The Power Of Gut, Rigid Or Otherwise

March 17, 2021, 9:57 PM · I am having *extremely* positive experiences with non-rigid Eudoxa wound gut strings, albeit at "high tension" (which is not much for Eudoxa). Have been figuring out that perhaps "rigid/stiff" is not necessary for modern playing (or perhaps I have adapted my bowing to the strings over time.) They are superbly nuanced, but also very bold and powerful when need be.

For violinists of all ages with experience with both types of strings (Oliv regular and rigid, Eudoxa regular and rigid), what are your preferences and reasons why you prefer ones over the others? (Eudoxa brilliant are out, as they are no longer in production.) Do you really find regulars much "weaker" and rigid "stronger" as advertised? I am not looking for arguments, as I know both types sound good-just honest player opinions.

For an initial opinion in the matter, I am liking the regular more for now, as they appear brighter/clearer in nature, which I love, and I am not perceiving any true weaknesses regarding "modern bow technique" as expressed by Pirastro. More affordable by a few dollars too, but it seems the "darker, more powerful sound" may not always be desirable for all of us.

Freely opine, without any need to agree with me. Thank you very much in advance.

Replies (41)

Edited: March 17, 2021, 11:40 PM · Hello Adalberto! Looks like it's time to kick off our own little gut string thread!

To be perfectly truthful, I've tried every gauge of Eudoxa stiff and regular. I've arrived at similar conclusions to you, although the gauge I settled on for "orchestral dream" playing was second to lowest tension Eudoxa (regular). I did have problems with sound crushing at the lowest gauge :)

In my experience the lightest Eudoxa stiff more or less carries on from the heavy eudoxa normal. Eudoxa stiff seems deliberately less responsive in order to allow more bow pressure, while having a darker, slightly more focused sound. In terms of volume, let's just say that - in what matters, a hall - they both seemed fine, and in fact I played a quartet concert with a Eudoxa stiff lightest gauge G, Eudoxa second to lightest D, passione A lightest gauge and oliv e light gauge and it projected very well. I would have used the regular g as well but I'd forgotten to change it in time.

I've come to the personal conclusion that the strings are only make about 5% or less of an effect on projection - the violin is really responsible, and a great violin with the weakest strings will outperform a bit lesser violin with the latest and greatest. Nobody in the audience noticed that my violin sounded "different," although my colleagues may have noticed the slightly more colorful (or noisy...) texture close up. Incidentally, I started rehearsing with Oliv stiff. My colleagues regarded the Eudoxas as brighter, something I agree with.

I currently have Passione Solo on as I did not want to stick out in some recordings (they match synthetics better close-up) but I am looking forward to the eudoxas again.

Edited: March 18, 2021, 1:16 PM · Mr. Kruer,

Thank you kindly for your informed opinion.

I could crush the tone, but it would take intentional effort to force the sound that way. In most practical playing, I find regular Eudoxa more than sturdy enough to resist lots of bow weight. They can be *very* loud. I imagine lighter gauges to require a very light arm (as Eudoxa gauges are so delicate), but even then, next to lightest gauge works well for you. Given that, at least personally, I see no immediately palpable benefits towards stiff strings. (May consider going 16 for G, rather than 16.25, but the mature sound is now excellent.)

I also "tried" Oliv original some time ago, but my violin had an accident days after changing strings, so I am not able to provide my own take on Oliv regular vs rigid. The Oliv stiff D gold/aluminum sounds good; big though slightly veiled ("dark"). However; it really is stiff and hard to play-exceptionally so for it being a gut string. The stiff G is quite good. Both regular G&D were sounding fine before the accident-I believe I went for lighter gauges than with Eudoxa. Should/when I play Oliv again, I may choose to also go regular, rather than rigid.

Nothing wrong with rigid/stiff: most players use the option. I most certainly have used them. But while the Eudoxa stiff have a smooth, velvety, rich tone, I find the brighter regulars to have as much smoothness and depth as I need, but with much less of a "veil", so to speak.

