Parker Fly MIDI upgrade

One of my favourite guitars is a 1994 Parker Fly, which I picked up used a few years ago.

As a 25 year old guitar it has seen a lot but is still in great shape. It has been refinished but there are still two screw holes visible near the bridge from where a previous owner installed a Roland divided pickup. I don’t mind that because I had always wanted to use the Fly as another synth capable guitar and I wouldn’t be the one responsible for drilling holes in the body.

Unfortunately, when the Roland GK3 (the current model) was released, the spacing on the pickup mounting holes was changed so fitting my GK3 pickup wasn’t an option as the holes in the guitar were for the previous model.

Luckily, I managed to find a used GK2A pickup for a reasonable price but it had no mounting bracket for the control unit. After looking at the similar GK3 bracket though I realised that it wouldn’t really work as the trem adjustment wheel on the Parker would be right underneath the bracket.

It’s possible to mount the unit with double sided tape but I preferred something a bit less prone to coming off at an inopportune moment so it was time to make something.

The first step was to figure out exactly where on the guitar it should go. Usually, it sits between the back of the bridge and the tail end of the guitar, but that’s where the trem wheel is so it will have to move down towards the other controls, or up above the wheel. It quickly became obvious that crowding it in with the other controls wasn’t a good choice so it had to go up. To avoid drilling holes in the body, it had to mount to the tail pin the same way that the Roland bracket does. The Roland bracket also wraps around the back of the body for more support so I decided to utilise a couple of screws in the back cover to help fix it in place.

Next, in order to see what such a bracket might look like, it was time to make a cardboard template.

After a couple of tries the template fit onto the guitar and it was time to think about turning it into the real thing.

What would it be made of? The Roland brackets are made of steel but they don’t take much stress so they don’t need to be that strong. I considered making it of brass but one of the best things about the Fly is that it only weighs 2kg (4.5 lbs) so adding anything that heavy, on top of the weight of the GK2A, might make a significant difference…

Find out more in part two