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View Full Version : I've taken my ESP Strat to get Plek'd...



xenophobe
12-02-2012, 05:09 AM
So yeah, I bought this ESP Strathead off ebay. It came from Japan. It's an amazing neck and the overall build quality is hands down one of the most well built instruments I've ever handled. But it has a glaring issue.

The problem? Something was not right about the neck. The typical "hump" a bit past the 12th fret either warped a bit or left the factory wrong. The guitar was built in 2009 but really never played. Maybe it settled badly or was stored improperly. I dunno. It was a case queen for some reason, that's for sure. When I got it, the action was mid-high... 3.5mm+ at the 22nd. Very inconsistent buzz across the neck after the action was lowered to what I consider a suitable action. It's not really supposed to be a metal guitar though, it's supposed to be modern-vintage and nails that pretty well.

I took it in for a fret level... the guy got it to play really nice at my desired action preference, but there was still a little weird fret buzz going on. I re-set up the guitar, but there's too much bend in the neck for my tastes. I got most of the inconsistent buzz out, but then there was a very inconsistent string height across the length of the neck that makes playing it feel really weird. So I decided to find a Plek machine in the area, the closest place, SF Guitarworks.

I just want the board to be a little flatter and to remove the inconsistent string buzz out of the neck.

The guitar's neck feels amazing to play. I'm just being finicky about what a guitar that cost close to $8k USD should play like. And since I have too much money into this guitar to dump, and I didn't feel like losing over $400 in shipping costs to return, I've decided to see if Pleking it will give me what I want.

Has anyone else Plek'd a finicky neck before? Did it meet your expectations, or was it overrated?

I'll post my opinions after I get it back in about 2 weeks.

xenophobe
12-07-2012, 07:55 PM
It was ready early.

Price = very costly. $250.

Result? Pure win. It totally made a troublesome neck very playable. I'm now fully satisfied with my ESP Strat!

straycat
12-07-2012, 09:01 PM
Glad you got it sorted out.Enjoy.

Hellbat
12-08-2012, 11:42 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I need to try a pleked guitar that isn't a Les Paul to get a proper opinion because I have no mojo with an LP so I have a hard time judging the fretwork properly.

Oh and a pic of the ESP please to satisfy my porn needs? On the subject of pictures, it would be cool to see before and after closeups of the frets to see how it crowns them and such.

dvscool
12-08-2012, 02:14 PM
It was ready early.

Price = very costly. $250.

Result? Pure win. It totally made a troublesome neck very playable. I'm now fully satisfied with my ESP Strat!

Thats alot of cash dude!...but for what you paid for that axe I suppose its worth it....are you going to get any of your other gits plek'd? Is it that good?

I've wanted to try that as well, but I find it hard to justify that much cash.....

xenophobe
12-08-2012, 07:00 PM
Thanks! The neck was kind of a mess. I think it sat around unplayed in a humid environment for a little too long because it was practically brand new when I got it. Now it plays how I expected. I'd never have gotten my money back out of it so I'm kinda stuck with it. The plek made sense and fixed all the issues I had with it. Amazingly smooth and consistent feel.

Sorry, I don't have before and after pictures of the frets. I never really took proper pictures of the ESP. All I can say is the plek job is much smoother. The crown job feels awesome... probably the best I've felt. My fingers float over the frets. It's really kinda amazing... I have never played a plek'd instrument before.

I'm not against sending off another guitar to get plek'd, I just don't think I have another guitar that needs it though. If I had another neck that was finicky like this, I'd send it off without hesitation.

This is the guitar though:

http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/3787/85020660.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img513/9265/93692251.jpg

Axewielder
12-08-2012, 07:02 PM
Man that is sweet.

xenophobe
12-08-2012, 07:04 PM
Man that is sweet.

The build quality is amazing. Now it plays as well as it initially should have, and thanks! :)

metal4you
12-08-2012, 08:06 PM
Nice ESP:Headbang:


Cool video on geting your guitar pleked

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuc279emYpA

xenophobe
12-08-2012, 09:32 PM
Thanks!

