Aquila sheep gut strings

Edited: March 5, 2023, 8:38 PM · Have any of you tried Aquila gut strings from Italy? How do they compare and contrast with other gut you’ve tried? Thanks!

Replies (51)

March 5, 2023, 8:42 PM · You mean you're asking for our gut reaction?
Edited: March 5, 2023, 11:08 PM · They are my absolute favourite in every respect: price (each string is double-length), longevity, and sound.

I had serious problems with intonation between plain and wound strings gut of any brand, Aquila being no exception, but I seem alone in that experience.

March 6, 2023, 12:48 AM · You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.
March 6, 2023, 1:46 AM · For the full gory details:

You couldn't make it up.

Edited: March 6, 2023, 5:29 AM · They file these products in vary confusing ways, I think. Is there a spec most comparable to the light or medium Tricolore?
Edited: March 18, 2023, 2:53 PM · Thanks Cotton. Intonation is a constant struggle for us all. You’re not alone! I know Aquila A’s come double length, do the D’s as well? Their prices do seem to be the best on the market now compared with other brands. I’ll let you know what I think when I get my order. Yes Stephen, Aquila offers similar gauges. They list them on their US website. This is their A for example:

I believe the Aquila strings do come unvarnished.

Edited: March 6, 2023, 9:11 AM · Interesting, thanks. If I infer correctly, they don't make G strings? That pulls the price of the set up more than a bit.

Oh, wait-- the full set probably includes a G, based on the price. But I don't see one listed for separate sale.

Edited: March 6, 2023, 9:37 AM · Stephen, Aquila makes a silver wound on sheep/lamb gut string for $35, like the original Tricolore, Pirastro Gold Label, or Kaplan Gold Spiral string sold in the 1950’s, instead of this wound beef gut that’s being sold now. I might give it a shot too. Cotton, have you tried the Aquila G as well?

I still think the best wound gut G for my violins is the Pirastro Oliv, even though the price of it is absolutely outrageous…

March 6, 2023, 9:31 AM · Oh, now I see. Man, their website is badly laid out.
Edited: March 7, 2023, 11:24 AM · Some information I just got from Aquila on their Sterling silver wound sheep gut G gauges in millimeters. They measure to be: .86mm (light), .97mm (medium), and 1.03mm (heavy). If you want to get the Pirastro measurement (PM), divide the mm by .05.
Edited: March 6, 2023, 11:10 AM · Do they offer the heavy plus or extra heavy that Gamut offers, because that's what I have been using. Heavy + a2 is .82mm, the G is about .9mm, do Aquila strings make anything this heavy?? E1 is .62mm Gimped D is 1.4mm
Edited: March 6, 2023, 11:34 AM · Yes they do Lyndon. For A-strings Aquila offers heavy which is .82 mm and their extra heavy is .85mm.

I just posted their G-string measurements above.

March 6, 2023, 12:31 PM · G-strings are much thicker than Tricolore, which run 78-82.
March 6, 2023, 1:22 PM · I still use their G strings after switching back to modern strings. The wound strings seem to intonate correctly for me, and they sound awesome.
March 6, 2023, 2:03 PM · Well, ordered a light-gauge set. We shall see. I don't usually use gut Ds, but this might convince me.
Edited: March 8, 2023, 7:16 PM · A little update: my Aquila strings arrived! The surprising thing is I ordered them on Friday evening, and they arrived on Monday afternoon from Portland, Oregon at my apartment in New York City and it was sent First Class Mail.

My first impressions of the strings: great warm vocal sound, very stable (even without varnish), wonderful power and response. In short, I’m with Cotton, these are by far the best plain gut strings I’ve tried…It’s like giving my violin 3 shots of espresso or a dose of Viagra.

My only regret is that I did not try Aquila strings sooner. The Aquila strings are made in Venice, Italy. Their violin sheep gut E-strings ($8.55), A-strings ($11.55), and D-strings ($17.40) come double length (2 strings in 1 - you cut them in 1/2 with scissors). Compare these prices to any other gut string retailer and Aquila I guarantee has a better deal.

