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Hey it's Mat from Gibson Product Development - AMA

JoeC

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Oct 25, 2019
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91
Hi Mat, I am told Gibson basically does a pre PLEK on necks before installed? The accurate intonation does not translate to a fully assembled guitar. I have gotten two of my Custom Shop LPs professionally PLEK with a machine and both times tonal quality has been much improved. Besides saving money, why would the Custom Shop not PLEK high end guitars? The Murphy's seem to come out better ( from playing in the store not owning one yet). Thank You
 

JoeC

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Oct 25, 2019
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I know they do it but a professional said at wrong time. I assume has to do with production timing/cost. I am not saying my LPs were terrible but when computer analyzed the intonation does not match up, especially at the higher frets. a $250 investment for professional analysis and machine Plek makes a huge difference. Fender does not do it at all, other smaller companies do it every time on higher end guitars.
 

jb_abides

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I know they do it but a professional said at wrong time. I assume has to do with production timing/cost.

The professional is just flat-out wrong, if as you state, he means neck only. Not sure why your measurements are off [how old is your guitar, more than ~10 years?], but Gibson CS [and USA] Plek post neck join.

Moreover, the Plek machine is set-up for a guitar to be present, not just a neck. That means fret, nut, join. Join is required because the Plek algorithm has to incorporate the expected min-max neck relief variances to level the frets and cut the nut.

Of course, while they know a priori the intended geometry of bridge posts and bridge... final assembly issues can potentially throw something off, which is why adjustments to nuts, saddles by humans occur. And errors!

Here's definitive evidence.

26:17



24:17


Not sure where anyone has ever seen Plek'ing with no bodies... Unless someone has gone to extraordinary measures to rejigger how the Plek machine works... that's a non-starter. Further, I doubt Plek would allow such deviance given their brand name is used in marketing the end product, therefore manufacturers must meet criteria for proper use as part of the purchasing licensing agreement.
 
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Coachmoe

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Apr 23, 2002
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Mat,

Greetings!

Don't know if you can help me or not, but you don't know if you don't ask, so here goes.

This past Monday, April 4, 2021, I bought a used 2002 Custom Shop Reverse Firebird I, ( HSF1CRNH1 ) .

The guitar came with a COA but it's in a black Gibson USA case. This guitar when new would have come with the old Gibson Custom Art Historic logo on the case. I know it's not possible to get that case any more so here is my question:

What will it take for me to get a Gibson Custom case like one of the ones you are currently shipping with certain Custom Shop Reverse model Firebirds? I have spent all week searching for one but I've not had any luck. In fact, Gibson doesn't even list a Firebird case of any type on their website under accessories.

My thinking is this: Gibson is currently selling some Reverse Firebirds with Gibson Custom Cases. ( blue one on the Mod Shop earlier today ) Why can't I get one if you're shipping them?

Any help is greatly appreciated.


THANKS,

Bob Mosher

IMG_0866.jpg
 
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Pat Boyack

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Oct 19, 2011
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I know they do it but a professional said at wrong time. I assume has to do with production timing/cost. I am not saying my LPs were terrible but when computer analyzed the intonation does not match up, especially at the higher frets. a $250 investment for professional analysis and machine Plek makes a huge difference. Fender does not do it at all, other smaller companies do it every time on higher end guitars.
The PLEK is basically a level/crown machine. It does not set intonation or does a setup. That is up to the tech doing the final step in the line.
 
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JoeC

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I believe it can cut the nut, too...but, yeah...final set-up always needs to be done by a person with hand tools.
So far!
Yes, I agree it does not do full set up. And my bad and misunderstanding at my previous comments. I misunderstood some of what I was told. However, at Gibson the guitars go through a standard Plek process. There is no analysis of accuracy on each guitar and then re-adjustment of fret height to correct for shift when guitar has a final assembly. A luthier can do with hand tools but accuracy is far from close compared to a Plek machine. High tech Plek machines exist that do everythign for you. One run to analyze, a technician will take an analysis and then run it through the machine to correct. My 2018 and 2020 CS LPs were not accurate, especially at the higher frets. Having it professionally done with set-up took the LP tones over the top. I would recommend to anyone.

