Features: I've had my eye on the PDF series Parker guitars for a while now. Years ago, I played on a Parker Fly that I really enjoyed and if it wasn't for the price tag, I would have purchased one a long time ago. Luckily I found a PDF60 that someone was selling and made a trade for another guitar that I didn't really care for ($350.00 approx trade value). Now that I have one, I'm certain that I will be buying another PDF soon.
As far as I can tell, my PDF60 was manufactured in 2012 in China. I was a bit intrigued by the PDF60 because it is the only guitar out of the PDF line to have a basswood body (all other PDF models are mahogany). The fretboard is ebony, which looks great and is usually only found on much more expensive guitars. The neck is maple and features Parker's radial neck joint. Essentially, the radial neck joint is a bolt-on neck, the difference is that the body is cut to the contour of the neck to reduce movement that is caused by joining two pieces of flat wood. At least, that's what I can make of it. According to Parker, this also helps with the tone transfer from the neck to the body. I'll just have to take their word for it.
The neck itself is probably the thinnest I have ever played. At first, I was a little put off about it, but I got used to it pretty quickly and now I'm in love with the way the neck feels.
This model has generic locking tuners, but they are great as far as I'm concerned. The pickups are passive Duncan USM HB102 which can be coil-tapped and are controlled by a three-way toggle, one volume and one tone knob. The body style is the newer MaxxFly design, which I absolutely love. The finish on my PDF60 is black gloss, nothing terribly special about it.
Last but not least on the features of the guitar is the Parker vibrato system. This is a very well thought-out and very aesthetically pleasing bridge in my opinion. It's easy to adjust and the whammy bar is pretty lengthy with a nice cushion on the handle end. It's very comfortable and does it's job nicely.
This guitar also comes with a nice gig bag. The pouches are large enough to be useful and the bag itself seems well padded. My complaint about gig bags in general is that the string ends at the head stock will rip the inside to shreds. I try to keep my headstock as tidy as possible, especially if I'm using a gig bag. Unfortunately, this gig bag had a previous owner and is a bit torn up in that area. Otherwise, it seems very durable. I have to give this guitar a 9/10 for it's features. For a guitar that is only $499.99 new, it's way more than I would have expected. // 9
Sound: Alright, so you have this fully loaded guitar for $499.99. Seems a little too good to be true. It has to be lacking somewhere, right? You got it. I will say that while I am not thrilled by the Duncan USM pickups, I've definitely played through worse. I play guitar in a progressive rock band which can range from metal-ish to really clean and a punk band. My rig consists of an EVH 5150III or an Egnater Tweaker 40 through a cab with Vintage 30's and G12H30's. I have a small smattering of pedals, mostly TC Electronic.
The bridge pickup is pretty nice. It was a higher output pickup than I expected. My workhorse guitar at the moment has active Seymour Duncan blackouts, so usually my gain is nearly all the way down (especially on the 5150III). I only boosted the gain from 2 to 4-5 to get back to the level I enjoy. It is a little thin on the clean channel, but with some adjustments on the amp, I found a setting that I would happy to use live. Coil-tapped this pickup by itself is very thin and I don't think I would really use it for much.
The neck pickup was a disappointment to me. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be "flubby." There's just not very much note definition when playing chords and lead playing made me feel like my nice tube amps turned into a fuzz pedal emulation on a cheap multi-effects processor with the treble turned off. On a clean channel, it's not too bad. Coil-tapped, it's pretty much in the same boat. No good for distortion, decent for clean.
To be honest, for distortion, I would only use the bridge pickup. However, the best clean setting for my taste is both pickups coil-tapped. That's a thing of beauty and I usually end up losing myself for an hour or two when I throw some delay and reverb into the mix.
My rating for sound is 6/10, but let's get real for a second - if you are buying a guitar for this price, how likely are you to be impressed with the pickups? I was shopping for new pups for this guitar before I even had it. If anyone is curious, I settled on the DiMarzio LiquiFire neck and Crunch Lab bridge pickups to replace it. Seems like a combo that would be complimentary of a guitar that is naturally bright, like this one. I'll post a comment once they are installed. // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: I can't speak too much about how this guitar was from the factory, as I got it used, however there are a few observations that I can make. The main thing is that the frets aren't properly filed. This is something that you run into with cheaper guitars sometimes. I've played worse, but they definitely need to be filed a bit more. Aside from that, I didn't notice anything misaligned or out of place.
After playing the guitar in standard for a while, I changed the strings from I assume to be the factory set (.009 - .042) to .011 - .049 and dropped the strings a whole step. According to the Parker manual, these guitars are equipped to use up to .011 - .052, so I was a little worried about approaching this limit. Getting things set back up was a breeze, though. This guitar is pretty easy to adjust and I was still able to enjoy that nice and low action that this guitar has.
At the end of the day, though, this guitar only gets a 6/10 for this section. Filing fret wire is no fun and I'm not looking forward to it. Hopefully quality control has improved since this guitar was manufactured. // 6
Reliability & Durability: I'm not worried about the durability of this guitar. The frets are nice (despite the need of filing), the finish is great and the hardware is sturdy. I would take this guitar to a gig without any reservation. Without a backup? Ha! I've yet to see a guitar that I would trust without a backup. No equipment is trustworthy in my book.
The strap buttons do seem pretty solid and speaking on that, I love the way that this guitar sits. It weighs next to nothing and it's contoured to the body - so incredibly comfortable. The Parker bridge is very well put together. I don't foresee it breaking down anytime soon. Tuning pegs seem sturdy, as well. Probably out of everything, I expect to have to replace the pickup mounting rings. They are very cheap. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, I love this guitar. Sure, I'm going to replace the pickups and eventually will have to file down the frets. The important thing is that I feel like this guitar deserves that attention. Even the way it is right now, I can't help but to pick it up every time I look at it. Through an amp, I have a couple of settings that make me very happy with the stock pickups.
The best thing about this guitar is how easy it is to play. Be warned, though, if you are moving from a Les Paul to one of these you probably aren't going to like it at first - maybe not ever. It's kind of along the lines of an Ibanez S Series but a touch slimmer in the neck and body. Before I made this trade I was looking at the Parker PDF100. I'm still planning to get one, the only difference is that now I'm fully confident that I will be happy with my purchase. // 7