Gut and bows

April 12, 2021, 5:45 PM · I have the impression that modern players who switch to gut strings tend stick with the same bow. Has this been true for you? Did you find that you were as pleased with your old bow on the gut strings, or was it just that you could make it work and since the gut is just an experiment you aren't going to change bows to perfect the match?

Replies (6)

Edited: April 12, 2021, 11:31 PM · Mr. Sender,

If the bow is good with synthetics, it is also good with gut. Even carbon fiber (though I rarely use my own such bow). I assume some players could be picky enough to prefer a certain bow with gut, and another with synthetics, assuming they have a choice and frequently switch between both types of strings. As for myself, I would personally stick with my favorite(s) stick(s).

What often needs a reassessment for many modern players is the bowing itself, depending on the way it was used before playing on gut for the first time. Experienced violinists can often adapt rather rapidly, but it can be a whole other world, depending on brand/line/type of gut string.

Edited: April 12, 2021, 6:33 PM · I think it's completely fine to stick with the same bow, but there are also reasons to switch, provided the new bow has a couple of certain properties.

Gut strings will produce more of those coveted upper harmonics, but are also less resonant because of their unrefined surface compared to metal. Even wound gut will not resonate for as long as synthetics. For this reason I've found it absolutely makes sense to switch to a more resonant bow which has less upper harmonics, thus retaining a nice balance.

As you've probably realized, I've only considered the sound quality of the bow and not the feel, but that's only because I tend to place a very low value on feel compared to most people. I believe that since one can (or should be able to) adapt one's technique to many bows, but one cannot do anything about a bow's inherent sound quality, sound quality must therefore take precedence over feel, assuming the bow doesn't feel abnormally bad.

April 12, 2021, 6:36 PM · At least 3 of my bows (2 violin and 1 cello bow) were used on gut (and wound gut) strings for 20 years before synthetic strings were even a "thing."

There was no problem going in that direction so why should there be going the other way?

April 12, 2021, 8:19 PM · I recently tried gut strings for the first time (thanks to Mr. Adalberto). I am really enjoying them and have noticed a big difference in feel and sound. I have also noticed that my F.N. Voirin bow has responded quite favorably. This particular bow has many wonderful qualities but has always been a bit thin and flighty with synthetic strings. I assumed it was an inherent characteristic of the bow or my technique. But now it effortlessly sticks and digs into the Eudoxas with predictable precision like never before. I cannot explain the cause for this effect. But I am loving it.
April 12, 2021, 10:39 PM · I don't really have the luxury of dropping 5k on a new bow, so I kept the same gear when I moved to gut. I have only one master bow that I use.

Funnily enough I didn't even choose my bow (or violin) for synthetics; my entire kit is bought second-hand from my old teacher. One day I will take the time to choose "the one". Eventually...

Edited: April 13, 2021, 11:01 AM · It is more likely that one would have a different, optimum rosin when switching to gut strings. Pirastro makes a different rosin to match it's long list of string brands. I have always considered that to be a marketing ploy to sell more rosin.
The optimum point of contact can be different.

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