#1
Hi

I have an old Ibanez rg550 that i absolutely love, I´ve had it for ten years at least. I´ve sent this guitar to a guitar shop once too set it up with super low action, I got it back and were happy with the results...for a while.

I heard about pleking on another forum and for over a year now I have been thinking about doing it to my RG. My setup right now is about 1mm on the 12th fret, it´s superjumbofrets with a low profile.

Could i go lower? I seriously want a guitar with microscopic action, could plek be what I am looking for?
#2
Well, the PLEK coupled with a very good tech, yes.

I got used to late-80's Carvins and got spoiled. Their guarantee was "action as low as 1/16th" at the 24th fret with no buzzing frets," and direct from the factory, they delivered. Still do, if you request very low action.

Gibson has PLEK machines in the factory, but the way they do things leaves their guitars hit or miss (and their specs have always encouraged medium-high action anyway "for better tone" -- and less-critical customers). They're essentially just using the things as a fret mill and a marketing tool, so don't go by Gibsons with the PLEK stickers on the pickups and pickguards.

Honestly, Suhr is one of the few builders with a PLEK machine in-house that's really using it well.

I take my guitars to a tech named Gary Brawer in San Francisco. He has the latest PLEK machine and he's been doing it since the very early 2000's. Very knowledgeable, non-judgmental, etc. I've learned to ask for my frets to be superglued (if your guitar doesn't have glued-down frets from the factory), and then the guitar is run on the PLEK.

The results can be quite different from a manual fret level, depending on the guitar and the tech. A manual fret level is done with all tension released from the neck. All frets are sanded, checked for level and then recrowned (and again checked for level, if the tech is good), and then the neck is brought back up to string tension. This process generally removes more material from the frets than absolutely necessary. But perhaps more importantly, some necks don't come back up evenly under string tension. And so a good tech will often find himself re-doing a fret or two (or more) until everything sounds good under string tension. The process removes more fret material than does the PLEK, which removes the absolute minimum.

With the PLEK machine, the analysis of the fretboard is done under string (and truss rod) tension, and the machine knows exactly how much to remove from each fret (if necessary) to produce an ideal fretboard. The string tension is then removed and the machine goes to work milling the frets. That way, when the neck comes back up under tension, it should be perfect. But the machine performs another analysis, to a very high degree of precision, after the milling process as well, to make sure that the operation was within tolerances. At that point, string tension is reduced, the frets are polished (Gary uses a thick piece of leather to produce a mirror shine) and final setup steps are done (intonation, saddles adjusted, etc.).

The PLEK files are saved, and, in Gary's case, setups done using the PLEK machine have a one-year period during which your guitar may be brought into the shop at any time to have a setup "refresh" done. If that requires another run on the PLEK, that's done as well. It's often instructive to compare the guitar's current state to what it was like when it left the shop, and some guitars actually show some neck movement during that time. Another benefit of saving the files is that you can duplicate the setup of a new (or different) guitar based on one that you really like.

The process is pricey, but I've begun to have all guitars new to me PLEK'd as part of a Very Good Initial Setup, so that I have a sort of ground zero for that guitar.
#4
Quote by evil___beaver85
Thanks!
But I should clearify my question, if I already have a very low action but want to go as low as absolutly possible, is plek the way to go, will there be a huge difference?


"Huge?" No.

I don't know how you're defining "very low action," but you need really level frets to maintain low action without buzzing, and you need a fairly precisely cut nut as well. You've already seen where Carvin defines low action (measured at the 24th fret, not the 12th). Measure your action at the 24th fret (is it less than 1/16th"?). Carvin attains that using conventional methods. A PLEK machine is even more precise and yes, the way to go.

But look -- the PLEK machine is only as good as the guy running it, and your ultimate setup is only as good as how things are set up AFTER the PLEK job is done.