Equal tension strings

January 1, 2019, 3:56 PM · Can someone tell us his experience about equal tension gut strings?

The pros & cons...

Replies (11)

January 1, 2019, 4:13 PM · Pros: none, as far as I can tell
Cons: everything

The tension on most ET sets is waaay too high...
Sure, every string has the same weight, but they're also super thick and stifled by the immense mass of gut. They're more expensive, too.

Granted, I've never tried ET. This is my educated speculation from looking at the numbers.

Edited: January 1, 2019, 6:09 PM · @Amine, I agree generally with Cotton on this. But if you're into pre-Renaissance repertoire playing on a distant predecessor of the modern violin, well, maybe ...

If you want a proper rundown on ET strings I'd contact Gamut - they may have something on their website (I haven't checked).

[Edit added] On second thoughts, perhaps ET strings could be suitable for the Arab Andalusian music you play. Again, contact Gamut.

January 1, 2019, 6:10 PM · Cotton, with equal tension and equal weight, the 4 strings will give the same note!

January 1, 2019, 6:55 PM · Amine, I suspect you may not get much experience-based feedback on ET strings on this site. ET strings (or "equal feel" if you end up on that side of this particular debate) are part of a theory of equal or greater than modern historical string tensions that require a particular setup on your violin, and are really geared towards early music practitioners playing violins in baroque or earlier style setups with the relevant bows. Although they are a very interesting avenue for musical exploration and I personally like listening to people who use them, even most 'baroque' violinists tend to use lower and graduated string tensions with wound G strings. The Gabrieli Consort and Monteverdi String Band use historical string tensions and you can find a few videos on youtube.
January 1, 2019, 7:55 PM · You forget to consider the other important factor in determining pitch: density per unit length. The strings can have the same weight but different diametre and you will get the pitches you need.
Edited: January 1, 2019, 8:12 PM · Amine, my luthier answered this question with British accent: "they sound like a goat's fart!"
(he services quite a few fiddles owned by the members of Tafelmusik, so he knows his Baroque staff)
After all your questions, I am getting temped to invite you to Canada to get all your string inquires resolved in 2 days.
January 1, 2019, 8:35 PM · The practice of winding metal wire on gut strings was believed to be adopted before the year 1700 because the sound was more attractive. "Wound strings have much less stiffness than large solid core gut ones with correspondingly improved harmonicity" (according to Sir James Beament in his book "The Violin Explained").

Beament also explains why string instruments with soundposts (i.e., our instruments) have "mismatched" tensions (highest on the highest string ranging gradually down to lowest tension for the lowest string). Years ago I decided to test this by mixing string brands on one of my violins to get as close to a tension match as possible. It seemed to me the strings worked fine. According to the book typical polyamide-cored string tensions (kgm) are:

Violin: G 5; D 5.3; A 5.6; E (steel) 9
Viola: C 5.2; G 5.5; D 5.7; A 8-10
Cello: C 10; G 11; D 12.5; A 14.5

Edited: January 3, 2019, 7:48 AM · Cotton, sorry but the pitch depends only on a)tension, and b)mass per unit length. Diameter will depend on the density of gut, steel, silver, resins etc.
Edited: January 3, 2019, 8:46 AM · Is it the case that the soundpost only exists to strengthen the violin against the extra tension caused in the treble by gut strings being more similar in weight 300 years ago?
January 3, 2019, 9:07 AM · Pah, semantics. You know what I mean.
January 3, 2019, 2:43 PM · Rocky, trust me, I learned a lot of things for my music in this forum than in the real life! So imagine if I change country :)


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