November 17, 2018, 1:43 PM · It's a bit tough to read by virtue of the broken English, but they talk about some interesting ideas. I also read a little bit from the Aquila website about high-twist gut strings and their special "V twist"... I wish they would explain more! I've slowly been using higher and higher tension guts for a while, but I guess now I'm going to have to ask Mr. Larson for a pair of proper high-twist middle strings. I want to try this for myself...


Replies (12)

Edited: November 17, 2018, 4:24 PM · Why don't you just make your own violin strings? I mean, how hard can it really be?
November 17, 2018, 4:40 PM · First of all you need a handy abattoir. Without that you need to go out and find a sheep or goat to kill. Probably sheep since goats have horns - although some sheep do too. Get the guts out, clean them - string them up to dry without rotting - then maybe you can start stripping the "catlins"snd then start the winding process to make strings.

I think it's pretty hard.

Good Luck!

November 17, 2018, 5:25 PM · Making gut strings (not forgetting gut for surgery) is one of the oldest technologies around. I read somewhere that the sheep has to be degutted no later than about 10 minutes post mortem for the best results from the gut. And that's only the start of a long process.

The Romans had a word for gut, "fides"*, used in reference to gut strings for a musical instrument, which in those days were plucked. "Fidicen" would have been a male player of a gut instrument, and "fidicina" his female counterpart. These words would be used by extension in connection with the bowed gut instruments of later centuries.

* There is another Latin word "fides" meaning faith, belief etc, but this has a different root to the "fides" meaning gut and is declined differently in grammar.

November 17, 2018, 6:08 PM · Is this why some people have faith in their gut?
November 17, 2018, 8:16 PM · I read recently the "cat" in catgut was a reference to the cattle used. Not actually cats, unfortunately.
Edited: November 17, 2018, 9:28 PM · Quoting from James Beament's 1997 book "The Violin Explained" (page 210):
" --only vegetarians need a long gut to complete the digestion and absorption of food low in nutritional content. Apparently, lute strings were divided into minnikins and catlins, and the 'cat' prefix was transferred to gut. The principle of making gut strings has hardly varied. According to the size of string required, a number of lengths of the membrane are wound tightly together while wet, and held stretched under tension for several days; the strands cohere well when they are the dried. Nowadays the string is ground to make it uniformly cylindrical throughout its length, because uniformity is essential for high-quality sound. Irregular gut strings are required for authentic early-instrument sound -- and one can hear that they are."

He went on to write:
"The harmonicity of strings made of different materials is also largely determined by their tensions. To understand how string makers can manipulate the properties of strings to improve harmonicity and behavior, we need to know how pitch, length, weight and tension are related. The principle of these relationships was discovered independently by Galileo (~) and by the ever-surprising Mersenne*; of course they had to express their findings in terms of musical pitch, for the concept of frequency was not known."


November 18, 2018, 7:04 AM · Making my own strings...?
I was thinking about that. I'll do it, but when I'm older and I have the time. Making gut strings isn't like rehairing a bow; it takes a lot of time, money, and work to make good gut strings.
November 18, 2018, 3:48 PM · And sheep.
Edited: November 18, 2018, 4:55 PM · Cotton Mather wrote:
"Making my own strings...?
I was thinking about that. I'll do it, but when I'm older and I have the time. Making gut strings isn't like rehairing a bow; it takes a lot of time, money, and work to make good gut strings."

Uh oh. Doing a rehair sufficient for a soloist, or a major symphony player, ain't exactly a slam-dunk either.

November 18, 2018, 4:54 PM · @ScottCole "Not actually cats, unfortunately" shhhhh Kitty is listening :)
November 19, 2018, 3:41 AM · David do you put less effort in a rehair when it is for an amateur, say, than when it is for a soloist or major symphony player?
November 19, 2018, 9:58 AM · Jean, please, some amateurs ARE soloists or major symphony players!

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