Guitar Making Tip No. 62

Guitar Making Tip No. 62 is about picking the right binding strips for your first guitar. It’s important to pick strips that are easy to bend. Heavily figured pieces can be tough, and may add frustration to a fun part of the build. Here is how to avoid that.

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Pick the Right Binding Strips for Your Guitar

guitar making tip number 62There are tons of different species available for binding strips. That doesn’t even include the pieces you can buy and mill yourself.

Take a look online or in a guitar making supply catalog. These places will have lots of choices that are all great for your guitar.

There is one thing to avoid unless you are already experienced in bending wood. Do not buy heavily figured wood for your first set of binding strips.

While figured wood looks amazing, it is many times harder to bend. The grain does not run straight like regular pieces of wood. That is why it has the figured look. That is also why it is typically more expensive than standard pieces. If you avoid the really figured pieces it will help you in the long run, because it will do this for you…

Bending Wood With Less Stress

There is something special about the sound that a binding strip makes when it snaps in two on the bending iron and breaks your heart right in half. There is also something to be said about when it’s your last strip, and you were being extremely careful not to break it.

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Bending straight grained woods is just less stressful than bending heavily figured pieces.

In a quiet shop, and under extreme concentration, a binding strip that breaks on the iron can sound like a gun shot. It will startle you, and even cause your heart to speed up. When you bend wood, it’s always a little nerve wracking in the beginning.

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The way to foster success in your build is to give it what it needs. Don’t load down your build with unnecessary difficulties. Use common materials, be patient, and complete your first build before moving on to more interesting methods.

If you need practice bending wood, I explain the best way in Guitar Making Tip No. 357.

Use This Instead of Figured Wood

There are plenty of pieces of plain wood that look anything but ordinary. If you want a more custom look, simply search for straight grain binding strips from an exotic wood. Many times, these even look better than the standard Figured Maple.

Cocobolo is a great example. It is a little more expensive, but it can add bright oranges and browns to your guitar. It’s a Rosewood, so it has oils that make it easy to bend. This wood can be more striking than a figured wood, and draw more attention.

Another thing you can do is use a wood that is non-traditional, or bind the instrument in a different way. You can use a matching binding strip (making sure to have a purfling strip below it for a break) and it will look like you don’t even have binding at all. You could also use a strip in a bold color to call attention to the guitar.

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