Warchal Amber

July 7, 2018, 6:15 PM · Hi everyone,

I just finished with the Warchal Brilliants and have replaced them with the Ambers. Where the Brilliants were of a purer (?)tone, strong clear round sound these, the Amber set,are really much more particular in terms of sound, I suppose this is what it means when people say gut like strings with more colour. I find it a very interesting rich tone. Im using the Amber E along with the rest of the set and this is the first time that the Amber E agreed with my violin. Usually it makes my other non-Amber strings sound odd. They've only been on for a day and a half but I can tell they're easier to crush than the Brilliants, I think I'll have to be more careful with my bowing. Anyway, wpuld love to hear from others who have tried the strings and I would like to know what generally makes a synthetic string sound this way and another sound like the Brilliants. Thank you

Replies (55)

July 8, 2018, 12:53 AM · Both strings are synthetic, yes? I cringed every time I hear someone uses gut strings in orchestra - I've never be able to get it in tune as it hovers all over the place with a slight change in temps.
July 8, 2018, 3:11 PM · Yes N S, they're both synthetic.
July 8, 2018, 8:36 PM · Even when a player is dealing with unstable strings (whether because they're new or because gut is being temperamental), they should still be playing in tune. Open strings can't be helped (though a player who knows their strings have slipped will generally avoid playing the open strings), but pretty much everything else, a good player should automatically adjust to play in tune anyway.

I often use gut. My stand partner in orchestra uses gut all the time.

July 8, 2018, 9:20 PM · I have been using the Ambers until just recently and they were a nice match with my violin, very warm but focused, not muddy like some warmer or dark strings I've tried. I especially like the Amber E on my violin. It does balance well with the other strings but it also was very clear and ringing without being edgy or harsh.

In regard to your question about how string makers are able to elicit different tonal qualities from strings, not knowing the exact process or exact material composition of each manufacturer's proprietary product, I can only speculate, which won't benefit you. I do imagine besides the synthetic composition of the core material of essentially a form nylon (Perlon is a trademarked nylon) density, guage, tension and winding play a large part.

@NS I have just recently replaced my Ambers with
Pirastro Passione strings, my first experience with gut core, and find them surprisingly stable, even where I live, which in summer has night temperatures ranging from the 30s to 50s Fahrenheit to day temps up to 80s and possibly 90s. I believe, from experienced gut users on this forum, the more critical factor of tuning instability with gut is humidity. My climate is fairly dry and humidity stable except of course during rainy weather,of which I've also experienced with the Passione's, yet find a tuning right before practice or playing to hold fairly well for 2 to 3 hours (the longest I've played with them). After about a week of settling in I've found them fairly easy to tune.
I'm sorry to see you have such a distaste for gut strings, I myself very much enjoy the sound of gut strings and so far have enjoyed my experience with them.

July 9, 2018, 9:54 AM · Good orchestra really gives no room for error. You just have to minimize the risk because no matter how good you are as a player and how good you are to adjust when not in tune, you just gotta minimize any risk that creates liability to your whole orchestra. Maybe others have different standards or tolerates little errors. It’s like a pro racer that certainly know how to drive on public roads but don’t want to wear a seatbelt just because he miraculously knows he won’t get into any accident.

Skip, I haven’t found any gut string that can stay stable for 2-3 hours for me. I like their sound, but don’t trust them.

July 9, 2018, 10:17 AM · The Amber E is stainless steel, I have about 130 hours on mine. I see no sign of wear. What can I expect in the next 50 hours?
July 9, 2018, 11:39 AM · N S,

Gut strings are reliable for reliable players. Synthetics don't play in tune by themselves, and many that play out of tune in them would do as much with gut. In short, even Eudoxa is reliable for perfect in tune playing by good players, be it for orchestra, chamber, or solo works.

I have seen many young and not so young players using Passione in orchestras nowadays. That's why I love Passione-I do not use them frequebtly, but it has made some players not forget/revisit/explore gut core strings.

I know some Thomastik's representatives hate gut and would make you believe they *must be* inferior to their synthetics. Truth is that no brand synthetics, be it Pirastro, Warchal, etc. sound and play exactly like gut core strings of either type. To some this may be "good", of course-as in "good riddance gut!" To be fair and for this matter, sometimes Pirastro makes marketing comments about their newer products which indirectly cast doubt on the capabilities of their own good gut strings.)

