Gut Strings

October 11, 2018, 4:51 PM · Hi,
This might be a bit of a silly question and one that I could probably Google. However, I wanted to get actual opinions from you guys. My strings are at the point where they could probably do with changing and I want to try something different.
So I was hoping I could get some opinions on gut strings, what are the pros and cons? Are there any you'd recommend?

Cheers,
Peter

Replies (12)

October 11, 2018, 4:56 PM · Pros: they sound amazing

Cons: they sometimes get a bad rap because people don't give themselves enough time to get used to them.

Buy yourself a set of varnished Tricolores and play them until they die. I can list a million reasons to buy or to avoid gut strings (depending on your needs), but the best way is for you to just try them and see for yourself.

October 11, 2018, 5:56 PM · There is no reason not to try them. See if they give you a sound you like. They do tend to be less stable than synthetics, but that may not be a big problem for you. Have fun!
Edited: October 12, 2018, 5:55 AM · Pro: Beauty of tonal response -- though this is subjective. Results will vary, depending on your instrument.

Con: Break-in time, pitch stability, price. They generally take longer to settle than composite-core strings. Tuning and re-tuning can be a challenge, too, in frequent changes of temperature and humidity. The hot, humid weather here in the American Southeast isn't a problem for me -- as long as I tune strictly and consistently to 440 and play daily on them.

I've had great results on one of my fiddles with the stiff versions of Eudoxa D-G and Oliv D-G. I team these strings with a composite-core A and steel E. My other two instruments use composite-core A-D-G and steel E.

BTW, Pirastro recommends the stiff D-G Olivs and Eudoxas for modern players. My one tryout of regular Eudoxa D-G in early 2006 was a letdown. They didn't withstand intense bow pressure as well as their stiff counterparts. Their pitch stability wasn't as good, either, and I found the tone less robust than what I've consistently had with stiffs.

Edited: October 11, 2018, 6:51 PM · I was at that point a few months ago and decided to use the "gateway" string for gut, Pirastro Passione strings. They're a wound gut, if you're, not familiar with them. Sort of a hybrid gut. I've had them a couple of months now and have found them to be a very rich and warm string on my violin. Nice overtones and surprisingly very strong projection.

They took about a week (1-2 hrs a day) to settle down and they were fairly tuning stable after about 6 hrs of playing.

I really enjoy the tone and in my climate have no complaints about tuning. I tune at the beginning of a lesson and they're good for the 1.5hrs no problem. Same for ensemble which may run a couple of hours. I've gone a day or more without playing and may have to slightly tweek one or two strings but that's about it.

After these go down, I was planning on trying pure gut but I like these Passiones so much I may stay with them a while.

I can't compare them to other guts as I've never used any other type of gut before now.

October 11, 2018, 9:46 PM · Passiones are a nice compromise. They are gut strings- so you get a gut sound, but they're stable enough for orchestral playing. The lower strings are particularly nice- rich and responsive. I use a steel e, and am good enough with the A, although it's not my favorite.
October 12, 2018, 2:42 AM · Use the search function in this forum and you will find a lot of discussions about this. You will find people telling you to stay away from gut because they are unstable and extremely expensive and don't last long. (At least some of these will not have own experience with gut.)
And you will find people - like me - who have found otherwise. In my experience gut strings last much longer than most modern synthetics. So while the price of the strings may be higher the cost is actually lower. Oliv stiff G is a very nice string - beautyful sound and very long lasting. For D I prefer the silver wound version of the regular oliv - it gives me more clarity especially in higher positions. For the A string it is more difficult. The oliv A does not work for me. It may very well be responsible for the bad reputation of instability for gut strings in general. The Passione A or Passione solo A works well with the above mentioned D and G. Or you can go with a synthetic here or even a steel A like the Warchal Avantgarde. I personally prefer the sound of Passione solo A over the synthetics. Top that with your favorite E. My current preference is the platinum coated E from Pirastro. I have no problems using this combo for orchestral playing.
Edited: October 12, 2018, 4:24 AM · I have used the Eudoxas (with Stiff G&D) and Passione Solo.
In Eudoxas I used the whole set. I liked the Eudoxa A more than other alternatives. It worked very well. I also used the Eudoxa E. It's a weird E, but I think it complemented the sound as it should.

My review of them is here: https://www.violinist.com/Discussion/thread.cfm?page=1709

I think that they were more beautiful than any other synthetic and lasted longer. It also promoted and "taught" better bowing.

The big problem is how they go out of tune with variations of humidity. In my case, as I always play in A/C rooms, during practice the humidity starts at 80% and drops steadily to 55%. During that drying, I had always to retune every 30 minutes. Not a problem at home, but in class and rehearse, there were eventually too many "ahems" from other players and teacher.

Passione Solo were more a synthetic that "tasted" like gut. The feeling in the fingers and bow is definetly synthetic, the sound reminds very much to gut.
They also went out of tune, but a lot less that the Eudoxas and a lot more slowly. Not so much that you had to stop to retune in middle of practice. You would always need to do it before taking the violin, but there are synthetics that seem like they never finish the stetching and those you also need to retune.

Out of that humidity problem, both outlived and outperfomed, by far, any synthetics.

October 12, 2018, 7:49 AM · I tried Passiones some years ago and liked them. Worth a try since they give some of the advantages of gut with less of the disadvantages.
October 12, 2018, 8:17 AM · I have to admit that I hadn't even heard of the Passione Strings, it sounds like I may have to give them a try to see if gut strings are for me. I'll probably buy some when I'm next paid and see what I think. I can always change back if I hate them I guess.

Cheera guys

Edited: October 12, 2018, 8:33 AM · IMO wound gut keeps the slow response but loses the tone. Basically just stretchier synthetics. I recommend varnished gut.
October 12, 2018, 9:37 AM · Cotton, then do you use a synthetic G since it has faster response and doesn't lose tone?

Peter, if you have never played on gut strings before, then I would ease into them and use the Eudoxa A (as Carlos mentioned, excellent string), with Passione solo G. I recommend Passione solo G because out of all the gut G strings, it has the best projection and tuning stability. The D string you could try either Passione/Passione solo or Oliv silver wound.

Once you are completely comfortable with these strings and can more or less consistently play without any squeaks (requires playing closer to the bridge with the correct balance of vertical-horizontal force, and in general starting strokes from the string), then I would start using a plain gut E and A.

This is the point where I stop, because I believe that G+D wound gut and A+E plain is optimal for sound quality. For me it really doesn't matter what was historically accurate, the most important thing is that it sounds good and is logistically manageable to play. The final step is to use a plain gut D, which some report to play sharp compared to other strings. A solution to this is to select a double twist or any super high twist string to increase the flexibility. The plain D is fun to play, especially in learning to enjoy and figure out the slower response. While having a beautiful sound, it does unfortunately have less resonance than its wound counterpart since it is so thick and without metal to help it resonate.

October 12, 2018, 10:05 AM · Right now using "May old" Eudoxa G&D Rigid (16/17 respectively), the perfect Tricolore A "heavy" varnished pure gut (2 weeks or so old), and a Pirazzi Platinum E, so-called "weich", also from May (7.8kp, so not truly light.) Amazed at the longevity of gut-perhaps only a gut E needs more frequent changing. They last and last for me, for all the years I have been using them.

Thr Platinum E has lost some shine and power, but they still sound good and resonate, and I have a replacement ready. The Eudoxa lost a smidgen of power, but are still sounding great, thus I am reluctant to change them (I have their replacements ready as well-found an affordable deal online on Oliv strings.)

The Platinum E is very good, though I am reluctant to use the heavier version due to what I figured they usually do to my violin. Since the "weich" version works great, don't feel a need to experiment (Goldbrokat and Hill mediums are my other favorites.)

For wound gut lovers, I also recommend the Tricolore wound G&D, which are also powerful and "bright done right". That G's initial sound is temporary-let it stretch and settle in.

Even the "value" Pirastro Gold Label set is quite good.

IME, the squeaking of pure gut strings goes away after some hours of stretching, unless one's bowing is the problem.

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