I’m wanting to venture into the world of gut strings and wondered what would be a good “starter” set for me to try? Any and all recommendations and tips are greatly appreciated!
I think it depends on your level and how long you have been playing. If you are pretty new, then an entire set of either Eudoxa or Passione is good. If you have been playing for at least 5 years and want to experience real plain gut, then you can try using Gamut, Dlugolecki, Toro, or Aquila. I would say that Toro and Gamut are the best out of these brands.
Thank you James! I’ve been a player for 35 years so I’ve been around for some time! Played dominants for years and have been playing the Perpetuals for awhile and really love them! But I have another instrument I’d love to try the guts with and your input has been super helpful, thank you!
I think Olives would be a good set for you to try.
No experience here with plain gut. I started using wound gut in early high school, about 1 year after I'd moved up to my first 4/4-size instrument. These were Pirastro Gold. Later I tried the above-mentioned Eudoxa and Olive with good results -- always liked them.
Don't like the Pirastro wound gut at all.
For what little it may be worth, I have "much" to say, but am practicing with Oliv wound gut right now, which are excellent.
I would recommend at least giving the pure unwound sheep gut A a try from Gamut. If you like the feel and sound of the A you can also try a pure unwound sheep gut D. The Pirastro Oliv G&D work really well - the Oliv A however is an awful string and completely unstable. Plain unwound A or a Pirastro Eudoxa A are better choices in my opinion. You might need to experiment a little with gauges as a few of the others have already mentioned, before you find the right one for your playing style and instrument. Typically the heavier gauges can take more bow pressure whereas the lighter gauges are more for period baroque bows/setups.
The best kept secret is Lenzner "Super solo" set. Extremely well balances with many overtones. Wound G and D, pure gut A and their famous Goldbrokat E.
All the aforementioned options above are likely good to perfect for many violins and violinists.
To add to Mr. Robinson's comment above-the Oliv A is stable for me, but very delicate-I installed it on Saturday, and it's now early Friday, and the windings at the end of the fingerboard are a bit loose. Bad. I will contact Pirastro for a replacement (they are good that way), but it shouldn't happen at all.
There seems to be different opinions on the Oliv A. For a long time I avoided it based on hearsay (mostly here) about its instability, windings loosening and so on. I finally decided to try it out for myself. I had no problems with the windings and I really liked the sound. But it never became stable. The stiff G and silver D (also oliv) are much more stable. In the end - after trying several other A strings (Warchal Avantgarde, Amber and a few others) I put a Passione Solo on after recommendation from Pirastro. It works well on my violin with the G and D mentioned above. And currently I use the platinum coated Pirazzi E. This makes a wonderful set.
Yes, Mr. Pontoppidan, the Oliv A sounds really nice-better than the Passione Solo. As you can read above, I have no problems with stability (which leads me to my earlier comments about gut string batches quality for Pirastro). I have used the Oliv A before, and the windings lasted normally that first time (this is my second Oliv A in some years.) Perhaps I just got a bad string. Pirastro should replace it in time, especially given how quickly the windings failed.
Thank you SO much everyone! I ordered the "heifetz set" from Gamut. Goldbrokat E, Tricolore pure gut Silver G, Tricolore Pure Gut A and D medium gauges. I am excited to try these out and hopefully the medium gauges will be sufficient. I also got the unvarnished for now since it's pretty cold climate here for the time being.
I find the varnished strings go false when the varnish begins to wear, so don't worry about going plain. I just use boiled linseed oil on mine weekly. Keeps them well preserved. I also have a stainless E since the Goldbrokats rusted on me, but since you don't have wetpaw like I do, it shouldn't be a problem.
May you enjoy your first time playing gut strings. Hopefully it won't be the last.
Every violin is different but assuming yours in a good instrument, I'd recommend starting with olives. Before you put them on I'd also recommend making sure your pegs are working correctly, you should also put some graphite in saddle/bridge grooves. You're going be using your pegs a lot more and olives don't particularly like being completely slackened and retensioned.
Thank you everyone again! Last question, can anyone direct me to a good webpage for care/maintenance of gut strings? Rosin and oil?
There is no one page for that. Trust me when I say that gut string care is a rabbithole you don't wanna venture down into...
"... they will last forever"
I don't use gut Es and neither should you.
Mr. Jennings-when I myself claim that they last an eternity, I am definitely also not referring to the gut E. I am sure you agree the other gut strings do last well.
I think in terms of optimal E string sound quality, the best sound from open string to around 5th position comes from gut, and from 6th position and above comes from steel. I wish we had some sort of futuristic string which sounded gradually thinner the further up the fingerboard we went...
Well, my gut feeling on this is.......I'm not sure.
How are they high maintenance?
There are some gut Gs wound with copper wire (not flat-wound). It gives a different, but attractive, sound to the standard silver-wound.
The new Oliv strings I mentioned above were sounding phenomenal last evening, A windings issue notwithstanding. I really like that wound gut A (using 13.5), though still believe the Tricolore has an even more open (and unique) sound. But they are sounding very clear, powerful, and rich (the tension evened up-initially, they were a bit more dark and smooth, though perhaps my violin may be a bit temperamental as well.)
@Adalberto Valle-Rivera said
In my experience the comments about stability and life span of gut strings often comes from people who have not been using them themselves. Or have used them very long time ago. Only by trying for yourself will you discover what works for you....
Also thinking that perhaps people with many violins stringed with gut core strings that have not been played in a while may open the case to see broken gut strings. This is user error (or innocent ignorance), as especially Pirastro wound gut tends to go up in tune inside the case, left unchecked. With a frequently played (and consequently, tuned) instrument, this "lack of longevity" will never be evident, barring a factory-bad string.
"Nothing wrong with synthetics, but please be truthful with us. If you do not know something for sure, don't just go around repeating it as gospel.
No harm done, I just wanted to be clear I am also learning here.I also need to clarify that I currently have Pirastro Tonicas on my violin. I mistakenly wrote Eudoxa.
It might be worth taking a step back before putting a racing saddle on a donkey. If your instrument needs four carefully chosen strings of varying brands then gut won't be the answer. If however dominants work a treat, then I'd humbly suggest olives. If olives are worse or netter then you can probably decide whether or not to proceed etc.
@ Adalberto Valle-Rivera
I am glad you have found the information useful, Mr. Tim. Perhaps stating the obvious, my recommendation is what I would say to someone starting out with wound gut, but may differ from what another experienced gut core string player would recommend. And often you gotta try what works betterfor you and your violin.
@Adalberto Valle-Rivera, Thanks for your comments. I have seen comments on Google from violinist.com from 2013 on this subject. I can tell you have quite a track record and it makes me feel very very green. I am also very glad there are people here like you with so much experience who are willing to comment,so thanks! I wasn't playing violin in 2013.I purchased my first violin in 2016. A student model.
(Note: the following was in rrsponse to Mr. Thierno Diallo, but he removed the comment. Feel free to disregard.)
Hope Mr./Ms. Colvin enjoyed the process of trying out the magnificent Tricolore strings.