Of course once you are used to steel-like stability, since it's so convenient
it can be hard for some players to get used to gut. But if during an orchestral performance, audition, or recital someone played out of tune while using Tricolore (for instance), was it really the gut core, or the player? "Does the violin play itself?"

Sometimes it's claimed that older players who used gut played "out of tune". Not necessarily. The standards of recording were different. I have heard plenty of live performances by current soloists using synthetics that are imperfect as well. The newer generation just sometimes forgets that times and recording methodologies were different, but there have always been players, "big and small", who played very well in tune with gut strings, and many who still play out of tune today, which no dose of EP/Perpetual/Pi will be able to help.

You can also play with a big tone on gut... and so on.

Blame the player, not the core.

(As usual, disclaimer: I am not opposed to synthetics, but more against false claims about gut core strings that have been made "true" only by hearsay.)

July 9, 2018, 12:07 PM · @Lydia: You are totally right about balancing tuning by fingers. It can be done and every player should train such ability regularly. However, omitting open strings is quite a great loss in your interpretation notion. Nowadays, the playing style tends to shift more and more to minimalism. Vibrato is being used more sparingly even in Beethoven or even romantic pieces. Ringing open strings are becoming more and more something that match nowadays ‘violin style’.
July 9, 2018, 12:11 PM · I AM going to say, Passiones stay better in tune than, say, Olivs. I frequently play in the pit where the temperature fluctuates quite a lot because of all the lightings and special effects, and by the end of Act I of LM, my Olivs were almost a half-step off when I checked open strings, whereas Passione and EP stayed in tune for the whole show when I did The Beauty and The Beast (which is hilariously only slightly longer than Act I of LM), so some guts do tend to be more sensitive to temperature, at least from what I’ve played.
July 9, 2018, 2:05 PM · Yes, Passione are very practical and sound good. However, there's something that the protective synthetic fiber covering the gut core (itself covered by the steel windings) that alters the tone a bit. This "stability tech" is a good, practical compromise but does make them sound and play more like synthetic, even if it technically isn't one of those strings. If it was similarly priced than Eudoxa and Tricolore even, I would heartily recommend them-as it is, I always recommend for players to get used to gut's ways, simultaneously saving money, and getting "more gut" for their money.

If you can afford them, feel free to keep buying and using them. Have nothing against Passione other than I believe the stability issue is usually, IMHO, made a bigger issue than it really is. Some of these "old tech" gut strings are already quite stable and more than merely "usable".

I would even use Gold Label above Passione, if I was forced to choose only between them. But be happy playing whatever works for your music-making and venues.

Hope the new synthetic being developed by Warchal will help close the gap between synthetic vs gut. Sounds to me like a "perfected" Amber set? At least they generally care about string tension not being overly tense. If the tensions are fair, it will at least be worth a try.

July 9, 2018, 3:31 PM · N S, I agree with Adalberto. I don't think that for good players, gut really represents a major risk to intonation, even for orchestras at the very highest level. (There are plenty of pros using Passiones these days, for instance.)

David, I have yet to wear out an Amber E, even keeping one a full year on the violin. I just change them at least once a year out of habit, caution, and the fact they are pretty cheap.

Robert, I'm talking about omitting open strings only in the cases where a string has gone out of tune mid-piece. That kind of slippage generally occurs only with new strings (whether gut or synthetic). It's not really a big deal in the orchestral context. When we talk about gut being unstable, we're usually referring to, say, needing to make slight tuning adjustments at the start of each concert half, or tuning both when the instrument is taken out of the case as well as immediately before the concert after it's gotten bathed in stage light heat.

July 9, 2018, 7:39 PM · Adalberto "Gut strings are reliable for reliable players."

Sorry Adal, the truth table that you tried to use, is inaccurate as basis for proving the validity of argument ;)

When users and other aspects get blamed for making claim of a product, usually it indicates an inferior product itself. Let me lend you a car to drive that I know can sometimes veer to the left by itself and then blame you for being a sucky driver when you hit a small pole at turtle speed :)

July 9, 2018, 7:45 PM · Lydia: N S, I agree with Adalberto. I don't think that for good players, gut really represents a major risk to intonation, even for orchestras at the very highest level. (There are plenty of pros using Passiones these days, for instance.)

