Gut string gauge (Eudoxa, Oliv heavy vs Passione solo)
Greetings! Last year I acquired a new instrument, a very nice 19th century French violin from a maker who was a Vuillaume employee. This significant change in sound quality and increase in power encouraged me to dabble in gut strings, which work much better on this instrument than on instruments I had before.
I've tried Eudoxas and Olivs, using medium regular sets as well as with rigid medium gauge stiff Ds and Gs, which seemed to be more practical. I think I actually prefer the Eudoxas over the Olivs, they seemed more transparent, perhaps brighter without being that much softer than the Olivs, and I love the low tension response - they are a dream to play on, and I actually think they respond much better than the high tension synthetics that the violin came with.
I am now trying Passione Solo, and while I prefer the sound quality of the Eudoxas overall (and probably Olivs as well), I can't ignore the apparent difference in volume. The D and G strings just seem much louder, and although I haven't tested it in a hall (impossible at the moment) at home the difference seems quite noticeable. I definitely miss the complicated, singing sound and response of the Eudoxa stiff G and regular A strings, though.
Comparing tensions on the Pirastro website I see that the Eudoxa strings (of any kind) are far less tense than the Passione solo strings. I'm wondering how Eudoxa strings (stiff for the lower strings) at the heaviest gauges (other than E string) would compare. I'm hoping the power would increase without the response or complexity getting far worse. I don't find the response of the Passione Solo set to be a problem, although perhaps they are not quite as lightning quick as the Eudoxas felt.
Unfortunately trying out the innumerable permutations of gut strings is not cheap so I'd like to try to get the opinion of the gut aficionados on this forum before pulling the trigger on heavy gauge Eudoxas.
After having tried all these strings, my personal answer is: none of the above! I (and many others I suspect) had the exact same problem as you. Wanting the quality of Eudoxa, but needing more volume. I would say the Tricolor G string by Gamut is the best wound gut G that would suit your taste. The Tricolor wound D I am not sure, I just ordered one so I will find out.
James, what gauge do you recommend for Tricolore? The options keep multiplying! Did you try any heavier gauge Eudoxa? I want to stick to wound gut, by the way, since I live in a humid location.
Another good option is the Lenzner SuperSolo. I have done wound D and G, with plain A. I have also tried Eudoxa but not on the same violin so I can not compare directly.
What a fun coincidence - I, too, have switched to a 19th-century violin made by a student of Vuillaume late last year! Unfortunately, I'm not knowledgable at all when it comes to different gauges, but, for what it's worth, I've been experimenting with different string sets on my violin, and talked to Pirastro about it, too, so I'd like to share what I've found out so far:
Tricolor G should be medium or heavy. I think even medium is slightly more powerful and bright than the heaviest gauge Eudoxa stiff.
Other posters can chime in on this, but I believe Passiones are probably much more durable than EP greens, which can fall right off the edge of the table after 6 weeks or so. Enough of a difference to justify a higher price, or at least remove most of the pain.
Disclaimer: I am not a gut aficionado, although I have used Passiones. One question to ask yourself is what sort of venues you want the strings for. If you are primarily a chamber musician playing in smaller venues, you do not need the extra projection that Passiones may provide and pure gut may work well, whereas the Passiones may provide the projection you want in larger venues when you are playing with an orch, for example. Obviously, there are a number of factors to consider, but this particular one is worth keeping in mind, as is the question of what strings actually sound best on your instrument. Good luck!
I really like the Aquila light-gauge G string (it's made for A4 = 432 Hz tuning, so it's more like a medium at 440). It's round-wound and lacks the silk layer between the metal winding and gut core. All Pirastro strings have it—it makes the sound warmer and duller. Not necessarily bad, but I love the bright, growly tone of G strings that don't have that silk layer.
I guess in the end there is no other way to satisfy my curiosity other than to try - so I think I'll order some Eudoxa stiff at maximum gauge well as Tricolore all wound at heavy guauge. Interestingly the Tricolore wound A tension is significantly higher at all gauges than the Passione solo, I wonder why that is. The Passione solo A is perhaps the string that I have the most reservations with regards to response, so let's see how it goes. I really love the sound of Eudoxas so if the heavy gauge gives me a little more without responding like rubber bands I'll be happy. James, can you comment on the response of the Eudoxas at their heaviest?
