All guitars are not equal, and some guitars have features that others do not. Every feature that a guitar is made with and every feature that is added changes the way the instrument feels and sounds. Neck binding is among these elements that can seem insignificant but make a drastic difference to the way the instrument feels.
Guitar neck binding is usually made from vinyl or wood and is used to improve the smoothness of the neck of the guitar while also providing protection for the frets and improving the aesthetics of the instrument. Some guitars have binding, and others do not. Binding usually indicates higher quality.
There are significant advantages and disadvantages that come along with guitar neck binding, but not all guitar players realize that this small guitar feature makes such a big difference to the instrument. Let’s explore guitar neck binding to determine its advantages, drawbacks, and what makes it so significant.
Do All Guitars Have Neck Binding?
Neck binding is a feature that is installed on guitars to increase the aesthetic appeal of the instrument, protect the frets, and give the neck a smoother feel, but are all guitars equipped with this feature?
The reality of the guitar world is that more guitars are made without neck binding than their guitar with neck binding. This is an entire option feature that adds more cost to the instrument, which means that most guitars are made without it.
However, the guitars that are made with neck binding tend to be more valuable and are often made to a higher standard of quality than other guitars.
Neck binding is usually found on higher-end guitars or guitars that require this feature for some reason. Not all guitars need neck binding, and not all guitars are made for a high enough price range to warrant this feature.
Binding is more common on electric guitars and steel string acoustic guitars than it is on classical guitars, and any guitar that is made for beginners or in a low price range is highly unlikely to have neck binding.
With that said, some guitar brands are known for applying neck binding to every guitar that they make, regardless of the price range that the instrument falls in.
Some guitar players like to use guitars with neck binding, and others prefer guitar necks that do not have this feature. This is another reason why some guitars do have neck binding and others do not.
At the end of it, only guitars that need neck binding or guitars that are made with some extra aesthetic flourishes are made with neck binding, and all others are made without it.
Why Do Guitars Have Neck Binding?
Some guitars are made with neck binding, and others are not. It is clear that this feature is not integral to the functionality of the instrument, so why do some guitars have neck binding? What purpose does it serve?
Guitar neck binding is mostly aesthetic, but it does change the way the neck of the guitar feels as well. However, the effects it has on the neck feel are minor, and binding does not make a guitar neck good.
Binding is usually made from vinyl, but it can be made from wood ad other plastics. The binding can be made in various colors and can have inlays of various designs and made from various materials.
A light-colored neck binding on a guitar with a dark-colored neck and fretboard can provide a nice splash of color to the instrument. Neck binding with good-looking inlays makes the guitar appear more premium and of higher quality.
Dark neck binding can hide blemishes on the instrument and can make the guitar look sleek overall.
With that said, aside from the aesthetic benefits of neck binding, guitars can be improved with neck binding, and it can make the neck feel better.
Some guitars have fret ends that stick out over the side of the neck, and these can be uncomfortable. Even if the frets do not stick out much, some large and jumbo-sized frets can be felt from the side of the neck, even if they do not have any overhang.
Applying neck binding to these guitars improves the smoothness of the side of the neck, which can improve the overall playability of the instrument.
The neck binding is also useful for guitars used in countries or regions with drastic climate fluctuations.
Guitars that are exposed to high humidity and subsequently low humidity during a change of season will expand and contract. This means that the frets on the guitar will fit well when the neck expands in the humid season and will hand over the neck in the dry season.
Applying binding to the neck of these guitars provides a more consistent feel for the guitarist and prevents the frets from being uncomfortable when the neck contracts in the dry season.
What Are The Advantages Of Guitar Neck Binding?
We have explored the uses of guitar neck binding, and we have learned that neck binding is not strictly necessary for guitars, but there are some guitar players who prefer neck binding over guitar without it, and there are significant advantages of neck binding that many players make use of.
With that in mind, what are the advantages of guitar neck binding?
Guitar neck binding has several advantages, including improved neck smoothness and feel, as well as protection for the frets, and more consistency in guitars that are heavily affected by weather and climate.
Neck binding also makes the guitar appear much more premium and makes the instrument feel better overall. This means that guitars with neck binding are more valuable than guitars without it and are generally worth more than other guitars.
Guitar neck binding can also serve as a mark of a premium instrument. For example, most Gibson electric guitars are made with neck binding, while more entry-level brands of similar guitars, such as Epiphone, do not put the binding on all their guitars.
This distinguishes Gibson guitar from other brands, sets these instruments apart as more high-quality, and provides increased social status as well.
