Hey – It’s Tim the Worship Guy, and today we’re talking about guitar necks and why you may want to consider getting your neck PLEK’d. (I’ll explain that in a minute.)
Now you may be an absolute wizard when it comes to the mechanics of your guitar. You can set your intonation, swap out pickups, modify your electronics, adjust your neck, and care for your frets. You may even build your own guitars. On the other hand, there are a lot of us who find all of this a mystery. We have to rely on other people to provide some of the care for our instruments.
I’ve been playing guitar for 40 years now. You’d think that by now that I’d know all these things. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I don’t. You pick up some things over time, but I’m still learning.
My guitar neck is one of those things. I don’t want to just jump in there and experiment and screw things up. But my guitar needed some care that I couldn’t give it. And, honestly, I wasn’t sure who I could trust.
This is my favorite guitar. It’s my workhorse. It’s a custom Godin LGX that I’ve been playing it for just over 20 years. That’s a lot of playing. I’ve worn down the frets over the years and put grooves in the fretboard. And even though I try to be careful with it, it’s been knocked around. I travel with it – it can’t help but pick up some scars and dings along the way.
All these things affect the playability, the intonation, and the pitch of the guitar.
Even though I love this guitar, it was getting some buzzing and playability issues that I couldn’t address without changing the intonation. It made me sad to think that it may be time to retire my baby.
Then one day while visiting a church in Chicago area, I was talking with their bass player after the set and he told me about a procedure performed by what was called a PLEK CNC station. He said that it could make a guitar neck like new, or even better.
That intrigued me – wouldn’t you want to have your guitar neck in pristine playability?
So I checked into it.
Now, full disclosure, I’m not associated with any company that offers PLEK services, I don’t get any kind of referral fee or even a discount. So I am free to give you my honest opinion. But guitar matters for me – it’s part of my voice. It opens the door to my soul and takes me places where I need to go, and I can take other people there, too. I’m guessing that your guitar matters to you, too. And this could make a difference for you, so I wanted you to know.
O.K., what a PLEK machine does… It’s a super-high end, automated, machine that flattens the neck, dresses the frets, helps with truss rod adjustment and neck relief, and fret seating and placement. It tests everything under actual playing conditions—I really like that fact. So for that part the guitar is actually strung and tuned to pitch. And it does all this in microscopic detail. Everything is matched to your playing style and action preferences. It’s far more accurate than most technicians would ever dream of.
That’s why companies like Martin, Gibson, McPherson, Collings – and some other really high end guitars manufacturers use Plek machines at their factories. That’s the kind of quality I want.
So I went to The Music Gallery in Highland Park, and talked with the lead guitar tech, George McPhail. He’s been caring for guitars for decades, and doing PLEK for years. (He was pretty proud to tell me that the week before he had PLEK’d all the guitars for the BeachBoys, who were playing in town.) I decided to move forward.
So, using the PLEK machine, he evened out my guitar neck, aligned it, refretted it, dressed the frets to get them perfect. The nut was the only thing that didn’t need adjusting.
The process wasn’t cheap. As I’ve done more research, I’ve heard prices range from $250-$450 depending on what all needs to be done. But they say that half your guitar’s value is in the neck, so for a third of the cost of replacing my guitar, I made my old one better than new. And it’s all set for my playing style.
That’s the PLEK process. I’ll tell you, it’s given my favorite guitar new life. You have to feel the difference. So if you want to take your guitar up a notch or two, there’s a simple solution: Go get PLEK’d.
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