(I did use a Passione Solo A with my current Eudoxas for a few weeks, as the initial Eudoxa was faulty, and I had to wait for a replacement from Germany. The Passione Solo A sounds beautiful, but darker/smoother than the Pirastro 14-and less vibrant IME! Also the Eudoxa A is a better match for the Eudoxa G&D, although the tonal difference with the Passione was not horrible.)

Thanks so much for your experienced thoughts. Enjoy your Passione Solo!

March 18, 2021, 8:37 AM · I've been enjoying Dlugolecki plain D (21.5) and A (16.25) and a stiff-Eudoxa G (15.75), but for my next strings I'm considering regular Eudoxa G+D and either Eudoxa A or Passione A.

I think the difference between regular and stiff is just different bowing mechanics, but I'm just an amateur player. In my opinion in the volume/projection there's no significant difference.

My question would be about the A, I really need a vibrant, warm A string or it will sound too callous - can I get there with Passione A?

March 18, 2021, 9:01 AM · I tried the standard Eudoxas one time a long time ago. They were nice, but I wasn't really impressed. They were rather tricky in that the A string particularly refused to work unless the bow was perfectly straight. It's possible (certain) that I wasn't ready for them at the time technically, but I also had a D string break pretty quickly too. And they were gosh darn expensive.
I really prefer plain gut middles now---heavy D and lighter A. Aquila is my favourite brand. Contrary to popular opinion, I find them more forgiving than Pirastro's wound offerings.
March 18, 2021, 9:04 AM · Unfortunately Damien Dlugolecki says he is retired, I haven't been able to get his strings and have had to switch to Gamut
March 18, 2021, 11:32 AM · A lot depends on how a maker decides to define a particular string. If you look at tension levels for conventional synthetics, you'll find that the relationship between, say, A and D, is going to be very different from brand to brand.

One additional option to try would be Gamut Tricolore. Be warned, though-- I have found that on some instruments, the medium tension can be next to impossible to use. On one violin, I now prefer the light A (gut, plain, varnished) and light D (wound). Medium G seems to be OK, and E is always a bit of a wild card.

Note-- when I switched the medium A over to a Guarneri model fiddle, it did just fine. So YMMV depending on the instrument, technique, etc.

Edited: March 18, 2021, 1:24 PM · Mr. Mather,

Must be your hands and the aluminum windings. The D for me is "immortal". The A however does have delicate windings even as a new string, so much care has to be taken when wiping off rosin (the first A I had changed to had bad windings upon installation.) I think I may buy another A soon just to make sure I have a proper backup if windings go off again. However, the G&D are so far very, very sturdy and all windings are in place.

In your particular case pure gut should work fine, especially now that you are "one" with them. It's an unique, beautiful, and bold tone.

The Eudoxa are sadly "affordable" relative to many options out there, though perhaps are more expensive in your particular location. Indeed that is one of their advantages. The Gold Label sound beautiful and bright-great strings overall, but don't go as tonally deep as the Eudoxa do. So may as well spend 10-15 dollars more for Eudoxa.

Edited: March 18, 2021, 2:55 PM · J I,

Mr. Kruer , may know more about the Passione vs Eudoxa comparison, as he has used both more recently. I have used and liked all Pirastro wound gut As, but over the span of many years-all of them are fine-compare them all at the official Pirastro site of need be, as they will be able to tell you about tensions and possible tonal colors, which you can then compare to your current A.

I am biased towards the Eudoxa because they can be thicker at less tension, the price, AND the gorgeous sound. But if you want a super pitch-stable gut A, Passione can be good, and not really sound bad.

I have read all sorts of opinions regarding the Eudoxa A, from it not being a good match to the G&D (not the case in my experience) to other problems. In my case, the Passione Solo were a good match to the Eudoxas, but the Eudoxa A is a perfect match and even an improvement on the general projection of the whole instrument. The Solo was decently loud and smoother than the Eudoxa, but the Eudoxa has a big, bright tone that I think is even more "powerful" than the Passione Solo. It really blends well power-wise the the Gold Label type E next to it! Great mix of strings overall (i.e. all originals Eudoxa with plain steel E).

