Guitars As Art


I’ve always admired the work of master luthier Ken Parker. However, like many guitarists, I’ve always found his guitars to be too “out there” for me. Unlike bass players who are happy to indulge in all sorts of instrument shape, finish and electronics, most guitarists find comfort in 50-year old designs such as the Gibson Les Paul (1951) and the Fender Stratocaster (1950). Even relative newcomers such as Paul Reed Smith (1985) are in fact Gibson design derivatives.

Parker Guitars were sold in 2003 to US Music Corporation (makers of Washburns guitars and Randall amps) who quickly set out to broaden the brand user base by introducing cheaper Korean-made alternatives and more conventional instrument shapes.

The fruit of their latest effort can be found in the Dragon Fly, a morph between a Parker Fly and a standard Fender Stratocaster. I like the result and I wish they could get rid of those silly Piezo-acoustic pickups and put a real Floyd Rose tremolo in there. According to their web site, they have done just that with a Vernon Reid custom model, but there’s no indication about when these new models may be hitting the stores.

Parker guitars have always been expensive pieces of art, but they were the vision of a single man with no compromise to accommodate the various tastes of guitarists. The Dragon Fly is the first step in changing all that.


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