KENNY BURRELL VISITS PLEK
By Rodney D. Millar
Tek recently had the opportunity to do the Plek setup for Kenny
Burrell on his brand-new Heritage Signature Super KB Model. Upon
arriving at Fret Tek I asked Kenny when was the last time he played
an $18 guitar, and thrust into his hands exactly that-an $18 guitar
that had already been Plek' d. After a few moments of Kenny's amazing
"noodling” he pronounced the guitar "perfect in
playability." That's what Plek can do to virtually any guitar.
“I have found that it's an easy way to get people's interest.
Looks and sound are player subjective, but how they feel and play
The Heritage Super KB guitar that was brought in, initially had
too much relief (95% of all guitars that I've scanned have excessive
relief. Go figure.) and had some extra height at the nut, but basically
had the correct action at the 12th fret. The truss rod was adjusted
to a Plek profile, corresponding to the optimum in relief based
on string gauge, scale length, etc. I first scanned the guitar,
strings on, tuned to pitch with a targeted action at the 12th fret.
(This action setting corresponds to one of Kenny's other well-known
guitars.) A projected Plek profile appears on the screen - the green
line indicating the Plek targeted profile and the red line being
the actual measurements of the guitar. It showed me graphically
what the neck looks like under tension, viewing each string/path
Plek measures to 1/1000 of a millimeter - the relationship of the
fret top to the fingerboard, the string spacing, and the action
at the nut and at the 12th Fret, while calculating correct relief
for each custom action setting programmed. Truss rod adjusted, the
next scan provides a virtual fret dress window that allows me to
customize the fret dressing process to each individual player's
needs. With the virtual fret dress performed, the strings are pulled
to the side of the guitar and the Plek now dresses the frets in
compound radius, checking itself against what the guitar looks like
under full-string tension. (This is where man and machine part ways!
The differences between the tolerance of CNC and a guy with a file
and a rocker, and maybe a crowning file are vast and very much noticeable
in playability.) Plek, in perfect compound radius, allows for such
things as different elliptical patterns for string gauges with a
much "flatter" fingerboard i.e. less relief. It is even
possible for Plek to carve some relief into the actual fret tops
for better playability and action on the bass side.
the Plek process Kenny, while playing another guitar, was handed
the Plek'd Super KB Model that I had just finished for him. After
playing a few chords, he requested that the former guitar be set
up the same. One of the things that Fret Tek and Heritage will be
working on in the future with Kenny is to compile all the statistical
information about Kenny's setup, to be made available on his Heritage
Signature Models. So stay tuned for further tech talk about Kenny
Burrell and Plek.
As of Jan, 2004, Heritage Guitars has come on board with
the perfect setup with Plek technology by now pre-Plekking
all Heritage models out of their Kalamazoo factory. So we,
at Fret Tek, have a special offer for all non-Plek'd Heritage
owners, guitars made pre Jan 2004, for the Plek setup.
For more information about Plek/Fret Tek contact Westwood Music at 310-478-4251. Their address is 1627 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca. 90024