How to put binding on a guitar?

If you decide to bind your guitar, you will not only make it look better, but you will also reward your instrument with additional protection.

The easiest way is to take your guitar to a luthier and trust their skills.

But, if you are handy and like to build and fix things, you might do it yourself.

We’ve covered all the details you need to know to bind your guitar.

What is guitar binding?

Guitar binding strengthens the edges of the guitar where the top and bottom meet the sides. It is also done on the edges of the neck, where it connects to the fingerboard. It is made of various materials, with specific types of wood and plastic being the most commonly used.

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.

Gives the guitar extra protection

The edges are often exposed to injuries and are the most vulnerable part of the guitar. With binding, the instrument will be 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 protection.

Keeps moisture away

High humidity harms the guitar. It can be seriously damaged if you leave it in a room with high humidity for a long time. But if your guitar has a binding, it will be protected from this consequence.

The binding seals the corners of the guitar where moisture or water can get in and keeps it from breaking.

Gives a nice feel while playing

When it is bounded, the neck of the guitar becomes much smoother. This creates a nice feeling when you play and slide your hand over it.

Raises the price of your guitar

If your guitar is bound and you decide to sell it one day, you can easily put a higher price on it.

The binding affects the instrument’s price depending on the used materials and the building time. That’s why bound guitars are always more expensive.

Improves the guitar’s appearance

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

With it, 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.

How to choose the material?

The materials from which bindings are most often made are wood and plastic.

Bindings of wood

  • The wood is mainly used for high-end instruments and custom-made guitars.
  • The binding is often made with Maple, Ebony, Koa, and Rosewood. Еxotic types, such as Snakewood and Pernambuco, are used for more sufficient instruments.
  • When it is used for binding, the wood must be heated to allow it to bend toward the guitar’s shape.

Bindings of plastic

  • Plastic is found in most factory-made bindings.
  • 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.

A third type of material can be occasionally used for binding guitars. This is Fiberwood. It has the density of hard paper and can be found in more colors than pure wood.

How to choose the color?

When choosing the color of the binding, 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:

  • 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

Place a piece of binding material next to the router. The router 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

Use some piece of wood to test the cut on and adjust until you get the depth you need.

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

binding and purfling

If the guitar is not store-bought, but you are building it yourself, make sure the sides are perfectly smooth. Use sandpaper to smooth the surface if necessary, but be careful not to damage the wood.

Start routing

Make sure the guitar is completely still, and start routing the channels. 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

If you’re using plastic, 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 melt it.

If you are using wood, 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

Apply 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 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 glued material, use some tape that you can easily remove, then let the glue dry for about 8 hours.

Scraping the excess binding

When the glue is completely dry, it’s time to scrape the binding to level it with the rest of the guitar. For this purpose, use Card 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

guitar a finished look

If you are building a new guitar, after putting the binding on, you’ll need to paint it 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.


Fitting a binding is a challenging task and certainly takes time and effort. But it is worth the struggle because it gives the guitar a unique finish and makes it durable, so you can enjoy it for a long time.


Does binding affect guitar tone?

The guitar’s binding cannot affect the tone. Still, the material used for binding can impact the instrument’s resonance.

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