Gut Strings

February 21, 2019, 5:01 PM · 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!

Replies (40)

February 21, 2019, 5:49 PM · 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.

The gut G string is always wound with silver. Out of the upper strings, the plain gut A is the most user friendly since it is very similar in diameter to a regular A string, so you could actually start using this already if you want. The plain gut D and E are very difficult to control perfectly at first, since the response is slow, but I believe choosing to play on them for at least some months is the best investment you can make for your bow arm. Creating a powerful sound in the upper registers of the D and E string is probably one of the most difficult things to master on the violin.

February 21, 2019, 5:58 PM · 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!
February 21, 2019, 6:40 PM · I think Olives would be a good set for you to try.
Edited: February 21, 2019, 7:36 PM · 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.

Side note: After reading all the negative Olive A reviews on, I haven't, to this day, tried the Olive A.

I now use composite-core A-D-G + steel E on two fiddles, though I still have some wound gut on the third instrument -- currently the stiff versions of Eudoxa D-G. Pirastro recommends stiff D-G for modern players. Ditto for Olive. My one tryout of regular Eudoxa D-G, 13 years ago, was a letdown. The tone broke or crushed too easily from intense bow pressure. The stiffs have never let me down. I've noticed, too, that the stiffs have somewhat better pitch stability than their regular counterparts.

Experiment to see what works well for you. A luthier can help shorten the trial-and-error process -- if you let this person know what kind of sound you're after. What works well on one fiddle might not go over so well on another. In my case, I wanted to emphasize the dark viola-ish tone in the low notes on one fiddle. Eudoxa stiff D-G did the trick for me -- on this particular instrument.

February 21, 2019, 8:16 PM · Don't like the Pirastro wound gut at all.
Medium Tricolores by Gamut are a great introduction to gut strings. I'd recommend them to everyone.
For beginners, the bowing will be tough. Also, the medium gauge doesn't work on every violin. Some instruments like heavier strings (heavier even than the heavy set offered by Gamut, so sometimes you need custom gauges).
February 21, 2019, 8:31 PM · For what little it may be worth, I have "much" to say, but am practicing with Oliv wound gut right now, which are excellent.

But as a preview-the Gamut Tricolore pure gut A is still "the best" A string for my taste and violin.

Edited: February 21, 2019, 9:30 PM · 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.
February 21, 2019, 9:32 PM · 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.

February 21, 2019, 11:09 PM · All the aforementioned options above are likely good to perfect for many violins and violinists.

Eudoxa-I have not played on the A or regular G&D strings. Only have used Stiff G & D, but have done so often. They sound excellent, and do not lack clarity or volume, provided your bow arm can adapt to them. Different sound than Oliv, but not objectively "worse" (depending on what your needs may be.) Deep sound, without lacking nice upper mid clarity. Even on Gauge 15 (G) or 16 (D) or higher, they are not as "slow" as some may be led to believe. Very easy to play due to relative low tension, and nice pliability (vs even Oliv.) Aluminum wound Stiff D has a specific quirk to it in that the pitch on D can go down a tiny bit even when fully stretched as you play on it, especially if you do so in high positions-it will come back to perfect tune very soon, but it's worth nothing, even though the tone is excellent. I jabe used the Eudoxa wound E, but not for long-I think Eudoxa benefit more from a contrasting, very bright or brilliant E, more than with a very warm E option (the wound E is the latter.)

Oliv-I have historically used Stiff G, Stiff D, Silver D, and the seemingly "hated" A. Also its E, both mittel and stark. These are great too, but obviously more expensive. They initially have more oomph or edge, while still retaining lots of low end/depth. I don't share the view of some thay have stated over the years that they are less reliable pitch-wise than Eudoxa. Indeed the Silver D has no problems as the Eudoxa Aluminum D (the pitch fluctuation is less, or doesn't happen at all-very stable). This D is also not as bright as I thought some time ago when I used them for the first time or two. Clear, thougj. The Gold/Aluminum wound is thick and rich sounding, but I honestly feel a lower gauge works better, as the "medium" one was a bit slow to respond. These are loud, but not "loud only", as many modern synthetics appear to sound for many.

