Can pirazzis sound like gut?

February 3, 2009 at 05:31 AM ·


Just a little fast (well I will really try)question.   By reading the discussions and hear the violinists talk in general, I can see that the Pirazzis are often considered as loud strings very bright and very very far from the warmth of gut.  I think Pirazzis are the ultimate example of the contrary of gut strings! I am a fan of these not to bright sounds with a lot of warmth.  For these reasons, I have always used obligatos in the past. But since I got my new violin (Guarneri modal that is naturally dark, powerful, easy to play with a signing tone), I have put Pirazzis on. I was curious to try them once and weirdly, I think they fit very well on my instrument.  An exception, I hate the E pirazzi (which I find is the horrible string of the set, on my violin) so I put a tonica E to be sure to have a true gut E string sound.  The open strings are maybe slightly weird but once the fingers are on and play, I can't believe it's Pirazzis. And it seems to me that if the sound is so good with fingers on, I should keep them. Still today, I wonderded if Pirazzi was really able to give me a gut sound (knowing its reputation) so I turned on a recording of my favorite idol (gut period with lovely gut sound) and played the poor little parts I was able to do just after (when back and fourth between the recording and me) and like always, came to the conclusion that my violin sounds like gut!  (maybe just the open strings are slightly brighter but I didn't see that difference with the open strings on the recording and I really insisted on these).  I often do tests with obligatos but haven't stop playing with pirazzis and tonica E yet. 

Do some people here have violins that take pirazzis well ennough to atually sound like gut? Am I completely crazy to think that pirazzi can sound like gut? In general, I have a good ear but...  I will definitivly listen more carefully when my teacher plays my violin.  I love to ear my violin under other persons hands.  It's good to ear it from "outside".  If you have any other experiences or thoughts on pirazzis (good or bad), it is always interesting even if I know that each instrument and player has its own unique sound etc...



Replies (44)

February 3, 2009 at 06:14 AM ·

I tried Pirazzis for about a year and I did not really care for them at all.  Like you I prefer a darker, warmer sound.  But sound aside, they have completely different action from gut or synthetic gut.  IMHO, you can't compare the two.

February 3, 2009 at 01:01 PM ·


In my estimation, Pirazzis do not sound like wound-gut strings or even come close.  However, there are some tiny characteristics that can ressemble very high-gauge plain gut strings which some players of the past used to use, but the feeling under the finger and bow is totally different in my experience.

That said, Pirazzis do seem to work quite well on del Gésu model violins in my experience (at least, those of my students that had such model violins).  The sound that you are hearing may come from the fact that they create a proper balance of tension on your violin and bring out qualities that give it a different sound and feel.  Different violins react to different balances and finding an equilibrium is actually quite important.

In the end, it's all about making your or any instrument sound best, and if these strings are good on your instrument, than I am very happy for you.


P.S. no steel E sounds, feels anything like a gut E, and the transition to the steel E involved quite a fuss back at the beginning/first-half of the 20th century.

February 3, 2009 at 02:48 PM ·


While we have you here, does Pirazzis make good strings for students who are learning to bow and develop their sound? We have a violin that is new to us. It came with Pirazzis. I have a feeling the violin needs high tension strings.  We had dominants for a while. The sound was not as good as Pirazzis. We use thin Pirazzis. With thick gauge, my daughter's bow was getting crooked. She doesn't dig in and has a strong but flexible bow. We are happy with the sound but I have to wonder at times if Pirazzis make good learning strings. Thank you.

February 3, 2009 at 03:33 PM ·

Anne- Marie - Evahs tend to be quite bright.  Of course, it is difficult to predict how they will sound on any particular violin, since different strings sound different on different violins.   The likelihood is that they will not sound like gut.  You might want to go to your luthier with your question.  S/he can hear your violin with what you have on it and make a recommendation about which synthetics might sound most like gut on your violin.  Good luck!

February 3, 2009 at 09:31 PM ·

How do I put this?  I've never been satisfied with any violin I've played that has Evahs on it.  I mean "just" "satisfied".  Every fiddle I've come across with Evahs have far too tiny a color range.  The only real winning point of Evahs is that they sound loud.  Under the ear, out in the house, same. Who knows for what reason, but just about everyone I've known goes through a phase with Evahs during undergrad, where they think they are the best thing since sliced bread...and then....well....  In any case, of course YMMV, IMHO.


I've never hear Evahs sound anything resembling gut.  It really isn't possible, as gut are low tension, Evahs are high tension.

February 3, 2009 at 10:24 PM ·


I agree with Marc on this.

I also have seen a lot of young children recently being advised to and changing to Evahs and can discen det5rtimental chyanges in approach to bowing. This is a slightly harde rstring to play and I don`t like seeing children learning to press on them. 



February 3, 2009 at 11:35 PM ·

Or is the question can Gut sound like Pirazzi's o.o

Tally ho

February 4, 2009 at 12:52 AM ·

The question was seriously, can they sound like gut. I was going back and fourth between the recording as I repeat of a "gut" violinist and I (I do not talk of the quality of the playing but about the basic sound of the instrument) sounded the same. Quite weird I know. I hate to admit that my Evahs sound close to gut since I no that it should be quite impossible. That's it, if they really sound like gut, should I keep them or definitivly try real gut?  By the way, what is the ultimate gut strings for gut lovers?  Is it Eudoxas? (I will ask questions to my maker and teacher for sure but in general they say I hear the sound issues well and I know that they don't say this to say the same since they tell me if I'm wrong in many situations).  

Thanks a lot! Yes I am complexed to use 3 out of four Evah's and even more complexed by the fact I really think they sound like gut (I don't know why) and I do so often these stupid tests with recordings to convince me that I'm not crazy and that it is still true?  I guess I will still experiment!



February 4, 2009 at 01:07 AM ·


I htink the only criteria should be whether or not you like them! 

By far the best wound gut I have used on my violin is the Passione but I think the Oliv G might be worth using as an altenrative in many cases. The Oliv a has often seemed ot cuase problems of not styaing in tune for some reason so some players have used Eudoxa and some otehr kind of a.  The pure gut sound is very distinctive and complex.  I don`t hnk it can be cnfused with synthetics as a rule but a big part may well be played by the kidn of recording which might filter out some apsect of the sound.  I leave it to the experts to explain if that is possible or hw it might work.Trying purer gut is  worthwhile experiment for a violin nerd. It does require quite a big shift in bowing,  especilly moving from Evahs for example.  The gut e has the most dorable sound you can imagine and i think its significane in temrs of repertire is actually worth a moments refelction.

What I mean by this is that thre are certan passages in the orchestral reperoire (and chamber) by cmposer who clealry understood the violin very well (indeed played) which are curiously akward and unviolnistic.   Dvorak springs to mind.  It becomes a little clearer why this might be if one remembers that in the past there was abolsutely no reason t avoid open e. It sounded adequately mellow and the use of it made certain passages much more `stringy` when used.

I tried plain gut e for a timebut after 6 broke in a week I gave up.  I understand it used to be failry normal in ye olde recitals for one o break and the violinist to just wander off. Stick a new one on and go from bar 63.....



February 4, 2009 at 01:09 AM ·

I have a Guarneri model violin also. Evah's don't sound bad but just really brighten things up and increased the volume alot on my violin. To me I dunno how they would ever sound like gut. Response, feel and playing on the string are different from say Passione, Oliv, Eudoxa. The synthetic string that is close to gut IMO is Obligato. Nothing beats the real warmth of gut.

February 4, 2009 at 01:36 AM ·

Would gauge make much difference? If medium passione sounded muffled, would thin passione improve the tone? If the violin takes to high tension, would that rule out gut strings? 

February 4, 2009 at 01:27 AM ·

I've had a Parazzi set on since around Christmas time... And... I MISS MY OLIVS!!!!

Pirazzi's sound execellent on others, and not so good on violins like mine. The E string tone is pretty horrible. I love the sound of the Oliv E's though. So pure!!!

I'm going to need to have these on til about 2 weeks before my school solo recital. Then I'll switch back to Oliv. Maybe I'll try Obligoto next?

February 4, 2009 at 02:32 AM ·


obligoto meaning if Midori is in town you had better go and hear her?



February 4, 2009 at 03:03 AM ·

Oops... Obligato?

February 4, 2009 at 03:07 AM ·

Don't you mean Mojito? I think it does include midori, but it also has rum, triple sec, lime, and tomato paste.

February 4, 2009 at 01:41 PM ·


My violin is going to be adjusted today and I decided to switch to Obligatos for now since I have loved these in the past and want to hear them again, then I want to do further experiment with Oliv, Eudoxa and Passione.  What about the Warchals that everyone talk about, are they gut strings?  And for the Passione everyone talks about do you mean the new gut core brand? Are all these strings not to bright like I like them? Are dominants considered gut or core?

I can not say the Pirrazis don't work but like Buri mentionned, maybe it was the recording or maybe it shows that I really have a dark instrument that can still sound pretty dark with evahs? But I really want to see if real gut are better.  I will be more careful to my bowing too, since it is suppose to be different. 


Thanks again!


February 4, 2009 at 09:04 PM ·

Warchals aren't gut strings. They are sythetic and sound pretty good. I like the brilliant vintage since they lower tension and sound the same as the regular ones. Passiones are like my favorite strings now next to Oliv, Evah's and Obligato's. [all heavy gauge] Passiones are full and warm sound to me and lots of volume.

February 4, 2009 at 09:29 PM ·

Anna-Marie: I can't say enough good things about the Passiones, in fact on another post a few months ago Buri backed me up on them! I hope that they work out for you, they seem to be the closest to the violin string verssion of the philosopher's stone. (ok, maybe noth that good. :) They are a fabulous string!!!!!!)

February 4, 2009 at 10:17 PM ·


>And for the Passione everyone talks about do you mean the new gut core brand? Are all these strings not to bright like I like them? Are dominants considered gut or core?

Actually Passione are not sooo new anymore.   To be absolutely clear on defintion,  there are three strings:

Plain gut:   Dlugolecki et al. Heifetz /Milstein used as two middle strings much of the time.  Not so common among todays players.

Wound gut:   Eudoxa,  Oliv,  Passione etc.  The core is gut.

Synthetic core:  Dominant,  Evah,  Obligato,  Warchal.

The cor eof the last group varies.   Dominant is often regarded as the stand point for experimentation.   Pretty good on most instruments.  Warchal make very good strings which,  in my opinion, come somewhat closer to wound gut in complexity and sensitivity than the otehr synthetics.




February 4, 2009 at 10:42 PM ·

Ann Marie:

Evahs sound nasty on my violin. Too loud, and very bright.

But , I'm with Scott on the Mojitos, they are nice!




February 5, 2009 at 09:50 PM ·

FINALLY , I've tried real gut strings for the first time of my life! 

Instead of Obligatos, I decided with help of my maker to put Eudoxas on G and D, Obligato on A (since Eudoxa A's have a really bad reputation why?) and a E that matches very well (funny name).  She will receive Passiones soon and will tell me.

Here are my first impressions (yes, I can hear you laugh!)

- What the... is this???????????????

-Can people REALLY play with these? Are they crazy? They (strings)are so stuburn lol! 

- the response is so slow and you can not allow yourself the slightest error! Otherwise you sound like A BIG airplane crash. (Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

- you have to be 1000x more relaxed than with synthetic strings because otherwise, these strings sound dull and power 0.


I really love the sound!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, I still think that the Pirazzis on my instrument were surprisely close but definitivly not in open strings and for the subtile "colors" in the sound.

These strings could be so expressive when mastered that I really want to give them a fair try!

OVERALL,  even if I have the impression (for now) to be shiped in the Third World (with ancient strigs), I am sure it can be very very paying in the future because I will be froced to play more accurately with the bow, to do wider and tension free vibratos in order to make respond these stubburn strings, to be absoluntly relaxed and this does NOT forgive cold hands so I will have to find a way to definitivly solve this problem! Yes I think when we talk about violinists beeing like athletes, I would say: and 10 times more if they play with gut strings!  But I am convinced it WORTHS the try and if ever fore some reason, I can not take them, at least I will play better when I will go back to synthetic (with slightly less coulours I know :(  I really recognise the warm sound of many great masters of the past in these strings (and those who still take them today). 

I hope my adapting process will be better everyday and I do understand that for many young prodigies that want to always play the top things in complexity, the need of playing on synthetic strings is present (If I had a children, I think I would start them on syntetic strings (not Pirazzis, too hard on the finger tips!)  to not torture them in their early learning process, so they can do technical things will = chances with the other kids). Are gut strings the reason why prodigies of yesterday took more years than today to "come out" but were more "mature" when they came out? Maybe...  But I think it is benifical for a grown up person of all level that wants a specific sound to try the gut strings amongst others.  Especially if your musical developement doesn't need to be quick.  It takes time to adapt but already in one day, I am better than yesterday, I just have to try and see!

What a journey begining! Ouf! Anxious to try the passiones too.


February 5, 2009 at 10:42 PM ·


Nice too hear how you find gut strings. Another combination to try is changing the A string to plain gut. The sound would be extraordinary and very powerful. It even wakes up the two lower strings. If you decide to try plain gut I'd recommend you go for the heavy+ gauge. 

February 5, 2009 at 10:56 PM ·

Thanks Ausar! For my information, does plain gut means with no metal around to "wrap" the string?  That's weird but if it works...



February 5, 2009 at 11:48 PM · It is how strings used to be until only 50 years ago or so, Anne. ;>) Gut core are often slow to respond at first. They also require a *much* lighter touch of the hand, and much lighter bow technique. Keep plain gut (especially) dry, and be careful about quickly wiping off hand sweat from the fingerboard/strings-as this will deteriorate the gut.

February 6, 2009 at 01:31 AM ·

Or some people use 2 wound Gut strings on the lower end and a Steel A and E. I haven't tried that yet but maybe I will soon once I get a Wondertone Solo A but I'm loving my Oliv and Passione. Good to see how you experience the world of gut.

February 6, 2009 at 12:39 PM ·

Thanks again!  Tom, those strings must be similar in look because I have never notice these in old vidoes.  Vincent, for now I have the mix you are talking about: two gut for the bass, obligato A and a E that matches.  I am too anxious to practice again... with these.  Do someone knows if Eudoxas last a long time? 



February 6, 2009 at 01:51 PM ·

Good luck with Obligato A. We used to have a violin that took only dark sound strings. Obligatos sounded great when A string worked. 


February 6, 2009 at 02:54 PM ·


Ihnsouk - I will agree with Buri that the Pirazzi do require a different approach to bowing.  On some violins, this is amplified.  The lighter gauge of the Pirazzi is a little odd in response, and I find the medium gauge better if one is leaning towards these strings.  I would definitely avoid the starks.  With Dominants, finding the right match with the D (aluminium or silver) and E is the key, and that can change with time, adjustments or something else.  So, one has to experiment, but for many that complain about Dominants, the right combo solves most issues.

Anne-Marie - yes, gut strings are a different world, and they require not only a higher quality of bowing, with less forgiveness, but they are also easier on the hands because you have to be relaxed.  They are much less tiring to play.  And, if the temperature of your hands does not vary too much, they can be quite stable.  I would find something more relaxed than Obligato for the A.  The Eudoxa A has never been a problem, but the Oliv A is a little difficult to control.  Using the Eudoxa A and a medium Goldbrokat E (a traditional combo of old) seems to increase the brilliance and response of the Eudoxa in my opinion.  The Passione are like a mid-point between gut and synthetic (at least when I tried the prototype before they came on the market).  I did not try the finished product, so I will not venture to say anything, but they might be less of a transition for someone coming from synthetic strings.

