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mad5427 01-11-2021 11:00 AM

Binding and Rosette Ideas
Hello. I've been following this forum for many years and there is so much talent and so many dream guitars being made all the time.

I have a luthier working on a dream acoustic for me and I am starting to think about binding and rosettes. I am going to let him take the reigns and throw suggestions and I value his input, but it might be nice to come to him with more ideas.

The top will be carpathian spruce. The sides and back will be african blackwood. A very dark, tight grained set with some subtle brown within the black.

I love very minimal aesthetics but complex, especially with the rosettes. No shiny stuff like abalone, shell or anything. Wood is the star. I like wider rosettes and I've seen so many on here with kind of a fractured broken glass type look with different woods.

I love spalted maple and purple heart and very dark black like ebony.

With this info, do you have any suggestions for a binding pattern or some great example images of rosettes for inspiration? Any other woods that I may want to think about for the binding or such that I'm not looking at? The neck can either be one piece, 3 piece or 5 piece. It is going to be mahogany. Should I consider anything else? the strips in the neck I guess will match the binding. Not sure what would look best with the top and side woods.

He wants me to send ideas over and we can talk further, but I like being overwhelmed with knowledge so I learn what I don't know to ask or suggest or think about. I hope this makes sense and appreciate any and all suggestions.

colins 01-12-2021 04:05 AM

Congratulations on your upcoming build.

You mention spalted maple. Mike Baranik does amazing things with spalted woods and also uses African blackwood. He built me an ABW guitar and used jarrah (a reddish-coloured Australian hardwood) for the binding and other highlights, as I live in Australia. But to get a feel for a spalted binding on ABW check out this guitar that went through Dream Guitars some time back:

Another example is this one - Dark cocobolo back and sides, very similar in colour to ABW.

For rosettes the “broken glass” look is common on Kostal guitars. Another approach for using wood is dyed maple, which Jimmi Wingert uses to great effect. While not a rosette, this headstock inlay she did for one of my guitars shows what can be achieved with lots and lots of pieces of dyed maple.

TomB'sox 01-12-2021 08:30 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Here is a very quick answer for bindings, I really like the look of Snakewood on guitars with really dark back and sides.

Attachment 49807

Attachment 49808

Nemoman 01-12-2021 10:26 AM

Similar to Tom's thoughts above, I like the use of Cocobolo for binding and bevels when combined with dark woods...

Erithon 01-12-2021 10:46 AM

Flamed Koa and flamed Maple look great as binding on guitars with dark wood.

For rosettes, check out Michael Bashkin's website. He has a whole gallery. And then take a look at guitars by Ray Kraut, Michi Matsuda, Mark Hatcher, and Tyler Robbins.

nootis 01-12-2021 11:23 AM

You mentioned Purple Heart. I too was looking for something similar for one of my builds, and decided on Camatillo. It's not nearly as well known, but it has purple hues. I think it has less contrast, blends better and is more "woody" than purpleheart...

As for rosettes, perhaps your luthier might have a style or other rosettes that they've done? If it were me, I would try to work around those parameters and wouldn't do a stained glass rosette unless it was Jason Kostal doing it (that's just me though). There are so many cool and original rosettes out there that I would try for something original, yet something that would blend well with whatever else you have going on.

BTW, welcome to the Forum!

mad5427 01-12-2021 04:04 PM

Thank you all for the suggestions. I really appreciate it. I have pulled a bunch of images from all the recommended sources to give to the luthier and to have him compile to create his own thing.

I agree about not completely taking the stained glass from Kostal or some of the others. I think it an inspire something with a similar, wood focused, wide rosette. I like the binding options as well. This is going to be fun.

Steve Kinnaird 01-12-2021 10:34 PM


Originally Posted by colins (Post 6602305)
...While not a rosette, this headstock inlay she did for one of my guitars shows what can be achieved with lots and lots of pieces of dyed maple.

Colin, thanks for this pic. It made my day, at least my artistic day.
What an original.


colins 01-13-2021 03:09 AM


Originally Posted by Steve Kinnaird (Post 6603252)
Colin, thanks for this pic. It made my day, at least my artistic day.
What an original.


Thanks Steve, nice that I can reciprocate after getting so much enjoyment from threads about your guitars.

Not to detract from the OP's thread, but whenever you want an inlay 'treat' you can also visit Jimmi's Instagram page. The video of the tiger inlay being put together is something special.

justonwo 01-13-2021 01:33 PM

For my tastes, I like either ebony binding or ivoroid when working with a guitar that has dark back and sides. I think when you mix too many wood colors in there, the overall aesthetic starts to lose its cohesiveness.

Here's ebony binding on my Carpathian/Madrose Brondel.

On my LeGeyt, Burton actually bound the guitar with the same color as the back and sides, which I though looked pretty slick.

One guitar Brondel built with ebony back and sides had snakewood binding. I thought that looked awesome, but it has to be paired with a minimalist rosette, I think. Definitely not a "broken glass" theme. I think if you want a stand-out rosette, you need to go with muted binding. The nicest stained/broken glass designs I've seen have come from Jason Kostal.

alohachris 01-13-2021 04:11 PM

Rosettes Are the Domain of Luthiers - Let Them Create

Either blended or contrasting on the binding. Trust the luthier's suggestions. Curly Koa looks awesome as binding on anything, especially African blackwood. But so do bloodwood, cocobolo, ebony, snakewood, rosewood & maple. Purpleheart & vermillion turn brown pretty quickly (unless you process them with Armour-all - really).

Traditionally, the rosette brought two functions: 1) bringing stability to a fragile, open-grained, central area around the soundhole, 2) a place for the luthier to express himself.

Therefore, I suggest that you provide a possible theme, but allow the luthier to do his thing with your rosette!

Look at all the design talent in the pictures of this thread!!! Look! Today's luthiers are so amazingly skilled. Don't tell them how to design & make your rosette! Encourage & allow them to create it.

I guess with custom guitars costing more today than the houses I grew up in, that players feel they have the right to break with tradition.

Rosettes are the luthier's domain.


PS: Isn't Jimmi Wingert's fine marquetry artwork on that peghead overleaf exquisite? Maybe the nicest design I've ever seen for that & so understated. Wow! -alohachris-

jt1 01-14-2021 04:40 AM

You really can't go wrong with vintage plastic and glitter. :)

Tim McKnight 01-14-2021 08:17 AM

If you care to look, here are 5 pages capturing a few of the rosettes we have done.

jaymarsch 01-14-2021 10:43 AM

And to add to Tim's contribution and since Jimmi Wingert's work has been mentioned, Click link and scroll down to see some other examples of rosettes:

It is incredible that we have access to so many talented luthiers with varied aesthetic points of view. :)


jaymarsch 01-14-2021 10:47 AM


Originally Posted by Tim McKnight (Post 6604264)
If you care to look, here are 5 pages capturing a few of the rosettes we have done.

Not to derail the thread, but as alohahris mentioned the history of the rosette, I am curious if the rosette still has any function other than aesthetic at this point in the evolution of guitar construction. I had read that some luthiers feel that it plays a role in the vibration of the top and the air moving out of the sound hole and other's think it detracts. Do you have an opinion, Tim, based on your experience?


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