The Tricolore tension measurement might not be directly comparable to the Passione tension measurement because they might be using different string lengths to measure.
@John: Ah, a Derazey must have been a good find! While searching for my violin I played one of those and it sounded rather intriguing. I hope you find the perfect strings to tame it. I chose an early violin by Buthod and couldn't be happier. And thanks for the heads-up regarding the Eudoxas! As you've said yourself one has to try it all to be completely sure, so one way or another I'll have to give it a go, I suppose.
There’s no way of me knowing what’s best for your playing style or instrument without seeing you and your violin in person. However, speaking from personal experience, I play on a J.B. Vuillaume (Maggini model), and a Nicolas Vuillaume (Strad model). I have found that they both do better with heavier gauge gut strings (wound and unwound). Passiones to my ear and touch, feel more like synthetic strings rather than gut core. I really like the Oliv rigid, if you can get a hold of those. Eudoxas are quite good, and slightly more mellow sounding than Oliv. One my teachers David Nadien said ‘Eudoxas used to be better made 40 years ago.’ I highly recommend also checking out Gamut Tricolore strings and Gamut’s Academie sheep gut strings (especially for the D&A strings).
The heaviest Eudoxa stiff responds fine and has decent volume, but it's quite muddy sounding and won't cut through at all, so I guess it's great for blending. I agree with Nate, Passiones feel too stiff to be gut strings and they don't have the warmth of proper wound gut. I personally use the Tricolore heavy G and I've never heard anyone give a bad review of it here.
I'm not sure why a "historical" gut string would be more fragile than a "modern" gut string. Aquila strings last just as long as any other gut string.
I am wondering why noone is considering Efrano gut strings. They are dirt cheap compared to any other brand and - although they are the first and only gut string I ever tried - they do not seem signifficantly lower in volume. Perhaps 10 or 15% lower volume than PI or Corelli Cantiga....
I am interested in trying out the Eudoxa-Stiff violin strings in the thickest gauges for my fine Guarneri-style (copy of the 1730 ex Kreisler) violin made by Dereck Coons. What gauge do you recommend that I use for the Eudoxa A string? I was considering using the 14 gauge. I am looking for warmth, complexity, texture, responsiveness, and evenness across all four strings. I don’t need power or brilliance because I am not a concert performer. But I am seeking a rich, dark, husky sound. I do intend to use the Eudoxa E aluminum wound on steel. Thank you!
Hello Cotton, you are right - it was just the idea that the string was intended for a lower tuning that put me off, but in fact gut strings are probably fine tuned a few cents higher. Looking at Aquila's website I see that they only offer plain gut Ds and As - based on past experience I'd rather stick with wound gut, as I live in a tropical city and don't want to push my luck too much, which also rules out Efrano strings (thank you Tony for bringing them up, I'd never heard of them), although I might try the Efrano just because they are so darn cheap. Just for your reference, I run a dehumidifier all day and struggle to keep the humidity at 65%! I have tried plain gut in the past on a different instrument (in much colder, drier climate) and did wear the strings down fairly quickly.
So I've been going back to this thread in my mind every once in awhile thinking of what has been said here and now I'm back with a question: I have no experience with any other gauge than medium for whatever strings I've tried over the years. As I've mentioned further up the thread, I'm personally pretty happy with the medium Passiones, for example, but if I were to experiment with gauges individually, without just buying all of them one step up, where does one start? Is G the go-to for experimenting with getting a bit more power without losing the tonal qualities when combining different gauges? Or is there some kind of system that makes all of that easier to understand and less guess-work?
You could try tuning the different strings strings slightly (e.g. a half step) sharp or flat - that seems to somewhat approximate what an increase or decrease in tension, and therefore gauge, would do.
Hello Benjamin, I've never tried other gauges either (except perhaps for a forte E string). Once I get my maxed out Eudoxas I'll let you know what I think. Andrew's test is a classic.
@John: I'm looking forward to hearing your updates on how your strings are settling and best of luck with your experiments!
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.