Questions about gut strings.
After playing my new “love” for about a year now I decided to treat myself on my first set of gut strings. Efrano medium to be precise. Plain unvarnished E A and D and wound G.
I wonder, what’s the deal with round wound G? Shifting positions is really loud and guitar like. Is that “historic” or is there a deeper reason for this.
Also my E string (which I absolutely never expected to be this glorious) started showing signs of fraying (first little hairs) after only about 5 hous of playing. Is that standard or am I pushing it too much?
Currently I have a 45% relative humidity in the house and I should have used oil on the strings before setting up the instrument. Is it to late to oil them now?
Thanx for any clues.
The roundwound G is mostly a historical thing, but I think it makes the tone a little more growly as well. I like them. If shifting on the G is audible to the audience then you must be pressing too hard while you shift.
How long would plain gut strings last if you were to oil them once a week? And how would you go about doing so?
There are very conflicting accounts on how long gut lasts. Perhaps because the string age and storage is far more important than modern plastic or steel strings.
I'm currently using an all-gut setup (Pirastro Chorda) on my 18th c violin. After years of trials with other strings I've settled that plain gut E,A,D+round-wound G gives the best tone, response and playability on that old lady. The 3 lower strings last well, up to a 12-month, but it must be said that the G, being wound and therefore more susceptible to interior wear, usually needs to be replaced a little before the D and A.
I oil my strings by wetting the corner of a cloth or paper towel with almond oil, and running it along the whole length of the string, thoroughly soaking it. After 10 - 30 minutes, I wipe off all the excess and make sure to wipe the bowed area again before I practice the next day. This usually doubles the life of my strings.
Thanks, Cotton, I'll try almond oil and your procedure. I do have dry hands.
Thank you Cotton and Trevor for all the info.
Tony, I found some sweet almond oil in the house today, applied it to my gut strings as per Cotton's advice, wiped it off and it's fine. The strings now feel wonderfully smooth under my fingers, including the A and D which have virtually no fraying anyway but are now into their 2nd year of use. The Chorda E is new, so it's a good idea to start it off on the right foot with a rub of sweet almond oil.
I found that 500ml bottle of medicine grade sweet almond oil costs about 12 euro. I can keep my entire country’s supply of gut strings in it :)
I switched to a gut E (Pirastro Chorda) late last year and found it to be loud and ringing and with a glorious singing tone when played with the right speed and bow pressure.
I don’t oil my strings - Gamut already pre oils them. I actually like the feel of the strings being slightly scuffed up after a few days. It gives my shifts more traction. As far as longevity goes, to answer Christian’s questions, I can get about 2–3 months out of a set of Gamut Academie Sheep Gut (not beef gut) or Gamut Tricolore with varnish, something I highly recommend - it will protect them from moisture and humidity. I had a bad experience with Pirastro Chorda. Very unstable string in my opinion - I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.
Nate, I've never had stability problems with Pirastro Chordas. I wonder if our different experiences can be explained by climatic differences between our locations. I live in the SW of England, just a few miles from the sea, and for most of the time we have warm SW moisture-laden winds blowing in from the Atlantic. So far this year, the average relative humidity where I live is 55.8, with a standard deviation of 2.3 (I've been taking daily measurements of humidity since the beginning of January, and temperature since the beginning of 2019).
Hi Trevor, all power to you if you can get Chordas to work for you! I did try them about 18 years ago, in the summertime, and found them to not work on my instrument at the time. I’m not sure if it was the climate or my hands. I’m glad we have many good choices in the gut string world now!
I did a Rossini opera on early instruments (gut D/A/E), and my stand partner broke at least one string per performance in the run. Pirastro. Although he blamed his body chemistry.
I pounded my E quite a bit yesterday and it held admirably, just developing more lint and fibers.
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