Even on the guitars I don't think need to be plek'd, I have no doubt that it would improve them. After spending more time with the ESP, the plek absolutely makes a difference. It's really kinda special. But, this is my first experience with one. I'm definitely sold on it.

xenophobe
12-11-2012, 10:48 AM
After more playing... damn the Plek job is nice.

If the neck on your guitar just isn't what you expected, a Plek will definitely fix that. Of course an amazing non-plek'd neck can be just as nice, but the Plek seems to level that playing field. Not all guitars are built equally, but after this I'm fairly confident in saying it can make up the difference.

sully
12-11-2012, 01:19 PM
This was the result I expected. There's a place a few hours from me (that's also cheaper) that I've been planning on visiting. Very cool.

xenophobe
12-11-2012, 02:26 PM
It takes all the guess work out of fixing a neck that needs fixing in a complicated way... that described my ESP. It did give my ESP a wonderful consistency and changed the feel of play even though the fretwork was already amazing. So, yeah, I wouldn't really suggest taking a guitar that already plays well to have plek'd, but if you have a guitar that doesn't play right that you want to keep, it'll definitely make it a keeper.... and possibly one of your favorite players...

Genebaby
12-18-2012, 06:42 AM
The Plek is awesome I'm sure but my experience wasn't great. I was thinking of doing it for a MIJ San Dimas I had gotten so I looked into it and found out there is a machine in Sydney so I organised to drop it in while I was in town for a couple of days. They did great to fit me in but delivered a guitar in a playing condition you didn't need a Plek machine to achieve.

I brang them a Charvel, told them I love low action and I have a light touch and that I like the board as flat as possible.

They pleked it but it had a ton of backbow, which is not what the Plek is about, you can setup a crap guitar with a lot of backbow and play if you like it like that.

I have since had a fret level done here again after adjusting the neck back up and I'm still playing with it. This is the guitar I mention in my thread about modding the truss rod adjustment for. I can now play with the setup easily so will work on it this week.

If I didn't live so far from the shop I would have not accepted it, but I was on a deadline and just needed to get the guitar back. They were also going to do a Pro install of a Tremol-No for me but expressed concern that it may not work, so I was like, yeah, please don't do that after all.

Basically I won't be going there ever again for anything!!

They did have a cool Ninja Turtles Soloist with flip flop inlays behind the counter when I was dropping off. Gone when I came back. Belonged to some collector they knew. I think it had been water damaged, not sure now.

toejam
12-18-2012, 10:27 AM
The Plek is awesome I'm sure but my experience wasn't great. I was thinking of doing it for a MIJ San Dimas I had gotten so I looked into it and found out there is a machine in Sydney so I organised to drop it in while I was in town for a couple of days. They did great to fit me in but delivered a guitar in a playing condition you didn't need a Plek machine to achieve.

I brang them a Charvel, told them I love low action and I have a light touch and that I like the board as flat as possible.

They pleked it but it had a ton of backbow, which is not what the Plek is about, you can setup a crap guitar with a lot of backbow and play if you like it like that.

I have since had a fret level done here again after adjusting the neck back up and I'm still playing with it. This is the guitar I mention in my thread about modding the truss rod adjustment for. I can now play with the setup easily so will work on it this week.

If I didn't live so far from the shop I would have not accepted it, but I was on a deadline and just needed to get the guitar back. They were also going to do a Pro install of a Tremol-No for me but expressed concern that it may not work, so I was like, yeah, please don't do that after all.

Basically I won't be going there ever again for anything!!

They did have a cool Ninja Turtles Soloist with flip flop inlays behind the counter when I was dropping off. Gone when I came back. Belonged to some collector they knew. I think it had been water damaged, not sure now.
But was the fretboard laminated on that one, Vic? :eyemouth: :lol:

Hellbat
12-18-2012, 11:54 AM
My concern with the Plek process is that it isn't idiot proof, so someone can use it improperly and still get bad results.

Genebaby
12-18-2012, 06:00 PM
My concern with the Plek process is that it isn't idiot proof, so someone can use it improperly and still get bad results.

Of course, it's only as good as the person operating it. Fantastic results in low actin can be achieved but you need to know what you're doing, or it will be mediocre and a waste of $$$, like my experience.

