New to gut strings

August 22, 2011 at 12:17 AM ·

Hi, I have read and read posts regarding strings, and have decided to try gut. I have always used synthetic core strings (dominants for many years, have been trying others (Wondertone solo last two sets, and loved them). Since I only play for my own enjoyment, trying different strings is fun and I don't have to worry about what they sound like to others.

So, am eyeing the Passiones and want to ask those that went from synth to gut, are those a good choice? I understand one can never know in advance how any string will work on any instrument, that is all about trial and error and personal choice, but thought I would ask those that know more than I.

Thanks!

Replies

August 22, 2011 at 12:38 AM ·

 Hi Rebecca, so your question was on which gut strings to use..... well I only used Eudoxa, that was on the violin I used till ltoday.

 

Pretty rich overtones, and the usual blabla about the marketing, but the G sounded nice. The D somewhat less. The upper strings I do not know, because I used different stirngs for that part.

I know it's difficult to find the right string. Just buy one and be happy with it, with the possibility of upgrading whenever (whereever) possible.

 

keep up!

 

krisztian

August 22, 2011 at 01:58 AM ·

Well, there are tons of strings out there, it's really only limited by what you want to spend. I'm assuming you're stringing on a modern (and not Baroque) fiddle. :)

Pirastro offers a variety of gut string sets. Oliv and Eudoxa are their long-running traditional offerings, with Oliv being the more expensive of the two. Oliv tends to project a bit better, while Eudoxa is very warm sounding. Their latest gut string, Passione, comes in a regular or solo (slightly thicker gauge) variety, and is intended to have more tuning stability and a faster response than their traditional offerings. They do have a set called Gold which is a budget gut set (with no separate gauges offered) in which the E string for the set has been immensely popular.

D'Addario manufactures a set of gut strings called Kaplan Golden Spiral, which aren't all that expensive as well. Have not gotten a chance to try them yet.

I played for awhile on actual gut strings (all without metal windings) made by Damian Dlugolecki, and they were fantastic. They are designed to work on modern violins at the required string tension. I do appreciate his including two E strings in a set since those gut E's really don't last that long!

Like many players who have to perform in a variety of conditions that involve outdoor environments from time to time, while I loved playing on gut the reliability and longevity of good synthetic strings pulled me away...

August 22, 2011 at 02:57 AM ·

You know Nate, I feel that it's actually EASIER to play in tune on gut strings. Something to do with how the stretch when stopped?

 

August 22, 2011 at 03:15 AM ·

Well, as they wore down, my plain gut strings started feeling like a bumpy road as they frayed. They were varnished, and they did last longer than I expected (almost 2 months of daily playing). Sound was great, playability was fantastic, and I had none of the tuning horror stories most people associate with gut, those are probably from seventy years ago now! For most of high school and college I played on Eudoxa G/D/A with a Gold E, and liked what they did for me. I played a lot so they broke in after a few days, and lasted for many months.

I'm playing on Warchal at the moment (trying both the Brilliant and Karneol sets), and while I do like gut more, there's something appealing about how quickly these things stabilize, and how inexpensive they are. It's nice to be able to put on new strings every month! :)

I guess it's like food...a home cooked meal with quality ingredients is wonderful, if you have the time to prepare it. Fast food is cheap and available right this second!

August 22, 2011 at 09:17 AM ·

I'm about to try the Tricolore wound G and D with a plain gut A... I hope this works out! I haven't tried gut strings on my current violin before.

August 22, 2011 at 09:57 AM ·

I am a huge fan Fan of the Passiones and their 'E' string is my all time favorite. If you can aford them I doubt you'll be disapointed (but every violin is its own character each having its own preference to strings, rosin, etc.). I also liked Eudoxa however the Passiones stablize so much quicker & better! Due to finances I had to switch back to a synthetic core string and my teacher recomended giving Vissions a try which are the best synthetics for my violin. But for the record many hewre love Passione and I do too.

