What is binding?
Acoustic guitar binding in guitar making, can be made out of many different kinds of material including, various woods, plastic, or celluloid. Binding is inlayed on the edges of the body and sometimes on the neck and headstock. This is done by cutting a rebate into the edge, either with a router, or as was done more traditionally in the past, by hand, with a rebate tool. Next to the binding, a strip of purfling is usually inlayed in along with the binding. Purfling strips are thin laminate pieces of different woods or woods dyed different colours. The purfling on guitars is usually more for aesthetic purposes.
The bindings main purpose
- is to provide strength to edges. The top and back are glued to the sides, which are normally round 2mm thick. A 5mm thick strip called a lining, is attached to the inside of the sides where they meet the top and back. The reason for this is to a) stiffen the sides, and b) to increase the gluing area. When the binding rebates are cut they are specifically done to not disturb the joint of the top and back to the sides. When the bindings are glued into position, again, the gluing area has been increased to strengthen the joint even more. It protects the fragile, grain edges of the top and back while helping attach them to the sides.
- To lessen the chance of the top and back cracking or splitting, especially at the top (headstock area) and the bottom.
- To protect the edges when accidently bumped.
So, as well as looking good and aesthetically finishing the guitar, the binding has a very specific purpose and plays a very important role in the construction of the instrument.