Plek'd - Are you sure?

soundmuppet

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,196
I should be showing pictures of my new Gibson Flying V T 2017 in white.....but it's at 12th Fret here in Portland (great luthiers BTW).

I have lusted over a V for many years and finally got this one at a price I could not pass up.

The fit and finish on this thing is just remarkable. It looks great and the new grenadillo fretboard feels awesome. I also love the neck profile, it's reminiscent of a wizard III neck, but not as pronounced. Overall.....just as happy as can be......except.

Whoever plek'd this thing, or QA'd the pleking should have been hung drawn and quartered. it was setup out the box with a very high action. To be fair, it played just great setup like that, so there was no indication there'd be a problem. When I set it up to my preferred action a tad over 2mm, it just choked out anywhere above the 10th fret.

Dropped it off at 12th Fret to see if there was anything they could do. Bottom line, some high frets that would have never allowed me to get it setup properly. Oh well.

Good news is that my favorite shop is handling it and i'm certain it's going to come back feeling just awesome. And I can't wait to get some pointy guitar time at our next gig!
 

dconeill

Member
Messages
1,678
Just curious, how do you know it was plekked? Could the fret dressing have been done by hand? How do you tell?
 

RayBarbeeMusic

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,912
Whoever plek'd this thing, or QA'd the pleking should have been hung drawn and quartered. it was setup out the box with a very high action. To be fair, it played just great setup like that, so there was no indication there'd be a problem. When I set it up to my preferred action a tad over 2mm, it just choked out anywhere above the 10th fret.
Not untypical on most factory plekked brands, but untypical on Gibson.

Problem is, a PLEK machine is only as good as the person operating it, and has to be calibrated properly. Good luck with that from Gibson.
That, and it has severe limitations on how much it can do, especially in a factory setting where the guitar gets 1 run across the machine.

See my other posts on the subject. I see piss-poor fretwork on factory plekked guitars all the time (Hi G&L!). A plek has big limitations on how much fret it will remove. IF the board isn't right before the frets go in, or the seating of the frets is really bad, or both, a plek run will help, but WILL NOT CURE the problem. To cure it, it would either have to be addressed by a competent professional (rare) by hand to remove enough fret material for proper geometry, or have the frets pulled, the board properly planed, and refretted.

Gibson generally does a good job with that stuff. I work on a lot of Gibsons and most need nothing or a slight fall-away correction. Every once in a while I see a dog. Other companies, not so much; G&L is horrible even after plekking usually.

Were I you, I'd demand they fix it.
 

soundmuppet

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,196
Yeah, apparently these are plek'd at the factory. As I said, everything about the guitar is great...just a few high spots that really need attention.

If the luthier had said that this was beyond fixing.....it would have gone back for sure.....but as it's really just a case of getting some of the high spots leveled, I'll just have them do it. There going to replace the tuners for some locking ones while they are at it and generally make sure it's in good running order.

Always love how my guitars feel getting them back from these guys.
 

JefeMaximo

Huge Member
Messages
2,397
Yep. In a factory setting a Plek primarily is a labor-saving tool. Where it can show the greatest benefit is when used as the final step in production (by a skilled operator), or better yet when used after the sale to bring a guitar up to a player's individual specs.

It's also excellent at diagnosing what's wrong with a guitar that has a bunch of problems and it's not clear where to begin fixing it.
 

Jason_77

Member
Messages
7,210
It probably played great when it left the shop but changes in temperature and humidity could have caused some slight movement. You just don't know for sure. At least it's going to be playing as it should now!
 

sg13

Member
Messages
976
Sounds like it probably just needed some truss rod adjustment. I've never seen a new Gibson that can't play clean at 2 mm, and I've seen quite a few.
 

soundmuppet

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,196
Sounds like it probably just needed some truss rod adjustment. I've never seen a new Gibson that can't play clean at 2 mm, and I've seen quite a few.
Sadly, not the case. Using a level check, there were some high frets and with the relief set right it just did not want to play. It will soon though:)
 

fenderjapan

WCW World Heavyweight Champion
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,241
The Plek machine requires skilled labor to operate/function properly so any attempts to cut corners in skilled labor would end in poor results even when using the Plek machine.
 
Messages
1,844
Yep. In a factory setting a Plek primarily is a labor-saving tool. Where it can show the greatest benefit is when used as the final step in production (by a skilled operator), or better yet when used after the sale to bring a guitar up to a player's individual specs.

It's also excellent at diagnosing what's wrong with a guitar that has a bunch of problems and it's not clear where to begin fixing it.
There is far far more than that to it, for example you can do what I have done and actually get your guitar's frets profiled in a manner that you like, for example I like what is known as a 'speed fret profile' where the first fret is just slightly taller than the second fret which is slightly taller than the third, which in turn is slightly taller than the fourth, the difference in height between the 1st fret and the 12th is so small that you can't notice it by sight unless you know that it has been done, however there is a big enough difference in height between the 1st and the 22nd for you to just be able to see it by the naked eye, in fact it would take somebody who is highly skilled with both a straight edge and spirit level to notice the gradient of my frets - less than 0.5mm difference between the height my 1st fret and the height of my the 22nd. Try doing that by hand, it's one of the main reasons why Martin Plek their guitars, they use a similar fret level profile to what I like, and it is just about impossible to have it done by hand and consistently. Martin's fret profile is the first 12 or 15 frets are the same height then the rest of the frets get just a little bit shorter from the one before it, whereas I have the entire fretboard done, each of my frets is a different height, the 1st fret is my tallest fret, my 22nd is my shortest fret.

Having a guitar PLEK'D still takes a good few hours, it's not just a single scan and pass, it's scanned multiple times while the guitar is under tension and in between each 'pass' of the leveling tool. It is by no means cutting corners, the cost of a single PLEK machine is roughly equal to what you would pay a person highly skilled in fret leveling for five years of full-time work, they are a very very expensive tool, even secondhand a PLEK machine is about a hundred thousand US$.
 

PatriotBadger

Senior Member
Messages
1,818
I'm probably going to be drawn and quartered for saying this, but I've come to think of the Plek process as a crutch to compensate for doing things less than optimally during the rest of the production process. The fact is, if a maker uses optimal grain orientation, properly dries neck blanks after sawing and fret board gluing, precisely cuts/sands the radius, installs pre-radiused wire, and consistently seats the wire...there is nothing to be gained with a Plek. In my mind Plek is "we cranked out 1200 guitars today, send 'em through the Plek to get 'em trued up before sending them out the door".
 
Messages
1,844
I'm probably going to be drawn and quartered for saying this, but I've come to think of the Plek process as a crutch to compensate for doing things less than optimally during the rest of the production process. The fact is, if a maker uses optimal grain orientation, properly dries neck blanks after sawing and fret board gluing, precisely cuts/sands the radius, installs pre-radiused wire, and consistently seats the wire...there is nothing to be gained with a Plek. In my mind Plek is "we cranked out 1200 guitars today, send 'em through the Plek to get 'em trued up before sending them out the door".
Modern wood drying and treatment processes are extremely sophisticated, when I was buying wood blanks for my Design And Technology class I bought wood from a company in the UK that provides most of the UK guitar companies and boutique builders with their wood, and these guys were buying stock for 2020 back in 2010, when I was buying blanks for myself to build a guitar they were looking at buying wood to be sold in 2030.

Simply put guitars today are made with wood that is not only better treated and dried than ever before, but also far more consistent in terms of how much moisture it has, it's density, the way it has been cut, and a whole host of other factors.
 
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Slevin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,793
Not untypical on most factory plekked brands, but untypical on Gibson.



That, and it has severe limitations on how much it can do, especially in a factory setting where the guitar gets 1 run across the machine.

See my other posts on the subject. I see piss-poor fretwork on factory plekked guitars all the time (Hi G&L!). A plek has big limitations on how much fret it will remove. IF the board isn't right before the frets go in, or the seating of the frets is really bad, or both, a plek run will help, but WILL NOT CURE the problem. To cure it, it would either have to be addressed by a competent professional (rare) by hand to remove enough fret material for proper geometry, or have the frets pulled, the board properly planed, and refretted.

Gibson generally does a good job with that stuff. I work on a lot of Gibsons and most need nothing or a slight fall-away correction. Every once in a while I see a dog. Other companies, not so much; G&L is horrible even after plekking usually.

Were I you, I'd demand they fix it.
You know I feel like you bring up horrible and G&L often and speaking in totality is just flat wrong. I have two G&L custom shop guitars with the best fretwork I've ever had on any guitar in my 17 years of playing. maybe you've played a few duds but "usually" horrible Idk how accurate that can be
 
Messages
155
I've had really good luck with Plek'd guitars from Gibson. By tweaking the truss rod in some cases and playing with the bridge height, I've been able to get the last four that I've owned playing perfectly. Too bad the OP didn't have the same luck. I'm sure some slip through, or as someone else mentioned, things change in storage or shipping, especially this time of year.
 




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