Gold Label-great strings, with horrible marketing from Pirastro as a "value" gut string (they should just market how they intens them to sound, not that they are the most afgordable, IMHO, as the difference price wise from Eudoxa is not big at all.) Bright gut strings, not super brilliant as Oliv ("brilliant" being in my mind the very top end sparkle and harmonic richness.) Less depth then all Eudoxa, Oliv, Tricolore wound gut. But really a beautiful tone nonetheless. They have also been pitch stable for me. Clear. Fast. And despite them not having a "stiff" option, these do not get "crushed" easily (their mittel designation is also very nice, balanced, and low without being too much so.) The Gold Label E is the ome that geta all the glory, but the rest of the strings are much better than Dominant and other famous synthetic lines (not bashing on Dominants-they serve their purpose.)

Passione and Passione Solo-more color range than synthetics, moreso with the normal line, though the Solo has a little more edge and sizzle. These both sound *wonderful* when you come from even the best synthetics, but you quickly notice they are not as amazing as even Gold Label tone-wise, which are much more affordable. I love Passione, however, because they have introduced many players to gut, and in my view, they are still "true gut" , even when I don't love the price/value ratio. They miss something because of the (expensive) tech used to make them more stable, but in my experience, the pitch stability issue with the other options is so minor, I do not believe it's worth the monetary sacrifice-plus I really prefer the other options' tone regardless.

Gamut Tricolore, wound gut-have only used the G&D, in Heavy gauge (unlike with synthetics and perhaps Oliv, you don't have to worry too much about heavy gauge with Eudoxa and Tricolore.) Great tonal volume, a bright edge, but definitely deeper than Gold Label. I liked these a ton. Only drawbacks-they take longer for their tone to stabilize (moreso than merely pitch-the G sounds out of this world only afyer a few days), and their windongs are slightly less smooth than Pirastro's smoother (but usually more delicate) windings. (That said, they are not roundwounds, so do not worry too much about that.)

Tricolore pure gut A (the one I have used, and my favorite A as noted above). A very open sounding, powerful, "good nasal" tone that penetrates over anything, and yet can still be played as softly as deaired. Warm, but with the right, open, upper nid frequencies to be heard. I acknowledge all the other wound gut As strenghts as noted in this very post, but this string... it's as if the "windings veil" over it is lifted so it sounds "as it should". This will be a *very* different tonal world when first tried (especially if one's experience is only Dominant), but you will be closer to that tonal palette used by players, old and new, that employ these type of strings. They require more careful bowing, but resist good bow weight without trouble. They do take a good day or two to sound right and get "faster" (which they inevitably do.) If they whistle a bit at first, note that they are not defective, and it will pass. Their only "weakness" might be preferring a smoother sound, whoch ither options will surely give you. But these are not "ugly bright" by any stretch of the imagination. *Also* (and this applies to all of the above) the Tricolore are not "shy", so don't buy that synthetics always blow gut out of the water projection-wise. Marketing that works (Pirastro claims that both EP and Perpetual have "tremendous" and "vast" volume, respectively), but is not 100% the case for all players and violins. No need to fear "poor volume" with Tricolore strings (or even Eudoxa).

(I.E. your bow arm is more important than guts vs synthetics. Some strings have scientifically more volume under the ear-as with many steel strings and synthetics like EP-but in the end, barring genuine weak or very low tension gut strings, I doubt this advantage plays out as well in a real performance situation. This is really player-or violin, or both-dependant, I guess.)

In my experience, the Tricolore are not really "less powerful" than Oliv. The latter are touted to be the soloist's gut strings, and they can be. I like them too! But I admit the Tricolore are an alternate so-called "soloist" gut string, and may as well be "stronger" overall.

