scratchy sound on baroque gut

June 11, 2015 at 09:18 PM · I make a real scratchy sound on baroque violin. Is it me?

Replies (20)

June 11, 2015 at 09:32 PM · Possibly you're pressing too hard - it's not like playing on synthetics or metal. Some "scratchiness" is normal with plain gut strings but generally it is only audible to the player and doesn't carry beyond an arms length or so. You soon get used to it and don't really notice it.

June 11, 2015 at 09:49 PM · I'm kinda not pressing at all. I fact I get a nicer sound if I support the bow somewhat rather than use all of its weight.

June 11, 2015 at 10:11 PM · I made a baroque viola some years and the bare gut A string squeaked in some notes. A friend, who is a baroque soloist (plays with La Petite Band) told me that it is up to the player to cope with that....

So, as already mentioned, it is a question of technique.

June 11, 2015 at 10:33 PM · could be a few things:

1. inadequate string gauge (whole set or the squeaking vs. neighbouring string)

2. poor quality "baroque" bow (not really a baroque bow)

3. not using all pure gut strings

4. bad angle when crossing the strings

5. inadequate bow speed

6. inadequate contact point (to few hair used)

7. inadequate heaviness of bowing arm

8. too much rosin

have fun!

June 11, 2015 at 10:58 PM · The more correct terminology for the strings would be 'pure gut', 'plain gut', or 'bare gut' since it is not only people playing baroque that use these strings.

As far as scratching on these strings goes, like any type of string, a 'scratch' usually occurs from using too much bow pressure for the speed at which the bow is traveling, playing on the incorrect sounding point, or using too much rosin.

June 12, 2015 at 10:55 AM · Using only bow weight the D on my dominant strung violin will sound OK at more or less a very slow initial bow speed. The D on my gut just makes a noise - both using the same baroque bow.

June 13, 2015 at 12:42 PM · On both my violins (one old, one fairly new, and both professionally set up) the D is the more difficult string tonewise, no matter whether it's plain gut, covered gut, or synthetic; but I've learned to live with it. Do others have this problem with the D?

Interestingly, the best tone on my D comes when I use Savarez Oiled Gut rather than the corresponding Pirastro Chorda (plain gut).

June 13, 2015 at 02:53 PM · Hi Bud. I also play on Chordas, and the D is the trickiest string to get going. The trick is to let the bow sink into the String by using the weight of your hand or your index finger to flex it down A bit instead of playing by sliding the bow on the surface.

June 13, 2015 at 05:52 PM · Thanks A.O. I have a simple concept of bowing at the moment which is just pushing/pulling its own weight and no more. Do you mean like grating a small piece of cheese? But with the whole arm not the wrist? That maybe works for me.

June 13, 2015 at 06:25 PM · Hi Bud.

Hold your right hand in front of you, hand twist it slightly to the left with the bow in your hand.

The bow will drop a bit , and this is what you want to reproduce on the strings so that the bow will sink into them a little bit.

I personally use wrist tilt to do it, but it might differ for you because I use a Russian bow hold.

I would say that the cheese grating is a good concept. The motion you want to be doing is the part of the grating where your hand pushes down to grate the cheese.

If you are still confused, tie something fairly light to the tip end of the bow and then try playing. That is the basic effect you need to get plain gut to respond well.

P.S.: You can tilt more weight in for louder dynamics, but you have to also be careful of bow speed while doing so, and not overdo the weight. Otherwise you will get a scratch or squeek. :D

June 13, 2015 at 06:50 PM · I would say that the cheese grating is a good concept. The motion you want to be doing is the part of the grating where your hand pushes down to grate the cheese.

Yes. Stanley Richie says not to pronate so from what you're saying grating or better yet gouging seems to feel right. Anybody have better analogies?

June 13, 2015 at 11:19 PM · Please follow my suggestion of sinking into the string.

Sorry if I was not clear before.

1- Here is what you do: put the bow lightly on the (D) string

2- Either by tilting the bow down with your index or by letting it sink in by using your arm weight, get the string to depress slightly.

3- I check the security of my strokes on my plain gut by playing very quiet notes over the fingerboard on the D string. If the notes are audible with no extra noise, you have got the basic concept right for all the strings. :D

April 29, 2016 at 03:36 AM · I have so much difficulty with the D string! Have used Pirastro and Gamut gut string, varnished and unvarnished, in multiple gauges, and gimped. The most recent gimped string was the worst – it buzzed. Now I am back to using a Lyon beef gut varnish light + string, which suddenly sounds very sweet in comparison to the gimped string. I really don’t like how thick gut D strings tend to be, though. Has anyone found something that they actually like?

April 29, 2016 at 03:53 AM · Plain gut Ds are kind of the weak link in the Baroque string set up, at least to many modern players (not what they are used to), if its really a problem for you you could use a Eudoxa or Oliv D, I don't think any of the baroque suppliers make close wound gut core Ds

Eudoxa Gs may not be as authentic as the expensive wound Gs sold by the top dealers, but if you're on a budget, they sound just fine too.

I don't like to go too heavy on my gut gauges, as heavier gauges are louder, but thats about it IMHO ( but not as light as Chorda medium)

April 29, 2016 at 04:52 AM · I'm trying putting the old bridge back on. I have a D Gamut on the way - you never know. Also, I'm doing 20 minutes a day of long notes (at least 20 secs per stroke) solely on the D.

April 29, 2016 at 05:46 AM · INHO Larsen's (Gamut) advice is for heavier gauges than I would recommend, I've had good luck ordering from Dlugolecki and specifying same equivalent tension as Dominant medium, which is a gauge or two lighter than what he's prone to recommend. Both Damien and Larsen are into HEAVY gauges, and have some very weak evidence to back up their claim to as to heavier gauges being historical IMHO.

April 29, 2016 at 05:57 AM · I've ordered the Medium - 1.04mm sheep gut D.

April 29, 2016 at 06:24 AM · Try Damien Dlugolecki if you don't like Gamut, one uses sheep one uses beef, I've never tried Gamut, always been happy with Damien, but I'm not a player, just a violin shop that sells baroque instruments.

April 29, 2016 at 02:34 PM · Actually, Aquila strings has some good evidence for thicker gauges via unused pieces of ok strings and old violin bridges with the notches cut, as well as documents about it. :)

Also, gut needs a heavier and stiffer bow With not as much hair, so you can't just use your standard synthetics bow and always expect a good sound.

May 7, 2016 at 10:11 AM · Baroque paintings of violinists often show the bow being held some way from the frog. I sometimes do this when my bowing is having an "off" day (e.g. after gardening or bricklaying.)

In any case, our four strings need four different bowing styles. I like a light top string, which I bow with longer, lighter strokes than the lower strings.

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