the piezo signal, which I ran from the stereo jack on the guitar into my acoustic amp. This produced a really full, round sound like an acoustic archtop.

Parker Guitars Fly Mojo Back

Cut the fat

At the heart of the Fly's levity (it weighs in at a scant 5 pounds) is an amazing job of sculpting away unneeded wood, particularly around the neck joint. The Mojo's seamless patented multiple-finger neck joint tapers from only about 1-1/4" thick at the end of the fretboard to about 7/8" where it meets the body.

Without the .02" thin carbon-glass backing extending from the head joint to the foot, that skinny little neck joint would never hold up. With the backing, you can bridge the guitar face up between two chairs and stand on it. (Although I wasn't brave enough to try this myself.) You can easily play every string on all 24 frets. And the sculpting job looks fantastic. There are subtle curves and accents even on the back, a rounded surface for your right forearm, and a nice wide shelf at the waist for your knee.

Futuristic fretboard

The carbon-glass fretboard on the Fly Mojo is about the thickness of a business card! Still more amazing, the frets are made of hardened stainless steel and they have no tangs. Viewed in cross section, they're flat on the bottom and are simply glued onto the fretboard with a miraculous heat-activated epoxy.

Annealed to a 10" to 13" conical carve on the front of the neck, this unprecedented combination results in by far the smoothest-playing guitar out there. The carbon-glass composite gets slick instead of sticky when things get sweaty. And those super-hard frets will never wear the slightest bit.

Parker Guitars Fly Mojo Bridge Detail

High-tech to the bone

With a Seymour Duncan Jazz humbucker at the neck, a Duncan JB at the bridge, and six-element under-saddle Fishman piezo, the Mojo leaves no tonal element to chance. The Duncans feature push-pull coil tapping on the tone knob and the piezos run through a custom Fishman stereo preamp.

One switch and one knob give you full control of the mix between the magnetic and piezo pickups. A smart stereo jack lets you run the piezo side to an acoustic amp (or the board) and the mags to your tube amp. If you plug in a mono cable, the jack automatically sums both signals. The piezo tone is full, rich with overtones, and perfectly balanced. The Fly also features a spring-steel-based rocking vibrato that can be fully adjusted without taking off the back plate and that switches easily between dip-only and dip-or-pull settings. This vibrato is enhanced by a self-lubricating nut and Sperzel locking tuners.

In sum, the Parker Fly Mojo is one of the finest guitars I've ever played. It exhibits by far the greatest degree of truly useful and innovative engineering of any guitar I've seen. And the workmanship surpasses even the best custom-made instruments. For my money, the Mojo rules!

Features & Specs

  • Highly sculpted one-piece mahogany body
  • One-piece mahogany neck
  • Carbon-glass fretboard
  • 24 hardened stainless steel frets
  • Seymour Duncan Jazz neck humbucker pickup
  • Seymour Duncan JB bridge humbucker pickup
  • 6-element Fishman piezo
  • Active custom Fishman stereo preamp
  • Stereo output with smart-switching jack
  • 3-way toggle for the magnetic pickups
  • Push-pull coil tapping on both magnetic pickups
  • 3-way selector toggle for piezo, magnetic, or dual signals
  • Piezo level knob
  • Custom flat spring vibrato with floating, bend-down-only, and fixed modes
  • Self-lubricating GraphTech nut
  • Sperzel locking tuners
  • Stainless steel bridge saddles
  • Multi-finger integrated neck joint
  • Carbon-glass backing veneer on entire instrument
  • 25-1/2" scale
  • 10" to 13" conical fretboard radius
  • 1-17/25" nut width
  • 5 lbs. total weight
  • Parker Fly custom hard case

Tags: Electric Guitars

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