I don't think my strings are false, because it happens even with new ones (though it gets worse over time). It can't be the instrument, because I've tried gut on 3 of my violins and I have the same problem between the D and G. Now that I play a 5 string it's even more confusing as the wonky intonation zone is located between the C-G and D-A pairs which work as you expect them to.
It's driving me absolutely mad and I would hate to switch back to synthetics after all these years for this one problem.
Does anyone else have this issue with gut strings? Is there a remedy I'm unaware of? According to Google, this problem does not exist or I don't know how to search for it.Tweet
Starting by visiting a luthier is good advice.
You could try another brand of the sharp string. What is its Guage, is it varnished, is it pistoy gut (twisted)?
I've tried Gamut and Aquila, including the braided D strings.
Gut ds are thick, less flexible. The string may need to be lower.
See what a shop has to say.
If these "line up" then the problem is likely due to some physical distortion when you finger the notes in the higher positions, if not then it could be the bridge or the nut or a string or ??
I think I'm going to move to Passione. Now, what to do with my stock of unused gut strings?
What with my age and hearing, a tuner has become as much an attachment to my violin as my chin rest.
To describe this little gem, it has a small color screen that is easy to read. It readily responds to the four strings. (Large letters: E, A, D, G.) But, it can also read all the other notes as well. (Small print.) Being able to tell whether a note is a bit sharp or a bit flat is very intuitive. And, one can set the A to whatever frequency: 240, 241, 242, etc. Attachable tuners like mine respond only to the vibration of the instrument. They are not influenced by surrounding, competing wavelengths. I keep a spare battery in my violin case. I attach mine just to the left of my fingerboard.
In use, I tune my A string to the tuner, and then tune the D and G to ear. I finish by tuning the E to the tuner. It works great. For example, I compared this tuner to Sound Corset, which is an Android app that I have on both my phone and my Samsung tablet. The two were in spot-on agreement with each other.
Given the advantages of these tuning devices, the traditional, ritualistic tuning of an orchestra seems so pathetically, anachronistic. Really, tune one to another, to another, to another? Talk about introducing variability and inaccuracy into an ensemble! Much better that everyone tune to their own tuner, I think. It would be quicker and more accurate, and with greater precision. Just a small touch of bow to string can affirm intonation. Regrettably, orchestras that traditionally play music hundreds of years old haven't yet caught up to current technology. (I think that I may be ranting here.)
Anyway, I encourage those not familiar with some sort of electronic tuning device to give one a try. I'm sure glad I did.
I don't think intonation is harder on plain gut than on wound strings. Rather the opposite. The resonances are so clear that the tone itself tells me if I am in tune. If you play on Pirastros you have to deal with strings going out of tune in the middle of a piece. This can be difficult. Tricolors do not seem to have that problem.
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More generally, I have noticed that the absence of frisson on pure gut allows me to hear pitches differently. If you're even slightly sharp with them, the support from overtones of that or other strings, or other players' instruments, just collapses.
Had I had access to a setup like that as a kid, I might have avoided some problems. I do remember spending a whole summer at Tanglewood getting shouted at for always going sharp in the Beethoven 2nd Romance.
Whether that is what you are experiencing or if you are actually sharp, I have no idea. Again, have someone look at your bridge to make sure its feet havn't drifted. That can make double stops really impossible to get right.