Guts, or something

Edited: July 24, 2018, 9:59 PM · Many of you have seen my post about my particularly... active perspiration, and the trouble I'm having with gut strings. I peeked around the world wide webnet and found very limited information about varnished violin guts. Mostly stuff pertaining to bass (which I guess is somewhat relevant, because I do play bass—but there ain't no way I'm dropping $500 on gut bass strings!), and not much in the way of in-depth explanations. So, if any of you have tried both varnished and unvarnished guts, please try to describe the difference between the two in as much painstaking detail as possible. Then if anyone asks about guts again in the distant future and it gets annoying to answer the same questions over and over, you can just link them back here.

Still gonna see if going super health-nut for a month has any effect on my sweat pH.

Replies (13)

Edited: July 25, 2018, 3:19 AM · "going super health-nut"

There are such a lot of different and even contradictory concepts about what's healthy that the chance to do something foolish is high.
Check with your doctor, if you want to be on the save side.
Avoid pseudo-science like "energies" and such.

Good luck.

Luck was not on the side of the sheep whose guts were used for string making.

July 25, 2018, 9:01 AM · Why wouldn't you go "super health nut" anyway?
Yes, let us know what exactly that means.
July 25, 2018, 9:18 AM · Varnished works-just my experience. The tone is great, so even when you will most certainly find people that won't ever use varnished, I would wager that the difference between a wound gut A and a varnished pure gut A are MUCH bigger than between a same type of pure gut string, varnished vs unvarnished.

Mr. Larson himself once stated to me personally via e-mail that the differences would be greater the larger the diameter of the string, and that *in his view*, for the violin the difference is so hard to notice one may as well go varnished (I am however paraphrasing.) Many violinists will disagree of course. But for the convenience added (IME great longevity without any special cleaning other than a piece of soft cloth, and excellent pitch stability), *I* could also recommend varnished strings of any brand you choose.

The Chorda works for many, but maybe for your perspiration and climate you can at least try some of the other solutions. (If I used Chorda, I would not use anything but the thickest gauge, since I do not play repertoire that goes below 440hz.)

Some others in this very forum have used both types, so they may perhaps share their findings with you.

July 25, 2018, 10:59 AM · "Super health nut":

I'm not into chi or homeopathy or chakra/ opening my third eye or any of that nonsense.
Just following the advice I found here and got from some other trusted sources. Brushing my greens, eating my teeth.


If anyone knows about opening your third ear with mystical energies, though, I'll happily try it.

July 25, 2018, 11:26 AM · You could try chugging baking soda.
July 25, 2018, 3:37 PM · "I'm not into chi or homeopathy or chakra/ opening my third eye or any of that nonsense."

I always felt you're not so bad after all...

...there's still hope...

;- )

Edited: August 15, 2018, 2:39 AM · I have experimented A LOT with varnished and unvarnished strings over the last few months and here are my findings...

Varnished: Sound is fine for all strings except very high up on the E string (near the edge of the fingerboard) where it can sometimes sound false. However most people don't need to use those notes so it's fine.
The D and A will last months. The E lasts me about 2 weeks. If you practise less than 2 hours a day, it could last 1 month.
BIG problem for me is that playing notes on the varnished string will make them sharp ie. the spaces between notes get smaller. But it all depends on which gauge you get. I can use Gamut varnished heavy/unvarnished heavy+ and get the same intonation (since I think the layer of varnish acts as a diameter increaser), but varnished heavy+ and you get big problems with double stops. You probably should get medium+ or heavy varnished strings.

Unvarnished: Sound is better and less thin. No problems at all with the Mt. Everest notes on the E string, so if you are playing Wieniawski/Ysaye/Berg Concerto you might need this string. D lasts months and A will last at least 1 month. E lasts me about 10 days unfortunately. Since there is no varnish to increase the diameter (big cause of sharpening intonation) you can go up to heavy+ and it should be fine.

Overall the varnished A 0.82 and E 0.62 would be the best for you, but you may need to get your bridge slightly lowered on these 2 strings so that the intonation will be even across all 4 strings. Or you could do what I do, which is use the lighter gauge varnished strings for practice so you can save money, then switch to unvarnished a few days before a big concert.

August 15, 2018, 9:40 AM · Is it feasible for someone to varnish his unplayed brand new gut strings? If it is feasible, what varnish would be used, and what would be the procedure?
August 15, 2018, 10:18 AM · Trevor, surely it would be less expensive in the long run to buy the pre-varnished ones.
August 15, 2018, 10:38 AM · Considering the difference between synthetic to wound gut to pure gut, I believe the unvarnished vs varnished factor in pure gut strings makes little difference, said varnish adding many practical advantages for minimal cost, thus why I see no reason to even try unvarnished gut. There must be differences, but the varnished strings do last for a LONG time without fraying or losing much tonal quality.

Of course, it's OK to prefer and love unvarnished strings for sure.

August 15, 2018, 11:05 AM · Regarding health options, with a name like Cotton Mather, you should avoid any Wicca practitioners. They talk and have long memories.
August 15, 2018, 12:42 PM · I'll make sure to stay away from black cats and shaggy old ladies in wizarding caps.
August 17, 2018, 12:29 PM · A dear friend has an extreme acidic sweat problem, and a new gut string changed in the morning might break that evening. Doesn't smoke, pretty normal, healthy person.

That friend encountered another baroque string player with a similar problem who has been using a machine that costs several hundred euros. The machine prepares a liquid solution in which you soak your hands in for 10 minutes, and it blocks up the sweat openings of the skin. It sounds extreme but my friend's particular situation is also extreme. For them it really helps them in their professional careers and my friend can have a peace of mind going into a competition or important concert.

I don't know what is the best solution for you, but best of luck!


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