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  I have a 2008 circa martin " custom built "guitar ( about $ 4000 USD ) I live in Trinidad & Tobago and play a lot , the binding is shrinking and pulling off the body, and the finish on the neck is turning to jelly and scraping off with a fingernail.

    I will have to replace the binding, purfling and strip and refinish the neck. How bad an idea is it to refinish the neck with a catalyzed urethane, and replace the bindings with nice wood bindings. I know the answer here, don't change a classic. but i would like to hear some ideas on the subject

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Refinishing the neck with catalyzed polymer sounds like a good idea.  If carefully done, it'll be a lot nicer than the sticky mess, for sure!

I'd think more about regluing loose binding than replacing it because of the amount of finish work needed to do a good job of replacement.  

 Hi Peter. 

I agree with Frank on the neck re-fin. It’s a much better and more durable finish for your local playing environment. 

Here are some things to consider regarding the binding:

As this is your personal instrument, you have free reign to modify it however you wish. 

If the guitar is a lifelong keeper, it’s affected value is a moot point, as is the quality of execution. 

If you plan to sell it sometime in the future, changing the binding from stock appearance will significantly devalue the guitar  and the “Martin Custom Build” designation will become meaningless as far as a selling point is concerned. 

And here’s an important consideration: unless the work is executed to be indistinguishable from Martin factory quality, the instrument will be extremely devalued. Even if done to Martin quality and spec, value will suffer.

In addition, to do a quality re-binding, you must remove the neck from the instrument.  In other words, there’s a neck reset required if you want to change the binding. I’d also suggest removing the neck when refinishing it. Two reasons... getting a clean neck to body joint appearance will be very difficult. Also, the difference in finish types may cause unanticipated problems and additional repair work to correct it.

The likely causes of your instrument’s problems are environmental problems. I understand the unique situations which affect island dwellers. I suggest, after your planned work is completed, to take measures, even extraordinary measures to assure the instrument is stored in a humidity controlled environment except when it’s being played.

Ther is a lot of web info from PROFESSIONALS to guide you through the process of diagnosing and correcting the environmental problems.

As a side note, a custom build should not be considered a plus regarding the resale price of the guitar. The customized appointments made to the instrument were only of important to the buyer who commissioned the guitar. 

I hope this information is good food for thought and that whatever work you undertake is successful and makes you smile. 

Best wishes and play on, man. 

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