To PLEK or not to PLEK...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by FireBottle, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. FireBottle

    FireBottle Member

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    Has anyone here taken his guitar in for a Plek/set-up? It's time for a set up for my '01 Les Paul and I'm considering bringing it into Music Gallery in Highland Park, IL for a full-on scan & set-up. I guess there aren't many places that have this machine and I happen to be less than an hour's drive to this shop. (Fantastic store - I bought my first amp there in '79 - a MusicMan 112 RD 65. Frank and George are great dudes.) I think the cost for the works is $225 - youch! Very intriguedÂ…but worth it? I figure that's another pedal or pickups for my strat.
     
  2. Patrick2

    Patrick2 Member

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    It's really worth doing if your guitar really needs it. It's a waste of money if your guitar already plays well. Either way, $225 is way too high. I got a fantastic Plek job from Phil Jacoby of Philtones, Baltimore MD . . (google him, he's one of the best) for $160)
     
  3. just_one_more

    just_one_more Member

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    I personally think it is worth it, and I think $225 for a PLEK and setup is not that high. That seems to be sort of in line with what I have seen. Even if it is $160 some place else shipping there and back and insurance will eat up any savings and then some.
    For me it is absolutely worth it.
     
  4. FireBottle

    FireBottle Member

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    It plays pretty well (at least it did before I changed out the bridge and tailpiece) but the temp and humidity changes in this climate do a number on my guitars - no matter how much I try to maintain proper RH…my music room is sort of on the attic level of my (old) house. I figure I'd spend close to $50-100 on getting everything up to snuff. Anyway, I've been curious about this route for a while.
     
  5. scolfax

    scolfax Member

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    I've had three PLEK jobs done. I love my action as low as robotically possible, so it's totally worth it to me. $200 in SF.
     
  6. Space Hammer

    Space Hammer Member

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    Does it need a fret level? That's all the PLEK does, it's a fret levelling tool - also it doesn't cut/file anything that is all done by the operator, so it's only as good as the person using it.

    I've had some very good setups and some not so great using a PLEK, really for the cost I don't think i'd every do it again.
     
  7. FireBottle

    FireBottle Member

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    So, a good honest luthier can tell you if you need a fret level (which I don't think I need, btw) and, if so, only then should you seriously consider a PLEK job?
     
  8. Space Hammer

    Space Hammer Member

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    That's how I'd play it - the guy using the PLEK is probably the biggest consideration. I'd much rather the local 'guitar setup guru' over some random with a PLEK. The reason why I had my instruments PLEK'd is because where I live the local 'guitar setup guru' worked at the place with the machine - he left, now their setups are very average.
     
  9. riker4208

    riker4208 Member

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    I bought a gitane d500 gypsy jazz guitar that had a plek done. Such a sweet playing guitar. I agree that it's mostly worth it if you need a fret level. Most guitars could stand a fret level when it comes right down to it. It depends on setup requirements and way too many other factors to decide any other way than case by case.
     
  10. Hacksaw

    Hacksaw Time Warped Gold Supporting Member

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    A few videos out there you can watch. I'd do it. it wouldn't worry me as most good techs I would think would be the guys that could afford one of these machines.

     
  11. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Yes it does cut the frets according to the mesuments .
     
  12. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I don't think a guitar should need a PLEK if it's made properly.
     
  13. Hacksaw

    Hacksaw Time Warped Gold Supporting Member

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    Probably the neatest thing is if you have a plek job, then they have your guitars profile. In a few years you might need a refret, put it in the plek machine, pull up your profile how it was done and it's back to playing just like it was setup last time.
     
  14. xroads

    xroads Member

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    A great luthier can do what a plek machine does.

    I would consider it when your guitar needs fretwork done (for that, the price seems OK); not if you just need a setup.
     
  15. Space Hammer

    Space Hammer Member

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    After re-reading this I stand corrected, you are correct the PLEK machine does infact level the frets and grind a rough crown which are then finished by hand.
     
  16. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    The main advantage is the plek reads and cuts according to the neck with string tension applied, no fret dressing jig is even close to this degree of accuracy .
    Now take in to account that wood is not a perfectly even material and flexes at the weakest point even if that is not where you want your relief to bottom out and you can start to see what plek has over other methods .
     
  17. BKL71

    BKL71 Member

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    I kinow I am WAY out of the loop but what is PLEK and why do I need it?
     
  18. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    It's a waste to me. I'm happy playing a decently setup guitar by a luthier or even from factory quite often.

    The main reason I see for a PLEK is for Low action, and that gives a plinky tone. Even after I had a guitar PLEK'd and it had super low, buzz free-action, the tone came alive and 200% fuller tone when I jacked up the action. What the heck did I pay for? For me, PLEK would be a waste. You can play just as fast with a bit higher action if you get used to it. , and then have much better tone.
     
  19. scolfax

    scolfax Member

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    A PLEK machine is a computer-controlled fret mill. It has sensors and tools that measure and cut frets to a hundredth of a millimeter. Gibson Custom Shop, G&L, and other manufacturers do this at their factories now.


    To say you have to have a PLEK job to have a fantastic-playing guitar is ludicrous. Obviously fret leveling has been done by hand for decades, with great results assuming you have a great guitar tech.

    But to say that a human can do as accurate a job or get as consistent results as a modern-day machine is just as ludicrous. I think the naysayers wouldn't hesitate to have the PLEK machine operated on their guitars if it cost the same as a regular fret job.

    The only time I had a fret job done that gave me as low action as the PLEK, the guy took off like 1/4 of the fret material turning my jumbos into mediums at best.



    This debate has been hashed over many times here and on HC. The arguments for are:

    - Accuracy and consistency far beyond what a human can do
    - Only minimal amount of fret material removed to do the job
    - Measurements are done with the neck under string tension so that the end result is perfect with strings on

    The arguments against are:

    - Cost
    - "It's only as good as the guy operating the machine" (like that one time your dryer got your clothes wetter!)
    - A human can do it just as good
    - Robots are stealing money from your local music store
    - And a new one (for me) in the post above: Since higher action than the lowest possible will give you "200% fuller tone", it's not worth paying any extra to have perfectly level frets.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  20. Patrick2

    Patrick2 Member

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    Posts number 16, 18 and 19 are about as accurate as one can get on this matter without posting 12 paragraphs on the subject. NO human can get frets as level as a Plek and take off as little of the fret doing so, and in such a short period of time. But, is such precision really necessary? That's an individual matter.

    When Phil Jacoby put my BRAND NEW Golden Eagle back in my hands after he Plek'd it, it did indeed play better than when it was set up at the Heritage plant by Rendall Wall . . . and Rendall is one of the best! While Rendall could have never seen, with the naked human eye, what the Plek computer read . . I'm sure he would have been able to get that Golden Eagle to play just as well . . . eventually. Heck, he's been doing so for some 50 plus years. A set of fret files, a straight edge fret rocker, some 0000 gauge steel wool, adequate skills and adequate experience will always be able to provide an great playing fret board. It will never be as perfect as a Plek . . . if the Plek technician as well trained on the proper use of the Plek to begin with. I'm just not convinced that level of perfection is always necessary. However, if a skilled luthier is going to charge me anywhere near the same cost of $160 to $200 for a fret level, recrowning and polishing . . . I'm going with the Plek!!
     

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