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A computer controlled high tech guitar tool for dressing frets and more

Designed for guitar production

(15)

Designed
Designed for
for guitar
guitar production
production

1|8

Production
The PLEK PRO has been developed to be used in guitar production factories and/or service-repair shops
as a tool that not only does precise fret dressing but also helps with quality control and R&D.
This computer controlled device scans and dresses a guitar under actual playing conditions, strung
and tuned to pitch. This is a major breakthrough since the PLEK PRO identifies precisely what needs
to be done for perfect fretwork, executes this rapidly, and delivers perfect results on the instrument
when restrung.
PLEK PRO speeds up the production process and raises the quality of instruments to an extremely high
and consistent level.
Multifunctional Capability
As a result of a new electronic and hardware concept, upgrades do not require special effort.
The PLEK PRO represents uncompromising modular design that makes it easy to develop and
add additional tool modules and process features.
Research and development
Its measuring and graphic display capabilities open up a wide range of R&D applications.
For example, one important use would be studying the workings of the truss rod and how it affects the neck.
Fingerboard issues can be evaluated in accurate 3-D, the effect of humidity and gluing procedures can be
studied, and instruments can be observed over the long term for stability and setup issues.
Quality control
The impact of material defects, manufacturing problems, and customer returns can be studied and will decrease.
PLEK PRO creates printable graphic feedback to improve employee performance. Consistency of innumerable
manufacturing processes can be seen and stored for later comparisons. A permanent record of all
instruments remains in the database for later reference as needed.

High frequency spindle


(nut and saddle cutting, engraving)

Sensor finger

Fret cutter
(w/ replaceable cutter head)

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed for guitar production

2|8

PLEK PRO standard tool modules


The PLEK PRO is delivered with a scanning module and two cutting mod
modules.
ules
Scanning module
The scanning module basically consists of a sensor finger combined with a
high-resolution magnetic linear encoder. This sensor is able to measure all
relevant parameters of a guitar's playability: action, fretboard relief, fretboard
contour, fret height, fret spacing as well as nut and saddle details. For further
processing PLEK PRO's software analyzes and displays all measurements
numerically and as diagrams.

Cutting modules
modules
For fret dressing the PLEK PRO makes use of a specially
manufactured carbide cutting wheel contoured for cutting
the fret height as well as rounding the fret crown
simultaneously. Each fret cutter comes with 2 or 3
customized shapes.

PLEK PRO's second cutting module is a H igh Frequency


Motor Spindle (HFS
HFS)
F
HFS
with 5.000 50.000 r.p.m., which is used for cutting nut string slots and
saddle slots as well as for engraving. A selection of several precision rotary
bits (ball-, shaft-, cone-type) can be automatically loaded from a toolholder
panel.
The HFS can cut a perfect cali
cal ibrated nut slot for even the smallest string
gauge. For wider slots the HFS cuts the slot in multiple passes or can pick up
a larger router bit as needed. All nut slot specs are fully adjustable in
3 dimensions precisely referenced to the fret plane. The slot spacing and
style can be selected from a menu which offers a choice of spacing
formats, break angles and splay angles as desired.

The HFS also cuts the precise bridge saddle height of


acoustic guitars, automatically achieving the desired
action.
Engraving any motif into nuts and/or fingerboards is
another feature of the HFS. Typical examples are
signing instruments or cutting the necessary cavities
for inlay work. Image data can be imported as any
common format and are transformed into black & white
for the engraving process. Lines with a resolution as
fine as 0.2 mm can be worked with.

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed
for guitar production
Small
production

3|8

PLEK PRO in small production (or QC, R&D, repair)


