I have a 1935 Epiphone guitar with sringing binding at the waist.  Any good ideas to fix that?  Ihad one that I used a heat gun and got it to hot and it acted like afuse and burnt. I stopped it in time . Now I need to redu this one .  Any good ideas?


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We use a variable temp heat gun set to a temp below what would smoke/bubble finish or burn the bindings.  The technique is to gently... heat the bindings for a while.... while all the while working the bindings with your thumbs and fingers and you can feel it expanding and getting more playable.  Once you have elongated the bindings to the degree necessary to reattach where they need to be and originally were we CA them back in place.

It takes a bit of time and patience.

I have some old Kay guitars so I think I will do some praticing on  them. 

I have 3 Kays that have the pickup routed in the top.and several just junk guitars and have removed necks and fingerboards and installed truss rods and I think I will sand the bad finish down and refinish. Just for fun as they will not sell for the labor in them.  O well some times I need some thing to do on my one for fun.


Sounds like a great plan Ron!

I had a rather extreme case of this on a Gretsch Synchromatic 400 I think. On the top I loosened the binding right down to the tailpiece, then I glued it all back down from the waist to the tailpiece. It didn't meet but it was under the tailpiece so you could see it. Some guitar s are so old heating the binding is risky. On the back of this guitar the back had shrunk over a 6" area by as much as an 1/8", there was no way to fit a piece of wood into the edge of the lower back bout without it being obvious. The binding was multi ply so I fit a tapered piece of black binding in between the white parts. Even though the middle ply of a 4 ply strip of binding was an 1/8 of an inch thicker for 3 of the 6 inches of tapered black binding. It was very difficult to notice if you weren't looking for it.

The methods we use for stretching shrunken bindings is very precise, very refined, and very risky if you don't have your tools and methods down to a science. We use a particular heat gut with an exceptionally consistent heat control (Makita HG1100) with a reducer nozzle and the heat dialed in and calibrated to stay precisely within a range of about 2 degrees Celsius at a range of 1/2" to 3/4" from the nozzle. One or two degrees cooler and the binding may expand while warm and swell back in to position, but will never become truly malleable and stretch, and want to shrink back and strain to pull away again as it cools. One degree warmer and the finish will start to amber. Two degrees warmer and the finish and binding will start to bubble and burn. Heat an area with the slightest degree of inconsistency and one section will be softer than others causing areas to stretch thin like taffy while it remains thick right next to it. 

Not trying to scare you away from trying, but I can't emphasize enough just how touchy of an operation this can be. It's not just dialing in the perfect temperature and heating an area perfectly consistently, but practice and experience in being able to tell when the binding is just right, ready to stretch or pull, how to apply pressure in what directions and how to recognize red flags that something isn't exactly right before it's too late.

Practice practice practice - to truly stretch the binding and leave it stress free when cooled is a very touchy operation. Be prepared for a learning curve where many mistakes will be made and test subjects will be damaged before you attempt this on any artifact you truly hope to restore. If you have a few old parts guitars to test on that is a great place to start working on a method. When you can make it work perfectly it almost seems like magic, but even with experience it can be a constant challenge to reliably control and execute without mistakes. 


Thanks for the education for me. I have a bunch of old guitars but have not looked to see if this problum is among them.  The guitar is not a expencive insterment but I dont want it to be hurt

It is a Epiphone built in 1936.

Thanks again.


For what it's worth, the magic number I find with my HG100 heat gun is around 82 degrees Celcius. That may not mean the binding actually reaches that temperature, but if I set my gun temperature so that with the fan on low, a thermocouple hooked through my meter (not guaranteed calibrated, so this may just be just what my meter reads) at 1/2" distance from the reducer nozzle reads 82℃. At this temperature and distance I can hold it in one spot indefinitely and the binding will soften but not scorch, brown, or burn. It's also warm enough that I can sweep a small area (sometimes takes several minutes) and heat as much as several inches enough to truly soften and stretch. By 84℃ you may be able to sweep around and bring it to the malleable threshold faster, but stop for a second and you can easily damage the finish and/or binding. Drop it down to 80℃ and it seems I can never truly soften the binding. 

Of course don't trust my numbers, as unless we are all using the same equipment and calibrated thermometers, there's no guarantee that my 82℃ will be the same as yours. Practice on your test guitars and find your own sweet (and safe) spot. 

And don't be fooled when the binding starts to flex and expand - it tends to appear to be softened long before it truly is. It moves a lot when heated giving the illusion of a permanent stretch, only to shrink back when cooled. There's a threshold up above that point where it becomes truly malleable and can be stretched and reshaped with true permanent dimensional change. That's the sweet spot you need to find with your tools and methods, and the trickiest part beyond that is mastering how to control it and get the stretching to happen evenly across the area you want it to. Just take some time and practice with it, and you'll see what I mean. Once you really get this method down though, it's a godsend for repairing shrunken bindings. 


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