For anyone who is curious how Aquila strings compare to Tricolores, Aquilas in my opinion are far better now. As I was saying above Gamut has been using beef gut for their Academie and Tricolore strings for a while which is very unfortunate. I think their strings have gone way downhill as a result. One of their recent Tricolore A’s I tried putting on was defective. The A would not tune up and the loop/washer flew out of the tailpiece.

I’m very glad I took the leap and tried these Aquila strings.

It is important to realize the original Tricolore brand never made plain gut strings. They made covered sheep gut (not beef gut) G, D and A and the lapping at the tailpiece end was in red, white and blue spiral, hence the name *TRICOLORE.* There were also Tricolore viola strings (and probably cello and double-bass strings too). If Gamut is slipping into the fine print of their string descriptions that they are using beef gut for their wound gut strings, and they currently sell little to no sheep gut Academie strings, how are we certain that the ‘Tricolore plain sheep gut’ strings are actually sheep gut?

I also know from a rather good source Jascha Heifetz almost certainly got his plain gut strings from the William Morris company.

Edited: March 7, 2023, 6:50 PM · Nate, when I divide 0,97 by 0.05 I get 19.4.
Did you mean to subtract 0.05 or reduce by 0,05mm?
Edited: March 7, 2023, 11:19 AM · I suppose one factor to consider is the possibility that wrapped A and D might be better. Certainly on Tricolore, I find the wrapped D to be much superior to the plain. Maybe that is a problem that will be cured by using lamb.

The two flavors of A do sound different although I don't have a strong preference. Just a month ago I swapped to the wrapped A, and loved the sound. If only the metal windings weren't changing color and threatening to unravel...

Edited: March 7, 2023, 12:05 PM · That is correct Andrew. For instance Aquila’s extra heavy A-string which measures to be .85mm in diameter is 17 in Pirastro measurement. The .97mm G is 19.4 PM.

Stephen, from my experience, plain sheep gut A and D strings offer a superior sound quality and more nuanced tone compared to wrapped gut and especially the wound beef gut which cracks and is less stable. What substance Gamut is currently using for their plain gut is a mystery that only they know.

One thing I’ll say is that the Aquila plain sheep gut strings aesthetically speaking have a slightly yellow tint, while the Gamut plain gut strings have a bleach white color. So it does not appear to be the same substance to my eye, and they feel completely different under the finger. Most importantly both string types sound very different from one another.

Additionally, I do think good plain sheep gut strings are more versatile and can produce a wider range of tones. They also tend to be more responsive to subtle variations in bowing and fingering, making them ideal for expressive playing.

March 7, 2023, 2:05 PM · Well, we'll have an idea about all that in a week or so.

I won't go all the way to plain gut D/A/E, but the current A needs a change and I shall work my way down to see what other changes are afoot.

March 7, 2023, 2:14 PM · Interesting... I was having a hard time tuning my Tricolore plain gut A. Really got to be too frustrating. Although I do love the sound. I have since switched to Eudoxa aluminum/gut A which is easy to tune, quite stable, and beautiful sounding. I have paired it with Oliv Stiff G/D and Eudoxa E. I am really enjoying this set up although it is not cheap. Maybe I will give the Aquila plain gut A a try? Please keep us updated.
Thanks Nate!
March 7, 2023, 2:35 PM · Try also the metal/gut A from Tricolore. I do like the sound very much, although it is perhaps less stable than the all-gut.

And don't be shy about experimenting with gauge. It's all too easy to write those off because of that variable.

Edited: March 8, 2023, 9:36 AM · That’s interesting John. I guess I was not alone struggling with tuning up the reinvented Tricolore beef gut A. Yes I would highly recommend the Aquila A. I would not recommend using anything “Tricolore” now. It is not historically accurate to what was used in the past, which I outlined in my post above.

Pirastro Oliv Stiff G/D is excellent. I’m with you on the prices John. The Oliv G is exorbitant now, even though it’s a great string. I just put on a brand new Oliv G which I had here, but when it expires, I will definitely try the Aquila wound gut G which is $35 as opposed to the $93 Oliv and report back here on what I find.

