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  • Plek’d

    I guess this is how we’ve decided to form the past tense of the verb Plek. But what kinds of results are being obtained by the use of Plek machines? Is it a magic elixir? An invitation to a job half finished? Something else? Is it worth doing to a new guitar? Have you ever played a guitar that’s been Plek’d? Before and after?
    I have moderate bilateral hearing loss in the upper midrange and lower treble. I tend to think sounds are quieter, darker, and bassier than they probably really are.

  • #2
    Re: Plek’d

    It doesn't solve the issue of poorly cut nuts that Gibson seems to have. If your Gibson has tuning stability issues it's almost certainly the nut that's the problem.
    -
    My Rolling Stones tribute band: The Main Street Exiles

    At the battle of the bands, the loser is always the audience. -Demitri Martin

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    • #3
      Re: Plek’d

      a friend of mine has his guitar work done by joe glasers shop who uses a plek machine and his guitars play awesome. i dont know if its the end all be all but in the right hands it sure does a great job

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      • #4
        Re: Plek’d

        I think the people that own one (they are very expensive) will lead you to believe they are the one thing that separates you from who you are and guitar god status. Good techs shake their head and dismiss them entirely. Between these, there is the truth: it is a great step to getting all the frets completely even height-wise, and one step to a complete setup.
        Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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        • #5
          Re: Plek’d

          I searched to understand how Plek work and what can be done manually.
          I talked to a professor on acoustics and instruments and all - and he meant all frequency content is represented in the shape and slope of the string as it vibrate. So every guitar as an individual will as we all know sound different will also have different shape of how string vibrate.

          An experiment for thought
          Take harmonics on 12th - that make a node at 12th and you get two parts of string vibrating between this node and nut, and this node and bridge saddle.

          So there is a tiny bit of room that string needs to vibrate.

          Now do harmonics on 5th fret - creating 4 parts, 3 nodes - and that is also added to an amount when a string is fretted and sounding.
          Every string sounding has some harmonics in it - to some degree. Not only first and second even harmonic that I portraid above. There are odd partials as well etc.

          So now fire an open string, it still contain fundamental pitch of that string - but also harmonics added to it - all making shape a little different.
          And if hard wood or softer wood in guitar will make different harmonics in how it sounds.

          So a perfect Plek would fire strings and read out frequency content. Then calculate how much neck relief is needed for optimum relief, action and such. Even open for that a guitar owner do this fireing off strings and recording them, so his personal technique can be calculated.

          Since current Plek does not all this - it's still a compromise. But potential is there. But save awful lots of time which manual work would mean.
          A really skilled tech could probably do as good a job, but can he charge the full time spent?

          A perfect job, if that would be 4-6 hours for a guitar - not sure - guessing a bit.

          I did a full sanding on my LP fret wires and worked for 3 days, doing 4-5 frets a day, during 1-2 hours - since this was my first and only time so far doing this. And not having a diamond file which I believe say is the best. So I was really careful not to f-k anything up. But result was really good. A notched ruler and feeler guages to ensure no room below notches, so neck is absolutely straight. Then a fret file and sanding paper with sanding block for the neck profile - and off you go. It's not rocket science.

          After seing how sloppy Gibson are on some matters in manufacturing - this fret job was actually needed as I got my LP brand new - I am not surprised many people are unhappy with how their Gibson play as delivered. This is probably smaller manufacturers like PRS and MusicMan are much more careful in what they send out there to customers.

          Each guitar will bend slightly different in neck relief due to different piece of wood, as well as drilled differently just a bit.
          So how optimal is this shape?

          So this is handled by Plek machine measuring guitar bending in the same shape as string are there and have this calculation there for where the fret wire starts.

          So I think it's really cool technology and surely will improve over time. It's all about calculating more parameters, kind of.

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          • #6
            Re: Plek’d

            I am no expert, so take my remarks as rather a question, not a critique, because I might very well be wrong...

            As I imagine things, levelling only a few frets at a time is asking for trouble. Anywhere I've seen thus far, when you're not just spot levelling a single fret, you do the whole fretboard at once. Also, to my knowledge, first step for levelling should be a perfectly flat neck, absolutely zero relief, so not sure if I understand how that comes into play. Playing style comes into the equation in my mind when doing the setup, fret levelling shouldn't be based on that. Frets need to be level to a straight line on a straight neck, not relative to the player's technique. Or I am misinterpeting something?

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            • #7
              Re: Plek’d

              ^^^I agree

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              • #8
                Re: Plek’d

                Originally posted by nexion218 View Post
                I am no expert, so take my remarks as rather a question, not a critique, because I might very well be wrong...

                As I imagine things, levelling only a few frets at a time is asking for trouble. Anywhere I've seen thus far, when you're not just spot levelling a single fret, you do the whole fretboard at once.
                It came out a bit wrong, the sanding with a block is done in one go with perfectly flat neck with notched ruler.
                It's the final crowning I was talking about doing 4-5 at a time. It does not change where string rest.
                You draw with a filt pen on top, and see to this is never touched.

                Also, to my knowledge, first step for levelling should be a perfectly flat neck, absolutely zero relief, so not sure if I understand how that comes into play. Playing style comes into the equation in my mind when doing the setup, fret levelling shouldn't be based on that. Frets need to be level to a straight line on a straight neck, not relative to the player's technique. Or I am misinterpeting something?
                Once you start making neck relief, if you want that - as strings comes on and tuned to pitch - how the shape is of relief matter a lot to that it follows the slope of the string as it vibrates fretting on various places on neck.

