Calling all gut string users!

July 8, 2008 at 05:22 PM · I was going to just resurrect the Eudoxa, Oliv, Passione thread, but I don't want to. So...

What's your GUT core string setup? I'm especially curious about Passione, Oliv, and Eudoxa. Too bad the first 2 are so darned expensive...

Anyway, what's your beloved gut setup? Why do you like it? What E string do you use? I notice far fewer mentions of the Gold Label E amongst gut posters, is there a reason?

BTW This is not a place for synthetic-only users to post why they love their strings...

A quote from a previous thread, "We all know nothing beats a gut!" =)

Thanks, everyone.

Replies (27)

July 8, 2008 at 05:35 PM · Eudoxa throughout. Love the lower 3 (soft, round sound), hate the E (whistler of death). I'm picking up a sample of Es tonight, will report on what I prefer.

July 8, 2008 at 05:31 PM · I've tried only once, a set of cheap Chorda. A naked gut strings set.

The respond was horrible, I can barely dig some notes out of it, not because it's bad, I'm not used to the respond of it. The sound was OK, different from synthetic strings.

The thing that surprised me was the great impact on my violin even I remove it after playing for 2 weeks! Even though I strung up dominants after removing the chorda, the violin still respond like it was strung up with gut strings!

It was just me though. I've yet to convince myself to try those with wound like eudoxa but I think I'm way more happy with synthetic strings. ;)

July 8, 2008 at 06:02 PM · Thanks responders!

Casey, what a bizarre phenomenon! Cool, though!

July 8, 2008 at 06:03 PM · I don't know what happened to my violin ha! It seems to recover after playing it for few more weeks.

It was a good experience, at least I know how a gut string feels like. I think in terms of beauty of sound, gut strings are still above synthetic. But you know, just like digital photographing versus films...

But I'm not sure if guts with wound will have much better respond?

July 8, 2008 at 06:14 PM · I use a gut core wound G, sometimes Eudoxa, sometimes Dlugolecki. I use "naked" varnished D, a, e by either Dlugolecki or Daniel Larsen. Sometimes I use a steel E (Jargar medium). I like hte sound of the gut e better most of the time--it balances to the a' better.

I haven't had anything else on my fiddle for a couple years.

July 8, 2008 at 06:35 PM · I use an oliv D and G, but an evah pirazzi A. I have been playing with my E for a while, but right now its a gold label.

I had an oliv A for a while, it was my first gut string ever, and I liked the tone once I got use to the different response, but it never stablised, I guess because my hand heated it enough as I played that it continually stretched. My D&G however are amazing, I have been itching to try other guts, maybe passiones next... because it's true, nothing beats a gut core. :)

July 8, 2008 at 06:39 PM · Eudoxa is the king of gut (and Passione reigns as queen...not inferior mind you, just different).

For anyone wanting to give gut a try, Eudoxa offers the finest experience, but for anyone wanting to turn to gut for keeps (from synthetic), you might realize a more acceptable result with Passione (more similar, less problematic).

Also, after a recent trip to the luthier, I switched to a Gold Label E from my usual Goldbrokat E (both medium gauge).

July 8, 2008 at 07:24 PM · Passione ADG and, for now, a Tzigane E

July 8, 2008 at 11:40 PM · Larson Academie D, A, E.

A cost saving tip from my luthier, since gut strings are supplied in double lengths and e-strings often break before losing their tone: wind the entire double length E string on the peg, when the string breaks dispense string from peg, make a new knot, and carry on.

July 9, 2008 at 01:40 AM · Bought a late 19th cent German fiddle that had been converted to baroque config. It came strung with Chorda, which were horribly scratchy under the ear.

Took it to a luthier, who moved the soundpost and strung it with Eudoxas. !00% improvement.

We also like Passione a lot. AT the moment they're on 2 ebay violins, and they both are doing very well with them. (Medium; have yet to try a set of the heavies).

July 9, 2008 at 03:26 PM · Also if everyone could include in their post what sort of playing they do, what strings they've tried... It'd be really helpful, thanks!

July 9, 2008 at 04:12 PM · I've been playing on passiones with an oliv gold e (gorgeous and quite pitch-stable), but I just bought a new instrument, which is much darker and sweeter than my old instrument, so I'll be experimenting for a while until I find something that suits it. I just took out my old instrument for an outdoor gig last week, and learned to my chagrin just how terrible the consequences of going a day without tuning a set of gut strings...even the fairly stable passiones....

