FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

It lives on the edge. . .
© Frank Ford, 9/14/98 Photos by FF

Binding is the inlaid trim around the parts of an instrument. Specifically, it's the inlay at the very corner edges. Most of the time, the color or material of the binding is chosen to highlight the appearance of the instrument. Additionally, binding is usually a hard, tough wood, or plastic and serves to protect the edges of the instrument from nicks and bumps.

This mandolin has single binding around the fingerboard and both edges of the body:

Multiple binding on this Martin guitar actually consists of ivoroid binding bordered by black and white purfling on the side and by black and white purfling with abalone inlay on the top:

It's a fine point of semantics as to whether we call it "multiple binding" or "binding and purfling."

In the most strict definition, the binding is the inlay at the very corner, and the purfling is a separate inlay "inboard" from the edge.

Here's a perplex:

I suppose you could say that this guitar has multiple binding on the edge, because the laminated plastic strips were inlaid a the same time. But the top edge shows a distinctly separate inlay channel where the purfling sits, so it must be binding and purfling around the top.

More often, we're likely to call it "multiple binding" if all the lines are made of the same material, and "binding with purfling" if the materials are different.

Here, the binding is ivoroid, and the purfling is a herringbone pattern of wood:

We'd never call this multiple binding.

It's all a bit much, eh?

Back to Glossary

Back to Index Page