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Oh No, Kittens are Killed for Violin Strings! - the Truth about Catgut

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: October 16, 2014 at 4:16 PM [UTC]

Some say that violin strings are made out of catgut...

In this video I will show you the truth about catgut.

Just to reassure you... violin strings are not made out of the guts of cats. Sissi (starring in the video) is still alive and kicking and I’ve got vegetarian strings on my violin.

Why do a lot of people think that violin strings are made from cat intestines?

The name catgut is confusing. There are two explanations for the mix up.

Catgut is an abbreviation of the word cattle gut. Gut strings are made from sheep or goat intestines, in the past even from horse, mule or donkey intestines.

Otherwise it could be from the word kitgut or kitstring. Kit meant fiddle, not kitten.

Find more information and how to make gut strings on Wikipedia (click here),

These gut strings are still used today by players specialized in authentic performance of baroque music and music from the classical era. They use catgut strings to imitate the sound from the era as good as possible. Some people just use gut strings, because they prefer the sound of gut strings to other type of strings.

You might be wondering... What are modern strings made of?

At the moment there are roughly three types of strings in the market:

  • gut strings (mostly used in authentic performance practice)

  • steel strings (very durable, clear and thin sounding, mostly used in the folk scene on fiddles)

  • synthetic core strings (most popular strings at the moment)

The type of strings depends on the violinist and the violin, so it’s hard to say what strings will suit you best.

Are you relieved by this video? What type of strings do you use? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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