General tech questions

PLEK’D

1

Man vs. Machine.

Sure it could have been programmed incorrectly but there still needs to be a human to clean it up. This is a custom shop guitar.

4

Semihollowbody from Tennessee?

7

That's only about 1/3 of the way there, all the black Sharpie has to be removed.

I finished it an hour ago and plays / sounds great.

8

Ah, yes, my eyes mistook that for reflection...

That's way off base then!

9

Something clearly went wrong with this one.

10

My current go to tech guy considered investing in a Plek Machine but decided it just wasn't worth the significant investment. He does really good fret work the old fashioned way and basic level, crown and polish jobs when you have the proper tools, skills and experience are not overly time consuming. I have always heard that Plek jobs are only as good as the Plek operator. I'm guessing what a luthier like Joe Glaser does with a Plek machine is a bit different than what is going on in the Gibson factory.

11

I have seen a handful of Plek'd guitars, and have yet to be impressed with how they came out. I'm no expert on fret work, but I think I can do a better job than any of the jobs I've seen from that machine.

As Gretschadelphia said, I'm sure some of it depends on the operator. I can't condemn the entire system based on the examples I've seen, but I certainly won't be sending any of my guitars out to a Plek shop any time soon.

12

To Curt's opening comment...

A Machinist can be a Machine Operator, a Machine Operator is not a Machinist.

PLEKs need maintenance, can lose their zero, etc.

I have had one guitar PLEKed, it needed it. I chose to work with the refret done to the guitar versus an entire rework and refret, hoping to preserve the fretboard from another round of material loss. By any measure, it had been refretted many, many times....1940 Epi Emperor.

Even with a couple passes, it still needed a Machinist to do the final nuances. The PLEK saved a lot of time.

13

I have nothing bad to say about PLEK, it's a tool I wish I had (maybe).

I did two re-frets, three level and crown jobs yesterday and the process is physical and painful. If a machine can rough it out and do all the difficult initial crown work it would be an asset. Clearly this machine doesn't replace a human. Measurements are guidelines, it's all about feel and sound which thankfully is where the human comes in. Machines can't find that magic or can a guitar tech that doesn't play guitar, its the vertical part of the story.

14

I remember some time ago that Richard Hudson took his Chet '59 CG in to get it Pleked at I believe, Billy Grammer's shop in Nashville and wasn't all that pleased with the end result.

15

Gibson Custom Shop ES-335.

– Curt Wilson

How does something like this make it through QC, especially since it is a Custom Shop instrument? That really boggles my mind. You shouldn't see something like this on the cheapest of imports.

16

The guy that Plekked my guitars in the UK told me that Gibson don't do a full dress on their guitars, it's more a marketing ploy. I've had 4 done now, and they are simply superb. I'm sure a skilled tech could do the same, but as I understand it, the readings are taken under string tension, which must make some difference.

17

The guy that Plekked my guitars in the UK told me that Gibson don't do a full dress on their guitars, it's more a marketing ploy. I've had 4 done now, and they are simply superb. I'm sure a skilled tech could do the same, but as I understand it, the readings are taken under string tension, which must make some difference.

– Uncle Daddy

It's mind boggling that a company would invest the significant $$$ into PLEK machines (I would assume Gibson has more than one) and not properly utilize them. I have noticed that on some Gibson guitars that the hang tag says that just the nut was plek'ed. Made in USA G&L's are factory Plek'ed and the spec sheet that comes with each guitar actually lists who the Plek operator was. I am guessing that G&L does a better job than Gibson. Now I understand that G&L is a significantly smaller operation than Gibson but still.........Martin has also been Pleking their guitars for the last 10 years. Having seen the Martin Factory first hand I would say they probably do good Plek work. Martin's generally come out of the factory with action a bit on the high side but I think that is done purposely so that the owner can have the action tailored to their preference but the nuts are always cut to the optimal height and the frets are level and well crowned so the only thing needed is the saddle to be shaved down a bit and the truss rod possibly tweaked.

18

Anyone have an idea of how much one of these magic PLEK'D machines actually run for? Wasn't a quick find on the internet.

20

I don't know much about Plek. But my feeling is that if you do it by hand you can understand and feel the nuances of a neck much better than a machine can. But I would give anything to get a machine to do the finishing of the job (rounding and polishing of the frets) ....... ; )

Btw: Gibson isn't the only company that sends out Custom Shop guitars that need fretwork.... I had to work on the frets of a brand new Billy Zoom CS model a few years ago. They were not level either.... But after some work it really was an amazing guitar.

21
"I would give anything to get a machine to do the finishing of the job (rounding and polishing of the frets) ....... ; )"

How are you approaching that step? I find that part enjoyable it's the initial crown step that takes a lot of effort.

22

I had reason to get in my Guitar Stuff file box, looked up my PLEK receipt...Sept 2010.

I have seen the Martin Factory machines in 2011. This shop in NYC had a different earlier version than Martin, and I believe he said it was $100,000. Maybe the Martin tour said $100,000. His was 2005.

I recall he had both Start-Up and Set-Up issues, had to be periodically serviced from Germany.

It delayed my job quite a bit.

When I look at the PLEK timeline, seems to fit. He said they were putting Techs in place in the US to travel and service machines...

http://www.peekamoose.com/p...

His comments seem to mirror everything addressed here...

23

I don't know much about Plek. But my feeling is that if you do it by hand you can understand and feel the nuances of a neck much better than a machine can. But I would give anything to get a machine to do the finishing of the job (rounding and polishing of the frets) ....... ; )

Btw: Gibson isn't the only company that sends out Custom Shop guitars that need fretwork.... I had to work on the frets of a brand new Billy Zoom CS model a few years ago. They were not level either.... But after some work it really was an amazing guitar.

– Danman

I find it very hard to comprehend that a Custom Shop guitar from any manufacturer would go out with fretwork needed. For that kind of money wouldn't you expect an instrument as near to perfect as possible right out of the box?

I sure wouldn't want to take my new Rolls-Royce in for service the day I got it. Maybe it's just me, but come on.

24
"I would give anything to get a machine to do the finishing of the job (rounding and polishing of the frets) ....... ; )"

How are you approaching that step? I find that part enjoyable it's the initial crown step that takes a lot of effort.

– Curt Wilson

Hi Curt,
Perhaps I wasn’t using the right words… That damn language thing…. ; )
I agree, the crowning is a lot of work. But the finishing after that I also find a lot of work. I do it by hand so it’s very labor-intensive…. (a few steps of sandpaper, steel wool and then polish). I like the first part were you are getting to know the neck and get the fret heights to where they should be. That’s fun. But if you have done enough fretwork in your life the rest can get a bit boring. It's a bunch of steps you have to repeat 21 or 22 times..... Do you finish the frets up by hand or machine?

25

I find it very hard to comprehend that a Custom Shop guitar from any manufacturer would go out with fretwork needed. For that kind of money wouldn't you expect an instrument as near to perfect as possible right out of the box?

I sure wouldn't want to take my new Rolls-Royce in for service the day I got it. Maybe it's just me, but come on.

– Bear

I completely agree. For that money and also supposedly the amount of care put in to it, it should be right. If a client can find a fault somewhere, so can the person that built the guitar or did the fretwork..... I do understand that mistakes can be made and they are only human but still: it seems a bit sloppy...


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