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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / Can someone explain binding for me?

Contributing Member

Murrells Inlet, SC

So, so you think you can tell.
Dec 17th, 2017 07:50 AM   Edit   Profile  

The Epi LP Custom I'm looking at says... You'll find multilayer binding on every outside inch from body to neck to headstock. And the standard doesn't.

Since there's no way I'm paying what Gibson is asking for a new LP, this may be the best way for me to get a LP style guitar?

Sweetwater Link.

Contributing Member

Northeast IL

Not very bright but does lack ambition
Dec 17th, 2017 08:45 AM   Edit   Profile  

That’s gorgeous!

Earlier this year I briefly had an Epi LP Pro, but not that version. I ended up returning it due to a minor issue with the wiring that I could have easily sorted out (a cold solder joint that was obvious when I looked), but I didn’t care for the color combination - mine had a raw feeling matte poop brown finished back, sides and neck. Luckily I found a great deal on a minty used 2016 Gibson LP Studio T a few weeks later.

The workmanship of the Epi was first rate, and the finish of the one you linked is much more attractive than the one I had. However, if you can live without the binding and inlays a used Gibson Studio would likely be a better deal - mine was absolutely mint and included a factory hard case for about $100 more than that Epi plus an aftermarket molded case. A secondary consideration is that the Epi will take an immediate value hit whereas a used Gibson will be depreciated already.

Just food for thought - I would have been perfectly happy with the Epi if it was a different finish, and the finish, binding and inlays of the one you linked are gorgeous. If I had started with one of those, I probably would never have gotten the Gibson. Epi makes great stuff, I have an ES-339 that is amazing.


Contributing Member

Murrells Inlet, SC

So, so you think you can tell.
Dec 17th, 2017 09:01 AM   Edit   Profile  

Wow that's a beautiful LP HD, thanks for the info.



A Piece for Assorted Lunatics
Dec 17th, 2017 10:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have an SG Pro. I love it. Its a real SG to me. The pick ups are great and the coil tapping is pretty damn good. I think it has the same pick ups...from Sweetwater

FDP Data Goon

We all want

our time in hell
Dec 18th, 2017 12:05 AM   Edit   Profile  

The used Gibson option is probably preferable if you find one you like as mentioned.

The other thing I can say is I just don't like the look of that wine red versus my Studio HP I have here by far - there's just not the depth and "actual wood" look that I love on the USA Gibsons.

For Epis, I would NOT pay extra for "cosmetics" -ever.

It's still an Epi. Nothing wrong with that, don't get me wrong, but ... it's like an upgraded Ford Escort GT versus a stock one. It's still an Escort!

Contributing Member

Murrells Inlet, SC

So, so you think you can tell.
Dec 18th, 2017 05:31 AM   Edit   Profile  

Rev... So basically, binding is just a cosmetic thing? The problem with me buying a used USA Gibson is, the only way i can afford buy these guitars is with a payment plan. That's pretty much why I've bought all of mine through sweetwater except my Baja Tele. Got that one from my local music store on lay away.

Was just trying to decide between a Epi LP or a PRS SE.

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Dec 18th, 2017 04:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Was just trying to decide between a Epi LP or a PRS SE."

Two very different feeling guitars IMO. I've owned both. Currently have a cheapie Epi LP Special that's had a complete "make over". I prefer the 60"s D taper of the Epi. YMMV

If you can A/B the two locally then buy from SW, you'll do yourself a favour.

2 cents

Modal Magic

MBJ, Highway Hound.

You Can't Bend It Aussie!
Dec 18th, 2017 06:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

Binding serves two purposes: for looks and to protect the edges of the guitar, apparently. I did some research on it a while back and that's what I found.

Contributing Member


Dec 18th, 2017 07:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

Yeah, the plastic is good for avoiding dings on the edges. No, *great* for it!

I am sometimes a real snob, but I wouldn't turn down the right Epi. They have an awesome '55 LP RI Epi at the local GC but it's $800.

