As musicians, we all treasure our guitars. It tears our hearts to watch them in a beyond repair state.
Time, mishaps, and even travel leave their scars on your guitar. However, nothing works better than Plekking. It will quickly return your guitars to their former brilliance. So, Is Plek Worth It?
Yes, plek is worth your money. There is no other way to get the most accurate fretwork than getting your guitar Plek’d. With its computer-guided precision, Plek can do wonders on your guitars. So, nothing beats this custom machine setup for making your guitar play like your dream.
Still, have doubts about its worth? Let’s get into the depth of it so that you can decide yourself then.
Things You Should Check Before Deciding The Guitar Plek’d
Plek compared to other methods is an expensive procedure. Sometimes a simple road adjustment can even solve all the problems that you are facing. That is why we suggest you check for any minor issues first. We’ve listed a few for your help.
Is The Fretboard Suitable?
Your guitar frets are rarely perfect even when they freshly came from the factory. Plus, they wear down over time. If that’s the case then an expert tech can easily fix it. But how do find out if the fretboard is suitable or not?
Don’t worry. We’ve got that covered too. First, consider the string’s connection to the fretboard around the 7th fret. If the string is contacting the fret then you will notice something different from usual. The neck is either straight or back bent. However, if there is space, the neck will bow forward.
If the neck is bent forward then we suggest you take it to a technician. They will fix it for a much cheaper price.
Is String Swinging Good?
When your strings are newer, they will always swing better. Thus, even an untrained ear, can spot the differences. Here are a few ways you can check to see if your strings are swinging properly.
The first point you should check for is the brightness of the strings. Also, if your strings can’t stay in tune, this is a symptom of redundant string swing.
If there is any twist along the wire, especially above the frets, it can cause your string swing to sound odd. Sweat, grease, and can cause your strings to rust and discolor. The time it takes varies from player to player but it certainly affects the sound quality. You will notice a change in tone if there is any twist.
If the tone of your guitar string swing is off, we recommend changing the strings first. Here are a few string brands that we recommend for a mellower guitar sound.
- Ernie Ball Cobalt 7-String Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky Guitar Strings
- D’Addario EXL130 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Is The Sound Output Clear?
For melodious tunes, your notes need to sound absolutely clear. If you aren’t a pro and don’t know how to identify it. Then don’t panic. We are here to help.
Start by playing all of the strings all the way up. After that play all of them down the neck again. Then check to see if all of the notes play nicely and sound excellent. If not then your guitars have “dead frets” which means the neck has flaws.
Sometimes, a guitar resonates exceptionally well at some frequencies or notes. But poorly at others.
In these cases, you don’t need to do a Plek but the tech will be able to fix it.
What Do You Get From Plekking Phases?
Before that, the first question must come to your mind: what does it mean when a guitar is plek’d?
It means performing extremely precise scans of your fretboards. Plek is a machine that performs a whole assessing procedure on the condition of your guitar’s neck and frets. Then to do an ultra-accurate fret dress job. It can also be used to cut fret slots and neck pockets. It is capable of operating to microscopic changes; in fact, its accuracy is rated at 0.001.
Phase 1: Detailed Inspection
Plek machines follow a proper procedure of achieving optimum playability for instruments. For that, a detailed inspection is most needed. Plek software does two scans in total. Thus, we get all the information and planning for a perfect fretwork.
Detailed Information on Guitar
The best feature of plek is the detailed information it gives about your guitar. As in the first scan, it measures the entire fretboard. You can get information like string measurements, fret wear, and height action.
Now you may wonder what height action is. In a nutshell, the space between strings and fretboard. The less distance there is between strings and the fretboard, the easier it is to fret a note. You can get a total fret profile.
Detailed Graphical Representation
Another core feature of Plek is the detailed graphical representation. Also known as virtual fret dress.
In this stage, we focus on fretwork planning. After identifying the problems comes the graphic representation. You will graphically design what type of fretwork do you want to do. Then, Plek’s software will create any fretwork you want. The technician will perform those fretworks virtually. Thus, they can learn the effect of performing those hypothetical actions. This way, they can find out the best possible results before performing it. The machine will perform the instructions only after you decide.
In-Depth Fretboard Planning
In this phase, you will plan in-depth instructions for your fretboard. Along with your preferred fretwork, you can include compound radius and upper-end fall-offs. After deciding what type of fretwork is necessary, you need to do a rescan. But this time without the strings.
This second scan is much faster. It also helps the operator learn the fretboard condition without tension. Thus, tech can easily calculate the milling the instrument needs. Also, where it needs to be done.