I *am* using Oliv now, as I had them in waiting for a while, having found them online at a steep discount. They are great, open sound, lots of bottom. The A iis stable and great (I promise). But I did lose on that amazing pure gut a tonal world, snd though the set matches well, it "veils" the tone a bit (makes the overall tone more smooth, and while still strong, it's not as "piercing/penetrating". Thus I conclude even using only a good pure gut A will totally change your violin's tonal balance, for better or worse.

Notes about some of our posters above-Mr. Mather cannot reliably use wound gut strings, because he has a hand perspiration issue (pure gut is great, however.) Mr. Dong uses pure gut E, which although totally fine, is more of an "old school", up to early 20th century tradition (I do not mean to insult your choice, Mr. Dong-just so people know the way we see strings is colored by our own experience and individual preference.)

To all who disagree with me-it's all great, just use whatever works for your music and personal taste. I do feel that gut should be tried by more players, even if only with Passione to start with. I personally think that an experienced player like the OP can try pure gut if he wishes, and only go for Passione if aomehow that doesn't prove fruitful.

(I recommend steel Es for "the way we play" today, though that's always a personal choice.)

Good luck, and enjoy whatever set or combination you choose to use.

(As I use these Oliv now, I honestly think that a new Stiff Eudoxa G 15+, Stiff Eudoxa D 16+ (or the Tricolore heavies) and a pure gut Tricolore A with even a humble Goldbrokat Medium E (or medium Hill) may be subjectively better for me. These are great mind you, but a very different tonal balance.)

Respect and best wishes to all: "YMMV", and all of that.

Edited: February 21, 2019, 11:21 PM · 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.

To be fair, the Tricolore wound gut A (which I do not use) has been reported to have failing windings as well.

For this problem with the Oliv A (not the stability, but the fragility), I am tempted to get another heavy varnished Tricolore A to replace it soon. The tone is actually good, but definitely not what I prefer compared to my favorite pure gut A.

I also think that Pirastro's gut string batches may be very variable in quality, as I read all sort of stability problems with them all the time (and not only from Mr. Robinson.) It's as if it's an actual problem, but not for all players. The only cappricious Pirastro string for me is the Eudoxa Stiff (Aluminum wound) D, but it still is perfectly usable.

February 22, 2019, 2:19 AM · 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.
I found the stiff Oliv D (gold-aluminium) to be too gritty for my taste and less clear in higher positions than the silver wound.
February 22, 2019, 6:08 AM · 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.

I have had windings problems on two other occasions-an Oliv Silver D (though it was about 3 months old), an an Obligato Aluminum A, in less than week, just like with the Oliv A. Seems to be a random problem related to Pirastro windings, rather than its core material.

I will revisit this thread later, should I go back to a Tricolore pure gut A (to replace my Oliv A.

I admit that the Passione Solo would be more tempting at a lower price. At least using only the A is more affordable.

I agree with the Oliv Gold/Aluminum D: I have no problems with "grit", but it was a bit slow to respond, and high positions sounded considerably "veiled". Not bad, but the Silver Oliv seemed more practical and clear-not to mention, more afffordable.

February 22, 2019, 1:37 PM · 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.
February 22, 2019, 4:07 PM · 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.
February 23, 2019, 11:08 AM · May you enjoy your first time playing gut strings. Hopefully it won't be the last.

I have read reports/reviews of individuals hating on them, but usually they just got used to decades of heavy modern string use. For me, there's no contest between tbe Tricolore and any synthetic in the market (I can be confident on this claim without ever having used Perpetual or the latest violin shop-only Warchal string.) That said, if only synthetics will satisfy you, no gut string will ever convince-and perhaps this is fine too.

February 23, 2019, 6:01 PM · 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.
They'll settle down significantly after a few days so be patient.
I think the brilliant Vaughan Jones has used olives on one of my violins recently? He might be persuaded to offer some expertise?
February 24, 2019, 4:55 PM · Thank you everyone again! Last question, can anyone direct me to a good webpage for care/maintenance of gut strings? Rosin and oil?
February 24, 2019, 5:38 PM · 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...

