I am somewhat new to the violin, being some 6 months into the process of learning the instrument, and I have a question. How do I go about getting into gut? I began with Helicore strings as they were the set that was handed to me by my luthier when I bought my first set of strings, and the limitations of such strings have become pretty apparent. Actually, they sound alright on my darker-sounding violin, but I find that they do have limitations and I have been DESPERATE to try gut strings. I love the tone and the character of gut. When I listen to Nathan Milstein play Bach on his violin, I am taken by the rich texture of sound emanating forth. Of course, I understand that he was first of all a supremely masterful violinist, and that he was playing a nearly 300 year-old Stradivari instrument, but of course the gut strings he chose must have contributed much to his sound as well.
For some reason everyone I speak with concerning strings seems to be trying to steer me away from the use of gut strings, which I presume to be due to the fact that I am a beginner. However, I really want to give gut a try and see no reason why I as a beginner should shy away from gut. Yes, I know there will be more tuning issues, and that some of the strings may not last as long (the A seeming to be the one that goes first and most often, at least when not using a gut E as well). However, I simply do not know where to start. The setup I am contemplating is a gold-plated steel E (such as a Thomastik gold-plated E, the one I currently play), an unwound A and D and a wound G. I had thought that I should also get varnished gut strings as the climate in which I live does vary with respect to humidity, especially this time of year. I have also thought of getting a heavy-gauge set, one that comes as close as possible to the tension of the set I play now (although I realize that gut will not have the same tension as the medium tension Helicore set I currently use). Another reason I have thought of trying to get a set of high-tension gut is that I’d rather not find my journey into gut resulting in work needing to be done to the setup of the instrument, such as to the soundpost and bridge. I also like being able to apply more bow pressure now and then, and when close to the bridge the Helicore set I now play lets me dig in good when I want, all the while holding true. Of course, there is a fine line!
Anyone have any suggestions to a gut-crazed beginner? Please let me know if you can. In my mind, more beginners should spend some time with gut. It seems that all but the advanced and very serious are steered clear of the opportunity to use gut, as if to say “Why on earth would you want to do that? Gut is not a beginners string!”
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