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Binding Limitation Questions

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I've done some searching but cant find the answer to this so here is a question for you experienced builders. On my next build I think I want to use binding on the body. Plastic or wood I haven't decided.

Most binding is bent/shaped to the guitar along the thin side of the binding along a linear plane around the edge of the body such as a les paul.

What I would like to do is run binding around the edge of a guitar body that incorporates an arm relief contour such as a strat does. I realize trying to have a router follow such a contour would be difficult so I'm thinking I'd have to cut the binding channel by hand around that section with the aid of a Purfling Cutter and a chisel.

The question is can binding be bent in the opposite direction like this? It seems like ABS plastic binding would lend itself to this better than wood binding but I'd really like to use wood. Would there be a certain species of wood that would lend itself to bending like this better than others?

I cant find any examples of this and I'm thinking the reason is its just too difficult or time consuming. (Or maybe just a really lame idea)

Here is a simple pic to help clarify what I'm talking about.


Can this be done without too much difficulty? Has anyone done it? Have any pics or a reference to a tutorial?

Thanks in advance.

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I understand what you're asking, what's throwing me is the 'opposite direction' thing...if you're just trying to follow an arm contour, then the binding is just dipping down and back up again, the words 'opposite direction' are confusing me.

Anyway, here's what you can do. You can buy a special binding cutter tool for a Dremel that will 'somewhat' do the job, although it chatters like crazy and I would recommend a practice run with it before aiming it at the real body.

If you want to use a perfling cutter, that's fine too, maybe even better.

Having said that, I've seen this done before, and personally, I don't like the look at all.

I would highly recommend you find some pics on the 'net to see if you're OK with it before actually doing it.

It just makes the guitar look completely 'weird' to me.

Design-wise, I just don't think binding 'fits' with molded contours, just two design elements that I don't think belong together.

Binding accents crisp clean lines, more 'formal'...Contours are a more 'droopy, casual' look...I don't think they really belong together. It's like putting a 3-piece suit on a bandana-wearin' hippie. :D


Don't do a front arm relief, just leave the top of the body flat and do your binding, think Telecaster.

SRV's 'Hamiltone' strat was done like that, binding with no front contour.

Do the contour, and drop the binding idea, save it for a flat topped or carved top body where it looks more appropriate.

Do the binding on the contour, but find some pics of it first to make SURE you like the look FIRST.

If you decide to go through with it, then pick a binding that you can heat up, or wet, or both, to make it pliable enough to bend.

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Thanks Drak and Dave.

Personally I think it would look cool on the right guitar with the right design. I just didnt know if it could be done.

Sounds like it cant.


would a heat gun aid in something like this or is it just something that cant be done without miters?

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I don't think I fully agree with the above answers. If you're trying to do it EXACTLY like your picture, then no, that's a very abrupt angle to bend in that direction. That said, if you made your arm contour a gradual slope downward instead of a "kink" then it's probably doable with wood.

Plastic will do either, and yes a heat gun will help a lot.


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