How to put binding on a guitar?

Are you a guitar enthusiast looking to add a touch of elegance and personalization to your instrument? Then it’s time to explore the art of putting binding on a guitar.

Binding not only enhances the visual appeal but also protects the edges of the guitar body. While it may seem like a complex task, fear not!

In this article, we’ll break down the process into simple steps and guide you through the ins and outs of applying binding to your guitar.

From choosing the right materials to mastering the technique, get ready to elevate your guitar’s aesthetics and showcase your craftsmanship.

What is guitar binding?

Guitar binding plays a vital role in both strengthening and decorating your beloved instrument. By reinforcing the edges where the top and back of the guitar meet the sides, binding adds an extra layer of durability, protecting against potential damage.

Additionally, it offers a visually appealing touch, elevating the overall aesthetics of your guitar. When it comes to binding materials, you have a range of options available, including wood and plastic, each with its own unique characteristics and charm.

What are the benefits of binding your guitar?

Binding gives the instrument a more finished and polished appearance, but the benefits don’t end with cosmetic changes.

Guitar binding provides an extra protection

Guitar binding provides extra protection making the instrument more resistant to hits and scratches. The binding is made of a harder and stronger material than the guitar’s body, and that’s why it is such an excellent protector.

Guitar binding кeeps the moisture away

Guitar binding кeeps the moisture away by sealing the corners of the guitar where moisture or water can get in. High humidity can seriously harms the guitar. But if your guitar has a binding, it will surely be protected from this consequence.

Guitar binding gives a nice feel while playing

Guitar binding gives a nice feel while playing because the neck of the guitar becomes much smoother. I love the sensation when I play and slide my hand over it.

Guitar binding raises the price of your guitar

Guitar binding raises the price of your guitar if you decide to sell it one day. You can easily put a higher price if your guitar has binding.

The bound guitars are always more expensive because the price depends on the used materials and the building time.

Guitar binding improves the guitar’s appearance

We know we’ve already mentioned that guitar binding improves the guitar’s appearance, but we can’t help but repeat it as a significant advantage that binding brings.

With binding, you can make your cheap guitar look like a luxury one. You can choose from different colors and materials and add your own personal touch.

guitar binding

When is the best time to put a binding?

You can put the binding on whenever you want, but it is recommended that you do it while the guitar is being built. This way, you won’t risk damaging the guitar finish or the frets if you decide to bind your guitar later.

Common guitar binding materials

Common guitar binding materials are:

Guitar bindings of wood

Guitar bindings of wood are mainly used for high-end instruments and custom-made guitars. The binding bindings are available in Maple, Ebony, Koa, and Rosewood. Еxotic types, such as Snakewood and Pernambuco, are used for more sufficient instruments.

When you make a wood binding, the wood must be heated to allow it to bend toward the guitar’s shape.

Guitar bindings of plastic

Guitar bindings of plastic are mostly found in factory-made guitars.

Plastic bindings come in various colors. Black and white are preferred, as also combinations of the two.

They are flexible and therefore don’t need to be heated to bend to the shape of the guitar.

Guitar bindings of fiberwood

Guitar bindings of fiberwood are an alternative that offers a diverse range of colors beyond what traditional wood can provide.

How to choose the right binding color?

When choosing the binding color, you should match it with the color of the guitar.

If you want it to be something distinctive or you are aiming for a pattern, try to make the colors fit and complement each other. When the binding has a pattern, it is called purfling.

If you’re putting the binding on as a safety measure and don’t want it to stand out, choose the same color as the guitar.

Mistakes to avoid when choosing color and materials:

There are a few mistakes you should avoid when choosing color and materials for binding and purfling:

  • Only buy the materials after you measure exactly how much you will need. This will ensure you have enough before you start working.
  • Do not mix different patterns for different parts of the guitar.
  • Do not combine colors that oppose each other.
  • Choose the right thickness for your binding. Don’t use the thinnest bindings for your guitar. They are made for small instruments like banjos and mandolins. If you are a beginner, it’s best to use thicker materials because they give more room for correction if you make a mistake.

