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'91 Sunburst Binding Discoloration


TwoIron

Question

I have a 1991 Hamer Sunburst (essentially a Studio Custom) in ’59 burst with a cherry back. Here’s the issue. This 1991 Sunburst has an obvious problem with the binding around the body. I’ve heard of Hameritis around neck joints but this is a little different. The binding all the way around the body is turning a distinct reddish color. This reddish hue is also somewhat blotchy. The neck binding seems more or less okay. It’s slightly yellowed due to age, but it looks fine. It’s definitely just the body binding that’s reddish.

 

The body binding also seems to have cracked between the binding itself and the mahogany back. It’s not coming off but the separation is enough to have broken the thin finish. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s a good player, but this binding issue is a funky one. Anyone seem their binding turn red?

Hamer Sunburst.jpg

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Sometimes there's some lacquer on the top of the binding from when the guitar was painted and it is that, not the binding which is aging.
That could account for some of the reddish aging you are seeing. Without a closer look, it's really hard to say.

As for the cracking, we'd probably need to see some photos of that too.

Otherwise, that's a sick-ass top!

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I have a '91 Sunburst as well and the overall finish on my guitar has yellowed substantially. But I really love it. The guitar looks really nicely aged and although you don't/cant see the yellowing anywhere other than on the white binding, I am sure that the yellowing has improved the look of the flamed maple cap. Perhaps this "aging" on my guitar and yours has something to do with the formulation of the finish? I'm not sure what year Hamer switched from nitrocellulose to urelac.

Here's mine and you can see the yellowing.

 

s-l1600 (1).jpg

s-l1600.jpg

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1991 is probably still a nitro-cellulose finish. The discolouration on the body binding can usually be polished away with a mildly abrasive polish as it is surface-only oxidation. Seems a common issue of those late nitro-finishes.

The binding shrinkage will crack the lacquer -- again, this is a normal consequence of aging of the traditional materials.

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That I'm quite certain as others have pointed out is the result of the finish bleeding over time with the nitro application. This is actually pretty common on all old-school finishes. If you look at Gibson R8 & R9 Historic reissues, you'll notice that almost all of the neck binding and body binding have bleed-over fresh from the factory to add to the authentic "aged look" of the guitar.

As for the binding, as others also pointed out, it could be binding shrinkage, also common, or if it is a cold-weather climate the guitar has lived in over its years, if it has been gigged or travelled frequently, if it leaves a 70F building, and enters a car that is 30F, and returns quickly to a 70F environment, repeatedly, this can cause it too, along with finish checking. This happens because the binding, the glue, the finish and the wood all have differing properties in mass, and expand and contract at different paces and extents. As these components repeatedly move independently of each other, this causes the lifting or separation of the binding, and the finish cracks. Nothing to be too worried about. The binding separation can be repaired. The bleeding of the finish is cool. Learn to love that.

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I agree it has it's own unique quality and that's cool. There are a few age cracks in the finish but you have to look for them. I wonder how much more of that will develop on this guitar. 

What was interesting to me was how this is only happening around the body. The neck seems fine. If it was the red stain seeping underneath the finish then you'd think you'd see it there as well. Strange. 

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On 2/26/2018 at 3:44 PM, TwoIron said:

Sorry for the delay. I finally remembered to snap a pic while I was at the house. 

 

Burst.jpg

Definitely related to a nitrocellulose finish and the binding is also celluloid. Neither are real stable substances and the discoloration is probably from the nitric acid breaking in one or both breaking down. 

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My '94 has the same thing. Brown binding, plus it's separating, PLUS Hameritis. I'm not sold on the "old guitars do that" thing. I have a 1935 archtop with a shit-ton on play wear with better binding and lacquer, and have owned several far older guitars that didn't have that. It's a fine guitar but I now just assume any pre-New Hartford era Hamer is going to have finish issues.

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