In the first couple months of 2012 I had been coming to the close of a special guitar restoration. This one-of-a-kind D'Aquisto Excel-12 is really one-of-its-kind built in the later years of Jimmy's Career. Like too many of his instruments poor quality celluloid bindings deteriorated within a short time and began to disintegrate. When celluloid breaks down the chemicals crystallize and release the by-product Ammonia, this gas rapidly oxidizes the wood in affected areas, leaving terrible irregular scars drifting into the wood through the end grain of the binding channel.
There are two options to correct this inherent flaw, and you should because this issue will only accelerate as the plastic deterioration spreads. After all (including fingerboard and headstock) defective bindings were removed we considered replacing with new celluloid Nitrate or modern ABS substitute. The far better second option, which both the owner and I agreed on, was to bend wood binding and purfling for this unique instrument. The new wood bindings I chose to use were materials Jimmy would have had a large supply of at his shop, Ebony and domestic figured maple. I followed the same binding scheme, w/b/w/b/ purfling in .020" laminations and the outermost binding layer at approximately .093" with a .020" black lamination between it and the sides. Once all the trim was all glued the European woods were treated to reduce the visual oxidation. Then, the new slightly concealing sunburst finish was applied.
This Excel was built in 1990, five years before James D'Aqustio passed. It was at this time that he preferred to use wood trim on his guitars, why this one was bound in plastic is beyond me. Working on this restoration I thought of how this Excel-12-string will reflect its maker in years to come, and how happy it made me to restore this instrument.