Tricolores put to the ultimate test

November 15, 2018, 7:32 AM · I just finished a series of concerts all around Warsaw, in all sorts of halls, churches and cathedrals. Some of these places were fine, but most were freezing cold and extremely humid (Polish cathedrals don't have central heating!). As you can imagine, my hands were both numb and sweaty.
Even moving, though, from a hot bus to a cold church and then back to a hot bus and back to another cold church, I only had to tune once before each performance (and that was really just to make sure). I couldn't feel my fingers, but my violin nonetheless stayed in tune and played with the same smooth tone.

My conclusion: anyone who says gut strings are unreliable or unstable is a crackpot. Unless they're talking about Chordas, which are a nightmare even in stable conditions.

Replies (4)

November 17, 2018, 12:03 PM · I disagree about them being "crackpots"-but more innocently ignorant, passing on "common knowledge" from teachers/other players, or just had bad experiences with a few of the brands out there. Too many people simply believe all gut is gut, while that same standard is rarely applied to synthetics-where more "differences" are expected.

I do agree the Tricolore are stability champs-at least the varnished are-and it would be a pity to believe they are unstable just because Eudoxa can be (and ironically are highly practical regardless!) No one should be afraid of pure gut Tricolore, as their only "cons" are getting used to bowing them properly or their sound, if disliked (improbable, but some people have come to adore their synthetic wound strings, and are likely to be shocked by the very evident tonal departure from that standard.) And they also sound different than wound gut strings, for better or worse.

One Thomastik representative was once mocking gut strings on another forum, one or two decades (or so) ago. The Tricolore are much better than all their range, even their best offerings, as tuning stability is not a concern, so their main benefit is rather limited if all you care is about sound.

No offense to Dominant, Pi, Vision lovers intended. Those are good and "practical", but most definitely not better than gut. Dominant is a fine synthetic that has worked well for likely millions, but there have been some drawbacks (IMHO) from players getting used to play only on synthetics.

(I just do not appreciate the above mentioned person's arrogance in wanting to market their product. Gut is not "outdated" just because the majority doesn't employ them!)

Edited: November 19, 2018, 2:46 PM · I'm currently trying out a set of Savarez gut strings, which are lighter tension than the Chordas I've been using for years. Comparing the two brands,
the Savarez copper-wound G has a wonderful purring tone (reminiscent of a contented big cat enjoying its meal);
the Savarez D is a great improvement over the Chorda, with more focused sound, better in the higher positions, and a thinner feel under the fingers;
the Savarez A is as good as the Chorda A, and again a slightly thinner feel under the fingers.

The Savarez E is, I fear, too light for my usual playing purposes, and anyway I like the sound and response of the Chorda E. I don't think the Savarez E will last as long as the Chorda, a gut E I can comfortably live with regarding its longevity.

I'm currently trying out a set of Savarez gut strings, which are lighter tension than the Chordas I've been using for years. Comparing the two brands,
the Savarez copper-wound G has a wonderful purring tone (reminiscent of a contented big cat enjoying its meal);
the Savarez D is a great improvement over the Chorda, with more focused sound, better in the higher positions, and a thinner feel under the fingers;
the Savarez A is as good as the Chorda A, and again a slightly thinner feel under the fingers.
The Savarez E is, I fear, too light for my usual playing purposes, and anyway I like the sound and response of the Chorda E. I don't think the Savarez E will last as long as the Chorda, a gut E I can comfortably live with regarding its longevity and playability.

One area where the Savarez gut strings score over the Chordas is that the Savarez strings come in double length - a significant financial saving.

All these comparisons have been made on my 18th c violin, which has a reasonably close approximation to a Baroque setup.

One day I expect to try the Tricolores.

November 19, 2018, 4:59 PM · @Trevor Jennings:
It seems you bought one of these customized sets for an antique/baroque violin made out of gut strings produced by Savarez. These sets are often made up for tuning A1 = 415 Hz. So the gauge of the strings is thinner.
Savarez offers a variety of varnished/oiled gut in 38 different diameters. The copper wound gut comes in 36 the silver plated copper wound gut comes in 41 different gauges. So feel free to choose the gauge of your Savarez strings more similar to the chorda strings you are used to.
I'm using wound Savarez gut strings for years now because the sound and the quality of these strings on my instruments lies well above of what Pirastro can offer in the range of comparable wound gut strings. I won't switch back to Pirastro wound gut any more which I became aquainted with for several decades.
November 19, 2018, 5:31 PM · @Jose, thank you for that advice - I'll bear it mind when buying my next set.


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