Genebaby
12-18-2012, 06:02 PM
But was the fretboard laminated on that one, Vic? :eyemouth: :lol:


Oh no Joe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw that piece of GMW shit fretboard last week when I dropped off the San Dimas. Russ has it there in a pile of crap that seems to live on this shelf.

sully
12-18-2012, 06:08 PM
My concern with the Plek process is that it isn't idiot proof, so someone can use it improperly and still get bad results.

Yep! Just ask Gibson!

Sully

toejam
12-18-2012, 06:36 PM
Oh no Joe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw that piece of GMW shit fretboard last week when I dropped off the San Dimas. Russ has it there in a pile of crap that seems to live on this shelf.
Nice! :rotf:

Maiden89
12-18-2012, 07:14 PM
Your ESP looks amazing! I don't think $250 is much, if it makes your guitar a better player, especially if your guitar is $8K. I was honestly expecting a lot more. I had a friend that paid over $100 just to change strings and set up his Floyd...

xenophobe
12-18-2012, 08:46 PM
Thanks! Build quality is really above and beyond what I've seen of most manufacturers... an amazing guitar settled or aged badly and a normal fret level was complicated and didn't fully resolve the issues. The Plek turned it into the best neck it could be, really. It produced great results. End result is a neck you don't want to stop playing.

I really don't mind the price because it's a prohibitively expensive machine for a normal repair shop to buy and learn to use, especially considering how good the results are.

Carbuff
12-20-2012, 11:23 PM
Wait, That guitar cost $8000 USD? It looks awesome and all but its really just a hotrodded strat. Am I missing something? Does it have some kind of collector value? Super rare? School me on this, if you dont mind.

xenophobe
12-21-2012, 10:43 AM
Yeah, the original price to whomever ordered it was between $7000-$8000. I could get the actual cost from ESP, but I haven't bothered sending in the serial. Maybe it's in the high $6k range, but that's unlikely considering it's a 2009. That's just how much a real custom spec'd ESP really costs brand new (not a US-Market watered down custom order). Someone walked into their retail store, sat down and ordered this, and picked it up. It was mostly unplayed when I bought it.

I bought this used because my quote for a custom ESP Strathead came back at $7800 and spec-wise wasn't a whole lot different than this. They cost this because that's just what they charge for a custom. They're hand made one-offs using hand tools... no cnc, no pin routers, etc... all hand cut, hand formed and hand finished and with the exception of paint, they're all built by one person from start to finish. Does that justify the new cost? I have a Jackson Demon in the queue that has a MSRP of almost $10k. So, I couldn't justify the $8k on the Strat I wanted to order so the $2700 I paid for this made a lot of sense. I'm probably not the guy to ask for that opinion. lol

Best guess is, this particular guitar was probably built at their Craft House retail location. It has a rare serial number prefix for a custom ESP, N... that doesn't directly have any specific custom shop attributed to it. the guesstimate is that it was given a Navigator serial number due to it being a vintage build (speculation). Either way, guitars with a N serial prefix are pretty rare. I've never seen another and consensus on the ESP forum before I posted mine was that there weren't any N prefix guitars even built. If it didn't have an official ESP CS Certificate, most people would probably assume this was faked. Not that it matters, but non-Metallicrap stuff like this doesn't seem to matter to most ESP fans. :lol:

I think it's a really neat guitar. Build quality? It makes a Charvel CS or Fender Deluxe look unimpressive, to say the least. The level of detail that went into the build is just ridiculous. It even has an isolated rubber shock mount battery compartment. I WTF and lol'd when I first saw it because it looks mil-spec and could probably survive a war. Build quality surpasses any strat body I've ever seen. The neck profile is similar to SD, but it's a different slim reinterpretation of the classic Fender C shape. All the phenomenal build quality aside, the neck settled badly at the typical bulge/hump somewhere past the 14th and it had a complicated buzz issue. A normal fret-level helped, but it took a Plek to make it play like it probably did the day it left the custom shop.

As for collectibility? ESP Strathead? Sure, it has it all. Lawsuit Fender Strat headstock, bullet truss, angled neck place, easy access heel, script logo, rare serial prefix, etc... As for value? I probably wouldn't be able to sell it for close to what I have into it. Not many people really care about stuff like this. But, I like Strats and I like one-offs. ESP Japan has made quite a few Strats over the years, but this is definitely the highest quality strat I've seen. Many have v-trems and vintage tuners and Floyded factory strats are really rare. So this one is really special.

