There’s a lot of chatter out there about the PLEK system. For those who aren’t aware, the PLEK machine is a computer controlled contraption that supposedly provides fretwork a guitar to a tolerance of .0001″. Some have made the claim that the PLEK machine provides “perfect” fretwork. However, we’ve discovered that many instruments that have been PLEKed are far from perfect.
Don’t get us wrong – the PLEK machine is simply a tool, and is therefore only as good as the tech operating it. It’s certainly better than nothing, especially in the case of large manufacturers like Martin, Gibson, and the like. But make no mistake – just because it’s been PLEKed doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Take this brand new Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul, for example. This had been PLEKed straight out of the factory, and the frets were pretty far from being even. Upon further inspection, we discovered chatter marks all over the frets running the entire length of the neck, from where the PLEK’s cutting wheel had skipped across the frets. Now, if the machine is skipping across the frets, rather than providing an even cut, it stands to reason that the fretwork isn’t perfect, no? (Click on the picture for an EXTREME closeup.)
This is why we do all our fretwork by hand, on our custom built neck jig – which allows us to get perfectly level frets on every guitar, every time. Our frets are crowned with a diamond grit fret file, and polished to a mirror shine, which allows for smooth bending all over the neck. We’d put our fretwork up against a machine any day.