Binding On an Acoustic - Does it make any real difference?

Hello, this is just a curiosity really. I am eyeing up 2 guitars (possible GAS outbreak) both are OM size mahoghany tops, laminate sides. The spec and price is very similar overall but one has binding and one does not. They are Sigma 000-15 (without) and Alvarez AF66SHB (with - quoted as Ivory ABS). Does binding have any structural benefit or is it just cosmetic? One YT review of the Sigma seemed to suggest it was a negative.

This won’t be the main deciding factor, I am going to do it properly and go to the shop and play both. I may even shut my eyes and get the wife to hand them to me! I will pick the one that feels and sounds best. However if all else is equal, could the binding be an advantage to the Alvarez? Also if anyone has any views on either of these guitars that would be interesting to hear. Thank You.

If you’re going to the store I’d take a blindfold with you ans try out all guitars there within your budget and not limit yourself to trying out just those two. You never know one might call out to you that you never thought about in your online search.


Binding has a purpose, it protects the edge of the top from chipping and cracking if the guitar has a solid top. I’ve seen a few guitars without binding have chips and rough marks along the edges. If you keep good care of your guitars you shouldn’t have any problems, but if you like to take your guitars out to jams or camping binding would be an asset.


Binding is a purely aesthetic element. I don’t think it adds or detracts anything to the playability of a guitar. That said, no binding at all looks rather stark to me. I would do a hard pass on such a thing.

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Thanks everyone and really useful article @markr31. It seems from that that there is some protective benefit similar to bumpers on a car. If the bumpers were dented the car would still run fine.

In my own situation I just play at home and keep the guitars in gigbags when not being used. The article also says that Mahogany is less of an issue being a hardwood. On the flip side I am perfectly capable of bumping into furniture with a guitar.

I like your thinking @Socio. The only trouble is I would come home with about 12 guitars! (Or want to)

It’s clear that it won’t make any tonal difference so I’ll just need to see what feels/sounds right first and foremost.

Theres absolutly no doubt that ANY binding on wood will have a detrimental effect (small) but still. If you seriously want to get into technical details of wood and resonance over time, I’ll look some detail that I read (if possible) about what happpens to wood (timbre) with years of prolonged string vibrations.

The wood changes the more the strings are used, in a nutshell the wood starts to match resonance with the strings but this takes YEARS, more use better sound…

The binding will increase the time or even partially stop part of the resonance , small though it be.


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Thank you @Libitina thats also helpful. I was really just wondering if the binding was a plus or minus if I was having issues deciding between the 2 guitars.

As said they are close in Spec and price with a few variations (with or without pickup and cutaway for example) depending on which models are in stock.

I’m hoping there will be a clear winner when I play them but it’s useful to learn a bit beforehand.

Just remember, it is minimal, I’ve seen many a pro using guitars with binding, but it will be so slight unless you’ve spent years with both instruments it will be just about impossible to tell. lol

So up to you really . :slight_smile:

If the binder is wood, that would be ok I feel.

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Most people here are talking about body binding, but some guitars have neck binding as well.

I used to own a Mexican Strat (no binding) and an American Strat (neck binding).

During the heating season, the neck wood shrank, and the ends of the frets on the Mexican would stick out a bit, which made moving up and down the neck more difficult.

The American Strat did not suffer from this.

Though I suppose it’s possible the frets on the cheaper Mexican guitar were not properly dressed at the factory.

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To the OP, I think you might be over-analyzing the pros and cons of bindings.

Decide if you like the looks of binding, if you want the extra protection it gives the edge of a guitar and, if you like the look of a binding, what your preferred material might be.

I can second the neck binding and fret ends observation, I’ve got one electric with neck binding and it feels really smooth to play.

Related to binding is the rosette - around the sound hole of an acoustic. A rosette that is inlaid gives strength to an area that’s structurally weak and under a lot of tension from the strings. I’d avoid a guitar where the rosette is a decal or sticker.

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Thanks @jsgreen that is helpful.

The bottom line is I should just play these and see what I like best. I just wanted peoples views on binding and everyone has contributed useful thoughts, yourself included. I wasn’t really getting clarity via Google and YouTube. I feel better informed now which was what I set out to do. All good :+1: