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Fretboard binding and Frets - what do you prefer?


jaeger28

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I own two Gibbos, a LP Special Doublecut from the 90s and an 2000s SG.

 

There is one thing about most Gibsons that annoys me, which is the reason why I registered for this forum to ask the question and MAYBE be heard by Gibson people who can decide about the product design.

 

What annoys me on all Gibsons (except those with unbound fretboards) is that the plastic from the fretboard binding is touching the end of the fret, often leaving a small gap between fret and plastic where your string can get stuck while vibrating the E1 for example.

 

Other manufacturers (e.g. Edwards) have the frets reaching over the binding.

 

I suppose it's even less work to do it the Edwards way, but in my opinion, it's much better for the playing experience.

 

What do you think, should Gibson change the way they treat the frets/bindings?

 

binding_comparison.jpg

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I don´t care actually. But did you notice that Gibson seems to have changed to frets over binding lately. On many newer guitars I found that the frets are over the binding. I guess that may be better for their plekking machine.

 

On my 1985 Les Paul Custom (Avatar) it´s no problem. Even if I bend a string onto the binding it still works. On my Angus signature SG I´d prefer frets over the binding. Because the binding is wider than on the 68 orignials and it kills the tone when you pull the string too far. So my experience is that I like it lookwise, but on a narrow neck it really takes away room for bendings and punishes every little inaccuracy in playing chords and single notes.

 

Therefore I voted for frets over the binding. The other way may be possible as my Les Paul shows but needs accurate finishing work and that Gibson lacks nowadays.

 

Greetings

Kurt

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I don´t care actually. But did you notice that Gibson seems to have changed to frets over binding lately. On many newer guitars I found that the frets are over the binding. I guess that may be better for their plekking machine.

 

On my 1985 Les Paul Custom (Avatar) it´s no problem. Even if I bend a string onto the binding it still works. On my Angus signature SG I´d prefer frets over the binding. Because the binding is wider than on the 68 orignials and it kills the tone when you pull the string too far. So my experience is that I like it lookwise' date=' but on a narrow neck it really takes away room for bendings and punishes every little inaccuracy in playing chords and single notes.

 

Therefore I voted for frets over the binding. The other way may be possible as my Les Paul shows but needs accurate finishing work and that Gibson lacks nowadays.

 

Greetings

Kurt[/quote']

 

That is good news. Agree that on the old fashioned, thinner bindings it has less of an impact, and agreed they shouldn't do it on the wider ones.

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Who cares?

At least jaeger28 and I do...

 

I noticed that playing my Studio give more leeway, so to speak, than my bound SG (otherwise those neck are the same). On the other hand, the covered fret ends makes for a slightly smoother feeling neck in those few instances where my hand actually touches there. It's not a big deal, just an observation, but if I can choose I'll have frets over the binding. That won't stop me from getting another Gibson with a bound neck, though - it's very pretty after all.

 

If frets over the binding somehow helps with the plek'ing process (I hope all Gibsons will be plek'ed eventually!), then perhaps that's the way to go - I'm all for consistently optimally playable guitars.

 

BTW, there's a term for those bits covering the fret ends. What was that again?

 

DJ

--

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An age old debate on this issue that didn't materialze (except in luthier circles) until the practice of light strings, bending & finger vibrato became dominant. Gibson uses this method simply because they've aways have done it that way. It does look great when new, but becomes an issue for the player and for the tech later on.

 

When they used the old, thin binding it wasn't as much of an issue. When it becomes a problem is during a refret, where some luthiers remove the binding, install the new frets, then reinstall the binding & spray the neck. A bad practice that really looks awful, particularly bad over time. OTOH, some guys try & precisely cut the fret to fit between the nibs, which takes forever (guess who pays?) and if not done perfectly often ends with gaps, or with the binding cracking & breaking loose. Best practice is to refret over the binding ala Martin, after removing the nibs and leveling the board. End result is better playability on the edges and a better feel overall.

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An age old debate on this issue that didn't materialze (except in luthier circles) until the practice of light strings' date=' bending & finger vibrato became dominant. Gibson uses this method simply because they've aways have done it that way. It does look great when new, but becomes an issue for the player and for the tech later on.

 

When they used the old, thin binding it wasn't as much of an issue. When it becomes a problem is during a refret, where some luthiers remove the binding, install the new frets, then reinstall the binding & spray the neck. A bad practice that really looks awful, particularly bad over time. OTOH, some guys try & precisely cut the fret to fit between the nibs, which takes forever (guess who pays?) and if not done perfectly often ends with gaps, or with the binding cracking & breaking loose. Best practice is to refret over the binding ala Martin, after removing the nibs and leveling the board. End result is better playability on the edges and a better feel overall. [/quote']

 

This is exactly what I have done by my luthier, who charges 220€ for the refret on bound boards (incl. new nut). Quite steep if it could be right from the start.

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Best practice is to refret over the binding ala Martin' date=' after removing the nibs and leveling the board. End result is better playability on the edges and a better feel overall. [/quote'].

 

That's only true if the bevel on the ends of the frets isn't too shallow because it can rob some of the playing surface. It's just as easy to pull a high E off the end of a fretboard where the frets have been beveled too much, so the question the way this poll is phrased is really whether you like an expertly done refret or a hack job.

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The traditional Gibson binding looks very classy, and gives a very smooth feel to the neck. However from a playing viewpoint, I prefer 'fret over binding' such as on a Yamaha SG2000. I would sometimes get a slight click as the string passed over the edge of the binding on my Les Paul Custom. My unbound SG is not so good either. The fret ends have no bevel at all - they were rounded off presumably to make the neck feel slick. This makes the strings slip off the edge of the neck easily.

 

As sok66 points out, it is possible - but very difficult and often with unsatisfactory results to refret inside the binding. It places constraints on the choice of fretwire also. If you want high frets, there will be a mis-match in the height of the new frets and the binding nibs. You even see this on new Gibsons where the fret ends are given a small bevel to drop down and meet the binding.

 

I didn't vote on this. It's difficult weighing up originality vs playability.

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An age old debate on this issue that didn't materialze (except in luthier circles) until the practice of light strings' date=' bending & finger vibrato became dominant. Gibson uses this method simply because they've aways have done it that way. It does look great when new, but becomes an issue for the player and for the tech later on.

 

When they used the old, thin binding it wasn't as much of an issue. When it becomes a problem is during a refret, where some luthiers remove the binding, install the new frets, then reinstall the binding & spray the neck. A bad practice that really looks awful, particularly bad over time. OTOH, some guys try & precisely cut the fret to fit between the nibs, which takes forever (guess who pays?) and if not done perfectly often ends with gaps, or with the binding cracking & breaking loose. Best practice is to refret over the binding ala Martin, after removing the nibs and leveling the board. End result is better playability on the edges and a better feel overall. [/quote']

 

Here's an example of why you want a pro to do it right for you. Needed to have a fingerboard replacement.

 

As far as binding honestly it doesn't make that much difference to me...

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i like it for the reason they started doing it...... the fret ends are covered and will never feel sharp. if the fret is over the binding, then temp/humidity changes can cause the fret ends to stick out and be uncomfortable.

i've never had a problems with bends or anything. you aren't supposed to bend toward the edge anyway. you bend away from it. as long as the string spacing is correct and your E string isn't right on the edge of the fretboard, then it shouldn't be a problem. i also prefer the thinner vintage binding. that newer gumby looking stuff looks stupid.... it looks even worse when it's all on the fret. the solution? they should use the old style thinner binding on everything, bind over the fret end, and make sure they have their string spacing correct.

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