Preparing the instrument
The operator places the instrument - strung to pitch - in the cradle door and aligns it with a
simple positioning device.
device String gauge, fret width measurements and some basic info are
entered in searchable fields. The cradle door is closed and the operator starts the program
sequence.
Plek Scan
The instrument scan measures string spacing, distances to neck edge, action at the first and
twelfth frets, board radius and relief and fret height throughout. This can be graphically
displayed to compare the existing fret-plane, board adjustment, fret height and action to any
target info inputted with that info file. This not only illustrates problem areas, but also aids
with adjustment and serves as a source for all the procedures that follow. All data is filtered
through the proven PLEK algorithms of fret plane relief for a given action and gauge.
The Virtual Fret Dress
The heart of the PLEK process is the "Virtual Fret Dress". In this interactive window,
window
the frets can be "dressed" using an idealized surface, a software "dressing file" that can be
manipulated until all low spots are touched either with minimum amount of fret material removed or until the
"finished" frets are at target height. This is an extremely user-oriented program that allows any preferred dress to
be done for any action and with any compound ra
fallradius and/or upper end "fall
fall -off"
off implemented etc.
The operator can work in his/her usual style except that many different fret "solutions" can be studied in a virtual
mode. Then, when ready, the strings are loosened, held to the side and the frets are cut exactly as designed.
Processing
With the strings out of the way, the fret dressing gets done, the nut slots and nut surface can be cut if selected, and
a saddle, mounted in the saddle vise can be trimmed, all in one process. If the HFS cutter bits need to be changed,
the PLEK program will produce an audio signal and screen command when necessary. A final scan after re-stringing
is suggested for the history files. Again, this will result in an extremely precise fret plane, nut slots and a saddle
height that yields the exact target action when re-strung.

Cleanup
The frets, nut and saddle will only require a minimum of surface polishing, a matter of a few minutes,
to complete the job. There is a simple suggested procedure for this.

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed
for guitar production
Small
production

4|8

PLEK PRO performance in small production (using templates)


Required preparatory work
For machine processing the instrument has to be strung up to pitch.
Machine processing
Processing times

(min:sec)

Loading a guitar

0:25

Load template

0:15

TOTAL PREPARATION AND


AND SCANNING
7:00 8:00 min.

It takes less than 6 minutes to have a complete graphic


and numerical evalution of the fretboard at your disposal:
relief, scale length, fret positions, fret heights, nut, and
saddle height.

Pre-scan (Checking number of frets)


Automated measurement:
neck width, spacings, action

3:30

Scan (instrument strung up)

Truss rod adjustment and


rescan (optional)

2:00

Setting parameters
(Virtual Fret Dress)

0:30

Loosening strings

1:30

Scan (without strings)

1:00

Fret cutting

4:30

TOTAL
TOTAL FRETBOARD WORK
8:00 10:00 min.

Optimal truss rod adjustment and fret dressing


takes under 10 minutes.

Processing times range from ~ 3:00 min.


minimum to ~ 8:00 min. maximum.

Nut string slot cutting

1:30

Nut surface cutting

1:00

Cutting bridge saddle height

1:30

Restringing and tuning

1:30

Rescan

3:30

MAX. COMBINED NUT/SADDLE


NUT/SADDLE WORK
1:30 4:00 min.

RESCAN FOR QC (OPTIONAL)


(OPTIONAL)
3:00 5:00 min.

(1:20 w/out nut/saddle work)

Unloading guitar

0:15

Cleanup
Strings are loosened for polishing the frets which takes 1 to 5 minutes if a PLEK recommended procedure is used.
Please note: the times given above are sample times for 6-string guitars. In general processing times depend on:

number of strings / neck width

number and width of frets/ fret material (temper)

accuracy of fretting and neck work / required amount of fret removal

evenness of truss rod operation

size of nut and saddle blanks / required amount of removal

operator's skills

Accuracy

mm

inches

+/- 0.005

+/- 0.0002

Fret cutter

+/- 0.01

+/- 0.0004

HFS (nut/saddle cutting)

+/- 0.05

+/- 0.002

Sensor Finger
Magnetic transmission linear encoder
Resolution: 0.001 mm (0.00004'')

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed
for guitar production
Small
production

5|8

Requirements for using a PLEK PRO in a small production environment (without STS)
Space for service machine
(width/depth inc. operator space/height):

158 cm x 180 cm x 230 cm


62.21" x 70.87" x 90.6"

Lifting device (fork lift, crane, etc.) for moving shipping crate (600 950 kg).
Power

AC 110-220 V, fuse 15 A

Compressed air

0.6 0.8 MPa / 85 116 PSI


tank capacity unimportant

If you wish to protect the PLEK Pro machine in the event of a power failure we recommend to use a UPS
(uninte
uninter
uninte rruptable power
powe r supply)
supply with a power of approx. 1000 W.
Phone line and internet access (DSL) is required for online support / maintenance via remote computer.
The ethernet connection (internet access) of the PLEK Station machine is not set up for wireless access points.
For operational safety reasons and for a smooth online remote PLEK support wireless is not an option.

