Trying out gut strings- have some questions.

February 8, 2008 at 05:49 AM · Hey everyone, I am really really curious about gut strings especially after reading what other people's experiences have been. I know most people will probably suggest Passione heavy gauge but I wanted to try something cheaper but still good quality.

According to some people on here (Nate and Allen?) gut is actually louder than a lot of synthetics. Namely heavy gauge gut. Somehow it's sort of difficult to believe even after comparing dominants to passione on a friend's Guadagnini.

Anyway, I just want to reconfirm whether I should just order a set of Dlugogecki and what specs. (varnished-though why is there no varnish option for G string why?) what gauge is a good choice coming from Pirazzi? just go for heaviest gauge? And should I even both with the gut E?

so many choices :S

Replies (42)

February 8, 2008 at 06:00 AM · Greetings,

personally I think the covered g string is much better than a plain gut. I woudl also sugegst staying eitehr with Eudoxa or Olive. Maybe the new Passione g astring although I havent seen it.

Yes, plain gut strings can be a lot more resonat than synthetics in some cases and carry further. it does tend to depend on the instrument and how they are being played though.

I think gut e string have the most beautiful sound and some colors taht just cannot be found on gold or whatever. Unfortunately they break very easily and this is not fun at all. I would love to be abole to use one all the time.

Cheers,

buri

February 8, 2008 at 06:03 AM · My favorite combination:

Eudoxa 17 1/4 G

Gamut Academie "Heavy" D

Gamut Academie "Heavy" A

Goldbrokat medium E

February 8, 2008 at 06:37 AM · Same as Oliver, except I slightly prefer a heavy gauge Vision E.

Using a gut E would prolly be a bit too radical a jump for you. It makes the G-A a bit duller. Plus, they don't last very long.

I recommend you go unvarnished unless you have acidic hands.

February 8, 2008 at 06:40 AM · Hi Emmanuel,

I'm very interested to hear your conclusions...what instrument do you play on? I've been considering switching from Pirazzis to gut also, and though Passiones are nice, they're definitely painfully expensive.

Also, are you at IU right now?

February 8, 2008 at 09:17 AM · I agree with all your points Allen except for not getting varnished. I literally eat through plain unvarnished gut :)

There are two common setups with plain gut and wound: Wound gut G, plain gut D&A, and steel E (this is the setup young Erick Friedman, and Jascha Heifetz used). The other setup is using two wound gut strings (G&D), a plain gut A, and a steel E. Both Aaron Rosand and Milstein used this combination.

February 8, 2008 at 12:37 PM · Gut e strings have a tendency to squeak badly in certain weather - mainly humid. At last I have found this confirmed in print - Robin Stowell's The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet mentions this. I have two violins, one strung with plain gut (silver wound Aquila g) and one with Dominants and a Pirastro Gold label e. The gut e for me is unplayable once it decides its really going to go to town on the squeaking, which it does for a few months every year. At such times you cannot argue with it. It wins, totally. I quietly put it away and get out the Dominant violin (which I play on most of the time these days, anyway). Otherwise, gut e's sound very good.

Does anyone know if varnishing will cure the wayward gut e? Or thinner gauges (I use an Aquila 70 gauge e string)? I've tried all sorts of things to lessen squeak during times of bad squeakiness: different bowing pressure, speed, angle, tilt of bow, sounding point, different strategies such as more on the string bowings, etc, different left hand finger pressure, two different types of rosin, even different bows (and violins).

Gut e strings are an enduring mystery to me.

February 8, 2008 at 01:19 PM · Nate, although it's good to at least try to emulate someone like Heifetz or Milstein's string combo, every violin is different and those combinations might not work on a violin that's not a strad.

Something I like to do is try new combinations of strings when I go in for a sound post adjustment. I'm still trying to find the right gut strings. I have Eudoxa GDA, and a gold E but the E is really harsh right now. A gold E never sounded bad with my obligatos though. The possibilities of combinations are endless.