March 7, 2023, 7:46 PM · Another little disappointment with Gamut is they take so very long to deliver. I just received an order today that was placed two weeks ago. I wanted to try the metal/gut A heavy gauge. I didn't care for it. Too thick under the fingers and sort of a heavy sound. Not very singing.
Edited: March 7, 2023, 8:02 PM · Gamut strings sound alright, but I think their gauges are altogether too light. They fray really quickly as well, because of how rigourously they are polished and their many-stranded construction. And the price has been going up and up and up for a while now.

If only Aquila offered wound trebles I would be all over them.

Edited: March 8, 2023, 8:54 PM · I recently ordered a set of Cordedrago violin strings from a dealer I met at the Viola da Gamba Society Conclave this past summer. While at Conclave, I bought a Cordedrago A string for my 2018 "baroque" violin and loved it much more than the Kurschner set I had on that instrument. In fact those strings are still on that violin and the Cordedrago A is still especially nice.

Meanwhile about 2 months ago I decided to restring my other violin, a 1924 instrument, so I re-contacted that dealer and I selected the Cordedrago "17th-century" set. These are all bare gut (no metal windings), so the twisted D and especially G string might be a little fat.

I brought the strings to my luthier so he could set up that instrument, and he discovered a previously-repaired crack reopened so unfortunately my new set of Cordedrago strings has to wait. Of course I immediately remembered I hadn't set up my vaporizer this year and have kept it steaming in my room ever since. I hope he won't have to modify the nut slots or tailpiece holes or peg holes for those fatter strings, but if necessary then better he than me doing it!

March 14, 2023, 9:54 AM · I just ordered a couple sets, their gauges are all more on the heavy side compared to Gamut, more like Dlugolecki recommended when he was in buisiness
March 14, 2023, 11:08 AM · Maybe I should mention that Aquila's gauges are really designed for A415.
Edited: March 14, 2023, 12:30 PM · Cotton, I think Aquilas work just fine on a modern setup. I know quite a few people that use Aquilas with a modern violin. Period baroque gauges tend to be the lighter ones - that’s the only difference. A gut E sounds heavenly BTW on a modern setup in my opinion, especially on music written before 1900. I wouldn’t use it for Stravinsky or Prokofiev, but it’s perfect for Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Paganini etc. I just took the fine tuner off and put a gut E on my Guadagnini over the weekend. It’s a great learning experience to try a gut E at some point even if you don’t end up using one full time.
Edited: March 14, 2023, 4:21 PM · Actually the current state of the art research points to historical 1700s gut string gauges to be much heavier than what everyone was using previously, including heavier than the gut strings used in the 20th century, and a lot heavier at that, Aquila seems to understand this and only offers the heavier options, Aquilas light gauge is equal to Gamuts Heavy plus
Edited: March 14, 2023, 2:32 PM · Just looking at the E, A and D strings Lyndon, Gamut and Aquila have similar gauge sizes. You’re absolutely correct about the G being historically thicker, even back in the 18th century. Aquila’s G’s are larger in diameter.
March 14, 2023, 3:11 PM · Gamut's heavy plus is the same as Aguila light, Aquila heavy is heavier than anything Gamut offers, and Gamut offers a lot of lighter gauges Aquila doesn't offer
Edited: March 14, 2023, 4:16 PM · Yes for the silver wound G you’re absolutely correct about the disparity. The unwound strings offered by both places have similar choices in gauges. Gamut uses beef gut now for their wound and unwound strings which is a cheaper material and not as good a substance in comparison to sheep gut. It is also questionable how historically authentic beef gut really is. So that’s the other difference.
March 14, 2023, 4:19 PM · no, I was referring to the gauges of the unwound strings, I compared them before I ordered, and yes the Aquila Gs are much thicker as well
March 14, 2023, 4:22 PM · I ordered the Aquila Med which is one step heavier than the Gamut heavy plus I used to order, and I'm speaking of the unwound strings
March 15, 2023, 9:44 AM · Just put on ADG. They are still stretching, so firm verdicts not possible. The A replaced a nearly new Tricolore varnished gut, light weight. On this particular violin, medium or light have worked well with unwrapped A. The light Aquila is much thicker, but sounded pretty good. More volume.

