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A word that has crept into the guitar player lexicon: but what is it?

Plek Machine Discussion

We get phone calls from time to time asking if we have a Plek machine. The answer is that no, we don’t (They are extremely expensive pieces of equipment that we simply couldn’t afford even if we wanted one.) And we’ll be the first to admit that none of us have operated or really had close experience with one directly. We have, however, had experience with guitars that have been “Plek’d” and have researched them to better understand what they do. There’s lots of information out there, so if you’re interested in more reading just Google away. So that said, here’s our thoughts.

Here’s the manufacturer’s page for the Plek Station – the model a repair shop would use.

A plek machine is a computer numerically controlled device that evaluates fretboards, recommends particular operations to correct any problems, and then carries out those operations if instructed to do so. Sort of like us.

Sort of. The main use of the Plek machine is to level and crown the tops of frets, work we do as part of our Works set-up. The machine does this based on numerical data and grinds the frets with milling blades until the computer tells the machine to stop. This is work we do by hand, using sandpaper and fine-grit hand files. Once the frets are level and crowned -whether by a human or by machine, they must be smoothed and polished by hand. The machine works off the evaluations of a technician, so the important factor in both cases is who is doing the work? We don’t know who is operating the machines that our clients have used – some of them are in factories, some in Plek-equipped repair shops. But we do know that we have been asked to correct poorly Plek’d guitars and we do know that our technicians have the skill and experience to meet or surpass the quality of any machine in the world.

Chicago Fret Works

If we were mass producing guitars, we’d definitely want one. They save money and time in those kinds of environments. But our shop exists to deliver nuanced, personalized service to make our clients’ instruments feel and sound their best. So for us, we’ll take skilled hands over an expensive machine any day.

Chicago Fret Works