February 8, 2008 at 01:27 PM · John,

I don't really know if this will work, as I don't play outside the studio environment adn so never experience that squeek. However, In some studios that are a bit too dry, when I am using a gut E (I love them for cetain styles) they can get a bit too edgy & hard sounding. When that happenes, I wipe them (top to bottom) with olive oil. This causes a tiny bit of HF loss (bad) but makes them more flexible, ich & sweet.

It might or might not work for you, but since the oil seems to evaporate off in a few days (the HF comes back) it's worth a try.

NOTE: I use un-varnished gut. With varnished, this may make no difference. I dunno...

February 8, 2008 at 01:31 PM · John,

Another suggestion:

Try a soft string from Gamut. Both Aquila & Dlug strings are fairly tightly-wound. This makes them brighter & a little less rich (not necessarily a bad thing) and MAY accentuate your problem.

Talk to Daniel Larsen at Gamut. He probably knows more about gut strings than anyone alive. He can hand-pick a set for you, based on your requirements. (tension varies, even within batches.) I believe he'll even do a custom wind for you if needed, though it's been a while since we talked about that. He's one of those guys who has a ton of knowledge, and loves to share it. Definitely give him a call.

February 8, 2008 at 09:38 PM · You know, I've tried Gamut on my baroque violin, as Nate suggested. Fantastic string-the A string. All the others sounded pinched and raw. I made the switch to oliv d and g, (covered), and dlugolecki a and e (uncovered). Beautiful! If you call Mr. Dlugolecki, get and A and E string, and ask him which gauge he recommends. He will recommend I think the 15 1/2 A and the 12 1/5 E. And, wow are they great!

Good luck though, Mr. Dlugolecki is a pain to work with-very rude guy.

February 8, 2008 at 11:44 PM · One thing to mention Brian, Damian makes his strings out of beef gut which sound very different to sheep gut in my opinion. Gamut makes strings out of sheep gut, they are in my opinion top of the line gut strings, plus their prices are significantly better than Damian's. The Gamut strings come double length also.

February 8, 2008 at 11:59 PM · Hey, maybe that was the difference. Beef gut, hmm....yummy.

But, I didn't mean to put you down, Nate. As a player, you're one of the people I respect most on this forum. It's just that the Dlugolecki strings worked better on my violin.

February 9, 2008 at 01:06 AM · Thanks Allan, I will definitely try what you suggest.

Nate, I didn't realise that about Gamut and Dlugolecki strings. Thank you for the information.

February 9, 2008 at 01:20 AM · "Good luck though, Mr. Dlugolecki is a pain to work with-very rude guy."

How strange. I've bought from him many times and he is very professional. Certainly not rude. Of course I don't waste his time with phone calls. He very nicely replied to my first letter inquiry about strings, and he even types up the receipt in the old way.

I suppose not everyone gets along with everyone!

February 9, 2008 at 01:22 AM · There's a very useful discussion of beef versus sheep gut on one of the tennis racquet stringmaker's websites. It is worth a read. There is a difference in the serosa strcture (the muscles in the intestins--which is what the gut strings are made from).

February 9, 2008 at 01:22 AM · The last time I tried the beef gut I was playing a concert and halfway through I noticed the A string had disappeared. Then I realized during

a long rest I was hungry and had eaten it.

February 9, 2008 at 01:44 AM · Hey, Bilbo. Last time I called him, he got very impatient, and said "If you are not going to order anything and just babble on, please hang up and send me an e-mail".

February 9, 2008 at 01:52 AM · Well, a small businessman selling little tiny things for $10 here and $20 there can get impatient! Perhaps you were babbling :-)

February 9, 2008 at 01:59 AM · Gut strings that I hadn't noticed before:

http://www.liuteria-antica.com/Universale_strings/

http://www.hurdygurdy.com/supplies/strings.htm

--Hurdy Gurdy Strings!