Ok...that is your opinion, but not mine :)

I'm not comfortable with a time bomb even though I call myself a bomb defuser expert, especially not when my mates are around me :)

July 9, 2018, 8:39 PM · NS -- consider that before synthetics came to the market, everyone used gut strings. For many years the standard were Pirastro Eudoxa. People learn to adapt somewhat to their equipment and the stability it provides.

Tammuz -- I tried Amber strings and found them to deliver as promised. A very gut-like sounding synthetic string with a unique and wonderful sounding E string. They seemed to last a while. I also like the brilliants, and those do provide more power.

July 9, 2018, 9:10 PM · DB Cooper "consider that before synthetics came to the market, everyone used gut strings. For many years the standard were Pirastro Eudoxa. People learn to adapt somewhat to their equipment and the stability it provides."

Now you are using aspect of history, peer pressure, consensus as justification. When everybody used candles as the only source of light, it doesn't mean you should do it when there's electricity, light bulbs and leds. What this has anything to do with not using it in a good orchestra anyway :)

Edited: July 10, 2018, 6:19 AM · I don't think there's a push for justification. Just that what you said that you could hear a player in an orchestra going out of tune for using gut, is rare. Any player who is not tone-deaf adjusts gradually and constantly the fingering and so it happens with gut. They don't go out of tune like a bomb, as you said.
While it is a nuisance for the need to retune more often, even myself as a half assed beginner can play in tune in a slightly out of tune string (unless an open string is necessary, of course). I really doubt that a professional player in an orchestra can't do that.

Out of that, there are reasons to use and to not use gut. To each, what they need, and we are lucky to have so many options...

July 10, 2018, 8:40 AM · Thanks Lydia. I haven't noticed any change in tone.
July 10, 2018, 9:59 AM · There is a reason why makers of synthetic strings market them as having a gut-like sound -- nothing else matches the richness and complexity you get from gut.

That said, I have an all-Warchal combo on my violin at the moment: Amber E, Avantgarde A, Brilliant Vintage D and G.

July 10, 2018, 10:48 AM · I really like the Brilliant and Brilliant Vintage sets, and the Amber E is an amazing string. I have experimented with the Avantgade A but had mixed feelings. What is it you like about that A in choosing to use it over the Brilliant Vintage A?

I'm old enough to remember using Eudoxas as the "standard" before Dominants gained popularity and everyone switched to them. I remember again when Evah Pirazzi came out and many thought they were remarkable. It is great to have so many choices.

July 10, 2018, 10:52 AM · The candles vs bulbs comparison sounds belittling to gut string users. Light sources don't compare to the relationship of gut to synthetic strings. Vynil vs CD is more comparable (or tubes vs solid state, etc.) and even then, strings are more similar than different to these technologies. Surely there are many, many great orchestral (and solo violin with orchestra, for that matter) recordings made on gut strings-no one died or was "embarrassed" due to gut "exploding" out of tune back then.

Again, while it's oerfectly fine to use Dominant/Pi/Ep/et.al.
it doesn't make the other options "sub-optimal" or "dangerous" to play. If a peg slips, playing in tune on that string *regardless core* will be difficult. To say that playing on gut is similar to such an accident is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

In short, to readers who have yet to try gut, do not believe N S's assertions on the usability of gut core strings for the modern player.

This is not a personal attack. Enjoy music.

July 10, 2018, 12:09 PM · Wholly agree with all of your comments Adalberto. The only reason I don't use Olives anymore is their high cost.
July 10, 2018, 12:59 PM · Agree with Adalberto.

DB, the theory of the Russian-style and Avantgarde A strings is that they cause the primary color break to be between the A and D strings, instead of between the A and E strings. On my violin, which has a really brilliant E string, the color change between A and E can be undesirably large, and the use of the Avantgarde A smooths out the color changes between strings because there's a bit more brilliance to the A thanks to the steel.

July 10, 2018, 1:06 PM · I use Oliv stiff G and silver D. Once they settle in they are remarkably stable. Do not believe the rumors against gut strings. I have been trying different A and E strings with these. Passione solo A is actually less stable than the oliv D and G. I am currently using Eudoxa-aricore A and while it is a nice string it doesn't match the rich sound of the olives. Passione is better in that regard. For the E I use Pirastros platinum E that I give my own little "amberization" - a little spiraling in the bowing area to eliminate the slight tendency to whistle.
July 10, 2018, 1:56 PM · What a difference. We are zealously discussing slight shade differences between synthetics and gut (that are getting quite similar nowadays), whilst cello players are still stuck in heavy metal :-)
July 10, 2018, 2:33 PM · Lydia -- that makes sense and sounds like it works particularly well with your instrument, especially with the warm-sounding Amber E. Probably provides a nice balance / transition because of the instruments native brilliant-sounding E string.

