By anders pearson 13 Nov 2009
Ever since running across a thread in the Parker Guitar forums showing off a rare “Stealth” model last spring, I knew I had to have one. Fewer than one hundred were made and that was back in 2000, so I expected a long search and to have to pay through the nose. This August though, my search ended much sooner than I had thought and for a lot less money than I would have thought and I acquired my most lusted after guitar.
My previously reviewed NiteFly-M totally sold me on Parker Guitars. Nothing else plays like them. As I said, pretty much the only downside I could come up with was that it’s just not made to easily take thick strings and tune down low as I like to do for playing metal. The floating bridge is very delicately balanced and designed for .009’s or .010’s. I suspect this is one of the main reasons Parkers aren’t particularly well known among guitarists in the heavier genres.
The Stealth appears to have been a brief attempt by Parker to break into metal. It’s a Parker Fly Deluxe but with a few changes. First, and probably most importantly, it has a fixed bridge. That makes it more stable, helps sustain, and makes it easier to set up for heavier strings. That was the main feature that I wanted (needed?) from a Parker.
Next, the body and neck are both basswood. Regular Parker Fly Deluxes have a poplar body and basswood neck. Switching to basswood makes the Stealth a little lighter (4.5lbs) and gives it a thicker tone with more bass response.
The frets are the extra large size that Parker normally only uses on the NiteFlys. Extra jumbo frets are a standard feature on metal oriented guitars.
They also added the clever Sperzel “D” Thing tuner to the guitar. The “D” Thing lets you drop the low E string down a step to D accurately with a quick flip of a switch. Very handy if you play switch back and forth between standard and drop tunings (actually not my thing, but it doesn’t hurt).
The finish on the guitar is also unique. It’s a textured grey and black splotchy sort of thing. Kind of like a high tech granite. It’s mildly glossy but with the texture and pattern, it just never looks dirty or dusty.
Otherwise, it’s the standard set of Parker Fly Deluxe features. Carbon-fiber reinforcement, glass-epoxy carbon-fiber fretboard, stainless steel frets, Sperzel locking tuners, custom DiMarzio pickups (Flys have such thin bodies that normal pickup routes would go clean through, so DiMarzio has to make custom thinner ones for them), piezo pickup in the bridge, stereo output, and the most amazing thin contoured body and neck seemlessly joined. Seriously, I describe it as like playing a razor blade:
Pretty much the first thing I did when I got it was to take a deep breath and put some Elixir .012 strings on it and tune it to C standard. In the past, I’ve had to file the nut slots on my Schecter to take strings that thick, so I was a bit nervous that I’d have to do the same to the Parker (marring an otherwise pristine condition guitar). Thankfully, the .012’s went on perfectly. .012’s in C standard just about exactly match the overall string tension of .010’s in E standard, which the guitar had originally been set up with, so I didn’t even need to adjust the truss rod. Intonation only required the tiniest tweaks and it was done.
The result has been just as amazing as I’d hoped. I now have a guitar with the unmatched playability of a Parker that has serious amounts of brutal, low end crunch. The DiMarzio’s, which have such a cutting sound in the NiteFly stay cutting in the Stealth, but gain a bit of force with the thick strings and basswood body. Those smooth stainless steel frets and that unbelievably thin neck make playing it just totally effortless.
It’s a shame that Parker didn’t manage to win over the metal players and apparently gave up for a while (although one of their recent models is an Adam Dutkiewicz (of Killswitch Engage) signature model, so I guess they’re trying again).