I have a custom pickguard coming, it's the same white/black/white, but it's cut for 1 EMG 81/85 and 1 volume. It has a set of factory installed custom Suhr pickups, and while they sound decent and modern vintage, the guitar is a bit too warm sounding so it'll probably get an 81 and stay that way.

Carbuff
12-21-2012, 01:35 PM
Yeah, the original price to whomever ordered it was between $7000-$8000. I could get the actual cost from ESP, but I haven't bothered sending in the serial. Maybe it's in the high $6k range, but that's unlikely considering it's a 2009. That's just how much a real custom spec'd ESP really costs brand new (not a US-Market watered down custom order). Someone walked into their retail store, sat down and ordered this, and picked it up. It was mostly unplayed when I bought it.

I bought this used because my quote for a custom ESP Strathead came back at $7800 and spec-wise wasn't a whole lot different than this. They cost this because that's just what they charge for a custom. They're hand made one-offs using hand tools... no cnc, no pin routers, etc... all hand cut, hand formed and hand finished and with the exception of paint, they're all built by one person from start to finish. Does that justify the new cost? I have a Jackson Demon in the queue that has a MSRP of almost $10k. So, I couldn't justify the $8k on the Strat I wanted to order so the $2700 I paid for this made a lot of sense. I'm probably not the guy to ask for that opinion. lol

Best guess is, this particular guitar was probably built at their Craft House retail location. It has a rare serial number prefix for a custom ESP, N... that doesn't directly have any specific custom shop attributed to it. the guesstimate is that it was given a Navigator serial number due to it being a vintage build (speculation). Either way, guitars with a N serial prefix are pretty rare. I've never seen another and consensus on the ESP forum before I posted mine was that there weren't any N prefix guitars even built. If it didn't have an official ESP CS Certificate, most people would probably assume this was faked. Not that it matters, but non-Metallicrap stuff like this doesn't seem to matter to most ESP fans. :lol:

I think it's a really neat guitar. Build quality? It makes a Charvel CS or Fender Deluxe look unimpressive, to say the least. The level of detail that went into the build is just ridiculous. It even has an isolated rubber shock mount battery compartment. I WTF and lol'd when I first saw it because it looks mil-spec and could probably survive a war. Build quality surpasses any strat body I've ever seen. The neck profile is similar to SD, but it's a different slim reinterpretation of the classic Fender C shape. All the phenomenal build quality aside, the neck settled badly at the typical bulge/hump somewhere past the 14th and it had a complicated buzz issue. A normal fret-level helped, but it took a Plek to make it play like it probably did the day it left the custom shop.

As for collectibility? ESP Strathead? Sure, it has it all. Lawsuit Fender Strat headstock, bullet truss, angled neck place, easy access heel, script logo, rare serial prefix, etc... As for value? I probably wouldn't be able to sell it for close to what I have into it. Not many people really care about stuff like this. But, I like Strats and I like one-offs. ESP Japan has made quite a few Strats over the years, but this is definitely the highest quality strat I've seen. Many have v-trems and vintage tuners and Floyded factory strats are really rare. So this one is really special.

I have a custom pickguard coming, it's the same white/black/white, but it's cut for 1 EMG 81/85 and 1 volume. It has a set of factory installed custom Suhr pickups, and while they sound decent and modern vintage, the guitar is a bit too warm sounding so it'll probably get an 81 and stay that way.

Thanks for taking the time to explain that all to me. I can tell that you really enjoy and appreciate all that went into making that guitar. I think thats awesome. Ive always wanted an old esp strat. I remember on the cover of guitar player many moons ago, Jake E Lee had a yellow one that he was holding with the strat head pointed right at you with the big ESP logo in your face. I also recall the David Letterman guy. (name escapes me at the moment, Hiram?) had one like that too in the 80's. I knew they were expensive, but had no idea. Enjoy the hell outa that thing. :Headbang:

Edit: It was Sid with the yellow esp strat on Letterman.