These detailed scannings will provide you with various valuable information. Like every string’s length, spacing, position, and fret’s profile and wear.
All of which will give you a better understanding of the changes that you need to make to your fretboard. It even tells how much distance you should maintain between string and fretboard.
Must know these pieces of information as they help your guitar’s tune sound unique. For instance, a thicker string gauge will create more bass frequencies and treble.
Also, the graphic representation will provide you with many different fret “solutions.” They can also be studied in the virtual mode before doing anything in reality.
Phase 2: Processing Phase
With the first scan, the computer finds out every high fret and where they are. Plus, it gives a lot of extra data. For example, the system will analyze each string at the same fret height individually. Then it will reveal even the slightest neck twists
Adjustment to Micro-Levels of Fretboard
After graphic representation and planning, the actual cutting procedures will start immediately. The fret cuts are designed exactly as the nut slots. Also, you can cut the nut surface as decided.
You can trim the saddles as you wish. Thus, it will provide a saddle height that can maintain the target action you want. These precise cuts will result in an exact fret plane.
The best part is that you can do all these at the same time.
Plek’s software is hugely user-oriented. Its program allows the user to perform any type of fretwork they prefer. Plek Pro software stimulates fretwork actions based on the scan results.
You can also apply any neck and fret relief that is even on a string-by-string basis. Fingerboard radius can be set as you wish like the 1st, 12th, and last fret.
The main benefit is that the VFD process can be computerized in a manufacturing setting. This will improve cycle times.
The operator will then use their best judgment. For instance, the fix can be as simple as a truss rod adjustment. So, they can choose to not do any unnecessary fretwork.
The processing phase, helps plek software collect a lot of information about instruments. It records all the information of each guitar in an individual file of the software. Then records all the actions taken in a file as well. These individualized data files provide a complete processing history of each instrument.
Plus, extra data files increase quality control. Plek Machine Protocol Database, due to the process phase can track machine performance. Also, the cycle times.
Remote File Viewer gets access to individual guitar scan information as well. Thus, these tools are invaluable aids for assembling a plan. It is very effective for a single or multi-machine facility. It can also be used for multi-facility or OEM scenarios.
Flexible design provides you with a lot of leeways. Especially when it comes to enhancing the playability of an instrument series. It also contributes to the shortest possible R&D and cycle durations.
Phase 3: Final Outcome
Plekking is lavish thus it has to be effective. But trust us, it really is. You may ask why? Then this section is for you. We’ve discussed all the benefits in-depth for your better understanding.
Benefit 1: Increased Resale Value
A guitar that has been used for a while will surely wear out. And so, it won’t sound as good as it previously did. That is why, before selling a guitar, we recommend having Plek done to boost the resale value.
It is not a waste of money, rather you can profit from it. Assume you will have to pay $200 for an ordinary Plek. But when you will sell it and it will sound just like a new one then you will get roughly $1000 or more for it. That is an excellent deal for you. Isn’t it?
Benefit 2: Fine-Tuned to Micro Level
As soon as the tech sets all parameters the PLEK machine starts the work. It accurately notes each high fret. The machine also recrowns the frets afterward.
Plek machine’s fretwork accuracy is .01mm or .0004″. Plus, it restores the rounded top profile.
Benefit 3: Perfect Fretwork
The quality of the fretwork is directly tied to a guitar. Even expensive or prestigious brands can produce guitars with uneven frets. The frets level needs to stay within a tolerance of about .0005″. Otherwise, the notes will buzz and fret out. No matter how many times instruments are adjusted if the frets aren’t perfectly done then it won’t sound good.
Benefit 4: Your Favourite Guitar Will Always Sound New
Your first guitar is always special to you. Thus, it is difficult to throw it away. Plek will come to your rescue at this point. Why?
Plekking a guitar will give you the most flawless fretwork and no loss of sustain. It will also reduce fret buzz. When bending strings, it will not cause any fretting out. But most importantly, you will be able to play it consistently whether you are playing low or high on the neck.
How Much Does Plekking Actually Cost?
Plek service is typically costly. Because the procedure requires the use of both a machine and a professional tech. However, the precise and flawless fretwork, on the other hand, is what makes Plek worth your money.
So, How much does it cost to PLEK a guitar?
A professional Plek service, including setup, can cost between $200 and $300. Different services have varying price ranges.
For your convenience, we’ve included a chart below.
|Regular Plek||Around $250|
|Plekking (Graph tech Nut Upgrade included)||Around $300|
|Plek (Bone Nut Update included)||Around $300|
When Should You Get Your Guitar Plek’d?