I do not know what you use as your E, but I prefer a bright plain steel E (such as medium Gold Label/Goldbrokat/Hill et al) instead of the Eudoxa aluminum wound steel E. Or any good gold-plated E. These make the whole instrument more brilliant, while the wound steel E sounds nice but kind of puts a sort of veil in the higher frequencies of the whole instrument, which I most certainly do not like.

Hope you find something you like. Feel free to let us know how the regular Eudoxas do when you do switch strings.

Happy practicing.

March 18, 2021, 1:50 PM · Passione Solo never did it for me. Higher tension than the regular Passione, and with some possible benefit for projection, etc. But it didn't take long to produce fatigue, and reveal a lack of variation in color. Maybe on a different violin it would do better. But don't worry about staying with Eudoxas if you like them better.
March 18, 2021, 7:21 PM · The violin doesn't care what the strings are made out of. It amplifies and modifies the signal that it gets from the two feet of the bridge. Every violin probably has an optimum amount of force/pressure on the top plate which is a combination of the total tension of the 4 strings, the tension of each individual string, and the angle that the strings make with the bridge.
Edited: March 18, 2021, 9:37 PM · In my experience, the violin and its player do care a lot about the strings, gauges, feel, etc. It makes a huge difference, especially if the violinist feels at ease and totally comfortable with the strings, be it people used to Pi or Eudoxa. And lastly, they can and often do sound very different, even among the "same" types of cores.

I know you must know this, Mr. Quivey, so perhaps the point you are trying to make is lost on me. Be well-no harm meant.

Edited: March 18, 2021, 11:19 PM · JI,

It seems that you like heavy gauge strings, which also have the effect you desire of warming up the sound/supressing a certain degree of brightness. Thus, for a wound gut option I would also go for a heavy gauge string. The Passione Solo is only available in one gauge, so I would recommend you try the Passione regular 14 guage or the similar gauge Eudoxa A. I would say the Passione A might actually be tamer, in that the Eueoxa A has a little more of that gut grit/character. Both will be tamer than a gut A.

Plain gut has a pretty amazing sound, with a lot of "noise" that gives it character and dimension. It can also make it a bit hard to tame though, especially with faster changing bow strokes on the particularly thick plain gut D, which is why people started wrapping them. That said it's all a matter of taste. Plain gut will have the most noise/character, classic wound guts will have a bit less, Passione will have less still, then there are various synthetics (a few of which might have more texture than Passione), then steel strings which have the least character (in general). People have different needs and I certainly wouldn't try to play with plain gut D strings in my orchestra, as I doubt they would appreciate the inevitable issues (squeeks etc) that would occasionally popup. It's all about compromise, and I personally like eudoxa (with light passione regular a) and Passione Solos for different music and contexts.

There will always be fanatics who says that anyone not using plain gut (including on the G) is missing out on tone colour etc while someone on the opposite side will regard any gut string as a hopeless relic that will never stay in tune and break any moment (for what it's worth, I've never had any wound gut string snap on me, despite taking some of them on and off literally dozens of times). The true best string is what fits your purposes best, and everyone had different requirements and sound ideals. That's why discussion forums can be a boon in aiding us find our sound!

To get this thread back on topic, regular Eudoxa are quite unique in that they are the lowest tension strings available on the market, even compared to average gauge plain gut. This can be great for non-fatiquing playing as well as getting a certain golden sound full of energy and bow speed, but can be not so good if you need to do a lot of long sustained bowings (as they won't appreciate very slow bows very much compared to say Passione or a synthetic). The regular D string also pitch bends a bit when bowed aggressively, which does not happen for me with the stiff Eudoxa or other strings. It's not a huge issue, and not as bad as plain steel strings, but it's there.

March 19, 2021, 3:14 AM · Thank you, Adalberto and John!

I decided to go with regular Eudoxa G D and Passione A. I use Goldbrokat .26 E, it's the best for me. I hope I can collect them today from the shop. I'm trying lighter strings this time, because the thicker require bowing technique I do not yet quite have. Sound is great nonetheless.