July 10, 2018, 8:02 PM · Adalberto “Light sources don't compare to the relationship of gut to synthetic strings. Vynil vs CD is more comparable (or tubes vs solid state, etc.) Surely there are many, many great orchestral (and solo violin with orchestra, for that matter) recordings made on gut strings-no one died or was "embarrassed" due to gut "exploding" out of tune back then. In short, to readers who have yet to try gut, do not believe N S's assertions...This is not a personal attack.”

Candles are affected by its surrounding (wind, temps, humidity, etc) a lot more than light bulbs or leds. They are good analogies.

Vinyl, CDs, tube, solid state...you are confusing yourself about sound richness vs reliability and risk...

And, whatever readers want to believe, is up to the readers :) You can get 100 madeup names here to agree with you, but you can never change the fact because you don’t bring any here. A scientific analysis that proves otherwise would be welcome.

Also, I don’t think you’ve been to many live orchestras yet. The recordings whether made live or not, have always been processed in studios to reduce those imperfections. And don’t waste your time on youtube because the sound have gone through many digital processors.

And no worries about personal attacks, this is just a discussion :)

July 10, 2018, 8:31 PM · There are numerous professional orchestra players on this forum that use gut strings, although I'm guessing that most of them aren't reading this thread. But you can find their commentary on plenty of other threads on gut.

The gut-composite hybrid Passiones are also very common these days in professional orchestras, at least in the United States.

July 10, 2018, 8:51 PM · I welcome this scientific evidence that "proves" that playing on gut strings is "risky" for any good player. All I read is your personal opinion, based on what the majority may be doing.

I do not care whether others agree or disagree-my point is that gut strings are great for modern performing standards-synthetics are convenient, and many sound good, but do not play or sound like gut. That said, you owe an apology to these posters who you claim are fake individuals-I didn't conjure them up out of thin air as you suggest.

Do not make assumptions about people you don't know, just because you disagree with them (your post is quite belicose, or at best sounds like trolling/trying to incite a flame war.) I go to concerts in NYC quite often, and collect recordings, both new and old. My name is real too-is N S a name?

You don't have to like gut strings, but you have "a lot to learn" if you think your overly negative and biased opinion is based on the facts.

Not only some modern players use Passione, I wouldn't be surprised if some used the "less reliable" gut string options as well. Gil Shaham did many Solo Bach recitals a few years back with Oliv strings (polyphonic, "gut risky" repertoire.) Daniel Hope I believe uses them. Maestro Rosand may have used/sometimes use Passione too. There are some professionals in this forum that use them from time to time, if not all the time.

You can prove that synthetics are "more reliable", but it's about what works for some players and/or violins. I can also prove some cons many synthetics have. You choose whatever works for you-no need to troll others about their individual preferences.

Edited: July 10, 2018, 9:05 PM · N S said "You can get 100 madeup names here to agree with you, but you can never change the fact because you don’t bring any here. A scientific analysis that proves otherwise would be welcome."

This is a forum on the internet, not a scientific think tank. You are good at rhetoric, but you lack what the classical rhetoric studies would call "decorum".

Recordings made in the time of gut were actually very hard to edit since all the recording was done on analog equipment. I remember making those recordings, on gut strings, and we did not do many takes. In short, gut is not risky and has a sound unmatched yet by synthetics. Synthetics are good too and open up the realm for new playing techniques. It is good to have options.

July 11, 2018, 12:00 AM · Luckily, nobody needs to agree or convince anyone. The practice of violin playing is a very long road and sooner or later we all stop in the same inns.

Most violin players eventually try gut. Almost everyone likes the sound but meet some drawbaks. Some decide that those drawbacks are worth the benefits and keep playing them and others don't, and go to synthetic with a different set of drawbaks and benefits. Many will be able to get experience with both and use the tool they need in each occassion.

Opinions without experience define more the caster of the opinion than the item itself.

July 11, 2018, 1:19 AM · Hi guys, there is absolutely no reason to argue. Vinyls are still being sold along with CDs and mp3 files and neither candle producers are going to go bankrupt. Even is the gut string would get banned (it almost happened a few years ago in the EU due to BSE risk regulations), we should erect a monument to them for their tonal inspiration and example.

