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View Full Version : How important is binding?



jazzbo
02-08-2010, 02:49 AM
I see Kamakas, Kanile'as, and other high end Ukes that have less expensive models, built without body binding. I do like the understated appearance, but I owned a mahogany Martin w/o binding, and the edges were susceptble to dings, that wouldn't have happened if it had binding, for a bumper.

Is Koa fairly resistant to these little edge dings, or do these Ukes require a player to be more careful when handling and playing it?

Are there any sonic benefits in a Uke w/o binding, or is it just a cost cutting measure?

Thanks

SnakeOiler
02-08-2010, 02:58 AM
It's mainly a matter of appearance. Binding looks nice and requires more labor, but doesn't affect the sound much.

buddhuu
02-08-2010, 03:14 AM
Binding has no bearing on sound. It's functions are cosmetic and protection from dings.

Plastic binding gives better protection from knocks than wooden bindings do, but wooden binding can look really nice.

I had an Eastman 504 mandolin a few years ago that had a bound top and an unbound back. The back of that mando was a ding magnet.

I like the look of unbound koa ukes, but I'd handle with a little extra care.

jinny
02-08-2010, 03:24 AM
my guess is that there is minimal difference in sound.

I would even question any protective benefits... unless you are using something more durable, like plastic, your typical wood binding is still... well... wood, and is still susceptible to damage also... perhaps a little bit of protection depending on the wood used but I wouldn't be any less protective of it. repairing any damage would be easier with binding though... and the different color could help to camouflage damage, but a ding is still a ding. in general, because of the cost, I would be even more careful with a "bound" uke.

for the most part, binding, like inlays, is decorative

MartinLil
02-08-2010, 05:49 AM
Last year, there was quite a large debate on the Martin forum (UMGF) about the sound difference, specifically with plastic vs wood vs abalone binding. Some said that abalone binding made a guitar sound brighter. A sound engineer on the forum had some knowledge on this sound difference and said that although it made some difference in sound, it was not a big enough difference for the human ear to hear.

My martin has plastic binding, but it's still the best sounding guitar under that I've ever played. KoAlohas don't have binding, and I'm a huuuuuuuge KoAloha fan even though I only own one, my Sceptre. Because our ears can't register the sound difference that binding causes, it does not matter. What matters is the wood on the body and your playing techniques.

Also, don't worry about those dings. Instruments aren't meant to be kept in their cases. They're meant to be played. I find that I always get more joy when I let my guitar/uke be a player's instrument. Those dings add character and nothing, other than not playing them, will keep the dings away. Just be as careful as you can be and play until you've got nothing left.

SweetWaterBlue
02-08-2010, 06:10 AM
I can't speak to the sound differences, but I suspect there isn't much, as other posters have said. As far as protection, I think even wood binding does offer more protection from bumps because it presents cross grain to the bumping object, not end grain. End grain on wood is very easy to splinter. Go out to the garage (or your local HomeDepot) and pick up a piece of wood, such as a 2x4. Then, take a hard object, such as a screwdriver or even your fingernail and see how hard you have to hit it on the end grain vs cross grain to do significant damage. You will find you can dent the cross grain, but you can easily splinter off fairly large pieces from the end grain with the same force.

hoosierhiver
02-08-2010, 07:20 AM
I can't speak to the sound differences, but I suspect there isn't much, as other posters have said. As far as protection, I think even wood binding does offer more protection from bumps because it presents cross grain to the bumping object, not end grain. End grain on wood is very easy to splinter. Go out to the garage (or your local HomeDepot) and pick up a piece of wood, such as a 2x4. Then, take a hard object, such as a screwdriver or even your fingernail and see how hard you have to hit it on the end grain vs cross grain to do significant damage. You will find you can dent the cross grain, but you can easily splinter off fairly large pieces from the end grain with the same force.

I agree, I think it tends to help stabilize the wood.

As far as arguemants about differences in sound, I am very skeptical about claims of minor differences in sound. If you have 10 identical ukuleles, they may all sound a little different because of the wood grain or the glue or perhaps some other factor.So unless you can line up a few dozen ukuleles, half with binding and half without and compare them all in one sitting and try to gleen an overall difference without crediting any indidvidual uke that might be the only "pseud-scientific" way to support a claim like that.