Guitar neck binding makes the neck feel far smoother, which can completely change the playability of the instrument. A guitar neck with sharp or excessively bumpy fret ends feels almost entirely unplayable, but a guitar with smooth neck edges as a result of binding is far easier to play.
A guitar that is easier to play results in less player fatigue and makes the instrument entirely more enjoyable to play. This also enables the player to practice and perform for longer due to the reduced discomfort that binding provides.
Guitar neck binding is not always necessary, but it is useful, and the advantages that it provides cannot be overlooked by some guitarists.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Guitar Neck Binding?
We have established that there are some good advantages that come along with guitar neck binding, but the reality is that there are some disadvantages to neck binding that are important to consider as well.
Guitar neck binding is very useful, but there are some drawbacks to it as well. The drawbacks of guitar neck binding are the fact that it is so expensive, it is difficult to remove, it makes fret repairs and replacements very challenging and significantly more expensive, and they do not always work to make the neck feel smoother.
Neck binding adds an extra step to guitar manufacturing, as well s more materials. The process of applying neck binding is also very challenging and must be done by hand. Therefore, guitars that have neck binding are more expensive, even though the binding does not change or improve the instrument sounds.
Applying neck binding to a guitar that does have it already is expensive as well, which means that if you want to apply it, you are usually required to spend a lot of money to do so, and it does not change the instrument much, and it does not add anything to the tone.
Guitar neck binding looks great, but when the time comes to repair the frets of the guitar, replace the frets, or do any kind of fretwork on the instrument, the binding must be removed and reapplied, which is very expensive and difficult to do well.
Binding on the neck of a guitar makes it look better and usually makes it feel better too, but if the binding itself is not applied well, it can be very uncomfortable, and if the frets below the binding are not well made or well filed, the binding will feel terrible. Binding does not cover up bad frets, and it does not make a bad neck good.
Does Guitar Neck Binding Work Well?
Guitar neck binding can make a guitar look and feel better if it is applied well to a well-made instrument, but does neck binding work well for every guitar?
Guitar neck binding does work well if it is applied well and if the guitar that it is applied to is well made. Guitars that are poorly made with poorly installed and filed frets cannot be helped by neck binding, and neck binding, in this instance, can often make the instrument feel worse. However, neck binding always works to make a guitar look better, except in the case of some acoustic guitars.
The smooth feel of neck binding that is well applied works well to make a guitar feel more playable and to make the instrument feel less work to play.
In short, neck binding does work well when it is made well, as is true for all other aspects of this complicated instrument.
Is All Guitar Neck Binding The Same?
Guitar neck binding is a beautiful addition to most guitars, and it can make the instrument feel better and make it more playable., but is all guitar neck binding the same? Does it all work in eh same way? Is it all made from the same materials?
Not all guitar neck binding is the same. The material that neck binding is made from varies, and thus the feel of the neck binding varies as well.
Most guitar neck binding is made from vinyl plastic, but binding can be made from wood, nitrocellulose, various other plastics, and even materials such as ivory or bone. Many various synthetic materials can also be used for neck binding.
Every type of binding feels different and changes the way the guitar looks and feels to play. This means that if binding is applied to a guitar, it must be done well, and the material used for the binding must be chosen very carefully.
Not all guitar neck binding is traditional binding, either. Companies such as Fender are always innovating and improving guitar construction and construction techniques.
Innovations such as channel-binding, which involves making a channel within the neck of the guitar for the fretboard to set into, rather than gluing the fretboard onto a flat neck, completely change the way the neck of the instrument feels and performs and has an effect on the tone of the guitar as well.
This means that not all guitar binding is the same, and the way binding is done, particularly on the neck of the instrument, is critical to the overall instrument.
Can You Add Binding To A Guitar Neck
Guitar neck binding can improve some guitars, and there is no harm in adding binding to an instrument, but any guitar payers wonder if it is possible to add neck binding to a guitar that does not have it applied already.
You can add neck binding to a guitar. Binding is applied with adhesive and can be applied to the neck of any guitar if you know how to do it and if you have the right binding to fit the neck of the guitar.
Appling binding to the neck of a guitar is very time-consuming, challenging, and generally difficult, but it can be done. If you have the patience for it, the budget to buy it, and the skills to apply it, you can put binding on the neck of a guitar.
Guitar neck binding is not necessary for the performance of the instrument, and it does not usually affect the way the instrument sounds, but it does drastically improve the aesthetics of some guitars, and it can improve the way the instrument feels to play.
Guitar neck binding is an interesting and divisive guitar feature, as some players love it and others despise it. Some guitars are improved with binding, and others are not, but the decision of whether or not it is useful remains ultimately up to each guitarist.