I have to admit that making high quality gut strings has been tempting for me too. We have run our own research and development, but along to the progress in gut strings, we somehow always managed to get closer to the gut sound with synthetic core at the same time. Moreover, we can do it cheaper and I have almost aimed to make the best strings ever, not the most expensive. The better tuning stability has been just a bonus.

So counting the pros and cons, I have not decided to start gut strings production so far. In spite of this, I have not refused the idea yet.

The result of our latest W-core development is exiting. We have managed to combine the true gut sound, feeling and response (do not forget even response is different on gut) with extra portion of projection than we can hardly expect from gut. But not every customer plays in large halls, so I believe for example Amber (that does not have that extra portion) will keep being sold along with the numerous existing products of other manufacturers, among others many types of gut strings. The variety of choices is what we should enjoy…

Edited: July 11, 2018, 7:08 PM · Adalberto, I am at lost at the middle of your bubble /shrug What were you trying to say?

DB, is there a forum rule where one shouldn’t post science stuff? Maybe someone should crucify Aristotle again for proving earth isn’t exactly flat :)

Anyway, here’s a little science about gut string vs temperature. Although the analysis were performed on tennis string, it shows the instability of gut. I agree it isn’t as bad as nylon or polyester, but it still stretches all over the place. Imagine using it for sensitive instruments like a violin:

Gut string analysis


And look at the property of synthetics, for example, 24k gold “gold is unaltered by factors like heat and moisture, and never reacts with oxygen, meaning it will never degrade...”



There you have it.


Edited: July 11, 2018, 1:59 AM · Perlon is a brand name for nylon, so you have demonstrated that gut is more temperature stable than perlon
July 11, 2018, 3:30 AM · In the words of Ingemar Stenmark: "it's not easy to explain to people that don't understand".
I have personal experience with both gut and synthetic strings and while Amber are very good strings they don't have the same rich sound I get from gut. They are closer than many other synthetics, though.
Bohdan - your new strings sound interesting. When do you plan to launch them? If you're looking for test players I'm happy to give them a go....
Edited: July 11, 2018, 4:15 AM · You may be right, we are getting closer and closer to the gut sound, but it is impossible to guarantee 100% sameness, since not all of gut string products are identical in sound and there are plenty of them on the market. Moreover, I am not sure we aim to transfer all features from all gut strings to our ones.

The strings will be ready soon, but we are going to communicate their launch via official advertising campaign. Promoting them here would be not fair. As for testing, they had been already tested properly :-). Involving you, or some other v.com members would be tempting, but there is no way how to contact v.com members by a private way. Communicating such matter publicly would be not appropriate either.

July 11, 2018, 6:25 AM · Looking forward to ordering the new Warchal strings when they come out, how exciting! I would also like to see an innovative E string made from some exotic metal costing around $80-100.00. ÷)
Edited: July 11, 2018, 7:28 AM · [deleted]
Edited: July 11, 2018, 9:19 AM · Strawman. No one ever suggested that gut was more stable than steel or even synthetics.

Have fun arguing that synthetics are better because they are scientifically more stable. To some violinists that's no issue (clearly, as gut is still being manufactured and used.) So cringe all you want, but these players are not you nor force you to play what they play. I would respect them and leave them to their own music-making if I was you.

If you acclimatized to gut string playing, you would change your tune, though it appears you are not one for open-mindedness. On that matter, I have always stated that there are many good synthetics out there, and I can find something to like in many brands-just that they are not the same as gut.

(I bet that Maestro Heifetz was using light bulbs during most of his lifetime. He stuck to gut anyway, so I assume he had great intonation problems, based on what seems to be suggested some posts above. BTW, Tricolore are remarkably stable for "dated" gut strings.)

July 11, 2018, 7:53 PM · Adalberto "cringe all you want, but these players are not you nor force you to play what they play. I would respect them and leave them to their own music-making if I was you."

Who said about me trying to force anyone? I was merely showing scientific evidence that gut string sucks in terms of reliability. And I even tried to show YOU more evidence since you asked for it in your last post. Yeah, I agree with what Bo said, it's not easy to explain to people that don't understand.

And how other people takes it is...not my problem. If it bothers you so much, there's a little x or - button that you can push :)

Adalberto "I bet that Maestro Heifetz was using light bulbs during most of his lifetime. He stuck to gut anyway, so I assume he had great intonation problems..."

