Enter the PLEK

The day has finally arrived: we got a Plek machine.

The Plek machine.

As many of you are aware, we always strive for perfection, and invest in tools of the highest quality to ensure that your guitar will be the best it can possibly be. Getting a Plek was the next logical step for us, and let me tell you: we’re super excited about it. The Plek will help us work with a greater degree of accuracy than ever before, with more consistency and quantifiable results, and will allow us to achieve things that are impossible to do by hand. We are thrilled to introduce the Plek to New Orleans.

What is a Plek? As a machine, it is a highly specialized computer numeric control (CNC) machine which is designed to optimize the playability of your guitar, by leveling frets and fingerboards, carving nuts and saddles, slotting fretboards, and a host of other functions. As a philosophy and science, it presents a new way to look at the interaction of the guitarist with the strings and frets of their instrument. A+D Gitarrentechnologie (the company who invented and builds the Plek machines in Berlin, Germany) have spent decades in research and development of this idea, and continue to push the Plek machine forward in response to players and Plek operators worldwide. Aaron and I have been fascinated with the possibilities of this device for a long time, and both of us have extensive background in working with them at San Francisco Guitarworks and Fodera Guitars, so we’ve seen first hand the benefits of the Plek philosophy.

What does it do? To grossly oversimplify its process, it optimizes the playability of your instrument by leveling the fretboard and frets to allow for the string oscillation to be free and clear on every note, for every possible action. It analyzes the neck, registering over 6,000 data points, with an accuracy of .001mm(.00003″), and gives us a graphical representation of what your instrument looks like that no human eye could ever possibly see. We can see the relative level of each fret, the relief of the neck, the shape of the fretboard, the radius along the length of the neck, nut slot height… more information than any reasonable person would want. But hey – this is a very German machine, and we’re not your typical guitar techs. Armed with this information, Aaron and I can make decisions on how best to improve your instrument, and instruct the Plek on what to do. In addition to leveling fretboards and frets, we can also use the machine to make nuts, saddles, cut fret slots, inlays, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. We’re going to be nerding out on a whole new level here, folks.

Why did we get the Plek machine for our shop? Quite simply: we care about you, and your relationship with your music that comes through your instrument. Our goal has always been to exceed your expectations for your guitar, and we are never satisfied with the status quo. Fretwork is the most important aspect of a guitar – if the fretwork isn’t amazing, the guitar will never be. Our fretwork that we’ve been doing on our custom neck jigs is solid, and we’re proud of the work we have done using them. Aaron and I have done thousands of guitars on our neck jigs, and honestly we’re a little sad to be retiring them. But when it comes to making our shop (and by extension, your guitars) the best it can possibly be, there’s no room for sentimentality. The Plek machine is a significant investment for us, but it is a significant upgrade upon the old way of doing things, so it was a no-brainer for us to get one for our shop.

The Plek machine is an amazing device that couldn’t possibly be summed up in a few short paragraphs, so we encourage you to come by the shop and check it out. We will be happy to explain how it works and what it can do for your instrument. Get Plek’d!

A few shoutouts are in order here, as this was a group effort to make happen. First of all, thanks to Michael and Gerd in Berlin for walking us through the process (and for the delicious soup!). Thanks to Joe Glaser (of Glaser Instruments) in Nashville, TN for the training and support. A big hearty thanks to Luzine Bickham, Justin Sablich, and Herb Smith at Fidelity Bank for cash and BBQ. Anne Burr and Paul Agostino – thanks for giving a home to our weird little business. Huge thanks to DC, Lynwood, and Max for helping us load in this 900 pound machine (and hilariousness). And most of all, thank all of you for placing your trust in us with your guitars. Y’all kick ass.

Everybody loves a good unboxing. Check it out!

Our delivery guy was a wizard with a pallet jack.
That’s 900 pounds of German engineering and 200 pounds of German spruce.
Of course was raining. Of course.
Drill, baby, drill!
Plek lagniappe: free wood screws!
It was a tight squeeze, but it fits!
Roll-Or-Kari Organ Dollies are the way to go.
I have no idea why my face looks like this.
Getting this thing upright even required the cameraman’s help.
Behold, the Plek machine! Assembled, calibrated, and ready to go!

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