Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Is binding replacement a DIY project?


I have a late 60s Country Gent and the binding is trashed meaning mostly gone. It’s so bad along the neck that it’s hard to play. I’ve never done binding before.

I’m a pretty handy guy. Actually I’ve remodeled both of my bathrooms and my kitchen by myself. I like projects and am good with details.

But I don’t want to ruin this guitar. How hard is binding replacement? Can somebody do a decent job on their first try? Also, as I side question, does binding replacement ruin the value of an old Gretsch like this?


If you're guitar is a "player" and you're not trying to retain any vintage collector value... I'd say go for it. Otherwise, go to a pro... assuming you can find one that wants the job.


From what I've seen over the years it's more a "DIE" project than "DIY". It's those little things like paint touch up, getting those red fret marker dots right, etc.

But I would want to encourage you not discourage. If you do go ahead, hopefully you will keep a diary of it here.


Go buy a twenty dollar beater and practice on that first. You will learn a boatload, including how much is just the right amount of solvent/glue to use without starving or over saturating the joint. Use quality heavy duty 3m tape that is fresh and has good stretch potential.


I'm with Opie. It sounds like you're pretty handy and will do a half-decent job, but better to practice on a beater and get the mistakes out of the way before attempting in on the Gent.


What they said AND expect more difficulty if doing layers.


I just re-read my post. I didn’t mean to come across as demeaning. “Half decent job” was just a turn of phrase, I’m sure you’ll do great, but I still advise to practice on a beater first


If you tackle this and it proves successful, you might consider making it a side hustle, as there are (and will be) a number of Gretsch owners who will need this service!


Binding repair should be pretty straightforward (I've built several guitars with multi-layer binding) but removing the old binding material and prepping the binding channels requires patience and the right tools (e.g. sharp chisels, scrapers, wood knives, etc.). In particular, you want to work the channels so that the new binding sits flush with the sides (or neck) so as to minimize scraping and sanding while at the same time not damaging the existing finish.

If you're unsure about the process, I agree with getting a beater guitar and experimenting with your processes. You can then carry that over to your expensive Gretsch. Good luck!


I do the opposite,I work the binding down to fit the existing channels. A home built scrapper with adjustable height works it down ,but nowadays I just run it in a tight groove in a scrap of lumber and run the whole shebang through a wide belt sander.


I did it once. It came out ok, but it was a horrible PITA!


I've done it, too. It took many, many times longer to remove the old binding and prep the channels than it took to install the new binding.


Can you post pictures ? It can be a DIY job but the advice given are all true. I replaced binding of a Viking, it’s not hard but I made a lot of mistakes I could avoid by better prepping. The long part is removing the binding without destroy the finish, but I second the advice of Frank NH, the more you work the channel the better, and Opie too is right, you can make small tools to scrap the binding to make fit well BEFORE gluing them. The more prep, the better. That’s why it’s a DIY task because it’s huge time consuming, and it’s also a job for pro because they have done all the errors before and so they know how to do it right


And it won’t ruin the guitar value if the binding is already gone, binding rot can be seen as « vintage » but lot of missing binding is just «broken » to me... So if the binding is gone it will not ruin but save this nice guitar to have it repaired... But is either pricey or very time consuming but it can be fun if you decide not to hurry, you will learn a lot of things doing this :)


I think that’s the best advice yet in this thread.


DYI though...?

Does that stand for Do Yo’self In?


I have an employee who once inadvertently referred to his brother-in-law as "a real do-it-to-yourselfer"!

Aren't we all.


Many people think the finished binding is uniform in height and width, it isn’t. If you are working on a lacquer finished guitar know the the glue WILL remove the finish as fast as paint stripper. Double cut guitars are a complete bitch especially when using celluloid.

Installing binding on a new build takes about 10% of the effort and time to install and shape.

Go for it, someone needs to start doing this.


DYI though...?

Does that stand for Do Yo’self In?

– Deke Martin

Edited my post

Register Sign in to join the conversation