There's a great athlete that jumps over the cliff 20 stories and still survives. Since he can do it, let's we all jump too!


Edited: July 11, 2018, 8:14 PM · I did press a button-and I hope it works, for the sake of this lovely community.

Enjoy your stability. I am off to enjoy some time playing out of tune with my sucky strings-since only Maestro Heifetz can play in tune, of course. Here I jump-off this thread-will I survive?

July 11, 2018, 8:18 PM · Adalberto "Here I jump-off this thread-will I survive?"

Please don't jump over the cliff 20 stories high with your computer or strings. It's just an analogy - no need to take it so seriously!

July 11, 2018, 9:33 PM · Bohdan Wachall "The strings will be ready soon, but we are going to communicate their launch via official advertising campaign. Promoting them here would be not fair."

Could you give me a heads up and tell me the name of your new string and a bit of info of its property? I understand if you plan to keep it a secret until launch date.

July 12, 2018, 11:41 AM · Adalberto, I can see your reasoning about the Passione's not being "true" gut, hence my reference to them as a hybrid gut. I considered the winding possibly altering the tonal qualities or undertones compared to unwound gut but the benefit of a beginner/intermediate student such as myself is that using the Passione's for a few weeks now has increased my confidence in trying pure gut. Consider the Passione's as a "gateway gut" :)

I have previously dealt with instability issues with a set of synthetics for a period but had adjusted to "playing through" by adjusting as needed to maintain intonation, which was a good learning experience for me. It turned out it wasn't the strings but slipping pegs, yet the experience was still beneficial.

That being said, I am willing try pure gut now, believing the compromises would be worth the effort if I like the sound on my violin. I may or may not consider them worth the effort in the end, but if I don't experience them for myself, I would always wonder if I was depriving myself of a possible great experience.

Tammuz, I apologize that your inquiry of Ambers has been hijacked by the subject of gut vs synthetic. My apologies.

Edited: July 12, 2018, 3:19 PM · Well said. This discussion seems to have been hijacked by a determined troller.
July 12, 2018, 3:30 PM · Mr. Skip,

Despite my misgivings about the extra synthetic layer over the gut core of Passione, I find them to be good strings (and a real gut string, along with my comments above that it does lose something, for better or worse.). Yes, maybe a "pathway" to other gut options, but I wouldn't disrespect anyone that deemed them "endgame" (to use some terms from other sort of discussions.) If I was offered a free-for-life string supply of Evah Pirazzi green or gold vs Passione Solo, I would take the latter 100% of the time-and I do not hate EP like some do. Passione regular are also great, and offer the player the option to choose whichever gauge the player may need, within a range.

I think you should try the Tricolore set as far as pure gut is concerned, likely varnished for the D and A. Medium should be fine; I have only used them "heavy", and they are never too tense vs popular synthetics. These are remarkably stable, I believe you'll find.

To avoid insulting others by my recommendation above, Dlugolecki also makes good pure gut strings-just happens that I love the Tricolore, regardless which violin master may have used them in the past.

Let's hope for the best with these new upcoming Warchal line.

Edited: July 12, 2018, 7:33 PM · Skip F., aside from the abrasive friction that happened, I find sometimes that side digressions that aren't totally irrelevant bring a lot of insights into the discussion. The larger issue of what synthetics are good at and what gut strings are special for, for example. And the tangential discussion of other strings..it's all good. Always a pleasure to read from more knowledgeable people.

Bohdan, I wonder whether you could explain a bit further what that W core is? I understand you have to keep production secrets, but at least the gist of it? Thanks

July 12, 2018, 9:05 PM · Lydia wrote, "I don't think that for good players, gut really represents a major risk to intonation." (Emphasis mine) Similar sentiments have appears in other posts in this thread.

What about for rank amateurs? I have always thought about trying gut strings but should I really expect my intonation to be worse?

