Andertons Music Co. is proud to offer PLEK services from our Guildford store. If you'd like to book your guitar for a PLEK service, please bring it to our store, and a member of our team can book it onto our system for you.
What is PLEK?
A PLEK machine is a computer-controlled fret levelling tool which, in the hands of an experienced tech, can provide the best possible fret job. It levels frets with an accuracy of one-thousandth of an inch, assists in the process of making nuts, and offers extremely advanced setup functions. The machine captures over 6000 data points when scanning a guitar.
This incredibly sophisticated, computer-controlled machine scans and evaluates the frets along the length of the neck. Then it compares the neck to stored optimum values, and using precision robotic tools, provides the best balance of playability with minimum string height. The result is a fretboard that feels like it has been lovingly crafted and played for years, with every note ringing out clearly and true.
What can PLEK do for an instrument?
Over the years, PLEK has devised a way of measuring the curvature of the neck – known as neck relief – as well as the height and relief of the frets and the fret radius over the entire neck, all in microscopic detail.
What are typical signs that the guitar needs help?
There are various tell-tale signs that your guitar needs help. These may be any of the following:
- Buzz areas on the fingerboard
- Fret wear, uneven fret heights
- Uneven fingerboard
- Action is too high/too low for my playing style.
- Fretting-Out: String tone dies away during bending due to unwanted contact with a fret.
In general, if any of these issues apply, we can say that your instrument has poor playability due to a setup problem.
The Best Possible Setup
A setup is seen as the combination of string action adjustment, truss rod adjustment, and changes in the heights of the nut, bridge, and frets that are made to make the instrument as well suited to the playing style of the individual player as possible.
Individual setup depends on the playing style of the player. If, for example, you play with a heavier right hand, you are going to need a higher string action to avoid buzzing than someone with a gentler style.
The PLEK Advantage
You might ask yourself “Why should I have a PLEK setup, rather than go to my local guitar tech?”
To which we would say: Having a good guitar tech on hand is a wonderful thing. If you’re happy with your guitar tech then by all means stick with them.
But a good guitar tech combined with a PLEK process is a killer combination.
For guitar techs, a PLEK machine is a tool that can take their skills to a whole new level, taking a lot of the effort out of fretwork and raising the bar in terms of exactness and quality control, consistency, and accuracy.
Before and after: what can I expect?
The results of a PLEK job really depend on the state of the instrument beforehand. On a cheap, poorly-setup instrument with substandard fretwork, the difference can be dramatic. On a good-quality instrument with a good setup, the results may be more subtle.
Maybe you have an instrument that was PLEK’d during production? Even here, a PLEK job for your individual playing style and requirements can be a good idea, because no instrument factory can ever truly know the individual guitarist they are building for. So, a PLEK job can be a way of further personalizing your guitar to your own needs.
What's the PLEK process?
First, the guitar will be loaded into the machine as is. There is no need to adjust the instrument first as the machine will perform an initial scan and identify whatever issues the instrument may have. This initial scan needs to be performed under string tension so the strings are left on.
After it has completed the initial scan, we will know:
- Whether the truss rod needs to be tightened and by how much.
- Whether the nut and bridge need to be adjusted or replaced – overall or for individual strings.
- What is the overall shape of the fingerboard is.
- What the neck relief is under each individual string, and whether it is as good as it could be.
- The height of the frets, and whether there are any potential buzzing issues.
- Whether the fret radius needs to be changed anywhere on the fingerboard.
- If there are buzzing issues, we can see how much fret material needs to be removed to achieve optimal playability.
- Or perhaps your frets are so worn down that they need to be partially or completely replaced.
In addition, we can also try out various fret dressing options and solutions in the safety of the software environment. This is known as a “Virtual Fret Dress”.
Once we have performed a virtual fret dress, the strings will be removed, and the guitar will be loaded back into the machine. The machine will then perform another scan and use these measurements to begin the fret dress. After completion the guitar will be removed, re-strung, and tuned up to pre-requested tuning. It is then loaded back into the machine for a final scan to check that PLEK standards have been achieved. The guitar is then removed and the fret polishing, action height adjustment and intonation are performed by the guitar technician.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will you need my guitar?
We normally process and complete PLEK setups within 7-10 business days of receipt at our warehouse provided other work or spare parts are not required. This may change subject to our current workload.
What does a PLEK setup cost?
A PLEK service costs £100 more than our standard setup charges:
|Setup with Level and Dress
|Full PLEK Service
All PLEK services will require new strings that will be added to the cost unless provided. We cannot offer a PLEK service without the rest of the setup for a lower fee.
Can I post my guitar to you for a PLEK service?
At this time we are only offering PLEK bookings in our Guildford store. Due to the risk of shipping damage, we are also unable to ship guitars back after the service is completed.
Can I just get a diagnostic scan?
Yes - we can run a full scan on your instrument to document a baseline and determine if any work is needed. A scan costs £40, which goes towards the full PLEK service if you decide to proceed.
What about instruments with a compound radius?
PLEK fully supports compound radius necks.
Can the PLEK process bass guitars?
Yes. 4, 5 or 6-string bass guitars are no problem.
How about 7,8 and 12-string guitars?
Yes, those are fully supported too.
Can you PLEK a headless guitar?
Yes, PLEK will work with many headless instruments.