Hopefully I can record something for you even though my fiddle or playing is not that great, still gut strings make all the difference. I prefer older recordings, and I find I get to channel that soundscape better with these strings. There's so much more depth and warmth to the sound.

Thank you for taking the time to help! I leave you with this wonderful recording of Milstein playing the Bach S&P

Edited: March 23, 2021, 12:54 PM · Adalberto --

Thank you for suggesting that we test out these strings. I made a comparison of the "regular" vs. "rigid"with a retired member of the National Symphony Orchestra.

A full set of Eudoxa strings were put on my mid-18th century German violin, including a steel Eudoxa E-string. The D-strings were aluminum wound.

The "regular" Eudox D and G were tested first. My friend described the sound as "heavenly". He was particularly impressed with the depth and fullness of the D and G, which did not bottom out under pressure from his Vuillaume bow (made by Pierre Simon). The violin sang very freely.

The "rigid" D and G were tested next. These strings paled in comparison with the "regulars". The sound was pleasant but constricted. The string resistance was greater under the bow, but there was much less bloom to the sound when the bow played into the string.

March 23, 2021, 1:13 PM · It is funny, but Pirastro's website, in recommending usage for each of their lines, omits solo work when discussing Eudoxa. That is probably enough to scare people away from doing what you just did.
March 23, 2021, 3:51 PM · Mr. Frisch,

I agree, I still find the regular tone more open and "blooming", as you state. It is most certainly not timid. Of course I have used the rigid as most players have with Eudoxa and Oliv, but I am coming to the conclusion that those, while sounding nice, are only preferable when the player's bowing cannot handle the regulars.

In a way, the coming of synthetics also indirectly ushered unto us the era of rigid/stiff Eudoxas. Perhaps I am wrong and the rigid models came before Dominant did, but I honestly have no idea when they were first introduced. I know some great soloists, the few that play on wound gut, play on rigid, but I wonder if they have even tried regulars given Pirastro's tendency to hype newer products as better?

No offense to Pirastro or synthetic string users-use whatever works for you. I am only speculating. However, I honestly see no advantage to rigid strings *for my playing.* The sound is brighter, clearer, and more open with regulars in my case.

Nice to know more players' experiences! If any of you disagree, feel free to do so, but explain if you have used the regulars, and how was the experience.

Thanks so much for all your input.

March 23, 2021, 6:27 PM · I used Eudoxa strings exclusively through the 1950s and '60s. Did not switch to synthetics until Tonicas in the early 1970s. The violin I played in those days did not like Dominant strings.

Humidity and temperature fluctuations between the different plaaces I played have kept me from returning to gut since then, although I do have 2 unused, tubed sets of Oliv strings, a set of Passionne strings and a set of Tricolore and a half dozen varied-gauge Goldbrokat E strings - all of which are just not as good on the fiddles I want to use them on as the synthetics I have chosen to use.

March 23, 2021, 7:46 PM · Mr. Victor,

Do you recall using Eudoxa rigid/stiff before the Dominant era, or was it a later (post-Dominant "revolution") innovation? Just wondering when Pirastro felt the need for their Eudoxa/Oliv strings to be "darker, more powerful" and better able to handle "modern bowing technique" (as they advertise). Of course, please do not mind if you cannot remember.

Be well, and thank you.

March 23, 2021, 8:01 PM · I used a range of different gauges for the D & G strings. But I cannot remember which I preferred.
March 23, 2021, 8:27 PM · No problem Mr. Victor. Thank you.

If anyone else knows the year Eudoxa/Oliv Stiff were introduced, feel free to chime in. It is not important, but very interesting to know, especially concerning professional players/soloists string choices just before Dominant and other nylon core strings were more or less universally accepted as proper wound gut "replacements."

(As always, I do not mind if any of you prefer synthetics. Do not be offended.)