Fiddle players using gut:

http://www.thesession.org/discussions/display/15120

Interesting:

http://www.karlroyviolinbook.com/pdfs/Strings604-6.pdf

February 9, 2008 at 02:07 AM · He was standing there in the middle of three tons of sheep or beef guts, but you were the thing about to make him throw up. That's an accomplishment.

February 9, 2008 at 03:20 AM · Me? Chill, man!

February 9, 2008 at 07:49 AM · quote: 'Good luck though, Mr. Dlugolecki is a pain to work with-very rude guy."

Agreed. He's one of the biggest jerks I've ever dealt with. Sent me the WRONG strings (not what I ordered) and the packages were not even properly labeled. -And when I emailed him THE SAME DAY he refused to take them back, even though i had not installed them, saying they were now "used" Also, some of the technical info he gave me over the phone turned out to be incorrect.

I don't care how good his string might be, he lost my business for life. Daniel Larsen is a great guy, has much more knowledge, and will work with you (if you ask him) HIGHLY recommended.

February 9, 2008 at 08:05 AM · Allan, do you put the olive oil on the strings where the bow goes, between fingerboard and bridge, as well?

February 9, 2008 at 09:50 AM · Yes, I have, and then wiped vigorously with a dry rag. It is theoretically OK, since some sites / players have recommended using olive oil to clean the rosin off of gut strings.

However, I probably won't do this anymore in the future. It does require more rsin to be applied to the bow, and I wonder if ALL the il evaporates. It seems to, but maybe not? Maybe I'll just apply it underneath, in that area. I dunno...

Also, remember that I'm just guessing as far as solving your squeeking problem. I do this to minimize edginess and "squawk" when it's too dry.

February 9, 2008 at 06:36 PM · Since the subject has come up, I'll report that I've been buying gut strings from Dlugolecki since May 2006, and have had no problems. He has always shipped what I wanted promptly, and will cut and tie the end knot if you ask (A & E strings). I had one occasion to phone him, and while he was informative and courteous, he also sounded hard pressed and didn't want to chit-chat, which I can understand (he's obviously got a lot of work to do). Maybe the person with negative experience hit him on a bad day; we all have them.

On durability, I track my usage, and Dlugolecki's varnished gut E-strings (the only string that doesn't last a long time) have outlasted Gamut on my violin. Specifically, over 21 months of use my average is 57 days (Dlugolecki, 8 strings) vs. 26 days (Gamut, 6 strings). Varnished last much longer than unvarnished, thicker gauges longer than thinner (I've now settled on a 13-gauge varnished E as my standard). That's with at least 2 hours/day of playing.

February 9, 2008 at 11:52 PM ·

February 10, 2008 at 02:43 AM · It all depends on your instrument, I think... I have a German violin made 1843 and Eudoxa is the best on it. I hear that Eudoxa sounds rather dull on newer instruments but on old one, it's absolutely rich and amazing! I love gut strings personally, although...is eudoxa considered a true plain gut string? Well, anyway, I don't even have problems with tuning and such...it's always in tune :D

February 10, 2008 at 02:51 AM · I've had Dlugolecki strings and had no problem with them or his service. Quick shipping and easy to deal with. I've gone to Passione though...love these strings.

February 10, 2008 at 02:56 AM · Eudoxa? No. Plain gut is unwound, pure gut.

February 10, 2008 at 02:59 AM · Oops, sorry about that...I was kind of confused and one of the post above said something about Eudoxa...sorry 'bout that...

February 10, 2008 at 03:46 AM · Jonathan, are you using the Passione E, or something else?

February 10, 2008 at 04:49 AM · Indeed, I do use the entire Passione set. These are truly great strings that I hope will stick around for a long time.

February 10, 2008 at 03:37 PM · Jamie Lee,

The reason you were confused is because we were discussing Eudoxa for the G-string only. Unless one is playing Baroque or other period music, it is very unusual to use a pure-gut (I prefer that term to "plain gut") G. That's because they are very thick, and also a bit dull compared to a wound, gut-core G.

