Gut String Whistling

Edited: November 11, 2017, 7:10 AM · So I just bought a set of Pirastro Passione Solo, which are the first ever gut strings I bought in my life.
After a few hours of playing, I could say I’m a convert!

But I’ve encountered a problem: sometimes, especially in fast string changes in the lower register, there is a whistling sound, similar to the one you can encounter with the E-string, except on the lower strings, mainly the D.
It’s been a few years since I last encoutered this kind of whistling, but I had only experienced it on the E-string. Incidental harmonics.

Is it the rosin (I use Bernardel)? Or is it my bow technique, and now that I’m on gut strings I can’t hide imperfections anymore?
Or is it just typical of gut strings?

Replies (7)

November 11, 2017, 7:04 AM · You can mitigate this somewhat with violin adjustment, but gut takes a little more effort to get started.

I find this is an issue with regular Passiones as well. It lessens a bit after the strings break in, but you'll need to use a more solid bow contact.

November 11, 2017, 9:00 AM · Yes, you have to get used to gut strings, the response is slower too. I made a baroque viola some years ago and had a squeaking problem on the D on the A string, first position. I consulted a baroque player and he said me that we have to learn how to deal with that.
November 11, 2017, 9:19 AM · The only Passione I've used so far is regular A. The other strings on this fiddle are:

E - Goldbrokat medium
D - Eudoxa stiff
G - Eudoxa stiff

No whistling problems. Then, too, different instruments will respond differently to the same string combo. With previous setup, which had Eudoxa A and Oliv stiff D, I didn't get any real whistling, as I recall; but, for some reason, the A sometimes failed to take hold right away when I played double stops on A-D or when I went with the bow from D to A. No such problems with current combo.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the Eudoxa A and Oliv stiff D were incompatible when paired on this particular instrument. Would need to try out yours to get a better idea of what the problem is.

November 11, 2017, 12:05 PM · I started a similar thread some years back. Since then I've learnt to apply pressure through/with my index finger.
Edited: November 11, 2017, 12:34 PM · Bud, I've noticed the exact same requirement is needed--I thought maybe it was just my right hand improving overall, but it's probably also some adaptation to the gut strings as you said.

I've started using gut in the last year (first Passiones, now Olivs, and next I'm going to try Eudoxa), and I can relate to the differences in technique that are required to make them sound good. In general, it seems like it takes a lighter tough with a little more subtlety to play them, but they reward you with more control and color as a result of that care.

I think playing with gut strings has improved my technique, especially in Bach and double stops as you can't just apply more pressure to get around right hand shortcomings--you need to have near perfect bow distribution instead so you can use the right amount of bow and pressure for the situation. I've also found that after a few months you get used to tuning frequently, and can just tune faster as a result so that well-known shortcoming of gut isn't that big of a deal.

November 13, 2017, 2:43 AM · The strings have now settled in, and my bow hand has adapted to the gut, so the problem is gone.

It does seem like gut strings require more contact with the bow.

And Bud, rather than applying pressure through the first finger, I think it is a better idea to spread the weight throughout the hand. And anyway, it’s not so much about pressure as it is about weight.

November 13, 2017, 3:28 AM · Let's save that one for another thread. Glad it's solved. And my problem was solely on the D too.

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