Manpower
Any person with a basic knowledge of MS Windows and guitars.
An operator can be trained in 2-3 days.

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

Designed
for guitar production
Mass
production/STS

(15)

6|8

PLEK PRO/STS in mass production


production
The PLEK PRO machine is supplemented in mass production with a STS (= String T ension Simulation) that is capable
of simulating the tension of guitar and bass strings, so that the guitar and bass necks can be processed without
strings.
With the aid of headstock and body adapters the instrument is placed into the STS
adapter cradle. With a computer controlled pneumatic procedure a defined string
tension is produced for each individual neck. The truss rod respectively the guitar neck
reacts as if they were strung up. An interesting advantage of using the STS is the
possibility to process just the necks, that means the body of the instrument is not
required.
STS internal type
The internal STS is controlled by the software of the PLEK PRO machine and is inserted
into the machine in place of the service door. Depending on the chosen guitar / bass
model all the relevant process parameters are loaded with a preassigned template,
including the required STS air pressure.
STS external type
The external STS is a stand-alone device with an independent numerical control unit.
With it the desired neck relief can be obtained by adjusting the truss rod under
simulated string tension prior to processing. When working simultaneously with the
internal and external STS production-time is optimized.

A typical operation sequence with the PLEK PRO/STS


The operator fixes the adapters on the instrument, inserts it into the external STS and activates the string tension
simulation via the touchpad. The truss rod is adjusted until the dial indicator neck relief gauge shows the desired
result. This procedure takes about one minute.
The pre-adjusted guitar is taken out of the external STS and placed
into the internal STS. If the saddle is to be cut as well, it should be
fixed into a special vice located in the machine. The appropriate
template is selected, the parameters in the "Virtual Fret Dress" menu
are set and processing starts. Under simulated string tension the frets
are cut including all other process functions (nut or saddle cutting,
etc.) that have been selected in the template.
While the machine is processing, pre-adjustment and finishing work
can be carried out, such as:
- Taking off the adapters of the processed guitar.
- Polishing the frets of the processed guitar.
- Fixing adapters to the next guitar to be processed and adjusting the
neck relief with the truss rod using the external STS.

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed
for guitar production
Mass
production/STS

7|8

P LEK P RO/STS performance in (mass) production


Required preparatory work
The STS adapters have to be fixed to the instrument (without strings) and the neck relief must have been pre-adjusted in the
external STS. The time needed for this preparatory work has no impact on the overall processing time since another instrument
is being processed by the PLEK PRO simultaneously.
Machine processing
Processing times

(min:sec)

Loading a guitar

0:05

Load template

0:05

A complete evaluation of the instrument and


fret dressing can be done in less than 10 minutes.

Pre-scan (Checking number of frets)


Automated measurement: neck width

PREPARATIONS, SCANNING,
SCANNING, FRET CUTTING
7:00 10:00 min.

1:45

Scan (without strings)


Setting parameters
(Virtual Fret Dress)

0:30

Fret cutting

4:30

Processing times range from ~ 3:00 min.


minimum to ~ 8:00 min. maximum.

Nut string slot cutting

1:30

Nut surface cutting

1:00

Cutting bridge saddle height

1:30

Rescan
e.g. for every 10th instrument
-> 6 seconds average per instrument

0:06

Unloading guitar

0:05

MAX. COMBINED NUT/SADDLE


NUT/SADDLE WORK
1:30 4:00 min.

RESCAN FOR QC (OPTIONAL)


(OPTIONAL)
~ 0:10 min.

Cleanup
STS adapters are taken off and the frets are polished. This takes about 1 to 5 minutes if a PLEK recommended procedure is used.
Finally the instrument is strung up to pitch. These activities are also carried out when another instrument is being processed at
the same time. Hence the overall processing time per instrument is not prolonged.
Please note: the times given above are sample times for 6-string guitars. In general processing times depend on:

number of strings / neck width


number and width of frets/ fret material (temper)
accuracy of fretting and neck work / required amount of fret removal
evenness of truss rod operation
size of nut and saddle blanks / required amount of removal
operator's skills

Furthermore we assume that an internal and external STS are used simultaneously thus making parallel working possible.

