How to remove bindings from thick music scores for scanning

Posted: October 23, 2012 in iPad, scanning, sheet music, tablet

I’d like to get more of my scores, song anthologies, and music textbooks digitized and imported into my iPad.  So last week, I took a box of my scores and books to a local copy shop to have the bindings sliced off, so that I can feed the pages into my sheet-feed scanner.

All print shops have equipment that can slice off book spines, but surprisingly, not all shops are willing to perform this service for you.  I tried FedEx Office as well as a local independent copy shop called copyamerica, and both declined to do this, citing some fishy-sounding excuses about past customer complaints.  Luckily, another independent shop that’s local to me here in Silicon Valley, Copy Factory, was able to do this for me – they charged $15 for this box full of books.

Once I’m done scanning, I will probably take the books back to Copy Factory to re-bind them with a comb binding take the textbooks back to Copy Factory to re-bind them with a coil or comb binding, and hole-punch the scores and put them in a three-ring binder (per pianists’ recommendations in the comment section of this post).  As a bonus, the comb binding or three-ring binder will allow them to lie flat on a piano rack or music stand.

Credit: FedEx Office

If your scores are not too thick and you have the time and patience, you may be able to slice off the bindings yourself.  For a score that’s just a few pages, a guillotine paper cutter from an office supply store works fine, as documented at the Technology in Music Education blog.  For a thicker book, you can grab a razor blade, box cutter, or Exacto knife and have at it, one page at a time.  Admittedly it’s tedious and the cuts are quite a bit messier – I wouldn’t do this with my nice scores; I’ve only done this with low-value items.  But hey, it’s a cheap method and might get the job done when no other means are available.

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  1. Love the idea of cutting the bindings to scan the scores, but as a pianist, I hate those comb binders. They work really well for about a week, and then the edges of the paper inside the comb start to catch and get twisted and then they become almost impossible to turn, plus if a page falls out (because I yank too hard on it 🙂 ) there’s no way to reinsert it without taking the entire score apart again. I would put the original it in a 3-hole binder. It will still stay open, you can reinforce the holes if you need to and you can copy pages and put them in if one of the pages falls out.

  2. Suzanne says:

    I’m more partial to the coil bindings – they stand up to page turning a lot easier (if I’m not using my iPad). I’ve had a number of volumes done at Kinko’s (pre FedEx) and more recently at both Staples and Office Depot.

    • Tech4Singers says:

      Thanks for the tips, Suzanne! I might go with the coil or comb binding for textbooks and scores that only I will use, and three-ring binder for scores I might take to a pianist.

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