Getting a Martin Out of a Bind
Martin is known for building guitars that burst at the seams with tone and this D-28 is no exception. After 20 years of service, a sizeable section of binding is coming loose. The binding actually helps keep the body of the guitar together so it’s important that this problem is addressed.
At the factory, the plastic binding was glued with an adhesive that actually melted the laminated plastic purfling and binding into the pores of the rosewood. This effectively sealed the end-grain of the top and back. That helps reduce wood expansion and contraction. Over time, the plastic has shrunk and let go at the waist where it encountered the least amount of resistance.
I could replace the binding, but that’s an invasive process requiring extensive finish work. Regluing the existing binding is a better option because it retains the originality of the guitar, is less costly, and won’t require a lengthy stay at the repair shop.
I relieve the stress from the shrinkage by removing the binding from the waist all the way up to the heel of the neck where the binding is jointed to itself. This technique will free up the slack that I need to get the binding reattached to the waist of the guitar.
To avoid chipping the finish, I score the lacquer at the binding and rosewood glue lines with a razor blade. Carefully separating the binding from the body is easier with the help of a thin probe such as an artist spatula. I gently pull the binding free from the neck joint.
The back of this guitar has a single layer of binding that’s attached to a small black and white laminated decorative purfling. I reglue both of them with aliphatic resin glue (Franklin’s Original Titebond). If I used adhesive-cement as the factory did, the glue squeeze-out would damage the finish. I reduce the adhesive strength of a section of binding tape by linting it with a towel. Short sections of tape are the perfect clamp for binding.
I glue and tape 6” long sections of binding. This gives me plenty of time to securely tape the binding in place.
Regluing the binding has left a gap in both the purfling and the binding by the neck joint.
The joint in the purfling is offset from the joint in the binding. I make two patches from scrap D-28 binding to fill the gaps. I glue the patches in proud with Titebond.
I let the glue cure for 24 hours before removing the tape. To prevent the tape from damaging the finish, I heat the tape with a heat gun to reduce the adhesive strength of the tape. A quick water cleanup of the glue squeeze out and this guitar is “bound” for glory.