#1
Has anyone had any experience having a guitar run on a Plek machine? Although I do my own set ups and fret dress I am curious if there is a marked improvement using a Plek machine. I am also curious about the cost. While I find several sites on the web that talk about having a Plek machine and promoting it's use, I don't see anyone that lists the cost of having it done (so I imagine it's too expensive and scares potential customers). Any ideas? Thanks.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
#2
I haven't had my own guitar Plek'd, but I've played several guitars that have been set up with the Plek machine at the factory. Luthiers offering the Plek service generally charge 200-250 dollars for a full setup.

The main advantage is not speed or cost, but consistency. The machine can level each individual fret with very close tolerances, and eliminates the trial and error of doing it by hand. I can see why this would be an advantage for guitar manufacturers, even if it costs more.
Last edited by sashki at Oct 13, 2015,
#3
I would ask dspellman. I know he has had more than a couple of his guitars Plek'd. From what I have read from him it appears to be very worth it. Like already mentioned it keeps things consistent across the board, literally. I have a couple of gibsons that got the plek treatment from the factory and they feel great.
Gibson LP traditional and DC standard, PRS S2 Custom 24, MIA Standard Strat, Charvel So Cal Pro Mod, Schecter Banshee 7
EVH 5153, Mesa DR Tremoverb combo 2-2x12's
Line 6 M13
#4
Quote by Rickholly74
Has anyone had any experience having a guitar run on a Plek machine? Although I do my own set ups and fret dress I am curious if there is a marked improvement using a Plek machine.


<WALL OF TEXT ALERT>

I've had quite a number of guitars run on the PLEK up at Gary Brawer's in San Francisco (both his old machine and his new one). Guitars that come from Gibson having PLEK stickers on them are NOT the same thing by a longshot. That's a story for a different thread.

Fretwork (as you know) can be variable. Best from-the-factory fretwork I've seen is from Carvin. I don't know how they do it, but I think one of the factors is that you get the guitar fresh from the factory, often in tune as you pull them out of the box. For years they advertised "action guaranteed to go as low as 1/16th" at the 24th fret with no buzzing frets." And they delivered. I know quite a few folks who set their action at 1/16th" (4/64ths) at the 12th fret, but this is at the 24th. Suhr PLEK's his guitars as they walk out the door. If you happen to be standing at the door to get your Suhr, you'll have a helluva guitar. Pick one up at a store that's had it hanging on the wall for a year and it's a different story. Not his fault.

Gary first superglues my frets. This is a process that wicks water-thin superglue under each fret to fill up the tang cavity. It does two things. One, it helps prevent pop-up or flyaway frets when conditions get dry. The more "cork-sniffy" thing it does is provide a solid contact between fret and neck. No more "dead" frets.

The guitar is then analyzed by the PLEK machine. This is done with the strings that you normally use tuned normally (whatever "normal" is for you). The PLEK machine measures each fret by gently pushing the string aside a bit where it needs to. The reason for this is that a neck will often come up to tension unevenly. If you do a manual fret level, you'll often find that the frets don't *act* level once the strings are on. Thus, techs are frequently going back and "adjusting" a fret or three after the completion of the standard fret level.

With the PLEK, the frets are precisely measured, the tech makes an adjustment here and there, then the strings are loosened and the fret milling process takes place. ONLY the minimum amount of material is removed and only on the frets that need it. Manual fret levels take material off every single fret, and I can assure you that this process leads to a new fret job about 25% faster. More material is removed in the manual crowning and polishing phase. With the PLEK, about the only thing remaining to be done after the guitar comes off the machine is a polish with a piece of rough leather. The result is an extremely consistent mirror-like finish on every fret.

When the guitar is brought back up to tension, the frets are on the money.

Moreover, when coupled with the superglue process, they *stay* that way.

At this point, I'm having any guitar that's New To Me (whether used or not) turned over to Gary for a Good Initial Setup using the PLEK if necessary. Runs somewhere around $200, though his new machine is faster and he may be dropping that price to reflect that. He offers to "refresh" your setup at any time you feel it's necessary during that first 12-month period, and that includes another run on the PLEK if required -- for free.

I've had a $4K Axcess Custom run on the machine (it had a classic Gibson Hump) and a $200 Agile B-stock, within days of each other. Each plays like a dream still, some six years later. I get kidded a lot for spending about as much for the setup on the cheapo as what the guitar cost -- right up until people play it.

There's also this; you can (depending on the tech) get your guitar back a lot faster from a PLEK job. A manual leveling is a long process that takes all the tech's attention. The PLEK works while the tech can do other things, and it's done in a couple of hours. Gary is 400 miles from me, and I made an appointment with him to drop off the guitar on a Saturday at 11 am for pickup at his 6 pm closing so that I could take it back with me on Sunday. Saturday is one of his busier days (probably the same with most techs). You'll play hell trying to get that kind of service out of your local manual fret leveling tech.
#5
Thanks for the information. I saw it done at the Martin factory in Nazareth, PA and I want to have it done on one of my guitars (haven't chosen which one yet but probably a Les Paul) because I am so curious. I live about an hour from New York City and there is a place in Manhattan that does it and has been using a Plek machine since 2005 so I assume they know what they are doing. I'm going to call today and get some info. Thanks again.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Oct 13, 2015,
#6
What is the general price for this? I, like Rick, have been curious about it. My Ibby could use a nice Plek. I saw a guy around here asking $250 for the service. Not sure if this is on par or what.
Gibson LP traditional and DC standard, PRS S2 Custom 24, MIA Standard Strat, Charvel So Cal Pro Mod, Schecter Banshee 7
EVH 5153, Mesa DR Tremoverb combo 2-2x12's
Line 6 M13
#7
I'm mostly seeing $200 (and under) for the PLEK. The newer machines are faster (which allows techs to handle more business on a given day), and I believe Gary has actually dropped his prices thanks to the increased efficiency.
#8
Interesting. I would venture to guess that it would also differ depending the population. Supply vs. demand and all.
Gibson LP traditional and DC standard, PRS S2 Custom 24, MIA Standard Strat, Charvel So Cal Pro Mod, Schecter Banshee 7
EVH 5153, Mesa DR Tremoverb combo 2-2x12's
Line 6 M13