I'm thinking I may try out a synthetic g (obligato maybe) with an oliv (ever my favorite, though I generally avoid them in the summer, because of the humidity) e, a, and d. Has anyone ever tried obligatos with olivs? Did they blend well?

July 9, 2008 at 04:43 PM · Follow-on: did not have a lot of time last night, so only tried 2 E strings to match the 3 Eudoxas.

(original) Eudoxa E: Nice round sound that matches well the gut G-D-A. Whistles like mad.

Passione E: Very bright and loud, really surprised me at first try. Does not blend well with the Eudoxas. Resists whistling well. Felt very "skinny" under the fingers, either more tension or smaller diameter than Eudoxa.

Gold Label: Very similar sound to Eudoxa E, well matched to the other strings. Not a bad whistler. Feels like home

Still to try: Goldbrokat, Golden Spiral, Hill.

July 10, 2008 at 02:39 AM · I agree with Robert that the Passione E, even the heavy gauge, feels "skinny" under the finger - it sounded good on my violin along with the heavy G, D and A, but I wanted a thicker feel so went back to the Jargar forte E.

July 10, 2008 at 02:54 AM · Passiones.

Heavy E

13 1/2 A

13 3/4 D

16 3/4 G

I'd do Heavy/14/14/17-but too pricey.

Does the bill for it all with my fiddle. Sibelius, Tchaik, Ysaye, Sarasate, Bach...etc.

The much lighter finger action also helps with agility, tho-on my end I need a good strong bow stick to get the strings moving.

July 10, 2008 at 08:46 PM · Oliv Stiff G 16

Oliv Silver D 14

Oliv A 13 3/4 or 14

Goldbrokat Medium E

I switch the A for a Passione if it's going to be extra humid, which is a compromise of sorts but it still sounds better than any of the alternatives (Eudoxa A also does fine.)

I use the silver D on this instrument (Vuillaume 1857) as the aluminum takes a lot more effort to get going than the G or A--it was a little more difficult to play evenly while very quiet. However, my old instrument hated the Oliv's, loved Eudoxas, with thicker guages and was much better with the aluminum D. Every instrument is different! Best to mess around with guages at first--if you play on something less than optimal for a month or two, it can't possibly hurt that much...good practice for the inevitable situation where the weather changes drastically and your instrument just doesn't respond the way it normally does.

The Goldbrokat E is cheap and doesn't mess with the sound of the lower three strings that much. I've tried a bunch...the differences are fairly minute among the normally recommended ones. Oliv gold E might have sounded a little more colourful but at 15 bucks a pop, that's a no.

I've found going a 1/4 step thinner in guage can help when it gets especially humid and the response starts slowing down--as I understand it, this is because the gut is very hygroscopic and becomes heavier with high humidity, and therefore speaks later.

I use this setup for everything I do (chamber music, gigs, recitals, orchestra) but it isn't necessarily unusual to have different strings for different purposes. I've actually met a performer who keep whole sets of worked-in wound and plain gut strings for different uses (a concerto set, a chamber music set, a set for Mahler 4 solo, a set for those organs that tune to 465...etc.)

July 16, 2008 at 12:56 AM · In my opinion, Passione sounds more like synthetic than gut. If you want to know the sound of gut strings, Eudoxa is a good choice. They tend to unwind often though.

July 19, 2008 at 10:14 PM · I have a Testore violin and use G, D Passione, A Warchal Karneol and E Jargar Forte. I tried quite a lot of strings. Eudoxa did not have enough tension and was too dull for my violin, oliv was not a solution. With Passione I get a rich luminous sound. The A was good also, but i had some nasal sounds in first position, so i switched to Warchal, and the Jargar Forte is perhaps not the finest sound, but very powerful and round. I used it also in combination with Vision (normal, not Titanium).

In general I think many violins don't support too much tension and with gut you have more string flexibility. It really depends on the instrument.

July 20, 2008 at 02:58 AM · Presumably, the string engineers make strings for an overal tonal effect.

I haven't tried gut strings yet (no retailer here), but have played with synthetic and metal. In mixing strings, the result for me has been much less than that of keeping a set together. So, when I read some players mixing gut, synth, steel, this makes me wonder about how uniform string resonse or tone can be effected. I start to wonder what is the core weakness: player? string? violin?

I have found string action and tone to be most consistent when I keep the set together (eg Dom's) . Steel E does give a different action on my violin, but is something I must accept as I have no alternatives. True, the Dom E is a tad shrill, and the Jargar gives a better sound. But this is a switch within the same group (intra), not a switch between the group (inter) (eg gut to metal).

