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Fret Level Test..

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by ZenG, May 6, 2017.

  1. Seen a couple of threads lately about Pleking.

    My basses don't seem on the surface to have any issues.

    People complain of buzz etc. and then sometimes opt to Plek as a solution.

    But then again some get their basses done just because it feels good.

    So..is there a test of any kind that you can do to determine if Pleking might be a good choice?

    Just eyeballing the neck in a case like this may be not 100% accurate.

    Although eyeballing works for a lot of things...
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Get a "fret rocker" and find out.
    lowplaces, shodan and ZenG like this.
  3. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    If the frets are not level so as to not allow the desired set up the frets should be dressed.

    Like bholder says above, a short precision straight edge is used to determine fret height from fret to fret.

    Folks seem to be using "Plek" when they mean level, crown, and polish, or "fret dressing."

    Plek is one way to perform a fret dress. Doing it by hand is the other way.

    A skilled technician can achieve the same results with either method. An unskilled person can wreak havoc either way.
    RSBBass, shodan, JLS and 1 other person like this.
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    The true test of the frets is in playing it. Lower the action down until you start to get some buzz with your normal playing technique. If the buzz sounds about the same on all the frets, on all the strings, that tells you that the frets are level. The more precisely leveled they are, the lower you can go with a lighter touch, with them all still buzzing equally. That's what matters to you, as the player. You find an action height that matches your plucking technique, where you are just approaching the buzz point. But the buzz point is predictable and even all over the neck.

    If the frets are level, then going over it again by Plek or by hand isn't going to improve anything.

    The main benefit of using a Plek machine is in its ability to correct for uneven movement of the neck surface between loaded and unloaded conditions. It measures the difference, and then grinds the frets incorporating a calculated correction number. A skilled Luthier can get the frets level to the same accuracy, but it takes longer, with some test & correct (trial & error).

    The Plek machine, used by a skilled operator, can do the job faster, usually on the first shot. The Plek machine is a great tool, but it's not perfect or infallible. It's a specialized CNC grinding machine, and it only grinds the top of one fret at a time, from data in its memory and readings from its scales (digital position sensors). Its overall accuracy is dependent on a stackup of errors and tolerances too. It has to be used carefully to do the job right.
    osv and ZenG like this.
  5. shodan


    Mar 23, 2005
    Central Midwest
    Buy Dan Erlewine's set up book and work through it yourself. Not only will you learn how to set up your own bass and save money on that down the road, you'll answer your question for the cost of a good reference book. And if you have questions after that, I'm sure the good folks here would be happy to help.

    But like bholder said, get a fret rocker and check for level first. That will tell you a lot.
  6. I do all my own setups from start to finish.

    Never bothered worrying about level frets because I never encountered any issues so far. But...there is always room for improvement so figured I might be missing out on an a better playing experience.

    I'll get one of those fret rockers..just to see if anything's going on.

    I suppose any accurate small straight-edge would work too though.
  7. shodan


    Mar 23, 2005
    Central Midwest
    The design of the fret rocker allows you to go up and down the entire fret board using the side covering just 3 frets at a time. That lets you pinpoint the exact fret that is high. And you'll want to run it on either side and down the middle to see if you have a fret end that has popped loose.
  8. do you have fret buzz?
    if not, why bother checking for fret level?
    I use a credit card to check.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Yeah, credit card. Why spend the cash? Different if you do it for a living and would quickly wear out a plastic card but for home use, it's perfect.

    Keep your cash for something that you truly need.
    DD Gunz and Killed_by_Death like this.
  10. I'm one of those people that likes things as good as I can get them.

    No buzz right now. But it's not broke....therefore I shall fix it. :angel:
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  11. I used to be the same way, looking for things that needed fixing, LOL
    ZenG likes this.

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