                What software in Plek can do, is measure exactly where each fret wire is so knowing how neck bends and all.

                This is what is difficult doing manually - perfect for a computer.

                A perfectly straight neck as doing manually - is a simplified technique assuming that neck relief on that particular individual is optimal as you start adjusting it. As I mentioned and saw in some books of Dan Erlewine - the setup for one guitar can be much lower action than the next guitar - since they are all a bit different.

                There are tolerances on everything in manufacturing, not to mention the piece of wood for that particular guitar individual.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Plek’d

                  I agree with Mincer on this.

                  I have witnessed that guitars set up by a plek are no better (and sometimes even worse) than those set up by a good tech. I have personally had to refine the work done by a plek in order to get a guitar playable to my standards.

                  Gibson started using a plek for three reasons:
                  1. to create a little more consistency in the final product by removing more of the human element,
                  2. to reduce the production time...to save money (yes the machine is expensive, but over time and countless number of guitars, it easily pays for itself),
                  3. and, this is perhaps the main reason, for advertising purposes. To create more demand for your product because of the perceived better quality by the purchaser.

                  The plek machine has the ability to produce a God-perfect fret job, BUT it has to be programed perfectly in order to get perfect results...programed by a human in a large factory trying to speed up production and save/make more money. And it has to be maintained/re-set up after a certain amount of usage to keep producing those results.

                  In the hands of a luthier who depends upon the quality of his work to keep getting business and who is willing to put the time and effort into programing the plek perfectly, it can do wonders. The problem here is that this quality oriented luthier has the ability to get those perfect results without having to buy a plek machine. And he "pays himself" for his time instead of "paying the manufacturer of the plek" for his product.

                  So I guess you'd say it is a catch 22.
                  Originally Posted by IanBallard
                  Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Plek’d

                    Originally posted by GuitarDoc View Post
                    In the hands of a luthier who depends upon the quality of his work to keep getting business and who is willing to put the time and effort into programing the plek perfectly, it can do wonders. The problem here is that this quality oriented luthier has the ability to get those perfect results without having to buy a plek machine. And he "pays himself" for his time instead of "paying the manufacturer of the plek" for his product.

                    So I guess you'd say it is a catch 22.
                    But can a luthier charge enough to do that job that is actually better?

                    What I saw for total leveling job with crowning was tops $200-$250 or so.

                    Is that a business?

                    Plek is less than that.
                    Would he rather send to Plek och charge $300 - and drum his fingers on table while it happends.

                    Someone in a factory set up the Plek - we can only guess.
                    I saw that somebody had the brilliant idea instead of changing bore in a machine to make 335 headstock have 9.8mm hole to make perfect fit for Grover, he could save a couple of minutes using the one bore already in machine. One size that fits all.
                    So hopes are not that high.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Plek’d

                      I'd love to try it sometime. I've never had a before/after experience with a PLEK'd guitar, because they just aren't common here. It might be worth it when I get my Fender re-fretted with SS frets, as that guitar has the fretted neck, no separate fingerboard. And if I was going to pay $3-400 for SS frets, an extra $200 might be worth it to get the best playing experience, I guess.
                      In any case, I am not there yet.
                      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                      • #12
                        Re: Plek’d

                        Originally posted by Larioso View Post
                        But can a luthier charge enough to do that job that is actually better?

                        What I saw for total leveling job with crowning was tops $200-$250 or so.

                        Is that a business?

                        Plek is less than that.
                        Would he rather send to Plek och charge $300 - and drum his fingers on table while it happends.

                        Someone in a factory set up the Plek - we can only guess.
                        I saw that somebody had the brilliant idea instead of changing bore in a machine to make 335 headstock have 9.8mm hole to make perfect fit for Grover, he could save a couple of minutes using the one bore already in machine. One size that fits all.
                        So hopes are not that high.
                        The crown and polish are the time consuming parts of fret leveling, and the Plek doesn't let you bypass those. The machine isn't saving the luthier huge amounts, or possibly any, time on a fret job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Plek’d

                          It's my understanding that the performance of the machine is more dependent on the skill of the operator.... I certainly have had to rework on Gibson guitars that had been Plekked….

                          As a former tool and die maker, who basically wrote G-code in my sleep - a CNC machine can do many things, but it can't learn from experience, develop intuition, or make adjustments on the fly. I think a trained and experienced craftsman will do a better job than a button pusher.
                          aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever

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                          • #14
                            Re: Plek’d

                            Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                            I'd love to try it sometime. I've never had a before/after experience with a PLEK'd guitar, because they just aren't common here. It might be worth it when I get my Fender re-fretted with SS frets, as that guitar has the fretted neck, no separate fingerboard. And if I was going to pay $3-400 for SS frets, an extra $200 might be worth it to get the best playing experience, I guess.
                            In any case, I am not there yet.
                            300-400 for a fretjob with SS fret? Wow... I had mine done over here for the equivalent of less than200 , but I guess the difference in average income puts it into a different perspective, so maybe it is not that expensive afterall...

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                            • #15
                              Re: Plek’d

                              The plek guitars I have always played in tune, intonated fine, but some had higher action than I would have liked. Plek seems to get it to work, but doesn’t optimize for playability. I think a thinking human tech with the right finesse could take it the extra 20 miles and make it really sensational playing.

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