The SEs are great guitars! I think quality-wise they match or beat the Epis, but it's all in the feel. I don't like most Epi neck shapes but am OK with some of the PRS SE ones. If you get along with the neck shape, no sense in avoiding a particular guitar.

Contributing Member

Manchester, TN

12,423 Mustangs passed and counting
Dec 18th, 2017 08:09 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've got an Epi Traditional Pro Plus and a PRS SE Korina One. Both great guitars for the $$$, but I'd take the Epi over the PRS any day. The pickups are GREAT. The neck doesn't feel as nice as my Gibson LP, but it fits me a lot better than the PRS neck. This is just personal preference, of course.

Contributing Member

Curled up

in the fecal position
Dec 18th, 2017 08:52 PM   Edit   Profile  

Where did the practice of binding come from?

The end grain of wood is more prone to damage than when it's in longitudinal orientation. Acoustic guitars and mandolins, having thin tops and backs, have end grain exposed around the rim.

Years ago, the finishes available were also not very tough and did little to shrug off scuffs. These finishes also shrank with age and allowed wood to dry out and be subject to splitting.

So instrument makers originally installed thin strips of ivory, hardwood, or shell to protect the edges from bumps and help prevent splitting. When plastics were invented, many shifted to that because it was cheaper and worked just as well as more expensive materials.

You probably wonder why violins and similar orchestral instruments have no binding. The reason is the tops and backs are carved, and the edges have a carved "bead" that's part of the wood. It's sort of like a thick rope that surrounds the edges of the top and back. This increased thickness provides good protection. These instruments also have purfling, which is thin wood splines in a groove than runs around/across the grain and helps prevent splitting, as well as looking great. Some purflings include shell like abalone, etc. See linked pic.

Paul Reed Smith often simply masks off the top wood where binding would be, and removes the mask before the the clear coats go on. This creates the appearance of binding when none is there. The reason this works is because modern finishes are extremely durable--much more durable than the nitrocellulose lacquer that Gibson still uses on most of their models.

The catalyzed polyester in popular use on most imports is also extremely durable, but many makers like Epiphone still do binding because it looks more sooper-deelux with it on there. It's not really necessary to protect the wood; it's more for cosmetics.

Purfling on a Yamaha fiddle. Yee-haw!

(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 11:01 PM, Dec 18th, 2017)

Ramblin Rhodes

Sportsman's Paradise

Doin' Bruin
Dec 18th, 2017 09:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

Once again ‘Peegoo’ accurately
addresses the topic of the original post....

Contributing Member

Curled up

in the fecal position
Dec 18th, 2017 09:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

Similarly--the design of F holes in archtop instruments is pretty deliberate from an old-school perspective.

F holes are necessary to allow the center portion of an instrument's top to vibrate independently of the sides and back, sort of like the suspension around the edge of a speaker's cone. This increases the amount of air the top can move, and that translates to greater volume.

But why are F holes not simple slits in the wood? Are they cut that way just to make them look more elegant? Why the round ends?

If you've ever done sheet metal work or other sheet material repairs, you're probably familiar with the practice called stop-drilling. This is when you drill a hole at the end (or just beyond the end) of a crack in the material. It works on metal, plastic, glass, and wood. The crack hits the round hole and the stresses that are causing the crack are now spread evenly around the hole--rather than at a very small point in the material.

The crack stops growing.

The old-world luthiers knew about this--that a hard corner in a cutout in vibrating wood will start to split at that corner. Therefore they used round openings at each end of the sound holes in their instruments to keep the wood from splitting.

It's also why the holes in acoustic flattops are round (or have rounded corners if another shape).

Gretsch flips the bird to convention! But see those rounded corners?

Contributing Member

Murrells Inlet, SC

So, so you think you can tell?
Dec 19th, 2017 03:22 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm trying to make a decision on what to get next and you all are a big help!


FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / Can someone explain binding for me?

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