Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

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Randolph Rhett
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Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Randolph Rhett »

I've noticed on several models of Gibson archtops that the segment of binding inside of a sharp (Venetian?) cutaway is usually very tall. I'm curious as to what that tells me about how they are being made.

It seems like the plate is being carved/pressed without regard to the cutaway and then cut back. Cutting into the arch rather than blending the arch into the cutaway would leave a raised edge relative to the flat rims.

Is that what they are doing? If so, how is the plate attached there to the rim? Is there a gap that is being covere up by just a piece of plastic binding?
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Barry Daniels
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Barry Daniels »

No, this is just a result of how they are cutting the binding ledge. Their router does not follow the arch of the top but is at the same elevation around the whole rim.
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Bill Raymond
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Bill Raymond »

Yes, I believe that the arch is made symmetrical and then the cutaway is made after. There is no "gap", but the linings are supplemented by a piece contoured to fill the gap, then the binding ledges are cut as Barry suggests, not following the arch in the cutaway, but rather in the same elevation as the remainder of the ledges, hence the wider binding through part of the cutaway.
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Randolph Rhett
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Randolph Rhett »

So the lining is made tall through that area to match the top? What does that look like? Is it kerfed like the rest of the lining, or is the kerfed lining omitted and a shaped solid piece used?
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Brian Evans »

In my mind that was always a sign of laziness in their design process, but they also made it a part of the Les Paul so I don't know. I think it came from when they started making cutaway archtops. They already had their copy routers set up with tops and backs that were symmetrical, and I figure they didn't bother changing them when they started to make cutaway's. They just cut the top, scabbed in a filler piece and called it good. Maybe they did the same thing with Les Pauls, set up for a symmetrical top so they didn't have to have two machines for left and right hand guitars.
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Dan Smith
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Dan Smith »

Les Pauls have a tall binding in the cutaway because the Maple top is taller in the cutaway than on the rim after carving.
I've seen some LP's where the binding follows the edge of the top, leaving some of the top visible below the bottom edge of the binding, not a good appearance. I prefer the bottom edge of the top binding to be parallel with the back of the guitar, especially if the back has binding.
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Bill Raymond
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Bill Raymond »

It may have been "laziness" as suggested above, but I think that aesthetics plays a role, too. To me, the "modern" way of making cutaway archtops, where the cutaway is arched to meet the sides is not as attractive, as the cutaway looks like a funny bubble--but that's just my opinion and needn't be yours.
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Randolph Rhett
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Randolph Rhett »

I am still not understanding the actual construction technique. I have searched the Internet and cannot find a clear picture of a ES-175 (or L5, super 400, etc) that shows how this area is supported on the inside.

It seems like mating a filler piece to the complex curves that are inside the arched plate (pressed or carved) would be very time consuming and fiddley. Gibson construction techniques are rarely either. If it can't be done quick, they usually don't do it. I am having a hard time figuring out the actual steps for doing this.

I am interested because the idea of having a single symmetrical design that I simply cut out a cutaway is appealing. Lefty=righty, top=bottom, one side bender, etc. But the tall binding area has me stumped. Beyond the issue of how the plate attaches to the rims in this area, I also don't know what kind of binding stock they are starting with (double tall plastic binding? where would you get that?) and how they cut a channel that doesn't reference the top.

Anyone have first hand knowledge on how this was done?
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Brian Evans »

Stewmac has .060 by .375 and .090 by .565. plastic binding If you consider what else gibson does, like routing center blocks for ES-335's, routing a filler block for a ES-175 would not be a stretch. One thing they do really really well is make a lot of things exactly the same.

I'll be honest, I find the little bubble of an aggressive arch a little funny in a cutaway. When I had cutaway Gibsons, I totally did not ever notice the binding in the cutaway, or the arch of the top. Never occurred to me to look, I guess. I had several ES-125T's. Still almost the ultimate cool guitar. Thin body ES-125, single cutaway, P-90's, yum... :)
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Bill Raymond »

I don't really know how they made the "filler", as I've never looked inside one. However, I have a plan for the D'Angelico New Yorker and it shows a solid piece of spruce filling the gap. I have also seen photos of an old Gretsch top removed and it had a piece of tulip poplar (judging by the green coloring) glued to the top over the cutaway and part of the headblock where the arched top comes down to meet it. I would assume that a solid piece of wood would be used as the filler, perhaps glued to the top and then planed or machined flat to meet the kerfed linings glued to the sides. It would probably be possible to make deeper linings in the cutaway, but probably more difficult to fit to the top that way.
Vincenzo Candela
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Vincenzo Candela »

Buongiorno a tutti il gruppo e grazie di avermi accettato nel gruppo.
Vorrei chiedervi un consiglio, sono proprietario di una Gibson ES 175 del 1982, purtroppo qualche anno fa ho affidato la mia chitarra ad un liutaio per cambiare i tasti, il quale ha carteggiato il palissandro facendolo diventare flat, anche i diamanti sono diventati molto sottili, adesso ogni volta che la suono penso a questo risultato del quale non sono felice, ho pensato di fare cambiale la tastiera con una nuova, ma non si riesce a trovare da nessuna parte, ho cercato da: Stemaw. LMI, Madinter, Maderas barbero, G&W, etc... Vi chiedo se potete aiutarmi a trovare un'azienda che vende questa tastiera con i diamanti inseriti ed anche il binding separato, aspetto una vostra risposta. Grazie
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Jim McConkey
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Jim McConkey »

Welcome Vincenzo! I am afraid very few here speak Italian, so I had translate.google.com have a go:

"Good morning to all the group and thank you for accepting me into the group.
I would like to ask you for advice, I own a 1982 Gibson ES 175, unfortunately a few years ago I entrusted my guitar to a luthier to change the frets, who sanded the rosewood making it flat, even the diamonds have become very thin, now every time I play it I think of this result which I'm not happy with, I thought about exchanging the keyboard for a new one, but I can't find it anywhere, I looked for it at: Stemaw. LMI, Madinter, Maderas barbero, G&W, etc... I ask you if you can help me find a company that sells this keyboard with the diamonds inserted and also the separate binding, I await your response. Thank you"

It is, of course, possible to replace a freboard. However, most of the supplies from those companies will be raw materials for you to make your own inlays and fretboards. Have a look at ebay or AliExpress if you want pre-inlaid fretboards.
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Freeman Keller
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Freeman Keller »

I ran into that when I built my LP clone and just bent the binding to follow the up and down - it stays 1/4 tall. Then a week or so ago I got a lovely Andersen archtop across my bench and he does it on both the top and bottom.
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Vincenzo Candela
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Re: Thick binding in cutaway of Gibson archtop

Post by Vincenzo Candela »

Grazie per la risposta, spero di avere fortuna con la ricerca.
Thanks for the reply, I hope to have luck with the search.
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