A feeling in the gut...
This is one for anyone who’s had experience with or is currently using wound gut violin strings. I installed a set of Pirastro Eudoxa heavy gauge GDA with the wound steel E the day after Christmas and have been very pleased with the sound. My quandary is in regards to tuning: I have noticed that upon removing my violin from the case, the A is typically sharp, D is slightly flat as is the G. So, after tuning and warming up for about 10 minutes, the A is flat by about the same as it started out sharp, the D and G are again about as flat as before first tuning. I am wondering whether taking the violin out of the case and letting the strings adapt to the room and lights would allow the A to start out closer to pitch and eliminate the up and down tuning I experienced.
It is my memory that I used gut-core strings from about 1945 to about 1970 (when synthetic core strings were first sold) and a number of times in the years beyond. Pirastro Eudoxa and also Olive strings ere the ones I used in those years. (In fact I still have one unused set of each in the string tubes in two of my violin cases.)
That's ridiculous and you've never used gut core strings since you had those plastic bullshit pegs installed, gut strings require more peg movement to tune, not less, why would you need those geared pegs which work like fine tuners, no one ever needed fine tuners for gut strings, give me a break.
The answer to your question is "yes".
Get your pegs adjusted so they work perfectly, and then learn to use them. Tuning is not and should not be a big deal. Regarding the tonal benefits of gut strings, a lot of players are perfectly willing to accept the tuning issue.... that's how they can still afford to make the strings.
Thanks for the responses. To be clear, my pegs work well. I was just wondering if it was solely temperature and humidity that affect the strings or if playing them leads to their loss of pitch, and Mr. Mather, thank you. Also, if playing them does have a role, does the type of piece matter, eg. a light adagio piece vs. an aggressive allegro.
It's not only the pegs that need to be lubricated, but, importantly, the notches in the nut and the bridge to allow the string to move smoothly and not stick at those points when tuning. Whenever I change a string, and sometimes when a string has been on for a long time, I always apply plenty of soft pencil lead (6B) to the notches.
Lyndon - you're back again!
Yes. A couple of minutes of room adaptation will help. You will still need to tune afterwards; they will not stabilize to where they were when you put the violin away last.
Thanks to all those who responded. The tone of these strings makes the tuning issues worth the trouble.
When I was in high school I played gut on my cello. Bare A and D, wound G and C, Eudoxas. The A and D cost $3 and $3.50, wound was an extra buck. Other players would play my cello and loved the sound--they had never had the opportunity before, because everyone knows no one uses gut strings.
Have you tried Pirastro Passiones? They may be an acceptable alternative, that is a little more stable.
$3 a string? What???
Jeff, I don’t mind the adjustments, just wondering if I can make things a little more convenient. I will give the Passiones some consideration. Thanks
$3 gut strings, 1964 prices. Now $43 each. You had to be there.
I have had similar problems with gut strings. And contrary to what Michael says tuning is or at least can be a big deal. Especially when you play ensemble and can't use some open strings any more starting in the middle of a movement.
To Jerry and Albrecht: I too have moved to plain gut heavy A and D strings because they hold in tune between practice sessions, and afternoon the initial break in they usually need one tuning per session. I tried all of the pirastro wound gut options, which all did have a unique and sweet tone, however they all usually unwound too quickly for my comfort, except for the G strings. They also all went out of tune constantly, except for the Gold Label Strings. 2-3 months was the most I could get out of the A or D strings from pirastro, usually do to early unwinding or loss of tone. I still have the Oliv G which is sublime, but now have a Gamut gimped D and tricolore A which have quicker response and better stability/durability. They just took some getting used to in regards to playing technique. I hope this helps a little bit.
Has anyone who likes the Eudoxa G and D tried the “Eudoxa - Chromcor or Aricore” A? What is your take?
With Eudoxa G and D, I like pairing it with a plain gut A. I was using Dlugolecki's plain gut (varnished) A until that became more difficult to get, but Chorda is acceptable and cheap enough to replace every two weeks.