Edited: March 24, 2021, 1:05 PM · I played exclusively on the Eudoxas from the mid 1950s, at my teachers' insistence, until around 2000. The rigid/stiff version didn't exist then as far as I know. I used only medium gauge. It is still my standard of perfection, and this discussion has made me decide to go back and try them again. The closest I have found in sound among the many synthetics I've used are the Warchal Amber. Eudoxas last at least twice as long as synthetics before going dead, so factor that into your budget for strings. As for Dominants, I never liked the sound of them on my violins (despite Pinchas Zukerman who promoted them relentlessly. They sounded great on his fiddle, though!)
March 24, 2021, 10:41 AM ·

Something about the headline for this thread...

Edited: March 25, 2021, 4:06 PM · Mr. Duchemin,

Judging from the Timbre strings I used last year, the Amber should be very nice and even easier to play (the Timbre are not too heavy, but feel tighter than Dominant, and obviously much more than Eudoxa.) I never got around to testing them-not even the modern E, as whistling is not a big problem in my case.

I assume medium Eudoxa are great enough. I used "heavy" to compensate the fact that their design is inherently very low tension (lower than Oliv and Gold Label), plus it gives me lots of depth without sacrificing clarity and playability. The Eudoxa rigid are also very easy to play and perhaps go deeper, but at the cost of some upper frequency content which takes some of the clarity away. Smooth and beautiful, but lacking some openness. I may never go back to rigid unless someone can prove to me they are indeed better, or merely only a compromise to accomodate heavy bow pressure playing. However, in my experience the regulars still accommodate a heavy bow arm quite well, granted you adapt your bowing speed and point of contact. Hope you enjoy using them again when you do (I may go for 16 instead of 16.25 for the G next time: currently 16.25, 17, 14 for GDA-they last for a while though! Especially G&D.)

Thanks for the information regarding rigid/stiff formulas. I suspected these were not a thing during the 70s or even 80s, and you have confirmed as much.

Stay safe, and Happy Practicing.


March 25, 2021, 12:24 PM ·
Thanks, Aldaberto, looking forward to trying them out again. There seem to be a lot more gauges available now in the Eudoxa strings. I'll stick with medium. By the way, I think you might enjoy the Warchal Amber E. Quite apart from its resistance to whistling, it's a superior quality E string with & warmth & richness that I suspect would match well with Eudoxa.
March 27, 2021, 3:02 AM · I have not yet tried the rigid variants, but I have absolutely no qualms with my regular Eudoxas strings in terms of volume and tone.

In terms of volume projection, I can easily match even the most powerful synthetic strings despite not using heavy bow pressure. The usual techniques of playing closer to the bridge (which also coax out more overtones) and increasing bowing speed seem to be more than enough, I suspect the low string tensions actually help improve projection by allowing larger and longer lasting vibrations across the strings. The only problem I have not yet fully resolved is how to produce a very loud, long sustained note without running out of bow.

Regarding the rigid strings having a darker tone, I don't find my regular Eudoxas to be lacking in any way, although I do oil my strings so they sound darker than un-oiled ones. In any case, my regular Eudoxas sound much more rich and dark than Obligatos while also curiously having brighter overtones. Is it possible to sound very dark and very bright/vibrant at the same time?

My understanding of string gauges and tensions is that higher tensions "produce" more volume by virtue of allowing more bow pressure, at the expense of choking higher frequencies and overtones since the string cannot vibrate as easily. Thicker string gauges on the other hand don't necessarily allow better projection (but they often result in higher tension), and they will sound more dark and dense due to the higher mass compared to thinner gauges.

Edited: March 27, 2021, 8:35 AM · Higher tension will also cramp the finer, higher vibrations in the wood.

When I came to France 45 years ago the luthiers in paris stocked up to seven different thicknesses of Eudoxa strings!

In my dance-band days I found Dominant too "acidic" for close mics and poor PA speakers, so I returned to Eudoxa.
But then the hot lighting would shrink the gut by a full semitone (+9% tension!): I had to tune down before the first dance!
So I tried Spirocore, but always with the little rubber grommets which suppress the higher, "steely" overtones.
Then the ancient genuine gut tail-gut would shrink, compensating for the expanding steel strings...