What tools do you need to bind your guitar?

tools for guitar binding

If you have these tools at hand, you will have no difficulty in placing the binding. You need:

  • Binding Router
  • Wood Glue (for wood) or acetone (for plastic)
  • Cutter
  • Bending Iron (for wood) or Heat gun/Hair dryer (for plastic)
  • Card scraper

Bind your guitar in 7 steps

You have the materials and tools – so you’re ready to start binding your guitar.

Adjust the height of the router

Adjust the height of the router by placing a piece of binding material next to it. The router cutter should be located below its top.

Also, a small part (no more than a millimeter) of the width of the binding should go out. This is done as an additional measure. You will scrape off the extra material later when the glue has dried.

Test the router

Test the router using a piece of wood to cut on and adjust until you get the depth you need.

Make sure the wood on the side of the guitar is smooth

Make sure the wood on the side of the guitar is smooth, especially if the guitar is not store-bought but you are building it yourself. Use sandpaper if necessary, but be careful not to damage the wood.

binding and purfling

Start routing

Start routing the binding channels, but first, make sure the guitar is completely stable.

Start at the corners and cut clockwise. Do it slowly and carefully, and never go over the entire guitar body at once.

When you’re done, you may want to go counterclockwise again to ensure everything is completely smooth.

Bend the binding material to the shape of the guitar

You can bend the binding material to the shape of the guitar in two ways:

  • If you’re using plastic material, you can heat it up very slightly with a hair dryer or heat gun because it’s flexible enough and doesn’t need a lot of warmth. Just be careful not to overdo it and accidentally melt it.
  • If you are using wood binding, wet it first and then heat it with the Bending Iron. We advise you not to expose it directly to it. Best to use a thin piece of metal between the two so it doesn’t burn.

Glue the binding

Glue the binding by applying glue/acetone to the warm bindings and press them tightly against the guitar’s body. Be quick and careful so the material doesn’t cool down while placing it.

Pay attention to the joints between the pieces when placing the bindings in the channel.

  • Butt joints are straight compounds that can be easily melted and joined together. That’s why plastic bindings are best for this technique.
  • Scarf joints can be tilted at an angle, which is the only thing distinguishing them from the butt joints.
  • Miter joints are two pieces of binding cut at an angle of 45 degrees and then joined to form a corner.
  • Lap joints are exactly what the name suggests – two pieces overlap. It’s very easy to do but doesn’t look good. It is suitable for use by beginners when making a corner.

If there are gaps, you can fill them with a mixture of acetone and binding shavings. Soak the shavings in the acetone until they dissolve and form a gooey substance. Then fill in the gaps with it.

To hold the binding, use some binding tape that you can easily remove, then let the glue dry for about 8 hours.

Scrape the excess binding

Scrape the excess binding when the glue is completely dry. That way, you’ll level the binding with the rest of the guitar. For this purpose, use a scraper.

First, place your guitar on a flat surface and slowly and carefully start scraping. This process will take the most time, but you must be careful not to damage your guitar.

Once finished, sand the entire guitar to remove any roughness that may have remained.

Optional: finish the guitar with paint

Finish with paint to give the guitar a finished look. Especially if you are building a new one.

After putting the binding on, you must paint the guitar to complete the process. You can paint the entire body, including the binding, or leave it as it is to stand out. This is up to individual preference.

guitar a finished look


Installing binding on a guitar can be a challenging task that requires patience and hard work. However, the effort is well worth it because it gives the guitar a one-of-a-kind appearance and enhances its durability, ensuring long-lasting enjoyment.

Embrace the process, as the end result will be a uniquely finished guitar that will accompany you on your musical endeavors for many years to come.


Does the guitar’s binding affect its tone?

The guitar’s binding itself does not directly affect the tone of the instrument. However, the choice of material used for binding can have an indirect impact on the guitar’s resonance.

The overall construction and materials of the guitar, including the top, back, sides, and bracing, play a more significant role in shaping the instrument’s tone.

While binding can add a decorative element and contribute to the guitar’s aesthetics, its effect on tone is minimal compared to other factors.

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