To Plek or not to Plek

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Mokebass, May 15, 2012.

  1. Mokebass


    Sep 19, 2011
    Some say that a Plek machine only tunes to concert pitch and is within .0004 inch accurate.

    Others say it will put luthiers out of business and a trusted tech is always the best to sort frets out properly.

    Personally i think is need for both.
  2. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    I can see a Plek machine earning its keep by churning out multiple jobs. But IMHO it does not replace hand dressed frets by a qualified luthier.
  3. cthomas5200

    cthomas5200 Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    I take all my guitars and basses to Joe Glaser in Nashville to be plek'd, which probably reinforces the point that you need both. Joe is one of the best, and combined with the plek machine my guitars play like butter. I am planning to take my Lakland there in a couple weeks. I know I could ship it to Lakland, but I trust Joe and his work is just outstanding.
  4. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    If PLEK is good enough for Mike Lull, then it's good enough for me.
  5. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    And Fodera
  6. nickbass79


    Nov 11, 2009
    North Carolina
    My new Fodera 5 was Plek'd. I can tell a difference between the Fodera 5 I had that wasn't Plek'd and this one. It is set up with such low action now, but seems like it could go lower with out buzzing. I am impressed!
  7. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    When I start to hear of such precision I start to wonder how stable the instrument is. I.e. expansion and contraction due to heat/humidity and other factors. 0.0004 inches is a VERY small tolerance. Also, what happens when you get a bit of fret wear? I'm not saying that the plek doesn't improve things, if that level of precision is achievable. But how durable is it?

  8. PLEK is a tool: in the hands of a good repair person it is awesome. Have an inexperienced person set it up and it will be as disastrous as giving a leveling file to somebody who has never used one.
  9. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    VERY well said!
  10. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Absolutely. I think the real attraction of a PLEK machine is that it allows a competent craftsman to vastly increase their throughput. This could be a huge win for a manufacturer or shop that need to do a LOT of fret jobs. For a small operation doing fewer jobs, the capital outlay for such equipment could be ruinous.

    Honestly, I wouldn't choose where to get my fret work done based on the equipment their using. A competent tech can get you excellent results using either traditional methods or fancy modern machinery. An incompetent tech can screw up either, as well.
  11. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Its better to use a good luthier whose great at fretwork. Irregardless of wether they use a plek machine for it. I think plek machines are overrated myself compared to a real good luthier. And I think plek machines a bad thing in the hands of low qaulity luthiers and repairmen. I would never concider using someone whose claim to fame is using plek machine. I would use someone with long history of great fretowrk without one instead.
  12. jplumansoc


    Mar 15, 2012
    Seattle, WA
    or you can find a great luthier who has a plek to rock it out.

    Mike Lull was the best before he picked up his plek 4 years ago, now he's the bestestester luthier.
  13. Mokebass


    Sep 19, 2011
    Its unlikely that anyone with a Plek machine would not be a good luthier.

    Its not about a fancy modern machine but more about someone who can use what is a great modern tool.

    I dont advertise here so wont mention names but thanks for comments all
  14. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I think all of the above is valid
    I am also 100% sure that a human with a file can't maintain .004" tolerance from fret to fret and/or across the width of the fret
    Not so sure a player could feel a .004" difference either
    BTW, a sheet of notebook paper is .003"
  15. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    I am by no stretch of imagination an expert, but watching the Plek corp video clearly shows that to really do a good job, you would have to truly understand stringed instruments and what is truly desirable from a playability standpoint. You would also need to understand the instrument owner's wants and needs. Therefore you must be a competent luthier to use this amazing tool effectively, or so it seems to me.
  16. Mokebass


    Sep 19, 2011
    JimC with respect....I agree most players will not appreciate the fine difference but its good to know you get get close to the perferct pitch note. Then you can play around with personal preference.
  17. kb9wyz


    Sep 8, 2008
    Talking to Carl, The Bass Doctor (in Chicago), who also works for Lakland from what I understand (used to just have his shop in the same building, PLEK is great for getting fast and very good setups for manufacturing, but finds little point in using the service after the initial setup.

    Also, the PLEK is a one note johhny. So if you like your setups different, you'll need a luthier anyway.
  18. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Yes sir; I'm with you
    Whether it can be felt or not is not as important as being able to do the best job you can

    I've never used a Plek but have used CNC mills
    Seems to me that you could program in any coordinates you want thus allowing for a custom set up that can be stored and re-used or easily altered in what ever manner you want
    The machine is much more accurate than the human, although it takes a human to set it up to work properly; an untrained operator would ruin a neck with the machine
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