March 27, 2021, 4:34 PM · The thing with non-rigid Eudoxa is that their tension is low even at their highest gauges. So I feel this allows me to experiment with these diameters. I would not use high tension for Oliv strings, even non rigid. Gold Label come in one very comfortable, light tension. Tricolore can be medium-high on their highest tension compared to synthetics (still way more pliable, however.) Thus one of the benefits of regular Eudoxa is their low tension and ability to go thicker without losing much response, and adding a bit of bow resistance. The sound has also been better for me than the thickest Eudoxa rigid G&D I have used in the past, even though they did sound nice overall.

I do agree that some violins may prefer medium or lower gauges even for regular Eudoxa, which a player has to find out via experimentation.

March 27, 2021, 7:17 PM · I played regular Eudoxa G and D for a long time with a Dlugolecki varnished gut A and a Goldbrokat 26 steel E. A nicely playing set all around.

Since moving to the east coast and dealing with more humidity and temperature variance, I abandoned the plain gut, and while I am enjoying the Timbre set I have on for the moment, will be giving the Eudoxa G and D together with the Warchal Steel A and the Timbre spiral E a go pretty soon.

Edited: April 7, 2021, 9:58 PM · Mr. Duchemin,

I just 20 mins.+ ago changed the Eudoxa plain steel E (same as medium Gold Label E) for a medium Amber E. The sound is beautiful and warm, not wimpy, and matches well the Eudoxa A 14, but is noticeably less brilliant, making the whole instrument slightly darker (if not as dark as a wound steel Eudoxa E would.) It may be a matter of preference for each player-I assume this would be ideal for many, many players, but I rather prefer a "piercing", though good sounding E as it makes the whole instrument much more pleasing and resonant under my ears. That said, it may be the opposite for yourself, so I understand why you and many others love the Amber E. I do not want to try the heavy tension, as I fear it would make the whole instrument a bit too dark despite the power of the string.

It sounds individually good, has decent (but not tons of) power, and appears easy to play. But one has to get used to it. Titanium/Gold/platinum-plated strings are much less of a "sonic shock" in comparison. I will be playing it some more, but may change this Amber E if it doesn't soon alter my opinion of it.

Anyone has noticed this spiral E's "drawback"?

(This is of course not meant to disrespect Mr. Warchal, nor all Amber E users/lovers out there.)

Edited: April 9, 2021, 5:35 AM · I find it amazing that our favorite violin concertos were premiered on gut E-strings!
As a substitute, in the 60's, I tried half a plain nylon guitar E-string: nice sound, but it got flattened where the fingers pressed..

As a violist, I prefer wound E's on my violins. I even like the Dominant wound E! I find the Eudoxa wound E too bright, and prefer their "No1".

I still have Eudoxa violin and viola sets, in case friends insist on them for quartets, HIP, etc. Except that they are at least 40 years old..

April 9, 2021, 4:32 PM · Mr. Heath,

I may be accustomed to so-called "modern violin playing" as exemplified by Maestro Heifetz and most players after him. Nothing wrong with preferring gut Es, or wound steel Es. I just prefer bright, "piercing", and powerful Es, even as I favor gut on GDA (I no longer love heavy gauge Es, though, but precisely because I do love a brilliant tone overall.) I have come to love the steel E as part of the violin tone as I know it, taking advantage of its very different sound vs gut.

Would never disparage someone for choosing to play the Brahms with wound G and plain gut DAEs. Would be a fun "HIP" performance of its own era.

I admit I never disliked the wound steel E sound. Historically, I only have used wound steel Es as Dominant, Tonica, and Eudoxa, but only remember the latter. There wad another I tried, "anti whistling", which was also wound
steel. The Eudoxa version never sounded bad or too dark on its own, though I found it weaker the higher you have to play (as an example, practice a 4 octave scale). But much "worse" for me, these wound steel Es tend to darken the whole instrument-which may be something you prefer and fine by you.