August 22, 2011 at 12:37 PM ·

Hi, thanks for all the info, going to check out the Eudoxas.

John I forgot that little recording was out there! Made it last year just seeing if I could figure out my recording, the uploading etc. Have always meant to add to it, thanks for the reminder and the input!

 

August 22, 2011 at 01:33 PM ·

Rebecca, to the several positive reviews in this thread for Eudoxas, I will add mine without hesitation.  Over the years, I've tried them on three older instruments, each of which responded differently, of course.  Though the tryouts took plenty of time, I liked the eventual results in each case.

As I've said before, Pirastro recommends the stiff D-G for modern players.  Together, they're only about $3 USD more than regular D-G.  I've compared regular and stiff versions, and the stiff ones work far better for me as a modern player -- especially at moments of intense bow pressure.  The tone doesn't break or crush as easily as it did for me with regular D-G.

Passiones came up in discussion -- my tryout of them is still future; but from what other v.com authors have said, I plan to substitute the Oliv G, stiff version, for Passione G.

Gene used at some point the same setup I've used on two instruments: Eudoxa A-D-G and Gold E.  I have found that this E gives more ring and clarity in the upper register and stronger sympathetic vibrations -- at least with these instruments -- than the wound Eudoxa E gives.  The trade-off is that it is more prone to whistle.

I will affirm what you say about the composite-core Wondertone Solos.  They work especially well on the third instrument, which is inherently warm-bright.  I don't care as much to use the G, though.  I prefer to use stiff Eudoxa or Oliv G, with WS for E-A-D.

August 22, 2011 at 05:44 PM ·

Other gut strings to think about ... Pirastro's Chorda, which are plain gut E, A and D, and a round-wound gut G. On internet sources these are often found under the baroque heading, but they play perfectly well for classical/romantic/modern.  Imo, the plain gut Chorda A projects better than the equivalent Eudoxa A and seems to have a "sizzle" that isn't so obvious in the wound string; it is definitely my preferred A, above all the others I have tried.

Then there is the old established Savarez (who also make the Corelli brand and a large range of other strings for fretted and Baroque/Early Music). I'm currently trying out a set on one of my violins.

If you wish to use a gut E for other than Baroque/Early Music it's probably best to use a heavy gauge, but for general playing stick to steel ("good enough for Heifetz", etc). My clear preference for a non-gut E has got to be the Goldbrokat, closely followed by the Hill.

You'll probably find going from synthetics to gut that bow control (and fingering) become subtly different.  It's best to find an experienced gut player to give you the necessary tips face-to-face. Someone here said a while ago that it takes your first set of gut strings to learn how to play them. On my own experience I think that's an accurate assessment.
 

 

 

August 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM ·

Nate - how would you compare the stability of Eudoxas to Passiones.  I understood that Passiones were much more stable.  Am I wrong?

August 23, 2011 at 12:29 PM ·

My thinking is to go with wound gut, rather than plain gut to make the transition easier. Haven't ordered any yet, still trying to figure gauges, some go by terms, some actual gauge numbers, some fractional numbers, want the thickest ones. 

August 23, 2011 at 01:47 PM ·

Rebecca, I'd go for the middle of the size ranges to start with, bearing in mind that you will be at the beginning of a learning curve. I agree that covered gut is probably the best to start with.
 
A point to be aware of is that gut strings are thicker than their synthetic counterparts,  plain gut slightly more so. There is therefore a potential for a string to stand higher from the bridge or nut than it did before, and this can cause problems with bowing or fingering. There could be a case for getting a luthier to check the bridge and nut grooves and the bridge profile, depending on the setup of the individual instrument, and perhaps to install the first set, explaining as he goes along what needs to be thought about.

One example is that gut strings are always tuned from the peg, so it is important that the pegs turn easily (the luthier may need to arrange this) and that the D and G pegs, especially, are positioned in their turning so that they are easy for the fingers to get at and to turn when the fiddle is under the chin. It is annoying if you need to adjust a string quickly to find that the angle of the peg finger grip is too awkward for you to do this easily. 