Here's what works for me:
Dark or bass rosin.
Boiled linseed oil along the entire length of the string every Sunday, wiped off the next morning. Clean them with a cloth when you finish playing, but don't rub hard—there's no need. If you do that, they will last forever.

February 25, 2019, 7:48 AM · "... they will last forever"
Cotton, erm, that's not quite true for a gut E. Mostly I expect 2-3 months' use out of my gut Es before fraying becomes a nuisance under the fingers, but last year I exceptionally had a 6-month old Chorda gut E that suddenly started to fray over its whole length during a rehearsal, necessitating an immediate string change.
February 25, 2019, 7:58 AM · I don't use gut Es and neither should you.

I'm kidding. But those chorda strings break in 2 weeks no matter what you do.

Edited: February 25, 2019, 10:49 AM · 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.

Yesterday, I was reading Shar's misleading statements about strings for "advanced players." As usual they regurgitate the usual "string facts" I have heard since my youth-without actual evidence-that gut lasts less than synthetics and steel. Yes, a fact for the gut E *only*, but most people do not use it for "modern" performance practice! So why use that con over and over? Even wound gut outlasts Dominant and EP, as the way they deteriorate over time is very slow and gradual, unlike synthetics' often precipitous tonal decay.

(For wound gut, usually the windings go bad first, rather than tonal usability. I could have used my old Eudoxas for longer had I chosen to.)

Of course it's not wrong to use gut Es, even though I find it both brave and risky. But I have grown to love and even expect the steely E tone, so I am sure I won't be convinced to change my preference any time soon.

Enjoy your music today and always.

(Shar is far from the only company stating the same thing over and over. I think it's a legendary string myth that stuck from the times when synthetics were the last new and wonderful.)

February 25, 2019, 11:22 AM · 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...

As a student, I always use gut E for all repertoire because it's much better for your technique in learning how to play in high positions. Then, after suffering from constantly trying to maintain optimal contact point and right arm vertical-horizontal force, I can switch to the easy to play steel E for an audition/competition/exam, or on the very rare occasion I get a chance to play with orchestra.

Edited: February 25, 2019, 2:17 PM · Well, my gut feeling on this is.......I'm not sure.

It seems that gut is high maintenance compared to anything else. Is the trade really worth the effort/expense? Is the personality of the lower strings that much better? Really?

Edited: February 25, 2019, 2:32 PM · How are they high maintenance?

Are they really more expensive?

Is the personality and playability of Infeld Pi that much better? Really?

Synthetics are a convenient compromise, not a replacement for gut. One can like those better, but it won't make them superior to gut.

Edited: February 26, 2019, 7:09 AM · There are some gut Gs wound with copper wire (not flat-wound). It gives a different, but attractive, sound to the standard silver-wound.
February 25, 2019, 10:53 PM · 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.)
February 26, 2019, 7:52 AM · @Adalberto Valle-Rivera said

"How are they high maintenance?
Are they really more expensive?

Is the personality and playability of Infeld Pi that much better? Really?

Synthetics are a convenient compromise, not a replacement for gut. One can like those better, but it won't make them superior to gut.

I am attempting to gain some knowledge here but it might be coming off as critical. I have no dog in this fight either way and didn't intend the questions to come off that way.Neither do I know anything about this.

The selection process alone looks like an obstacle course to me, a subjective process dependent on the quality control of the product over time, the instrument and player preferences. Maybe it's only my perceptions, but it seems to me that most other strings are set and forget pending the occasional tuning here and there.In contrast gut strings require a time to settle down apparently and seem to need re coating in some cases? The comment my teacher made about them was that they have more stability issues. You can't be sure you're in tune all the time. They need more frequent tuning? Still if the benefits far outweigh the liabilities it's a gamble worth taking. Apparently they do, at least to a handful of players.

My experiences with synthetic strings have never totally reflected the comments or recommendations of others. Probably largely because we have different instruments and playing requirements. My first experience with synthetics was that they felt mushy and muffled on the low strings.Those were the Kaplans dark. Took a lot of effort to bring them out and even then tones were not clear.I had thought it was my inexperience. That was partially true. As I later learned though it wasn't all me.I am using Eudoxa now and they seem fine.

