Binding of full scores (coil? wire-o? comb? &c)

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David Ward
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Binding of full scores (coil? wire-o? comb? &c)

Post by David Ward »

I've just had a B4 full score bound with a plastic coil (see the picture). I'd previously had such scores with wire binding of the sort in which the wires are in pairs through small almost square holes (I think it's named ‘wire-o binding’, but I'm not sure), and in the past I've had many scores and parts with plastic comb bindings.

Plastic combs disintegrate after a while, wear the paper and make a fair bit of noise during page turns.

Wire-o (or whatever it is called) is much better, but can easily be bent out of shape, making page-turning awkward. Also the squarish holes in the paper can begin to tear after a while.

The small round holes for plastic coil bindings seem potentially more durable. Also the coils seem less likely to lose their shape than other related bindings. The possible disadvantage might be with parts & vocal scores placed on a steeply tilted stand as, when the score is open, the right hand pages are 2–3 mm higher than the left hand ones, which could make the score a little less stable on the stand when turning. This doesn't seem likely to be a problem with a full score, which is less often on such a steep stand. Page turns seem to be very close to silent with this binding, and there is no tendency for a page to want to turn back of its own accord (as with many forms of stitched binding).

I first encountered this type of binding when I bought a score of Nielsen's 6th Symphony from Wilhelm Hansen a few years ago. I've since discovered than the librarians and music staff of several opera companies make considerable (and likely rather tough) use of this type of binding.

Do people on this forum have opinions and/or practical experience they might like to share of different binding techniques?
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Re: Binding of full scores (coil? wire-o? comb? &c)

Post by OCTO »

Yes, my printing service uses this option; and since they print only music, and they print for Schott, Peters, Boosey, I think it is the standardised way for "fat" scorer or big formats. For all other purposes the saddle stitch is used as the most preferable binding type.

I think that quality of the paper is more important than of the spiral.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Binding of full scores (coil? wire-o? comb? &c)

Post by John Ruggero »

I own two small binding machines: one for comb binding and one for coil binding of the type shown in the OP. The coil binding machine, an all-metal precision machine that is a work of art in itself, is made by CoilMac. I have used these machines constantly for many years and they have paid for themselves many times over. I think that every musician should own one or both of these relatively inexpensive machines.

I have used plastic comb bindings for many years for concert situations and these scores still hold up, because I use the double page system I previously mentioned: print single sided on 20 pound paper and lightly glue the pages back to back on the outside edge only, which creates a page that will never break through.

I use coil binding on music I publish that cannot be saddle stitched because of length. It works very well for the reasons David stated: it remains open on a music stand and is silent when turned.
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Re: Binding of full scores (coil? wire-o? comb? &c)

Post by DatOrganistTho »

I think, to tag on to @OCTO, that it is important to make sure that the weight of the paper is more significant, and that the finish is also not rough.

Most printer papers are inadequate and substantially underwhelming for these kinds of tasks. A 60 gsm paper weight should be at the BOTTOM of the ladder in terms of starting quality, with a satin/smooth white finish. Some printers only stock 80-100 gsm. the 20-24 lb paper you get from fedex/kinkos is just not cutting it.

Also, I think it is really important that the coil be done properly. Some finishers head off the top and bottom of the coiling the wrong way, and it can cause page interference when turning or storing.
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