To PLEX or not to PLEX

Bobalonia

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 10, 2023
Messages
61
Reaction score
223
Location
F L A
I went with a guitar buddy to a shop to get his prized Martin refretted and Plexed. Amazing machine, which was entertaining to see in action.
Of course I asked if they could do a uke. The guy said for sure and pulled out a Kamaka they just finished.
Im not tempted at the moment, but it’s quite a tool.
The tech said it’s a $100K machine! Wowza……….
 
Is this some attempt to get me to google what Plex is? I refuse.
 
It’s a technique of making a fretboard perfect. All the frets are measured, filed, and dressed to make them perfectly level and uniform height. Lots of guitar companies are using it now as a marketing item. I’ll try and find a picture of the machine.
 
Proper spelling is Plek. Sorry. Here’s the machine with a guitar on the door
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0122.jpeg
    IMG_0122.jpeg
    127.5 KB · Views: 20
So the computer maps out the neck, finds the imperfections and does its magic on it
 
Wasn't "Plex" part of a Marshall head's name?
(I have a bit of mid-range bloat, can it fix me?)
 
Last edited:
Out of curiosity, Bobalonia, was the cost to have your friends Martin Pleked?
 
Seems like this process is only important to the player who wants the lowest action possible (as in the electric guitar in the pic), which when playing acoustically would change the sound of your uke. I'll have to do some reading of this "next big thing".
 
Years ago I played a beautiful ‘66 Jazz bass that had been refretted and pleked against a very nice ‘70 Jazz also refretted but not Pleked. To me it there was a significant difference. The ‘70 Jazz felt stiff to play while the ‘66 felt broken in and played like butter. I think that’s supposed to be the big advantage of Pleking an instrument. Curious to know how much Pleking would affect a uke.
 
this came up earlier in the year:

 
I don’t think it would be worth it on a ukulele or even other nylon string instruments. Maybe because nylon strings are much easier to fret than steel strings, there doesn’t seem to be as much of a demand for ultra low action - and with the uke fretboard being much shorter, the strings are on a higher angle, so string buzz would be less of an issue.
 
Robots have been making instruments for a while. Now, I guess they're correcting human creations also. For better or worse, robotics are making things more perfect than humans are capable of. It's rapidly advancing due to AI as well. The distance of the gap between cheap and expensive ukuleles is closing due to these manufacturing technologies. The last arguments for less "cloned" instruments are local support, "character", and appearance.
 
You have to remember that no wood is 100% stable. Over time it will settle and shift, even twist a little. It may be only by a thousandth or two. A Pleked action is supposedly perfectly low from nut to saddle, over every fret. Is there any margin for future changes in the wood? Will a few thousandths change that to a buzz or dead notes?
 
The largest advantage and sole reason to Plek is to have all the frets the very same height. This eliminates any buzzing from a high fret somewhere on the fretboard. This is very noticeable on a steel string instrument, less loud on a nylon string.

When TUS or any reputable shop does a full set up they will check fret height by hand and then level any high frets to the height of the others. The leveling is done by hand with a long sanding block, they then have to re-crown any frets that got sanded down.

The Plek machine does all of this through computer automation
 
When looking at the new Martin sinker mahogany sopranos, I came across an example that had serious indent marks on the fretboard edges from the "Plek" machine. I returned the instrument and got another. I was told "it happens."
 
I also wonder how long a plek set up lasts. I have a light build long scale jumbo guitar that I have strung with medium strings,so with very high tension I need to get action adjusted occasionally, and the saddle is getting low. I think that the plekking process removes quite a bit of fret and possibly fretboard material, so may be a challenge for future adjustments.
 
Joe T. They charge about $250
Wow. That seems like a lot to me. My luthier will do a neck reset on my acoustic for $250. I guess they need to pay for the machine.
 
Top Bottom