KEN PARKER ARCHTOPS
Unlike most other kinds of musical instruments, the archtop guitar was originally devised to be built in a factory, and didn’t have the benefit of developing gradually, with lots of talented builders competing and building on each other’s strengths.
At the end of the great depression, the availability of the electromagnetic pickup and the guitar amplifier gradually rendered the archtop commercially irrelevant, as solidbody guitars rose to assume their dominance as tools for performing guitarists. It can be argued that the development of the acoustic archtop was actually driven backwards by the addition of magnetic pickups, because builders added more stiffness to improve the newly amplified guitar’s behavior at stage volume.
As an instrument maker, my goal has always been to build the most sensitive, responsive, and versatile guitars I can. I have long believed that the acoustic archtop guitar form offers huge potential that has been largely unexplored. I’m determined to wrest the best possible musical results from this wonderfully flexible and intriguing form.
This is an exciting time for me as a builder, because I can work alone once again, and follow my muse. I built my first archtop guitar in 1976 and, although I went on to build and develop other kinds of tools for musicians, I’ve always felt the calling to return to my first inspiration, my first love, the acoustic archtop guitar.
If you would like more information about the guitars or want to find out how you can have me build one for you, please drop me a line.
I look forward to hearing from you.
17 Kondelin Road #5
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
A Note About Parker Guitars (Flys, etc)
Many of you have written to ask about my work at Parker Guitars. I’m sorry that I can’t answer your inquiries personally, but here I’ll try to help with some of the more frequently asked questions.
Larry Fishman and I met in 1984 and began a playful but productive design partnership. We shared techniques and technologies, and tried to envision some new tools for guitar players. Long story short, we founded Parker Guitars in 1991 in order to realize the Fly Guitar project. We created tools to build the guitars, and established our factory in Massachusetts, where we produced about 30,000 guitars and basses.
In 2003, US Music purchased Parker Guitars, and moved the production facilities to the greater Chicago area. Since that time, all of the new models produced by Parker, including any acoustic or semi hollow instruments, have been designed solely by Parker Guitars’ design engineers. I have had no involvement with any of these new design projects.
Creating the Parker Fly, Nightfly, and the Fly Bass was a labor of love. I had a lot of fun designing them and then devising and building the production tooling to make them. These instruments have worn well, and now the product line has been expanded by the new owners.