Now that you understand it Plek work is budget-friendly or not. The following question is when?
Yes, there are moments when we believe Plek is the best option for your guitar. Below we’ve discussed it in detail.
Extensive Guitar Usage
After long use of guitar-like 3-6 months, you should get a Plek done on it. It will fix all the minor problems and your guitar will be just as new as before.
The worn-out fretboard is a common guitar issue. When it gets worn out your guitar will sound as good as before. Thus, we recommend doing a plek work at that moment. But, How long should frets last?
Frets’ longevity is determined by the fret material. Frequency of play and playing style are also considerable factors. Thus, keeping all these elements in mind a guitar fretboard can last a few years. Sometimes, they last longer even 20-30 years.
Musicians love roasted wood for musical instruments. As it makes the instruments naturally warp-resistant and lighter in weight. It also exhibits a clearer tone than wood that has not been roasted. However, if you are using good quality woods then plek work isn’t necessary. We recommend that compare which woods are best for a guitar like Adler vs Mahogony. But after roasting for a perfect fret you should do a plek.
After Buying Your Guitar
We recommend doing a Plek right after you buy a new guitar. It will provide you with unique fretworks. which will help you produce unique sounds for your instruments. Most importantly factories supply thousands of guitars every day. Thus, there is no way they can produce each guitar with the perfect fretwork as a Plek does.
That’s why we recommend getting a Plek done just after you bought a new guitar. Especially if it’s a second one then it is a must. Your second-hand-bought guitar will sound as good as a new one.
So, Is It Really Worth The Money?
The quality of a guitar’s fretwork strongly contributes to its magical sound. And Plek is the best method to achieve excellent fretwork.
Plekking, as you may imagine, is rather pricey. So, the obvious question is, is guitar plek worth it?
Even guitar techs and luthiers will tell you that it’s well worth it. It’s a considerably superior method of fretwork. Since nearly any guitar can benefit from Plek work. Even if it is a high-end custom shop guitar.
The PLEK machine’s secret is that it is more than just a machine; it is a process. No matter how skilled a technician is, they will never be able to achieve 0.001 precision by hand.
Yes, it is also faster. It’s a tremendous step up for a player. Notes ring out more clearly. Even big bends of guitar don’t get choked out. And, sure, when your guitar is correctly set up with beautiful fretwork, it will sound better.
A plek job in most places in the United States costs between $200 and $300. You can get easily get a fret level and setup done at this price. Which is in a sense a small amount to maximize your instrument quality.
Many guitar factories produce hundreds of guitars each day. There is no way for them to achieve fretwork accuracy of.01mm(.0004′′) of a PLEK machine.
Are There Any Alternatives for Plekking?
Plekking is an expensive procedure. Thus, you may be looking for an alternative. The good news is there is one.
A master Luthier setup can be an excellent alternative for you. A professional luthier’s labor usually costs between $50 and $90 per hour. With human ears, a luthier or a competent tech can hear the melody better. Thus, what sounds more pleasing to a listener’s ears, they understand that the best. However, it is hard to create perfect accuracy like Plekking.
Still, compared with other methods, the Luthier setup is the best alternative. Many guitarists often consider a hand finish or luthier set up as an essential step after a plek service.
Now that we’ve gone through our article, we hope it cleared all the questions you had. Still, you will have other queries. Thus, in this section, we’ve answered the frequently asked questions.
Question: Does Gibson PLEK all their guitars?
Answer: Yes, Gibson plek all their guitars. They have their in-house PLEK machines. The aim is to fine-tune and assure high-quality guitars. Both Gibson USA and the Custom Shop apply the Pleking process on every instrument built.
Question: Is a fret job worth it?
Answer: A fret job is worth it if you play guitar regularly. Since the whole procedure can cost more than what you paid for the guitar, we recommend only expensive guitars.
Question: Can an acoustic guitar be PLEK D?
Answer: No, you can’t. Brands like Taylor have their own in-house developed computer-controlled process. That helps to maintain the consistency of their necks and fretwork. Thus, most acoustic guitar brands do not license PLEK.
Question: how much does a plek machine cost?
Answer: PLEK machines are serious investments. They cost around $250,000 per unit. A shop that buys a machine has to charge to recoup its investment. Thus, we don’t recommend buying one for personal use at all. Plus, you will need a tech to operate it as well.
PLEK is a complex procedure. Still, we did our best and hope we were able to debunk whatever questions you had.
We hope that now that you know how helpful, Plekking is, you will take good care of your guitar by having it plek’d.
We would gladly address any inquiries you may have. Also, if you like our content, please let us know in the comments section below. Until then, have fun playing!