It seems there is modern gut and the strings used back in the 1700's. Like everything else tech has moved ahead so maybe it's worth a revisit at some point.

February 26, 2019, 8:46 AM · 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....
Edited: February 26, 2019, 11:06 AM · 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.

Gut lasts for a long while, so it's a bit bothersome the same myth is blindly believed by people who have not even used gut strings (usually dissuaded by modern tradition and these sorts of perpetual myths-not related to the Pirastro's new Perpetual string, of course.)

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.

Mr. Smith, I did not mean to offend. You are as much a victim of misinformation as we all have been at some point.

While period performers still use "inconvenient" setups, for the most part, the "modern" performer's gut string setup is very much "string and forget", as you put it. When using Tricolore-for instance, I donot oil strings at all, and do not have to deal with knots and whatnot. You just play on them until they stretch, ans tune when necessary-basically the same as with synthetics, with a bit more tuning involved. If your pegs work and you have no hand/wrist muscle/nerve problems, the "inconveniences" of gut don't even matter. They are also more pliable, and thus much easier to tune manually with pegs than synthetics.

February 26, 2019, 12:37 PM · "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.

Mr. Smith, I did not mean to offend. You are as much a victim of misinformation as we all have been at some point."

Are you referring to me here? I thought I made it clear that this is an educational process for me. I am however repeating the things I have heard from a few who I consider to be reputable. Not repeating it as gospel, more to get a feel for your opinions. I sense an almost defensive posture over this.

I can tell that you are passionate about them. The whole subject of strings in general is a learning process for most.Gut just adds another dimension to it.

It sometimes boils down to a sharing of experiences which in itself isn't a bad thing to do IMHO. I have to wonder why gut hasn't caught on and gone more mainstream. Some seem to say sound is sacrificed for ease of use. If there is no major difference in use then this argument is nil. Some differences have been mentioned. Other factors might be cost.In that case if there is a perceived benefit to gut it is traded for long term I had said clearly, I don't really know and I'm here to learn. It really helps when people like yourself who use gut regularly get more specific about what they like to use. Without actually hearing the difference with my own two ears it is difficult to determine how much of a difference it is. Most new instruments are not sold with gut strings are they? I am attempting to be as unbiased as I can be which means I call everything into question.

Edited: February 26, 2019, 1:10 PM · Mr. Smith,

I was addressing companies, retailers, violin shops, and even brands themselves. It is well-known Thomastik-Infeld hates Pirastro as a competitor (despite being likely the most Dominant seller of strings-pun intended.) I have read in other forums a Thomastik representative openly mocking gut strings much like an internet troll would (since they only sell synthetics and steel, of course.) That person has probably never used a gut string all his/her life, and is being paid just to tout the greatness of his/her company's synthetics over "outdated" gut. And unfortunately, Pirastro themselves, in order to sell their latest synthetics, like to compete against themselves, often avoiding being too complimentary about their older string sets (compare the Eudoxa webpage commentary to the "vast volume" and "exuberant lustre" marketing campaign for Perpetual-one would think it's the best string ever made, and that no gut string could ever hope to match it-and is "stable" to boot!)

I only started addressing you in particular in the above post after the "Mr. Smith" heading. Apologies for lacking clarity.

I fear that gut will never be "mainstream" again, despite the coming of the Passione line, due to a strong teaching tradition that has seen many great players learn on synthetics. "If it works for Perlman/Hahn...", etc. Only way this could be more balanced (I do not believe it can be reversed at this point) is that big name soloists went back to using them-at least %40 to %50 of them. Only a few "name" soloists use gut strings today.

Everyone learned on gut strings once upon a time. The obvious reason in our modern era of "ease of use" that most new violins come with steel or affordable synthetics is the convenience factor for the beginner. But they are so much different under bow and fingers.

