Gut string experts please help!

December 26, 2018, 6:29 AM · I want to use plain gut A and D, but I have massive problems with the sharpening of intonation. Both Damian Dlugolecki and Dan Larson have told me that sharpening is reduced by increasing twist. The gimped strings have more twist, but it is too much and the sound is not good.

So I tried slightly twisting the strings myself before putting them into the pegbox, but it didn't seem to do anything... Is it possible for me to moisten the string, twist it, and then let it dry, all without ruining the string?

Replies (10)

Edited: December 26, 2018, 11:40 AM · You can soak a string, twist it, then hang taught to dry, but that's kind of ruining it unless you have a polishing machine. If you want a higher twist, order higher gague strings or ask for a custom set.

Either way, I recommend you oil your strings with boiled(!) linseed oil every two weeks. This keeps the string from fraying and helps it retain its flexibility (the reason they go false is because they go stiff). Some people also use mineral or walnut oil—as long as it doesn't go rancid, it should work.

December 26, 2018, 5:36 PM · James,
Just curious--how did the strings change with twisting? This may be unrelated, but old piano bass strings can be brought back to life by putting a twist in them. They will get brighter.
December 26, 2018, 7:28 PM · I'm not sure if it was placebo, but yes the sound was slightly brighter. Intonation was also placebo improved by about 5-10%. Anyway I just twisted it while dry which probably increased the twist angle by less than 1 degree...
December 26, 2018, 7:58 PM · Or not at all. Even wet, it's hard to change the original twist.
December 27, 2018, 7:03 AM · I see. So what did my dry twisting do to the string if it didn't change the original twist? Did it just change the texture of the string?
Edited: December 27, 2018, 7:24 AM · What does "the sharpening of intonation" mean?
1. Your room is dry and/or cold, so the string shortens while you play.
2. You are not accustomed to gut strings and the contact point of your fingertips is constantly wrong.
3. other?

Is E pure gut too? If not, the type and gauge of E may impact # 2.

My 2 worthless Canadian cents.

Edited: December 27, 2018, 6:44 PM · By sharpening of intonation, I mean that after the initial use period (1 week or less), when I put my finger down, the string plays at a sharper intonation than what it normally does when brand new. This is due to the string becoming stiff. My plain gut E and wound gut G are not affected by this phenomenon but my plain gut A and D are, which can make double stops a nightmare.

Example: when playing a minor 6th on the G and D string, the D string plays sharp so I need to place it lower, forcing my fingers to squish very tightly together. In the contary, the A and E string has the opposite effect, making the space very wide.

December 28, 2018, 9:52 PM · Well, if you have no issues with E, then I would suspect the string clearance / shape of the fingerboard. Also, any misalignment between the nut ant the bridge, or even the grooves on the nut. String can not be sharp - the player is supposed to correct the intonation, but if you can not play clear fifths, this sounds like a hardware / setup issue. You can also use a very small amount of pure almond oil to hydrate your strings.
December 28, 2018, 11:50 PM · That's really interesting, my experience is old gut strings "sink" instead of going sharp. I'm sorry I don't know what is the solution for either problem. Many baroque soloists I've talked to experience this problem which drives them nuts as well, and they often change the adjacent strings, even if it's still fully functional, so that they can play fifths without extreme contortions to accommodate faulty old strings.
January 1, 2019, 5:50 AM · UPDATE
I have finally solved this problem! My homebrew method...
Step 1: put strings in a zip lock bag together with a water filled dampit
Step 2: after 1-2 hours, remove strings and start twisting them. (Use whatever device you wish. I tie both ends around pencils then hangg the pencils using some furniture)
Step 3: oil the string with almond oil. String has been under a lot of stress and needs to heal.
Step 4: feed string through peg hole like normal, but before putting end in tailpiece, twist it a few more times.

The result is a string which has a bit more than regular twist, but less than those commercial super high twist strings like Gamut's pistoy and Toro's venice. It will be just the right balance! The intonation will also be in the middle. Not perfect like a high twist, but muuch better than regular twist. I feel like this is an age old problem that can finally be fixed at home!

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