The Fate of the Parker NiteFly

The Nite Fly was killed off my Music Corp and 'revived' by the new owners of Parker Guitars but gone is the compound radius neck, gone is the composite neck, gone is the swamp ash (SA model). Disaster.

In general, I’m a great advocate of the NiteFly over the more expensive models for a variety of reasons:

The neck carve is more reminiscent of a Fender instead of the super-thin necks on their higher end models while still retaining a shreddy feel as you move up toward the higher frets;

The stainless steel frets on the NF are actually taller than those on the higher-priced cousins and I find it easier to fly around on them -- no pun intended ... okay, the pun was intended;

The thicker body and pickguard make for a highly customizable guitar lending the opportunity for swapping out a wide range of pickups without modifying the body -- which is really good because few are satisfied with the factory DiMarzio pickups;

And the NF can be had in a swamp ash body (the SA versions) -- a wood that I and others consider to be the ultimate guitar wood for a solid body guitar with single coil pickups and a bolt on neck.

If you’re on the market for a NF go used (the quality of the new models are generally perceived as mediocre to horrible) but watch your serial numbers! Here’s why:

Parker was bought by Korg in 1995 and escaped their clutches in February 2000. Parker was then sold to Music Corp in April 2004.

This brief window from 2000 to 2004 is known, oddly enough, as the "Ken Parker era" and the guitars produced during this era are the best the company ever made -- think of this period as kind of like a pre-CBS Fender. And, sure enough, used, Ken-Era NFSA are (as of early 2011) going for a few hundred more than the original selling prices -- depending on the condition and seller. We can expect prices to continue to climb as the 'mystique' surrounding these guitars continues to develop.

How many NF SA and M were produced during this brief 'golden' era? It is not known but we can speculate. Ken Parker claims in his New Yorker profile that over his 13 years at the helm he produced 30,000 guitars. That's about 48 guitars per week. If the NF SA and M comprised, at most, 20% of production totals then we're looking at approximately 1500 Ken-Era SA and M models. That's a pretty rare guitar for an industrial firm. Even if there were three thousand of these guitar out there (just the two models falling within the 41 month window) then they'd still be rather rare.

The key is to get past the "Vs" made during the Korg era and aim for the NF SA (swamp ash) or M (mahogany) they started producing in Dec. 1999.

So, your target window is technically Dec. 1999 to April 2004 but the "collector" window is Feb. 2000 to April 2004.

Examine this NiteFly History document:

Here’s a NiteFly serial number decoder:

(Note: NiteFly serial numbers follow a different format than the Fly. Your guitar may have a five or six digit serial number).



Serial Number 117123
11=(Month) November
7=(Year) 1997
123=(Number of guitar that month) 123

Note: the number of guitar of that month refers to all models not, say, the 123rd NiteFly

For a NiteFly made in June 2000 the number should read:


6 = June
00 = 2000
123 = number of guitar that month

But I have seen some guitars with odd serial numbers that just didn't make sense.