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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / PLEK - gimmick or real value?

greg1948
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Vero Beach FL

Tbird Greg
Oct 6th, 2017 06:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've set up my guitars for years, going for low action without buzz. After truss adjustment and setting string height, if I'm getting buzz at certain frets, I'm thinking that there's the problem - minute differences in fret height.

Supposedly, PLEKking the neck ensures that all frets are even. So, in theory, with a straight neck, the string height should not be very different from 1st fret to 12th.

Anyone have a guitar that has had this treatment?

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

One foot on the brake, one on the GAS
Oct 6th, 2017 06:19 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

My Les Paul was Plek’d from the factory. It plays like a dream. I’m a believer. I believe it also drove Gibson’s initial quality up. I don’t think folks report playability issues on new guitars these days. Not like it used to be.

Malcolm
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Edmond, OK

Oct 6th, 2017 07:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Does that extend down to the Studios?

reverend mikey
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N of I-90, E of I-29

You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
Oct 6th, 2017 07:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Just remember - even with PLEK, a factory set up is a factory set-up: it's a generic set-up in a range that might work for some people, but you may still need it tweaked for your playing preferences.

My 2015 Martin D-35 was "PLEK'ed" but the action was still higher than I wanted. Can't remember if I lowered the nut slots, but I did adjust the action.

Pinetree
Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Oct 6th, 2017 08:47 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Watch

dis.

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

One foot on the brake, one on the GAS
Oct 6th, 2017 09:01 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

According to that video I got lucky.

Hammond101
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So. Cal. USA

Oct 6th, 2017 09:08 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

For the most part I believe it is an improvement on a factory setup. Basically a robot doing a fret level crown and polish with end dress.

I have fixed some bad plek jobs out of the Gibson Factory however.

Leftee
Contributing Member
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VA

One foot on the brake, one on the GAS
Oct 6th, 2017 09:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I must have got lucky.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Oct 6th, 2017 11:55 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The idea behind PLEKing is scientifically sound.

But even on a perfectly PLEKed guitar, the nut slots, relief, and saddle heights have to be optimized to make it play at its best.

Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 6th, 2017 01:31 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The PLEK process works as advertized ONLY if the tech that mounts the guitar in the machine properly adjusts the truss rod first, and then correctly mounts the guitar in the PLEK machine.

In other words, there's still a human factor that can contribute to a less-than-optimal outcome when the machine is finished with the guitar.

I have two Custom Shop Gibsons that were PLEK'd at the factory, and the setup is extremely good. But it's no better than the work of a careful tech who took the time to get everything right.

The difference between the tech and the PLEK are speed: the PLEK is very fast, and time is money when rolling products off the line.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
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We all want

our time in hell
Oct 6th, 2017 04:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Both my Gibsons are Plek'd.

The 339 needed setup but it'd been in the warehouse a couple years and the high e saddle needed love. Fretwork and action were near perfect where I wanted them, and have held up since that initial tweak for 3ish yaers now without incident.

Intonation passed the guitar synth test.

The '16 Les Paul Studio HP was flawless, I mean perfect, absolutely perfect. I didn't have to adjust *anything* and a year and a half later...I still haven't had to. Between the wider neck, the neck profile, and the way the thing plays, it's eaten most of my time since the day I got it, and I'm considering buying another.

It also passed the guitar synth setup test.

Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 17th, 2017 07:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The synth hex pickup is actually a very good judge of the quality of a setup. If the intonation is out even by a few cents, it will have tracking issues. And a light touch also helps :0)

BrentD
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*********

United States

Harumph.
Oct 17th, 2017 07:35 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

IME manufacturers cut the nut slots shallow as a safety measure. It's easier to cut them to taste than replace a nut when one is cut too deep.

Unless the nut slots are right, the benefits of a PLEK job aren't going to be as tangible.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

We all want

our time in hell
Oct 17th, 2017 08:31 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That issue is not present on either of my Plek'd instruments - titanium adjustable zero fret on one, black Corian on the other.

Gibson claims the nut is also trimmed etc by the machine.

"When all the parameters for processing are determined, the frets and nut are cut to those parameters. The PLEK machines continue to simulate string tension as they adjust and file the frets and trim the nut. The machines can peel off just a thousandth of an inch if that is all that’s required."

Gibson on their use it.

Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 17th, 2017 09:20 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yes, the PLEK does set the nut action too. I don't think it planes off the top of the nut after the slots are cut though.

Greg, I missed this point in your original post: "So, in theory, with a straight neck, the string height should not be very different from 1st fret to 12th."

Actually, there is quite a difference--which is necessary due to simple physics.

A vibrating string covers a larger volume of space near its center (the 12th fret played open, or from the fretted position to the bridge) than it does as you get closer to the ends (nut and bridge). That means neck relief and resting string height off the fret tops have to be balanced to combine ease of play with clear noting and proper intonation.

Generally, .018" to .020" between the strings and the first fret is ideal for most guitars. At the 12th fret, the ideal gap is somewhere between .063" - .080".

See image at link to get an idea of what's going on when you pluck a string. The pictured string is vibrating at its fundamental (no pronounced harmonic nodes).

Note: there are lots of pictures of vibrating strings on the Web, and many are frame captures from video. The vibration patterns in these pics is an illusion created by video processing. They are not how a string actually vibrates.

Click

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 11:26 AM, Oct 17th, 2017)

Peegoo
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Enjoying

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Oct 17th, 2017 09:24 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Here's a sample of the illusion created by the video scan function I mentioned in the note above.

The strings are not actually this loose :o)

Achase4u

U.S. - Virginia

Oct 19th, 2017 01:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Someone who is very good at fret work can do as good a job as a Plek. Like Peegoo says, time is the main difference, as long as the guitar is adjusted right and placed correctly in the machine.

I am fairly certain I've seen a Plek take down the top of the nut, however it takes a while because the end mill they use for the slots is so tiny. So it takes many passes.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

We all want

our time in hell
Oct 19th, 2017 09:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yea, the "very good" is the thing.

For a production guitar, I'll take the Plek any day.

FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / PLEK - gimmick or real value?




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