I would not expect Gibson to take the time to do this process on all the guitars. However, higher end CS guitars, Murphy aged etc, would make sense to me. PRS does this for their high end guitars.
 

Pat Boyack

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I believe it can cut the nut, too...but, yeah...final set-up always needs to be done by a person with hand tools.
So far!
Re-cutting the nut is usually part of the process but not always done.
Yes, I agree it does not do full set up. And my bad and misunderstanding at my previous comments. I misunderstood some of what I was told. However, at Gibson the guitars go through a standard Plek process. There is no analysis of accuracy on each guitar and then re-adjustment of fret height to correct for shift when guitar has a final assembly. A luthier can do with hand tools but accuracy is far from close compared to a Plek machine. High tech Plek machines exist that do everythign for you. One run to analyze, a technician will take an analysis and then run it through the machine to correct. My 2018 and 2020 CS LPs were not accurate, especially at the higher frets. Having it professionally done with set-up took the LP tones over the top. I would recommend to anyone.

I would not expect Gibson to take the time to do this process on all the guitars. However, higher end CS guitars, Murphy aged etc, would make sense to me. PRS does this for their high end guitars.
I don't know when the guitars are put into the machine at Gibson. I do know they go through an inspection and set up before leaving the factory. Gibson even includes a photo of the guitar on the bench in the case.
 

JoeC

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Re-cutting the nut is usually part of the process but not always done.

I don't know when the guitars are put into the machine at Gibson. I do know they go through an inspection and set up before leaving the factory. Gibson even includes a photo of the guitar on the bench in the case.
Looking at video link above, the guitars are plek mid assemble before sanding, finishing. All I am trying to say is it should get done at end with set-up or even a second run based on experience with my guitars and what I have been told.
 

Pat Boyack

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Looking at video link above, the guitars are plek mid assemble before sanding, finishing. All I am trying to say is it should get done at end with set-up or even a second run based on experience with my guitars and what I have been told.
I agree with you that they should go through at the latest point possible.
 

jb_abides

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Agree '2nd Run' makes sense in terms of a QC measurement tool correct set-up personnel in post-assembly set-up: rejecting a bad part, or catching set-up misdeed like over-filing the nut... highly unlikely there would be a need to do anything substantial to the frets unless someone manually over-worked them during final set-up.

For the '1st Run' performing the basic functions, it's appropriately situated in the process. PLEK is a tool that can be used in many ways, at different stages in the cycle. Some manufacturers use the full capability to cut fret slots and inlays. For how Gibson is currently deploying... PLEK, when done properly, optimizes fret level/dressing for all specified tolerances of neck relief then cuts the nut, using a virtual string presence, as if specified strings (gauge, type) were present ON the finished fully assembled guitar, obviating the need for full assembly.

Post-PLEK issues would then be introduced by human manipulation (set-up misdeeds including truss rod out of tolerance IAW the PLEK parameters), parts variance from spec quality (badly cast, poorly cut saddle), or wood /physical changes (neck warp, fret movement in wood, glue curing introduces change). Set-up: other 'misdeeds' might alter the PLEK'd result out of its nominal spec i.e. a human can do too much to polish frets, file the nuts, which would mean work done by PLEKing was for naught... this is most likely what happens.

And for all the above, shipping, storage, shipping, display, handling... you know the rest. Which is why others argue the 'second pass' should be at the point-of-sale/service. Sweetwater does point-of-sale, but you need to 'gamble' on changes during shipping to opening the case. I only know of 2 point-of-service offerings in the US, Philtone and Crossroads, and unless you live nearby, shipping is still an issue albeit I think a minimal one if properly packed and handled.

Some argue don't PLEK at all, leave everything to a master luthier set-up. Then you are reliant on a skilled artisan not a 'factory' production process -- and all that entails in terms of time, money, training, etc.
 
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JoeC

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Agree '2nd Run' makes sense in terms of a QC measurement tool correct set-up personnel in post-assembly set-up: rejecting a bad part, or catching set-up misdeed like over-filing the nut... highly unlikely there would be a need to do anything substantial to the frets unless someone manually over-worked them during final set-up.