So, the "typical" modern set-up is a wound G, pure-gut D & A, and either pure-gut or steel E, depending upon your sound preference.

There are several esoteric wound G's available from Gamut, Aquila, and that other guy (g) but I have only tried their "standard" wound G's. In such comparisons, the Eudoxa is clearly superior, in my strong opinion. Those esoteric G's might be worth experimenting with, though. I also like the sound of a heavy gauge Vision G, depending upon the fiddle. It blends surprisingly well with the pure-gut D & A.

-And again, although I generally prefer the sound of an unvarnished pure-gut E, for the E-string itself, I prefer the way the LOWER strings sound with a heavy gauge steel E installed. The latter gives them a bit more sheen. There must be some sympathetic resonance going on.

February 10, 2008 at 04:21 PM · I see...I really want to try the "plain gut" strings now... :D

February 22, 2008 at 05:30 AM · Hey Everyone! I just received my Gamut strings today and I put the A, D, and G on, but left the Oliv E. After fumbling with the knot tying I'm sure my knots are the worst ever, but so far they are holding. I'm a little concerned about the A knot pulling through the slot of the tailpiece but so far it's holding. If it did pull through, is there a way to prevent that from happening? Maybe something similar to what the G has?

I'll let you know what I think soundwise, and maybe post some audio samples. From my initial playing in (10 minutes at 12:30PM in an apartment complex) I love the grip on the A and D, though they are a little scratchy. And the G just doesn't feel as great as the D/A.

For reference, this is Med+ gauge. The Heavy would probably diminish the scratchiness but let me go to bed and I'll see what happens tomorrow.

February 22, 2008 at 01:28 PM · Scratchiness on gut happens to everyone the first time. gage won't make a difference. You have to change your bowing pressure/speed/contact point and be more precise with your contact point.

February 24, 2008 at 03:23 AM · i have a gut string on my G and i love it. I always use eudoxa (gut and silver) and a G costs about 20 to 21 dollars. i dont know what your budget for strings but that is what i use. Good luck!

March 15, 2008 at 10:53 PM · To add on to what Bill said, gut strings are weird cause up close they sound completely different than in a hall. Up close they can sound sometimes kind of rough but all that is lost 10 - 20 feet away.

April 24, 2008 at 09:26 PM · quote: "Scratchiness on gut happens to everyone the first time. gage won't make a difference. "

Actually, Bilbo, guage does make a difference. Quite substantial,in fact. this was the case with several guages from three different brands, on about 12 violins, and based on examination of controlled recordings.

Please don't pass-along unsubstantiated opinion as fact.

April 24, 2008 at 11:08 PM · Dude, I'm not passing on "unsubstantiated opinion."

I am speaking from my own experience and that of my son, as well as observation of a number of experienced violinists who have tried my fiddle with the gut strings on.

If you have done tests which demonstrated scratchiness dependent on gage, it is still a function of your own idiosyncratic bowing. We all have a customary bowing and changing gage, strings etc requires adjustment.

April 25, 2008 at 02:00 AM · I remember Mr. Rosand played a little of the Walton Concerto on my fiddle last summer with the same setup Heifetz used (wound g, plain gut D&A, and steel Goldbrokat E) which is pretty close to what he uses in the winter (I think he prefers wound D-strings), he hated how thick my strings were. I'd assume he uses a much smaller gauge than I do, but I use a lot more bow pressure than he does so I can't use those thin gauge strings. Thicker gauge strings have more give I have noticed and more bite.

April 25, 2008 at 02:05 AM · I've formerly used really thick gauge on my violin strung with gut, which I can only use in the middle of the year here. I must admit I've started to wonder at the wisdom of this. I might try thinner gauge again. I know many people here don't use gut e's but I do on this violin (for fun, also for tone development practice). I use the dominant string violin when the weather creates problems for my gut strings.

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