Accuracy

mm

inches

+/- 0.005

+/- 0.0002

Fret cutter
cutter

+/- 0.01

+/- 0.0004

HFS (nut/saddle cutting)

+/- 0.05

+/- 0.002

Sensor Finger
Magnetic transmission linear encoder
Resolution: 0.001 mm (0.00004'')

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

(15)

Designed
for guitar production
Mass
production/STS

8|8

Requirements for using a PLEK PRO/STS in a (mass) production environment


Space for machine
(width/depth incl. operator space/height):

158 cm x 180 cm x 230 cm


62.21" x 70.87" x 90.6"

Extra space for external STS


(width/depth/height):

60 cm x 51 cm x 180 cm
23.6" x 20.1" x 70.9"

Lifting device (fork lift, crane, etc.) for moving shipping crate (600 950 kg).
Power

AC 110-220 V, fuse 15 A

Compressed air

0.6 0.8 MPa / 85 116 PSI


tank capacity unimportant

If you wish to protect the PLEK Pro machine in the event of a power failure we recommend to use a UPS
(uninte
uninter
uninte rruptable power supply)
supply with a power of approx. 1000 W.
Phone line and internet access (DSL) is required for online support / maintenance via remote computer.
The ethernet connection (internet access) of the PLEK Station machine is not set up for wireless access points.
For operational safety reasons and for a smooth online remote PLEK support wireless is not an option.

Manpower
Any person with a basic knowledge of MS Windows and guitars.
An operator can be trained in 2-3 days.

A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

March 2011

D-10967 Berlin, Hasenheide 54 Tel. +49 30 53 69 63 39 info@plek.com www.plek.com


A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

technology worldwide
Locations of manufacturers and customer service centers

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16 1718

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2
4

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11

3 5
4
6 10
7
11
12
9
13
8 10 14
7
89
15

20

12
13
21

14

24

Europe

North America
GUITAR SERVICE & REPAIR

1 Mike Lull Custom Guitars, Seattle/WA


2 Marz Guitars, Roseville/CA
3 Brawer Stringed Instrument Repair, San Francisco/CA
4 Westwood Music, Los Angeles/CA
5 J. Mahoney, Minneapolis/MI
6 Norman Music, Norman/OH
7 Music Gallery, Chicago/IL
8 Glaser Instruments | Plek USA, Nashville/TN
9 Weber Custom Guitars, Granville/OH
10 Dan Erlewine, Athens/OH
11 Sam Ash, Huntington Station/NY
12 Peekamoose, New York/NY
13 Philtone, Baltimore/MD
14 Crossroads Guitar Shop, Washington DC
15 Wolfe Guitars, Jupiter/FL

23

19

GUITAR SERVICE & REPAIR

16 Charlie Chandlers Guitar Experience, London/UK


17 Chandler Guitars, London/UK
18 Haar Guitars, Utrecht/Netherlands
19 PlekHaus Berlin | A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH, Berlin/Germany
20 Paris/France (not public)
21 CLOE, Roma/Italy
22 Gulden Guitars, Oslo/Norway
23 Guitarlabs Scandinavia, Stockholm/Sweden
= Service
= Manufacturing

GUITAR MANUFACTURING

1 G&L Guitars, Fullerton/CA


2 Suhr Guitars, Lake Elsinore/CA
3 McPherson Guitars, Sparta/WI
4 Lakland, Chicago/IL
5 Heritage Guitars, Kalamazoo/MI
6 Wechter Guitars, Fort Wayne/IN
7 Gibson Custom Shop, Memphis/TN
8 Gibson Custom Shop, Nashville/TN
9 Gibson USA, Nashville/TN
10 Martin Guitars, Nazareth/PA
11 Martin Guitars, Navojoa/Mexico

Plek is a registered trademark | All rights reserved | 2011 A+D Gitarrentechnologie GmbH

15

GUITAR MANUFACTURING

12 Duesenberg, Hannover/Germany
13 Warwick | Framus, Markneukirchen/Germany

Asia / Australia
GUITAR SERVICE & REPAIR

24 Sleek Elite, Tokyo/Japan


25 Sydney Guitar Setups, Sydney/Australia

25

GUITAR MANUFACTURING

14 Takamine, Gifu/Japan
15 Stranough Voicemate, Surabaya/Indonesia

the optimum in tone & playability