April 9, 2021, 5:03 PM · Adalberto - this thread makes me want to try Eudoxa again. I haven't played them in more than 25 years. Or at least I should try a regular Oliv instead of the Rigid G I am using now.
During the winter here in Sweden where the indoor climate is extremely dry - below 30 % relative humidity - I have noticed that when I take my violin out of its case where the humidity is higher the A string in particular has gone low. The A I am using is a Passione Solo, which is supposed to be more stable than other gut strings. But the Oliv silver D is much less off and the Oliv rigid G is spot on! The A rises about a quarter tone if I leave the violin out of the case for a couple of hours or 3 but the other strings stay in tune.
I am not totally happy with the Passione Solo A so I am planning to try out the regular Passione A as well as Eudoxa A.
April 9, 2021, 5:17 PM · The Eudoxa wound E doesn't work in every situation, but it can sound quite special. Because of the wrapping, however it does eventually go false, which is not something normal E strings do.
April 9, 2021, 8:17 PM · Just tried Eudoxa strings for the first time. Amazing feel and sound. So much softer and warmer than my synthetics. Thank you Mr. Adalberto for the recommendation.
April 9, 2021, 10:12 PM · John, try placing the bow closer to the bridge and using more bow/less pressure than normal - there's a strong sound somewhere around there, with a special sound quality - but the technique is different than normal if you are used to synthetics. With synthetics you have to often slow down your bow to play close to the bridge with a strong sound, with Eudoxa thanks to the low tension you can use quite a bit more bow at the same contact point.

This is one of the main attractions - an "electric" close to the bridge strong sound and then all those warm smooth sounds farther away from the bridge. It also seems to encourage more bow speed (and more interesting playing, to be honest).

April 10, 2021, 11:30 AM · Thanks John. It seems as though there is greater dynamic range with these strings. Also, I have found that my favorite bow seems to respond really well to them. It is a rather light 55 gram bow that always seemed a bit thin and flighty. I had to apply substantial bow pressure to dig into the synthetic strings. But now it plays like a Dream. Effortless. As though they were made for each other.
Edited: April 16, 2021, 1:37 AM ·

The above is a very interesting read (of note is that violin stringing seemed pretty consistent from the classical era to the early modern era (until the introduction of the metal E, i.e. the Heifetz setup). According to historical strings and writing, the tension would have been a bit higher than modern synthetics! Very interesting. The idea of an all-wound low tension gut core set like Eudoxa would have been a very 20th century idea. Perhaps bridges were made higher in the 20th century to compensate?

Something else interesting I learned about is twist - baroque violinists are probably aware of this already. High twist gut strings are less strong and stable but more flexible and acoustically desirable, while low twist gut is stiffer and stronger but less flexible.

I bet the "stiff" pirastro gut strings are lower twist than the regular versions. This also explains why there is no stiff variation of the wound A strings - since the gut core of a wound A string is very thin, it cannot be made with too high of a twist, thus essentially every wound A is "stiff."

I wonder if this is the differentiation between Passione solo and regular - the Solo is not listed as a higher tension, so perhaps the core is stiffer (lower twist).

April 16, 2021, 3:49 AM · There is a striking difference in flexibility between the wound Tricolore strings and the corresponding strings from Pirastro. The Tricolore viola C is extremely flexible - almost like a piece of thread - whereas the Oliv rigid is more like a piece of wire.
April 16, 2021, 9:10 AM · These are interesting questions. I wonder what Pirastro's answers would be.
April 16, 2021, 9:26 AM · I can't remember the make or brand, but there are plain gut strings with fine spiral structure, rather like a miniature telephone cord.
Edited: April 16, 2021, 10:01 AM · Aquila and Gamut both offer a sort of braided string (it resembles a braid, but it's more of a special twist). Essentially it's 2 - 3 individual gut strings twisted in opposite directions all twisted together and smoothed in a machine. These strings are really surprisingly pliable for their thickness... compared to something like Chorda, which feels like stale spaghetti, they are super soft. They are used for bass-side strings usually and make the string more responsive.

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Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine