Spider silk violin strings

March 5, 2012 at 07:21 AM · Hi everyone!

Would you like to try these strings?

I would love to give these strings a try. I think I'll write this man an email.

Wouldn't it be neat if we had an actual breakthrough with strings?!

Cheers!

Bibi

Replies (20)

March 5, 2012 at 01:32 PM · My first reaction was "it would be lots of breaking through--the strings" but the article indicates that may not be the case. I wish they'd played a comparison with conventional strings, same violin, etc.

I like the idea, it's just weird enough to be cool.

March 5, 2012 at 01:36 PM · From what I gather, there are a lot of people that haven't mastered the gut strings. I'm kidding a little but I did this with guitar strings for years, trying every new technology, hoping that I could sound better. I would be willing to bet that Itzhak Perlman probably plays a string that has been around for years and years. And, I don't think the strings make or break his performances.

I bet you the researcher's monetary motives outweigh his quest for the best sounding violin string. Keep an eye on it if it interests you and let us know what comes of it. Something like that would land him a most valuable patent in the US. Where is this research being done?

March 5, 2012 at 02:41 PM · Considering that it requires 3000 strands or so, it's going to be more expensive than Evah or Eudoxa and those already break a lot of people's wallets. Not sure if a set is worth more than $50...

March 5, 2012 at 02:42 PM · I'm pretty sure Itzhak Perlman is still using regular old Dominants.

I'd be quite interested in trying these strings out...

March 5, 2012 at 06:04 PM · I really wish the article had a little more detail on the specifics of this gold orb spider.

There various members of this family of spiders so there could easily be variant string available depending on the source of the spider.

Of course unless they succeed in producing human made versions of this fiber we will always have to compete with the textile industry.

I am waiting for the availability of a violin blanket that matches this cape.

TTFN

Pat

March 5, 2012 at 06:59 PM · I wonder if they will be available on the web? And you'd need to play Scherzo Tarantula to test them out :)

I'll be watching further developments ...

March 5, 2012 at 07:13 PM · Compelling - Spider silk is strong, and vibrant, stuff. But me being me, I have to wonder if it's ethical. Not that other sources of material for strings are ethical, either...But, (and I know a lot of you will tease me about this because you may not share my view that all life is conscious and intelligent), if this becomes a successful means of manufacturing strings, will the spiders be treated as a non-sentient resource, or as employees deserving of respectful treatment for the service they're providing?

March 5, 2012 at 11:11 PM · Enion, I think your concerns are totally valid. At the moment, though, I'm too excited to give that much thought.

I am still trying to find Dr. Osaki's email. He works at the Nara Medical University. The English version of the website didn't give me access to contacts. I don't speak or read Japanese. If anyone here could find an email address I'll be happy to get in touch with him. And I'll keep looking, too.

March 6, 2012 at 06:19 AM · They are available: Weaver's near D.C has them.

March 6, 2012 at 07:33 AM · Thank you, Scott! This Is a string shop, I assume?

March 6, 2012 at 02:55 PM · Yes, the strange thing about the coverage of this so far is the absence of any discussion of the silk strings that were in common use for a time at the turn of the last century ...

March 6, 2012 at 05:16 PM · Yes, this is the first time I'm hearing of them...

March 6, 2012 at 05:35 PM · I guess I'm wondering, what with the vast choices in materials and price points, what a "breakthrough" in strings even means.

Compared to even 30 years ago, we have a smorgasbord of choices.

Maybe even too many choices at this point? What would you want from a string that they don't already offer?

March 6, 2012 at 05:36 PM · "Thank you, Scott! This Is a string shop, I assume?"

Yes, but it was also a pun.

March 6, 2012 at 06:56 PM · The question is, will the rosin powder be needed for this string?

March 7, 2012 at 03:16 PM · They used the dragline silk*, which isn't sticky.

From Wikipedia: "Spider dragline silk has a tensile strength of roughly 1.3 GPa. The tensile strength listed for steel might be slightly higher—e.g. 1.65 GPa, but spider silk is a much less dense material, so that a given weight of spider silk is five times as strong as the same weight of steel...Whilst unlikely to be relevant in nature, dragline silks can hold their strength below -40 °C and up to 220 °C...When exposed to water, dragline silks undergo supercontraction, shrinking up to 50% in length and behaving like a weak rubber under tension."

Sounds like sweat might have an impact on intonation... yuck.

I like the dark tone in the recording on that news article...it'll be interesting to hear how it really sounds, though. If someone tries these, please let us know!

And while we're on the subject of silk strings...anyone have insight on non-araneid silk strings?

March 7, 2012 at 04:57 PM · I sent the link to a violinmaker friend who replied, "Thanks, Bruce. Yes, the violin makers are all "abuzz" about this.

Someday, we should be able to order them "on the web." :-)

March 8, 2012 at 06:06 AM · Boy this post has legs. 8, in fact.

March 8, 2012 at 12:25 PM · It's accepted fact that you can get chickens in captivity to lay eggs, or cows to produce milk. But how do you convince spiders to produce their silk just for you, and how do you collect it?

Sounds to me like trying to get my daughters to clean up their rooms...

March 8, 2012 at 05:05 PM · I don't think spiders need much encouragement. If they did, I wouldn't have to keep sweeping the webs off the porch.

Amazon* now has the strings. If you need fractional sizes, just look for the ones labelled "Itsy-Bitsy."

*the real one

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