Gut strings are only more expensive than the most affordable synthetic sets-many modern synthetics are as expensive or even less affordable than gut (sadly.)

I like many synthetic sets from Pirastro, Thomastik, and Warchal. They serve their purpose for sure. But that doesn't mean that gut is "for another time", and only used impractically or for nostalgia's sake. They can be as powerful and "modern" as you need, without the considerable drawbacks of synthetics.

It's not personal, nor business. Just feel we are due to a more proper and "real" representation of what gut strings bring-or not-to our musical experience. Marketing and the push for greater sale numbers often blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

Edited: February 26, 2019, 2:24 PM · 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.

I checked the prices of the Eudoxa compared to a good set of synthetics and the prices are very close there.The only thing that concerns me is that apparently you might need to widen your string groove to use some gut strings...possibly this was read in relation to the older gut styles of strings? I have no problem tuning for a week or two until things settle down. Going out of tune while playing though, that's another thing altogether.
I think they need to change the name to something more palatable....gut...yuck. People don't eat raw fish meat they eat sushi.
Thanks for all of this helpful info!

February 26, 2019, 4:53 PM · Mr. Smith,

Tonica is better than many, and not too tense, though they stopped making anything more than "Mittel". Nylon, such as in Tonica, Dominant, and many others, even thougb less pliable than gut, is still a bit softer than some other popular synthetic cores. Indeed I would recommend Tonica over Dominant for beginners, save that you can go "low tension" with Dominant, which yoh can no longer do with Tonica. That said, your violin may not need low tension, medium perhaps being just fine.

Both Gold Label and Eudoxa are good to try (but so is Tricolore.) Since you are coming from Tonica, I would recommend, if sticking to *all* Eudoxa, the highest gauges for each string, and stiff for G & D (in summary, Stiff G 16 1/4 and Stiff D 17 1/4, and A 14-I would do that myself, except perhaps 16 and 17 insyead for G & D respectively.) You can stick to pure steel Eudoxa E (not the wound E... a matter of preference, but even though it sounds nice, it tends to kill brilliance off the instrument, which ia not what I go for.) Also, you can use the Gold Label E medium, which is the same string, except the tailpiece colors will be yellow. If sticking to all Eudoxa, for sure I still recommend the pure steel E version, however.

In short, for a wound gut "beginner" that is not using Passione strings (which are an effective introduction but too expensive in my opinion) I recommend Eudoxa: Stiff G 16 1/4, Stiff D 17 1/4, A 14, Medium *pure steel*. Or a Gold Label set, but the price is not that much different. Gold Label is a brighter, less deep gut tone-they are good too. I also prefer Eudoxa & Gold Label for their tone over Passione, for what that may be worth.

("High tension" Eudoxa feel incredibly comfy and easy to play-if you go lower, since you are used to Tonica, you may crush the tone or find it too low. With Oliv, you can go lower if your violin prefers it.)

If going Tricolore, you can start with medium everything, but heavy does work for me, and is not too tense for my tension-shy violin. It is for pure gut strings in general that you need to check whether your instrument's nut and/or bridge slots are good enoigh to manage the extra thickness-mostly for the D string-the others I mentioned require not so much luthier intervention (my pure gut As didn't need any special treatment-"string and play", as it were.)

Some violins don't do that great with gut, but I am not sure dismissing gut altogether just because some instruments sound may sound "dull" with them may be the proper generalization to make. I am sure many modern instruments can still sound amazing with Eudoxa/Tricolore/etc.

Best of luck, if you end up trying gut strings at some point. What works for me may not at all for you, to be sure. Stretch them well over time, and enjoy.

February 26, 2019, 7:38 PM · 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.
Dominants and olives are a beautifully functional string designed for functional instruments. Unfortunately most instruments 'malfunction'. Thankfully most manufacturers have addressed this situation and produced strings to suit the majority of instruments. Etc etc.
February 26, 2019, 8:09 PM · "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."

Yes -- my experience bears this out. I play on three fiddles and divide daily practice/play time among the three. I have some Pirastro wound gut on one of them. With regular, consistent playing -- and consistent tuning -- these strings are almost as pitch-stable, for me -- once they're well broken in -- as the A-D-G composite cores I have on the two other fiddles.

February 27, 2019, 8:44 AM · @ Adalberto Valle-Rivera

Thank you for all of this very helpful information. I copy/pasted your comments into a document for my next string purchase. As an aside, I know of at least one gentleman who saves his comments into a database because he frequently assisted others online with technical info. He commented to me recently that he might be making a book out of it. Probably 5 years worth of comments on highly technical subjects. Food for thought. This is save worthy information. New users can search threads but I suspect they seldom do. Thanks to you and the others who made comments suggestions.

Please feel free to call me Tim here if you want ;)..this goes for anyone else here as well.

February 27, 2019, 2:59 PM · 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.

My violin "requires" low tension synthetics or gut strings to avoid a n specific wolf on the G string. It can sound fine with almost anything, but I have developed a taste for the tone I prefer out of my instrument, which may-or likely-be different than what you are looking for. If your violin can handle high tension with aplomb, just experiment and have fun discovering whatever works for yourself (though every comment is useful as a loose guide, to be sure.)

Best of luck on your Violinistic Journey.

February 28, 2019, 9:06 AM · @Adalberto Valle-Rivera, Thanks for your comments. I have seen comments on Google from 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.

I have heard the tension tolerance of different violins mentioned before.
TBH I have no idea what tension my violin tolerates best.I wouldn't want to exceed it whatever it is. It is a sturdy well built instrument and should be ok for anything that isn't considered to be excessive.

Even though I tend to play a lot of what you all call folk music here, I think I have the same basic requirements most would have. I want to hear the low notes G,D clearly with lots of nice overtones and not need to work my bow pressure too extreme to extract those tones.I don't want to feel like I'm digging into a rubber band. To me, some synthetics have felt extreme there.The only difference might be my requirements for the E and A strings. I don't necessarily want to hear an E that screams "look at me". Maybe somewhere in between. A more rounded pleasant tone that fits in with casual fare and not high octane classical solo work.

Edited: February 28, 2019, 2:56 PM · (Note: the following was in rrsponse to Mr. Thierno Diallo, but he removed the comment. Feel free to disregard.)

You may have read this already from some threads dating back a few months, but Mr. Robinson and the violinist with the "Mather" pseudonym have stated that as far as pure gut is concerned, the Tricolore and Academie strings from Gamut are identical. So basically the Tricolore is a remanufacturing of the old gauge tolerances available back then, and the silver or aluminum windings for the wound gut of that time, which are unique to the Gamut Tricolore brand.

Maybe Mr. Dong knows better, but I have zero experience with anything other than silver or gold/silver wound Gs. The Chorda do come with another winding for its G, but I used it only once, *eons* ago.

Someone above must have used the ones you mention. Also, you can ask the people at Gamut, and even Mr. Larson himself, for what to generally expect tonally-wise with these.

March 11, 2019, 7:50 PM · Hope Mr./Ms. Colvin enjoyed the process of trying out the magnificent Tricolore strings.

Just wanted to update my previous post about the defective Oliv A-Pirastro did indeed see the image I sent them with the failing windings, and sent me two replacement strings. Were also very kind over e-mail. They have great support, whatever you may think of their strings.

During practice today, the Oliv A was at 441, tuned to 442. End of practice, it was still at 442. The failing windings are a little worse, of course, but the string sounds really good, and is being quite stable for me.

I wonder if they had a bad batch some years ago, and the Oliv A got a bad reputation over time? I do not have the facts, but one would think that 8 out of ten (or more) people online believe it's a bad, unstable string, but even when I used it roughly two years ago, I did not have that problem.

For a wound gut A, Oliv it's really fine, and I feel better than the Gold Label and Passione. Haven't had the privilege of trying the Eudoxa wound gut A yet, though.

Best wishes, and enjoy your music whatever you may prefer to use.

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