August 23, 2011 at 02:03 PM ·

R: thats what I did - synthetic to wound gu (now passiones) on my way to gut.  I've purchased the Gamut tricolour, heavy guage but have yet had a chance to put htem on the violin.  My mission is to go back to the setup I had as a child - wound G plain D,A and steel E... I'm very close.  

But I keep hearing that almost no modern players use gut strings anymore - indeed I did not see any at chamber music camp (40 violinists there). I hope I'm not disappointed.

On the Passiones - lon settling time but definite improvement in expression compared to the Visions or Evahs that were on before (gotta run....). ee

August 23, 2011 at 11:26 PM ·

Trevor, good to know about the change in size making the strings higher. I have issues with the nut on the violin in question, so maybe it would be best to wait until it to a luthier (none closer than two hours drive). So much to consider!

 

August 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM ·

 One piece of advice: If  you have a pretty new instrument with a bright sound, I would stay away from Eudoxas (at first, at least). I tried them on my 2008 viola (which worked extremely well with Passiones (gut) and Evah Pirazzis (synthetic)) and they were not the right strings. The Lower strings were murky,  the uppers too slow to respond. Chords were a nightmare. The response was extremely slow and the sound was very "choked". If your instrument is relatively new, I would suggest trying Passiones first, especially as they stay in tune remarkably well. If your instrument has a mature sound or is quite old, Eudoxas may be the right strings. I am not saying they are bad, but my teacher and I agree that they do not work with new and bright instruments, like mine. Passiones are great, and so are Eudoxas (Just not for me). I never tried Olives, but they are supposed to be the best (In my limited knowledge). Passiones are great for switching over from Synthetics to guts. I used to have Evahs, and when I switched to Passiones, I knew that I had found my dream string!

Have fun with your search! :)

August 24, 2011 at 01:12 AM ·

 I agree with Nate Robinson, and he should know. Gamut's Tricolore gut D and A, with the

wound G, is a wonderful set of strings. I am on my third set, with the last ones being Tricolore.

For me, the silver wound G takes just a bit longer to break in than plain gut, but it turns into a

great string after about a week of playing. I use a Lenzner Goldbrokat steel E. I think it is the

best of all E strings. Just my opinion, of course. 

August 24, 2011 at 05:41 AM ·

message moved..

August 24, 2011 at 12:24 PM ·

So much information, am now considering putting a set on one of my violins that do not have a nut problem, just so I can use some of this great advice.

Elise, you are starting to remind me of a guitar player I used to play with in coffee shops;O

August 24, 2011 at 01:13 PM ·

Elise,

Stay the course.  I also experienced a bit of harshness to the sound of the open plain gut heavy gauge D string when new, but this goes away once the string is fully played in, and the end result is quite wonderful. 

August 24, 2011 at 03:34 PM ·

message moved

August 24, 2011 at 09:51 PM ·

Yet another thread started by someone about a certain thing, that turns into a thread about another person. Thread hijacking on here is so rude.

August 25, 2011 at 12:47 AM ·

Rebecca: Your question was about moving from synthetic to gut.  Thats what I am doing and I thought my experience might be of some value to your queery. Obviously, you do not feel that that is the case.  However, its your topic so if I do not hear from you I will erase my posts and respect this as silent space from now on.

August 25, 2011 at 04:02 AM ·

 Rebecca: was your 'hi-jacking' comment aimed at Elise? if so I think it was a tad harsh...after all her posts were about the topic of this thread.  

Anyway, maybe we should just take a deep breath, say 'peace' be friends and move on?

When I moved to gut on my violin I had Obligatos and I decided to take the leap and go straight to plain gut unvarnished Gamut tricolore strings medium gauge for my A and D string, for the G I had the wound light Gauge from Tricolore and a Goldbrokat E, this is the Heifetz set.

I am not a professional nor a very experienced violinist, having played the violin only for just over 4 years and at present just starting to learn pieces like Bach Allemande and Vivaldi Four Seasons, therefore I was worried about what I heard: of the challenges that gut strings can present with the bowing etc compared to synthetic strings.  But to be honest I found the transition a total 'breeze'!

I loved them IMMEDIATELY!  They are sweet, very responsive and I did not find any problems with the bowing at all!  I also found you do not need to press on the strings as much and overall it was easier to play on them.  Tuning stability was GREAT!  I only had to tune very slightly at the beginning of my practice session and that was that!

I did end up swapping the light wound G with a heavy Eudoxa at the end, the soft G Tricolore was not for me.  I could have tried the heavy one from Tricolore it was just that I live in the UK and the Eudoxa was more 'readily available' that's all.

At present I have Eudoxas on my violin, only reason was because I wanted to try them, I was 'curious', I like to 'experiment'.

I have to say I do prefer the plain gut Gamut and will return to them.  I also have a very annoying problem with the Eudoxa A string!  It keeps going sharp! (by the way I have the heavy gauge on all strings and I still use the Goldbrokat E as it is my all time favorite!).  I have emailed Pirastro and they sent me a replacement A string, but even the replacement keeps going sharp!!  The D and G string stay in tune but the A keeps going sharp while I play!  It is not my peg as I don't have this problem with all other strings!

Eudoxas WILL GO!

But as I return to Gamut I will now try the varnished instead of plain like Nate recommends and the heavy gauge as well instead of the medium :)

I just have not 'sussed out' when they need to be changed (how often), I think I had them on for 3 months and I 'think' they started to sound a bit raspy but was not sure....I only play about 2 hours a day..... 

August 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM ·

Thanks, Nate.

September 4, 2011 at 03:08 AM ·

Dear Rebecca,   I can understand why you would visit a site like this to learn more about the relationship of the violin to gut strings.  And it is unfortunate that, unknown to you, the de facto moderator of this site is the ever present Nate Robinson, a cellist after all, who knows next to nothing about the violin.

He spouts some nonsense about the early violin being strung much lighter strings than today's synthetic strings, when in fact the violin was heavily strung from the very beginning.  IN fact the birth of the violin coincides with the zenith of gut string making.  Violin makers were keen to build powerful sounding soprano instruments; and set up the instruments with very heavy gut strings to achieve maximum sound.  This is the essential nature of the violin.

If you would like to experience this sound I would recommend you try as set along these lines:

You don't need to use the gut e" straight away.  Heifetz played on gut strings for his entire career with the steel e" string.  But here is a balanced set of strings representative of the historical norm:

e" 12 3/4

a' 16

d' 21

g silver 18 1/4

 

Best wishes

 

Damian Dlugolecki

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2011 at 09:14 AM ·

Dear Damian Dlucolecki, I really hope what you wrote was a 'joke', but even if it was I don't find it funny but rather 'bad taste'!

You said:

And it is unfortunate that, unknown to you, the de facto moderator of this site is the ever present Nate Robinson, a cellist after all, who knows next to nothing about the violin.

You see, either there is some 'history' I and other people on this forum are not aware of and like I've said yours is just a joke only you, Nate and a 'selected few' can understand or you have personally attacked Nate which is something he doesn't deserve regardless of whether he is right or wrong in what he might have said about gut strings and violins.

September 4, 2011 at 09:17 AM ·

By the way, apologies about the way my messages come out, I can't edit them! Am posting from my iphone and it's not letting me edit my posts (not letting me do bold or put line spacing in etc).

 

(Having got home and now being able to use my computer I have edited my previous post :))

September 4, 2011 at 12:54 PM ·

Nate Robinson IS a violinist and as far as I know he is not a moderator on this site, but an frequent and welcome contributor.

September 4, 2011 at 12:59 PM ·

If you go to Nate's violinist.com page, you can watch videos of him playing the violin (and playing well).  Not sure why anyone would imply that he's not a violinist.

September 4, 2011 at 01:14 PM ·

If Nate is, or has been, a cellist that is surely only relevant to this discussion if he has at some time played the cello with gut strings (as I have). There are many here on this forum who are multi-instrumentalists; if anything, that gives them a broader perspective on their violin playing. 

September 4, 2011 at 01:21 PM ·

John, I live in both peg worlds. My old violin has concave ebony pegs (and an ebony tail-piece, whereas my Jay Haide, about two centuries younger, has convex pegs. I tune fairly easily with both types but overall my preference is for the concave (a 60:40 ratio perhaps?).

Your comment about getting the notches to the correct profile and lubricated is so important, especially with plain gut which seems to be more prone to stick at the nut (usually just above or below but never at A440!). I also find it helps to tune a string very slightly above pitch and then to pull it down to pitch with the finger. I suspect doing that helps to equalise the tensions either side of the nut. Another trick I find helpful at the start of a practice session is to rub my fingers up and down the strings to warm them and help the tuning process.

September 4, 2011 at 07:19 PM ·

 Hi John,

yes I do lubricate the nut grooves and the bridge grooves with a 2B pencil each time I change the strings, the groove in the nut is not too tight.

I have changed the A string for another Eudoxa of same tension and it did the same thing, goes sharp 10 to 15 minutes into playing it after tuning it.

I then changed it for a medium gauge Eudoxa A and again this is doing the same now.  I am now really 'angry' with Eudoxa strings and will call it the day, I only wanted to see what they were like anyway, will go back to the set I loved which involved a Eudoxa heavy G string, Gamut tricolore medium (or I might try heavy) plain gut D and A and Goldbrokat E medium.  I never had an issue with ANY A string before and the Gamut Tricolore A string was VERY stable in tuning, no issues at all.

September 5, 2011 at 04:48 AM ·

My apologies to Nate Robinson.  I confused him with someone else.  Nonetheless I think Nate is wrong to suggest that the early violin was lightly strung.  I believe quite the opposite to be true.

Once in a while I do a search to get a feel for the commentary here on the violinist.com.  It is important for me to know what people are saying about gut strings, and about my gut strings in particular.  It just seems that every time my name comes up, there's Nate countering with his opinion that Gamut strings are 'the best gut strings in the world.'  Now, I know Dan Larson and I consider him a colleague and from time to time we even share information about sources and methods.  I certainly am not going to say anything derogatory about his strings.  I'm quite sure that even he would not want someone maiking a ridiculous and untested statement like that typical of Nat Robinson.   Making gut strings is a hell of a lot of work, and anyone who has put  30 years of his life into this artisan activity deserves more respect.

September 5, 2011 at 07:24 AM ·

It sounds as though Damian Dlugolecki  

 

needs to have the poison extracted!! (Wink)

September 5, 2011 at 07:42 AM ·

Actually, I can kinda see why Damian is frustrated (though I agree it does not excuse rudeness).  Has anyone here tried his strings?  I for one would love to hear...

September 5, 2011 at 09:20 AM ·

Damian Dlugolecki also needs to learn how to deal with customers when his company messes up.  Alas, I doubt he ever will.

He lost my business a long time ago.

 

I highly recommend Gamut (great knowledge, great service, and a choice of both sheep & beef gut)  and Aquila (Amazing old-world craftsmanship.)

September 5, 2011 at 03:10 PM ·

 I don't want to get in bad relations with either side of the argument, but I will say this.

I ordered gut strings from Mr. Dlugolecki at a point.  I had some communication issues, but one thing is for sure: this man knows his stuff.  His strings are of a top class...beautiful sound, feel, and projection.

September 5, 2011 at 03:27 PM ·

Thanks Brian.  I'll bear them in mind.

September 5, 2011 at 10:03 PM ·

<<deleted>>

September 6, 2011 at 02:31 AM ·

I suppose the statement that Nate Robinson made " Mind you, the violin wasn't originally built to be strung with high tension titanium/steel strings"  I interpreted to mean that the early violin was intended to be lightly strung.  I have looked at the tensions of the heaviest modern strings of various synthetics and find them to be very much in the ball park in terms of what kind of load would be normal for a healthy violin.  But since Nate has said in his last post that he is familiar with the research which points to a robust stringing as a normal stringing for violin I retract my statement.

I guess what I object to are blanket statements about the quality of one maker's strings over another maker's strings spoken by a loyal and faithfule customer of  one maker or another.

What  is missing is an appreciation for the dynamic nature of the craft.   A change in the supplier of primary materials; the acquisition of new machinery; a smart and conscientous employee--all these things can make for a quantum improvement in string quality.  That is to say, that if the last time you purchased a string from me was 5 years ago, you really have no standing to make any kind of comparative statement.  Do you see what I am saying?  I welcome you to try my strings again--and if you are still inclined to make some kind of hyperbolic claim, well then fair enough.

 

September 6, 2011 at 05:40 AM ·

Well, I for one commend you on your craft - there are too few artistes working on original supplies for the violin that we need to have a much greater appreciation for the few we have.

This discussion went off track - I suggest we let the earlier errors go - we need to be careful we don't loose a major asset that is very important to most of us.

September 6, 2011 at 11:42 PM ·

Hi,

Like Brian, I will not get into arguments on one side or other.  That said, I did work with Mr. Dlugolecki for a project a few years back needing a copy of late 19th century strings similar to those used by Joachim in a recital program of works from his circle with a Graf piano and his help was invaluable (maybe he remembers...).  He was a wonderful collaborator, extremely knowledgable, very kind and provided me with fantastic strings for the project.

Cheers!

September 10, 2011 at 01:26 PM ·

Thank you to all who responded to my original post with such great information.

It was a little hard to find a lot of it though due to the thread hijacking that goes here. I do wish that if someone wants to discuss something other than what the OP puts forth, they go ahead and start their own thread. That way people interested do not need to  waste time trying to filter out all the other issues many like to bring up. Same goes for the back and forth chatting, the posts that seem to have more to do with people trying to display how clever they are, and seemingly endless posts about themselves that some members post on every thread.

It's easy to skip threads that we may not be interested in, but all this other stuff means starting to read the posts (unless one has become accustomed to what names to ignore), and find they are off on some self absorbed tanget.

There, hijacked my own thread. Hope it bored some of you to tears!

September 10, 2011 at 02:58 PM ·

 Rebecca, the 'problem' you go on about would be 'easily' solved if there was a 'chat room' but there isn't one. It is rather difficult to strictly stick to the OP question only when people here are very friendly, on the whole many know each other very well and are quite 'chatty'.  If we had to stop the 'hi-jacking' then I think you would have to CLOSE DOWN v.com altogether as ALL threads have the same theme as yours (have you been around long enough to notice?).

if we had to start a different thread each time it would get rather messy. How would you do it? please tell me and give me an example by pointing out how the 'hi-jacked'/offending posts in this thread could have been gone into new threads (think of how many new threads we could have had and all intertwined with each other, what a mess!)!!!

My opinion is that we need to be a little 'relaxed'.  At the end like you said you got the advice you looked for and you know which 'names' to avoid (and if mine is on the list you probably are not reading this anyway LOL).

 

September 10, 2011 at 03:26 PM ·

Well said Jo Parker!! Get full marks and go to the top of the class!!

September 11, 2011 at 01:00 AM ·

Rebecca:

1. Search the archives and you will find some better discussions. In one of them, Nate Robinson described the differences between wound gut and plain gut. They are really quite different!

2. I have bought and used strings made by both Damian Dlugolecki, and by Daniel Larson (Gamut).  Both make superb strings. And no, I had absolutely zero "customer issues" with either.

 

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