Eudoxas and Olivs can to last quite a long time, but the core loses quality in a different way than with synthetics, especially the new-core-types, so the feeling over time is different.

Like anything, strings are a compromise between how you want to play, how your particular violin responds (biggest factor) and finding the best way to co-exist with an instrument.

Best of luck and Cheers!

February 6, 2009 at 03:13 PM ·

If you want to string like Heifetz:

Bare gut A - Pirazzi gauge 14.5 - 15 or 0.72 to 0.75 mm

Bare gut D - Pirazzi gauge 19 or 0.95 mm.

My string source, Gamut, would classify these as light or light+ gauge.  

I am getting very good lifetimes from Gamut gut e-strings. I would never go back to steel.

February 6, 2009 at 06:27 PM ·

Iunsouk, Christian and Joe, Thanks!

Yes, the A obligato sounds good but yes I will probably follow Christian's advice if Idecide to stay with gut!  Thanks for answering the questions + advice, it is really helpful!  So far so good and I am anxious to see if I will steel say this in one week!  Thanks Joe for the Heifetz combination!  I know though that what sounds great with a super violinist doesn't necessarly sound great with another, especially more average, person.  I was happy to learn that Oistrakh, my greatest idol used (this is what I hear on the net so I can not tell if it is true?) G and D Eudoxa A prime steel and gold E.  Yes I use the same Eudoxas but my violin is a guarneri modal and honnestly I wouldn't say I can recognise the same sound. The gut sound yes but not necessarely the Eudoxa sound! However, it is always cool to know the combination of strings of great violinists!



February 7, 2009 at 01:35 AM ·


I use strings from gamut too except the g and e.  Are you sure heifetz used those small gauges? I thought he used really heavy ones. My D string on my violin  is I think a 22. The lighter gauges did not work on my violin. When I went up a gauge the sound just got better and better. How is the gut E. It is my understanding that toscha seidel used an gut E, is that true? How does the sound and playability compare to the steel E?

February 7, 2009 at 12:55 PM ·

I thought that when it comes to measurements in the "Guage" system, the bigger the number, the smaller the thing being measured, i.e., 16 guage is larger than 24 guage?

>:^I  Hmmmmmm.

February 7, 2009 at 02:18 PM ·


Thank you. While waiting for your reply, I put Passiones on again. Didn't work. For this violin, so far pirazzis beat all the other strings we tried. Dominants were the next best except the sound was a little muffled. We'll try dominants again with silver D this time. I also ordered a sample pack of e strings. Would love to try Eudoxa. Olive didn't work on this violin. Would Eudoxas work on a high strung(?) french violin?

Royce, I know. I used to be fascinated by that, too. I researched and learned that it is because, gauge is a measure of length for some fixed weight of string.  

Anne-Marie, I hope you don't mind me asking a few of my concerns on your thread. It's not always easy to get Christian's attention. Thank you. 

February 7, 2009 at 03:14 PM ·

Ihnsouk- Hey, thanks for telling the why regarding guage. I didn't know that.

February 7, 2009 at 04:47 PM ·

Sorry, I should have said Pirastro gauge, not Pirazzi. The Pirasto gauge is linear with diameter, 0.05 mm per whole number.

February 7, 2009 at 08:57 PM ·

Ihnsouk, go ahead for your questions to Christian!

Since you seem interested in Eudoxas, the strings I have now on D and G, I can tell you that for now, they are incredible! I still have to get used to them but even so, I find they are great. I love them. Just don't be too fussy in the first days, they take a few days to stabilize and the violin needs to get used to them too. I though they would muffle my sound too but after a few days, I can say that I think they are more powerful than Pirazzis or at least as much. But, you have to put rosin more often that with Pirazzis and in order to have this super sound, I find that you have to be a lot more relaxed. This power does not come from finger pressure. They don't support much pressure from the finger. They seem to sound at their best when you are fully relaxed. They don't answer fast if you play them like Pirazzis.  So keep them a few days and they will reveal all their beauty of sound! (I think the nice sound comes a few days after you have put them?)  I just hope it will last a little! They have the warmest sound I have ever heard! 


February 7, 2009 at 09:08 PM ·

Anne are you using regular eudoxa on the G and D or eudoxa brilliants??? and Steel obligato A rite now synthetic??? Just outta curiosity.

February 8, 2009 at 05:15 PM ·

Vincent, I think they are the original Eudoxas but I will ask my maker to be sure!  The Obligato is probably synthetic. I don't think you can have an Obligato non synthetic? By the why, the E I had on was named something like Universal Weich (from pirastro) and it was a special low tension formula. It sounded metal, I hated it so I put back my loved Tonica wounded E and it is much nicer.  I didn't try the new tonica formula. I think they did something new on tonicas this year. (Just hope the sound is as nice since it was the best not bright and non whisltling E I had ever tried. The diameter was quite big and I feel well the string under my finger.) One think I have noticed is that the bigger the E string (diameter) the less bright and the more warm the sound is...

Have a nice day,


February 8, 2009 at 05:26 PM ·

On Pirastro website they say they make a Chrome Steel A for obligato. Also the windings on the eudoxa Brilliants have a red honey look. While the regular G is Brown and D is Red.

February 8, 2009 at 08:21 PM ·

Thanks for the info Vincent, I will look for the A but the Eudoxas are original ones not brilliant and honnestly I don't have the impression at all they lack anything, for now I love them so much.  They seem to be better each day!


February 9, 2009 at 03:48 PM ·

The chromium Obligato A has a chromium winding, but the core is still synthetic.

August 31, 2009 at 05:09 PM ·


I am happy with the Evahs and just for the experiment i am interested to try gut strings. How is your experiment going? 


September 1, 2009 at 04:43 AM ·

Hi, since I have them on (I just have G an D wounded gut though. They are eudoxas), I love them SO much!!!  They sound marvelous on my violin. I mean that my violin definitivly have my dream sound even if I am far from doing my dream sound (this is the difference!).  It signs so much and still have as much power than synthetic. I find it gives a unique golden tone to my instrument. But was the sound much more terrible with pirazzis. No.  Pirazzis never sounded harsh on my violin because it has a natural powerful but very dark sound. (perhaps pirazzis would be terrible if my violin sounded very bright???) And honnestly when someone hears my violin, I'm not sure if it is possible to guess if I have gut or synthetic.  But Eudoxas, although they have a short life, have a longer life span than Pirazzis that die very fast even if wonderful when you try them (IMHO. for the short lifespan of pirazzis however many agree with this)

Yes lower tension strings like gut are easier to press on that is true.  And they respond slightly slower but still they are very very playable. (soloists that do much faster stuff than me use\used them... with good resaults) Just you have to adapt the bowing because it is not possible to "force" the sound out of the gut string contrarly to some synthetic where it is more possible. But I found this a wonderful teacher for me.  It untensed a lot my playing!!! Because you have to have a more relaxed bow arm with gut strings. (I find and my teacher's advice too)

It depends on the violin, the type of playing you do because you have to tune more often, your way of playing etc. 

But definitivly as far as I can give advice, IMHO it is a must try (just once to see if you like them at least). Because you could fall in love or not. So far I did very much!!! But I love ennough pirazzis that I have good memories of them and darness/brighness power or not is very much the player and instrument too after all...

Good luck!


September 1, 2009 at 07:23 PM ·

My mom has a Bulgarian violin with a very bright, loud, and slightly in your face sound.  She had Pirazzis and we both never realized how bad they sounded until I got the Zyex strings and we realized how loud and awful the Pirazzis sounded next to the warm sound of the Zyex.  Now she has Passione and they are much better.  They are a gut core string with a warm, but somewhat bright tone.  I don't think Pirazzis sound anything like gut, but that's just my expirience.


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine