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Post here your opinions about Plek System Machine....

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Check-out the discussion from awhile back.... lots of opinions.


http://fretsnet.ning.com/xn/detail/2177249:Comment:14406
Oh, thanks Mike........
If I remember correctly, at the last G.A.L. get-together in Tacoma ('08) Dan Erlewine of StewMac had mentioned biting the bullet and purchasing a PLEK system.... if he's on this board, maybe he could share how that's working out.
BLA BLA BLAW......THE PLECK CANT DO AS NICE OF A JOB AS I CAN IF YOUR WILLING TO KNOW A BIT OF NOTHING AND PAY EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR A SUBSTANDARD JOB IF THE PLECK IS JUST SLIGHTLY OUT OF ALIGNMENT POOF ALL THOSE GUITARS WITH A HIGH FRETs ON THE 3RD AND THE 17TH CONSTANT BATCHES OF GUITARS WITH THE SAME SET UP AND I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT EACH GUITAR WAS A BIT DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER GUITAR BUT PLECK SEES ONE WAY ONLY WHEN I CAN MAKE DECISIONS ON MY OWN WHICH PLECK CANT PLUS I MAKE GREAT COFFEE
Yeah, I kinda feel the same way from time to time, but I am always reminded of the guy back in the early days who knocked back the chance to buy the rights to the Remington Typewriter stating that " this machine will never replace a good clerk"........PLEK is here to stay, but, correctly, will never make a good coffee. Question of balance I guess. Rusty.
Just curious, has anyone heard what the up front cost is?

I could see this machine being very effective in a manufacturing environment, assuming you have qualified people to set it up and maintain it (zeroing the machine, tool changes, compensation, troubleshooting, etc.)

In a retail/repair environment I just don't get it, aside from the marketing value. Unless the machine was running even twelve hours I day I suspect that payback would be on the order of decades.
I'll hold my fret leveling/recrowning up to plek, any day of the week.
PLEK is an interesting bit of technology, and I think it is a classic mistake to generalize too much when discussing it. The first US repair shop to use the machine was Joe Glaser's in Nashville. I've known Joe a right smart while and I can tell you for certain that he really knows the business of instrument setup. A major percentage of his clients are studio musicians who present him with a variety of challenges.

Joe tells me that he's learned a lot about how necks behave through his involvement with the PLEK system, and I trust him when he says it's a really valuable tool in his shop. Last time I spoke with him he mentioned that less than careful use of PLEK could result in less than optimum results.

Having finally seen the machine in operation, I'm convinced that it absolutely can do stuff I can't. SImple as that - it has some amazing capability when it comes to sorting out fret level issues. So, while I get by very well doing instrument setups, the last thing I would do would be to "test" myself against it. Like John Henry, I'd be too likely to hammer my self to death.

All that said, why doesn't my shop have a PLEK?

Well, they ARE expensive - last price I recall was about $125000, including the logical "options." Users of the machines say they pay for themselves because of customer interest in having the latest technology applied to hotrod their guitars. One user told me the machine drew in its own work, so to speak.

My shop does a wider variety of work than most guitar shops - we repair/restore the full range of fretted instruments, many of which simply won't fit on the machine. It would be problematic for a PLEC to be configured for some because of their size, shape, type of fret, etc. And, we get by very well leveling frets the way we have, which is seriously less time consuming than using the PLEK, and, as a result, much less expensive for our customers in many if not most cases.

Would I get the PLEK if I were doing full time setup work for professional players? Yes, of course! But, full fret leveling is a once-a-week kind of thing for us, apart from the leveling involved in refretting.

Many new instrument producers, including Martin, are starting to use the PLEK. Unfortunately, from some of the results we've seen, they seem to be wanting to use the PLEK as a means of correcting less than optimal fingerboard prep and fret work. The expedient practice of fretting fingerboards before they are glued to necks can have the result of a less perfect system, requiring much more serious leveling than can be efficiently done by less skilled workers. Enter the PLEK - to correct that. So, it seems the goal is to replace the highly skilled fret workers with a machine that can be run by a less highly trained staff. Call it modern manufacturing. So, we're starting to see instruments that got their frets leveled on top where they would have not needed it if the substrate had been well prepared.

Just like today's cast iron machine tools - Bondo replaces high quality iron casting.

Does it matter?

Well, to me it does, but then I've spent a lifetime training myself to do the best craft I can. But as Joe McNamara, our Martin sales rep, once told me, "Frank, if you ran the Martin factory they would produce the finest guitars ever. And 750 families would be out of work..."
The word I'm looking for is..."eloquent". Thanks, Frank.

I've been asked a lot about this machine. Having been at the bench for  dealers of Martin, Collings, Taylor, Suhr, Gibson Custom and other manufacturers using Plek, I have seen the worst and best of what this machine has to offer, fresh from the manufacturer. In the best cases, it is extremely good however, there was not a single guitar that left the store that still wasn't in need of fine tuning.

I think, for manufacture or an extremely busy shop, it could be an asset.

But I think the best way of considering this machine is considering what has been accomplished by musicians on guitar (fretted instrument) to this day. I could write two lists to answer the question of the need for a Plek'd instrument. One list would contain the name of every virtuoso of the guitar to date that has accomplished their amazing feats using a Plek'd guitar. The other list would contain the names of every guitar virtuoso that didn't use a Plek'd guitar to accomplish their amazing feats. One list would be extremely long and the other might very possibly not contain even a single name. Anyone care to guess which list is which?

Best Wishes,

Doc

Great post!

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