The light D replaced a Tricolore silver wrapped D, also light weight. Much thicker also, and a thicker, shaggier sound. Then the G went on.

So far, it is taking a lot of getting used to. Definitely not for those who want synthetic response, it feels a bit like walking in a trampoline. But we will let them break in and see what happens.

I also have a Croen Guarneri model that seems to be more tolerant of high tension strings. That might be a better fit, but one thing at a time.

Edited: March 16, 2023, 1:51 AM · That’s interesting Stephen. I’d be interested to hear what you think of the G in particular. I just put in an order with Aquila for a heavy G.

The gut takes a day or two to break in but they’re remarkably stable so far - much more so than the Tricolores I just had on. I have also found that varnish is not necessarily as important for Aquila’s sheep gut since they do a good job pre oiling the strings.

The Aquila sheep gut strings have a very different feel and a much more superior sound compared to the faux sheep gut (beef gut) strings and actually tune up to pitch right away unlike a certain place I was getting my strings from. The beef gut requires more varnish because it breaks down way faster than sheep gut and is a cheap substitute for the traditional sheep gut string.

Edited: March 16, 2023, 2:37 AM · Is Mimmo (founder of Aquila) a member here?
He occasionally pops up on the Ukulele Cosmos and is a nice friendly helpful guy. If you contact him, I'm sure he'll help all he can.
March 16, 2023, 7:14 PM · Pitch on the raw gut is stabilizing. And this morning they were playing much better. I am away for a bit but shall see how they all do on Sunday.
March 17, 2023, 7:41 AM · As best I remember, while not playing with the ease and clarity of the light Tricolore, they were getting very good volume and a notably richer sound.
March 17, 2023, 8:14 AM · I'm not sure about Tricolore branded strings never being plain gut. I seem to remember buying them in the 60s and 70s. That's a long time ago and I could be mistaken, but whatever.

Plain gut A's were a common music store item then and you didn't have to order them from anywhere. On the other hand, plain gut D's were already very uncommon and had been superceded by aluminum wrapped gut D's.

March 17, 2023, 9:41 AM · The do offer plain gut. But apparently now it is beef not lamb-- if, indeed, they ever used anything but lamb.
Edited: March 18, 2023, 5:15 PM · The material used to make a gut string in the past has always been sheep gut. Beef gut is more of a new substitute.

I was in correspondence this morning with Mimmo Peruffo, head of Aquila Strings in Italy. He informed me that the Aquila string design is a more traditional one. They use unsplit whole lamb gut which was always the Italian method to make gut strings from as far back as the renaissance through the 1920's. This method of making was recently re-discovered after 39 years of research by Aquila.

Outside of Italy, gut strings were always made according to him from gut strands after splitting the gut in half with a device. They had to do this outside of Italy because the lambs were bigger than the ones in Italy. But this deeply impacted the sound quality. Mimmo mentioned how he studied and followed the original design of Paganini’s gut strings after he examined some of Paganini’s strings on a trip to Genoa years back.

He advised everyone using Aquila strings *not* to varnish their strings! He said if you add varnish or lacquer, ‘You will lose sound quality while the stability is already good. The string lifetime can be of months anyway.’ They also do pre-oil the strings which adds life to the string and I can attest to how stable they are without varnish.

Mimmo also mentioned how a lot of the common gut strings available on the market today are made following the modern way of splitting gut with a device. As a result, they are stiffer and less functional, and many of the strings are actually beef serosa instead of lamb intestines.

Aquila produces a real replica not only of Paganini’s setup (he studied) but also the setup of Jascha Heifetz, whose strings he also examined in person, which comprised of “steel for the 1st; 2nd and 3rd stiff gut and the the G with round silver wire.”

March 19, 2023, 12:45 PM · Interesting. I did not realize "unsplit" gut was possible. Is that the reason for the thicker gauge? I am curious to try the A string.
Edited: March 24, 2023, 5:16 PM · I don’t think the unsplit gut technique has really anything to do with gauge sizes. If you look on the Aquila website, they have a whole section under ‘HU’ unsplit lamb gut. You can order a wide array of gauges, even as small as .44mm. I’ll post the link below - it’s in a different section of the website from the violin family strings.

Aquila says, “All strings less than 0.50mm are low twist. Strings greater than 0.50 mm in diameter are exclusively high twist, though the twist increases with diameter, to ensure maximum elasticity and the best acoustical performance, ease of attack and long playing life, as proven by many acoustical and wear-and-tear tests.”

For Custom HU unsplit lamb gut:


What makes Aquila different from other modern gut string makers is that they take a more historical approach to string making. Their manual polishing technique prevents the string from fraying as quickly. I can attest to the fact that these strings do not need varnish unlike some other brands.

Another interesting description of their method from their website:

“Plain gut strings are now exclusively half rectified twisted unsplit lamb gut (HU). This is the traditional string making method used in Italy for hundreds of years, but was lost with the demise of gut stringing in the late 19th century, and now has been re-discovered by Aquila Corde.

The surface of the HU/HV strings is only partly rectified, imitating the manual polishing technique of earlier times to obtain a string that is true in it's vibration. With this method the amount of fibers damaged by the abrasive action is noticeably reduced as compared with strings rectified with modern procedures.”

Edited: March 29, 2023, 1:57 PM · Hi, long time lurker and joined to comment on this thread although my initial question may have resolved itself over the last day or so. I installed the Aquila light ga. G,D & A using a Goldbrokat E. Loved the G especially and the A also but the D left me cold. Someone described it's sound as shaggy. I also found this with the Tricolor plain D which is why I switched to their alum. wound D. It seems to have settled over the last 48 hrs but still not sure it's on to stay. I have a Tricolor wound D that I can put on if push comes to shove. To those of you who are using a wound D with this set do you have any suggestions (knowing full well it's personal and dependent on instrument)
My problem with the recent Tricolor As was not stability but unwinding at the nut prematurely, 2 1/2 months for the one from my last order and 2 weeks for it's replacement (I'm using the wound A).
March 29, 2023, 2:18 PM · try the Aquila Venice rope core D
March 29, 2023, 3:03 PM · Interesting suggestion. I will, thank you.
March 30, 2023, 6:37 AM · @ Luther, I have a hard time making the Tricolore plain gut D work. Although I have yet to try Aquila strings. I've been using Oliv Stiff G/D which is quite satisfying. I'm a bit hesitant to try the Aquila G as they don't offer a wound D to match. I'm skeptical their rope cope would work for me as I prefer more of a modern set up. But, I would be interested to hear you thoughts if you try it. I will be giving the Aquila plain gut A a try as soon as I run through my inventory of Tricolores.

@ Nate and Stephen, please let us know how your new Aquilas continue to settle in.

Edited: March 30, 2023, 3:07 PM · Tone is good but response and pitch need some attention. A very quirky adjuster I saw yesterday had some theories he is applying to another violin of mine. One is that Kevlar rope tail gut makes for terrible G string stability. It doesn’t stretch but is so flexible that the tailpiece rocks back and forth while it shouldn’t. There were some other issues he pointed out. I shall see what the other fiddle behaves when I get it back and then have him make necessary updates on the main new one. I might end up keeping the gut A but trying other lower strings.
Also, he did say that a useful hack for tidying up the G is a high gauge E. So we have room to experiment.

Incidentally, he has a fascinating way of classifying synthetic strings. Not to spoil the whole argument, but he basically likes Dominant and EP Green, but finds most other labels designed to have erratic pitch when played. Including Dominant Pro. Some violinists learn to adjust, and/or make it part of their technique/sound. But he is very skeptical of a lot of the new brands and models.

March 30, 2023, 2:40 PM · Hi John, I found Lyndon's suggestion interesting because it was not what I expected to hear and since I'm a curious guy I'm game to try it. I'm keeping the current D on the fiddle. The string is settling in and/or my bowing technique has caught up to it. Whatever the case it's working now.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Colburn School

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian 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