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The Plek Process: Amplifying Human Craftsmanship

02.25.2014 The Joshua Tree

Every 2014 model year guitar benefits from the Plek process, which performs computer-assisted fret dressing. The obvious result is that when you pull a Gibson guitar out of its case, it’s ready to play—no setup required. But as you continue playing you realize there’s more to the story, because the Plek process eliminates common fret problems like strings hitting the frets while playing, or intonation issues.

Plek doesn’t substitute for human craftsmanship, but instead enhances a human’s ability to create a perfect setup. After the truss rod has been adjusted, the Plek machine applies string tension to the guitar neck and then scans the fretboard. The Plek operator can see each fret’s height, where fretboard buzzes could occur because of frets being too high or too low, and how high each fret will be after Plek processing. Using this information, instead of manually filing the frets Gibson’s experts can determine how much needs to be cut off from each fret, as well as set the fretboard radius and the needed amount of fall-off.

The machine cuts and finishes the frets and nut to these specs, with an accuracy of one thousandth of an inch. The guitar then goes to the neck prep department, where the frets are hand-polished to a high gloss.

With Gibson’s new cryogenic fret treatment technique, the Plek process becomes even more relevant: stronger frets that are almost immune to wear retain the benefits of the Plek process for years to come. Your guitar not only plays like a dream on day one—it keeps playing like a dream.

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