Chromcore is just a cheap steel string that you really do not need to try unless maybe you do folk. The Aricore is a Dominant clone, more like gut but still a Dominant clone. Tonica, Sensicore, everyone makes something similar, all a bit different.
Albrecht, if that unwinding of an almost new string is a first event of its kind for you then I'd guess that you had a rare faulty Eudoxa.
No one's mentioned that it's the temperature/ humidity from handling the strings, not to mention breathing on them, that's affecting the tuning far more that the ambient room conditions. So next time you take your violin out, just hold it by the strings for a few minutes, and breathe on it too, before you retune it, to see if that changes your outcome. (Or, more logically, just play it for a few minutes before tuning.)
Michael D., that's "Original Peg Drops" by Ardsley, not Audsley. No wonder I couldn't find it. And it would be nice to know what's in that stuff, but I have a feeling that ain't gonna happen. Trade secrets, you know. It does say that it contains isopropyl alcohol, so their recommendation to just apply it without removing the peg first could be injurious to fine varnish. Yikes!
Ardsley, sorry. So far no threat to any varnish I have used it on and I think the alcohol content is extremely small. I suspect their statement is mostly CYA.
Do you remove the peg to put the drop on?? I find the drops work on slipping but usually makes the pegs clicky instead of smooth.
Mark, I will try both your suggestions.
I pull the peg, put on a drop, run it in, wait a couple of minutes, hit the peg with hair dryer, then repeat. After the second dry, I wipe the excess off the peg, and then may add a tiny final drop. The drops do not work as a first treatment, nor on old fiber bushings. On new installations I start with a full run through with Hill compound, lots of it, as a base coat.
Does removing the pegs to treat them with whatever they may need, and obviously removing the strings shorten the life of the strings?
Yes, no, maybe. Opinions vary.
Michael, you don't have any problem with the pegs going click, click, click instead of turning smoothly???
Not a bit. I certainly do with Hill compound alone. In fact the action I am getting with the peg drops is better than I have ever seen from anywhere. But they really do need a solid previous bed to work on, not alone.
So you're saying lots of hill compound then peg drops, nothing else?? Im using Hill or soap, rouge, and then peg drops and I'm usually getting clicking which doesn't start till I put on the peg drops.
Hill compound seems to allow for pushing the pegs into the pegbox more deeply, which makes that part of the peg not coated with the compound make contact, resulting in the clicking of peg-with-no compound making contact with the peg hole. I have found applying Hill compound a little past the shiny friction bands on the pegs, meaning toward the head of the peg on that side and toward the hole on the other end, helps with the clicking problem. Also, gently wiping off the excess dope as needed to make the peg move freely and yet hold.
I use a few different brands of gut strings, and after the first week I find they stay pretty close to in tune, not much trouble at all keeping them in tune. Chordas, Gamut, and Kurschner strings all. I keep my violins on stands in open air or under a teeshirt, easy to pick up anytime. During cooler weather, when indoor humidity would be low, I run a cool mist vaporizer in the room...continuously for 5 or 6 months a year.
Will, thanks for your reply. My practice room’s humidity is relatively static, the temperature is actually warmer in winter.
Wow. Hill compound, then peg dope, then peg drops, then "hit it with a
gut strings require more movement because gut is much more stretchable than nylon, its a big difference and steel strings stretch even less practically requiring fine tuners, gut e does not need a fine tuner like steel, it can be easily tuned by the peg
If I'm about to play/practice on my gut-strung violin what I find helpful before tuning is to warm the strings by rubbing the ball of my thumb up and down the length of the finger board a few times. This, I find, stabilises them for tuning.
Thanks Trevor, I don’t use a shoulder rest either, and I will try your trick.
I will point out, Paul, that you don't do these things, I do, and I don't find it a burden. If you are going to be a DIYer, don't be a lazy one.
I enjoy DIY -- but not when it comes to repairing my violin. All my sets of gear pegs were installed by pros.