July 12, 2018, 9:17 PM · not if you keep the strings in tune!!
Edited: July 12, 2018, 9:33 PM · It's likely to make you more aware of intonation, and by getting used to tuning more frequently, improve your overall acuteness. I used Eudoxas for the first 40 years. I notice that many amateurs today, playing on synthetic strings, seem less aware of intonation problems than in the past, and I have sometimes wondered if the fact that they don't have to re-tune as a regular habit has allowed them to become less vigilant. Recently I've sat next to several people who don't seem aware that their strings are almost a semitone off. (The frequency of retuning, once gut strings have stabilized, by the way, has been rather exaggerated. Gut strings become reasonably stable after break-in. I never thought of it as a problem back in the day.)
July 12, 2018, 9:30 PM · Here's basically the pattern for gut: Like synthetics, they go slowly out of tune over a period of hours. So when you first pull the violin out of the case, you'll probably have to tune. They won't go out by a half-step or the like, normally, but they won't be dead-on pitch (again, just like you'd usually have to tune synthetics).

However, if their case environment, or their initial room environment, is very different from where they go next, you will end up retuning again. So say you go from an air-conditioned dry green room, to a room with higher humidity and hot stage lights. You'll probably have to tune again ten minutes later, at the start of rehearsal, say, because they will have gone a little off-pitch. Then they should be fine for the rehearsal.

It's not that the pitch of gut is constantly changing. It's that they are more reactive to change in their immediate environment. As long as you are not moving between environments, they should stay in tune.

I think my intonation was actually better when I was using Olivs, because they had a much richer overtone series, making it easier to hear whether or not I was spot-on in tune.

July 12, 2018, 10:09 PM · In passing, does anyone know how the Amber compares to Obligatos?
July 12, 2018, 11:22 PM · @Paul Deck who said What about for rank amateurs? I have always thought about trying gut strings but should I really expect my intonation to be worse?

As an amateur and beginner, intonation while playing is not an issue (except for open strings). Even with synthetics I think all violinist readjust continuously the milimetric position while playing, for example, to match the pitch of some nearby instrument. It's natural and comes without thinking. Like @Parker Duchemin has said, only players who would use absolute muscle memory to play and are deaf playing would be affected, but I can't think of any player, apart from a kid student, playing like that.
As a beginner and amateur, my main difficulty has been to express the dynamics by bowing. Guts rely more in contact point and speed than synthetics which can express it with bow pressure. Intonation has not been any different than synthetics...

July 13, 2018, 12:30 AM · Adalberto, don't misunderstand, I am enjoying the Passiones very much. I was just expressing my increased desire to try unwound gut based on how much I enjoy the sound of the Passiones on my violin. I believe when the Passiones play out I'll try the Tricolores, although at this time I am content with what I have. Thanks for the advice.

Lydia, you were pretty much spot on with my first experience with a weather change. While I've experienced similar tuning drift with synthetics, it was a bit more of a change than I've previously dealt with. I had an episode where after a weather front had moved in and at a different location, the humidity had risen about 30%, I had tuned before doing scales, after about 10 to 15 minutes of instrument acclimation, I had to retune again, but after that the Passione's were stable until I quit practicing a couple of hours later. I had checked tuning a couple of times during that period and was surprised that they were staying pretty spot on.

Tammuz, on my violin, the Obligatos were a a little darker and less focused than the Ambers, almost a little muddy sounding, and within days of allowing the O's to settle in, I replaced the E with the Amber A, due to the Obligato E sounding weaker and less resonant to me. That being said, on a previous violin, which was a little brighter and brilliant than I cared for, the Obligatos sounded very warm and with a somewhat focused gut sound. I loved them on that violin. Now that I've played the Ambers quite a bit, I prefer them over the Obligatos as they seem to adapt to different violins better for me and retaining a warm, edging toward a dark tone but retaining more clarity. That's my experience. Keep in mind I'm an intermediate student with limited ability to draw the best from a particular string.

Edited: July 13, 2018, 6:07 AM · Any musical instrument string, of any material, will start to go out of tune the moment it is played (that's physics). In the vast majority of cases the out-of-tuneness is tiny and is masked by the player, but eventually a re-tune becomes necessary. I've played in many concerts over the years where the conductor has ordered a general re-tune after the first item on the programme, and perhaps later on if the hall gets a lot warmer and the brass and woodwind start to go sharp.

While we're about it, let's hear for the all-steel string setup! Even that goes out of tune a little due to a number of factors including slippage on the pegs, and small dimensional changes in the wood of the instrument due to temperature and humidity changes.

BTW, I'm currently using a Warchal Amber E on one of my violins – lovely tone string with clear projection.

Edited: July 13, 2018, 1:41 PM · If it's just a matter of keeping my strings in tune, that's no problemo because I'm a gear-peg man.

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