What do others say about mixing gut, synth, steel?

July 20, 2008 at 12:58 PM · Historically, mixing up string types is not new:

From a post by Christian Vachon:

David Oistrakh : Eudoxa D and G, Prim Steel A (or Chromecore) and a Prim E.

* On a historical note here, the first person to use and recommend the use of a steel A with two wound gut core lower strings was Carl Flesch.

Sure that nowadays we have more possibilities to find a balanced setup.

The new Passione strings are not pure gut, and seems already a compromise between gut and synthetic from the tension point of view, stability, resonance and colors.

On the other hand Warchal Karnoeol are already nearer to modern gut strings for sound and tension. They are highly resonant string with lots of ring to it and a wide range of colours and modulation.

This explains my personal choice.

Today there isn't any more this big barrier between synthetic and gut.

... as long as you don't mix up pure gut strings and Evahs :)

October 1, 2008 at 09:45 PM · Here is my current string setup:

Kaplan Golden Spiral Solo G (16 Gauge), D (Aluminum 17 Gauge), A (13.5 Gauge), and Goldbrokat E (medium).

Since I used Oliv more than 15 years ago, I couldn't offer any comparison. I like my current setup: Sound is rich and complex. Projection is very good.

Price: US$36 (Does this quality as a "poor-man" gut strings?)

October 1, 2008 at 08:35 PM · Pirastro Gold all over. It was a relief from the synthetics I had been using.

October 1, 2008 at 08:40 PM · Pirastro Oliv. I use Oliv on all 4 strings, and the G string is the most expensive, and I would say it's worth it. The only drawback is when you put a gut string on, it doesnt settle for a few days. (except for the E string). They are expensive, but worth it. Order from johnson string. The strings are normally $180, but the price is discounted by half. If you buy from a music store, they'll charge you full price, or close to it.

I do not like the Passione, it doesnt work on my violin and the sound isn't what I desire.

With Oliv, the tone is very good, and it's not rough, I would say it's very nice, and if you play in an orchestra you can tell the difference from everyone else immediately.

October 1, 2008 at 08:43 PM · Oh and BTW, I've noticed on many G strings on many violins, the tone can get rough in playing a piece like the beggining of Tzigane. The oliv G is great in preventing this

October 1, 2008 at 09:42 PM · Hi all,

Just chiming in with one setup.

Dlugolecki silver g (18), d 21 1/4 TSPE, a 16, and a Eudoxa e (26pm) on a modernish (made in 1929) violin.

The strings were excellent right away, and really opened up the sound on the violin, but the pitch stabilization took a long time - to be fair the weather has been unstable here in that same period. It did take over two weeks for them to be stable when played.

Now that they've stabilized, they still sound really good.

October 2, 2008 at 12:16 AM · Eudoxa A-D-G + Gold Label E here -- on an 1883 German violin.

I really like this setup because of the response it brings out in the instrument. The combination exploits the violin's dark tone -- especially on D-G -- while the tones on A fit in well.

The Gold Label E gives the needed brightness and power in the upper register -- but still blends well with the tone of the other three strings.

I have two other older instruments. Both lend themselves well to Eudoxas; but I find that, on the 1921 French instrument, Dominants, a synthetic string type, do more to exploit the brightness of the upper register -- without compromising the low tones.

About the other strings we've tried -- I know I've had experience with Kaplan Gold Spiral and Vision Titaniums. The Titaniums were already installed on several instruments I had during a comparison tryout at home a few years back. There may be other types I've used -- not sure which.

You asked what kind of playing we do. Solo and chamber are my areas of interest -- from Baroque through early 20th century. I also do a lot of improvising -- weaving my own cadenzas and fantasias from old ├ętudes -- sort of the way Josh Bell makes his own cadenzas for solo repertoire pieces. I could spend a whole day on these inventions -- and, just like Josh, I need to find time to write mine down.

October 2, 2008 at 01:25 AM · I have always loved Eudoxa strings, and still do, but Passione strings are so darn stable and sound so darn good that I cannot see using anything else. Over the last two weeks here in Minnesota, USA we've had everything from 84 degrees F and rain to 40 degrees F and dry as a bone, and I've not had to do a single darn thing to the tuning of my violin, other than to bring the E in tune with the A...no kidding!!! Seriously, they're so stable it is scary.

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