For the '1st Run' performing the basic functions, it's appropriately situated in the process. PLEK is a tool that can be used in many ways, at different stages in the cycle. Some manufacturers use the full capability to cut fret slots and inlays. For how Gibson is currently deploying... PLEK, when done properly, optimizes fret level/dressing for all specified tolerances of neck relief then cuts the nut, using a virtual string presence, as if specified strings (gauge, type) were present ON the finished fully assembled guitar, obviating the need for full assembly.

Post-PLEK issues would then be introduced by human manipulation (set-up misdeeds including truss rod out of tolerance IAW the PLEK parameters), parts variance from spec quality (badly cast, poorly cut saddle), or wood /physical changes (neck warp, fret movement in wood, glue curing introduces change). Set-up: other 'misdeeds' might alter the PLEK'd result out of its nominal spec i.e. a human can do too much to polish frets, file the nuts, which would mean work done by PLEKing was for naught... this is most likely what happens.

And for all the above, shipping, storage, shipping, display, handling... you know the rest. Which is why others argue the 'second pass' should be at the point-of-sale/service. Sweetwater does point-of-sale, but you need to 'gamble' on changes during shipping to opening the case. I only know of 2 point-of-service offerings in the US, Philtone and Crossroads, and unless you live nearby, shipping is still an issue albeit I think a minimal one if properly packed and handled.

Some argue don't PLEK at all, leave everything to a master luthier set-up. Then you are reliant on a skilled artisan not a 'factory' production process -- and all that entails in terms of time, money, training, etc.
I agree with everything said, especially physical changes in wood post sanding, finishing, curing will affect the original fret set up. However, a proper PLEK is not just a mechanical machine process. To do it properly it should be done with a master Luthier analyzing data and making adjustments in conjunction with set-up.
 

Pat Boyack

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Some argue don't PLEK at all, leave everything to a master luthier set-up. Then you are reliant on a skilled artisan not a 'factory' production process -- and all that entails in terms of time, money, training, etc.
That is not a good argument. The PLEK is too fast and more accurate than a human. Gibson would have to hire 20 folks to replace the machines.
 

Jruano

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Jul 31, 2002
Messages
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Mat -

what is the story about the maple I see on maybe 5% of the Historic LP which are extremely wide and straight to the point where there are just a few stripes .... I have noticed that they look "killer " and really sell fast. Is this something you look for ? in fact what is it you look for ?

for example do you look for mineral flecks to give it an aged look ? Do you look for crazy Begal tiger maple ? flat grain or quarter sawn ?

if you could get exactly what you wanted in a huge batch of Maple .... what would you want it to be comprised of ?

Was this answered in this thread?
 

El Gringo

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I seen the Plex machine in action when I visited Gibson Custom and I was amazed at this process with a brand new Gibson Custom Shop instrument . Very Fascinating process .
 

Jruano

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I don't believe so but good question. I think this thread has taken over the entire forum. :LOL:
Lets post it again, I am very curious. I personally gravitate to flat sawn showing flame and not grain, but not sure that’s the consensus, and what’s the thought process at Gibson selecting tops.

@matkoehler please?

Mat -

what is the story about the maple I see on maybe 5% of the Historic LP which are extremely wide and straight to the point where there are just a few stripes .... I have noticed that they look "killer " and really sell fast. Is this something you look for ? in fact what is it you look for ?

for example do you look for mineral flecks to give it an aged look ? Do you look for crazy Begal tiger maple ? flat grain or quarter sawn ?

if you could get exactly what you wanted in a huge batch of Maple .... what would you want it to be comprised of ?
 

Ndavis1971

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Nov 13, 2019
Messages
30
Hey Mat, just picked up a Murphy Lab extra heavy relic 59 LP new from Fullers here in Houston. He custom ordered a batch in Bourbon burst. It weighs right at 8 lbs and is so loud and resonant unplugged! I have 3 questions:
1. Does the Murphy lab select its own wood or do they just use whatever is sent to them? The heavy and extra heavy relics in particular seem to have light and resonant bodies.
2. Does Murphy himself work on or inspect the extra heavy relic? It’s so damn good and I can’t help but wonder. I’ve even compared the checking, buckle rash, hardware, etc to my real 1955 LP jr and the ML is right on the money!
3. What wood is used for the body? Is Fiji the same as Honduran and is it new or old?
Thanks in advance!
 
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