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The Plek Machine

Next to the tone it is the play ability that is one of the most important characteristics of a musical instrument that determines its quality.With the Plek process the most optimal string action possible for each instrument can be guarantied, matching the individual style of the musician. An optimal playable guitar sounds better: the strings do not hit against the frets while playing and intonation problems, that occur because of a inadequately high string action, are eliminated.


Preparing the instrument

The operator places the instrument in the cradle door with the aid of a positioning device and checks the tuning of the instrument. Necessary measurements of the instrument required by the program are taken with the help of a sliding caliber and entered along with other attributes into pre-determined data fields. After all, the measurements are entered, the door is closed and the operator starts the program sequence. The saved data can be called up again for follow-up work at a later data.

Plek Scan

First of all, the instrument is scanned, by measuring the neck with a sensor finger along each tuned up string, thus under playing condition. The diagnostic data obtained shows, by means of graphs and numerical values, the relevant information about the playability of the instrument and is the source for all the process procedures that follow.

The Virtual Fret Dress

The interactive graphic display of the measured data makes it very easy to see if and how to correct the relief of the neck. If the relief has to be corrected the cradle door must be opened to be able to adjust the truss rod. After closing the door the machine scans again to check the relief correction. Is the truss rod adjusted to its optimum the operator can devote his attention to the core function of the plek pro program, the "Virtual Fret Dress". This software tool enables you to set the amount of fret height to be cut as well as adjusting the radius (making it possible the obtain a compound radius within the frets) and the amount of "fall-off" on the uppper frets. Initially, this all happens virtually, meaning that the VFD-graphic simulates the result of cutting without actually processing the frets. Frets that are too high or too low are easily recognized and can be targeted for virtual correction. This way the amount of fret material to be cut is kept to a minimum.

Processing

When all parameters for processing have been set and checked, the strings are loosened and removed from the fretboard. If the saddle of an acoustic guitar is to be cut it should be removed and clamped into a special vice located on the inside of the center frame of the machine. Now the operator starts the actual cutting process: the cutting wheel levels the frets, the cutter bits in the High Frequency Spindle (HFS) cut the nut slots and – if needed – shape the nut top surface. Also, if the saddle is to be processed, the HFS cuts the exact desired saddle height. After processing, the saddle is reinserted into the bridge and the instrument strung up to pitch. With the optional final scan the processed instrument can be reviewed and documented.

Only a quick and easy fret surface polishing job by hand (according to a plek recommended "recipe") is now required to complete the fret dressing procedure.


Pricing

  • Scan Only (No Cutting) - $65.00
  • Plek Acoustic Steel String, Electric Non Locking Trem, 4 to 7 string Bass, Includes Setup - $225.00
  • Plek 12 String Acoustic Steel String or Electric, Includes Setup - $250.00
  • Plek with Floyd Rose with/or locking / metal nuts, Includes Setup - $260.00
  • Plek with Stainless Steel Frets - Additional $100
  • Plek any Asian Imports - Must glue down frets - Additional $50
  • Plek with setup does not include cost of strings.
  • We Cannot Plek Carbon Fiber Guitars or Guitars with Non Wood Fret Boards
  • We Cannot Plek Nylon String Guitars

If you would like to schedule an appointment give us a call at 847-432-6350. Ask for George.

Check out the Illinois Entertainer Article about our Plek Machine!

Plek Testimonials


“I have had a couple guitars plekked by them. They all turned out fantastic! Really happy I did it! They turned one mediocre guitar into one of the best playing guitars i have ever used.”

“Had my 1998 Les Paul Standard DC plek'd yesterday by George over at The Music Gallery in Highland Park IL. The guitar came out GREAT. This is my first experience with a Plek and I'm very happy. Feels like a whole new guitar. I had a few "choking" notes on bends and they are completely gone. I set the action low and it plays effortlessly. The guys at Music Gallery were great and George took the time to explain the whole process. He showed me the computer scans and let me watch some of the frets getting cut. It was real interesting to see how unlevel the frets were before the Plek.”

“What George or Chip will tell you-they still have a tremendous amount of input. To the plek-tek, it really is just another tool, much more accurate than the human eye and a straight edge. How much fret gets cut(the less the better), and a bunch of other decisions come into play. The tool is only as good as the tech-in this case-those two guys have done hundreds are are very good at it. That said, they have set up guitars of mine and made them play stellar as well. They are just plain great at what they do. The plek machine is just another tool for them to do their job.”

“Since you are in Evanston try Music Gallery in Highland Park. They did my guitar and Chip is a great guy. They also have a plek machine there. I had my guitar setup by them and I am happy. Will take it back later this summer for the plek process.”

“Backstory: I bought an Eagle in early 2013 and immediately brought it to the Chicago Fret Works to be set-up. This is a highly respected place that only does guitar repairs and service ( http://www.chicagofretworks.com/). I paid $100 to have the "Works" done: "The Works includes precision level, re-crown and polish of your instruments frets along with complete set-up of truss rod, string height (action) and intonation. This work will minimize fret buzz, eliminate fret pitting and divits, and improve your overall tone! The whole instrument will be cleaned and polished and all hardware and electronics inspected, cleaned, and lubed. They did a really nice job and the improvements compared to how the guitar was set up when it was first delivered were significant. Nonetheless, it was still the most challenging of my Heritage guitars to play (I have two Prospects, a Millie and a 445). Following 1) the purchase of a newly Plek'ed G&L and 2) Hangar18's post on Plek'ing, I decided to take it to the Music Gallery in Highland Park, IL ( http://www.musicgalleryinc.com/) to have to it Plek'ed ($225). The G&L, and now this Eagle are the easiest of my guitars to play, even with 12s on the Eagle. I will be taking my Prospects and my Millie there for the same treatment in the future. So that's my contribution to the debate over manual set-up vs. Plek; two plek'ed guitars and two positive experiences.”


"The Plek is not some godless mechanical replacement for a luthier (if you think it is, you’ve been watching too much of that Will Smith movie I, Robot). It’s another tool (albeit, a large tool with significant initial capital investment) to be used by a good technician. The Plek performs analysis and through CNC can make cuts to frets that would be extremely time-consuming, if not impossible, for a human to make, and like others have said, it does so without getting tired or needing lots of cigarette breaks. Once the frets have been cut, though, the luthier still needs all of his skills to perform the setup thereafter. My guitars have been plek’d at the Music Gallery in Highland Park, IL, and compared to traditional non-plek’d setups, there is no comparison."








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