Alternative to Golden Spiral Gut Strings? And some other questions about gut strings
I've only ever heard good things about Golden Spiral Gut strings, so it was a surprise to hear that they had been phased out 10 years ago. Does anyone with experience with using these strings know if there are any gut string alternatives nowadays that have a similar sound/feel? Been looking into Pirastro gut strings, but all their different choices are really confusing.
I have no idea what the difference is between choosing a stiff eudoxa vs choosing a normal eudoxa with a higher tension is, for example. Also, what is up Oliv vs Eudoxa, I heard that Oliv has a darker sound. So do they take the gut from fatter sheep to get a darker sound or what? Then if Oliv has a darker sound, then what is Eudoxa stiff, which Ive also heard has a darker sound?
Anyways, just quite confused and if anyone could shine a light on what is going on with all these offerings I would be very grateful.
It can be indeed confusing. Let us try to stick to Pirastro for now, as I have used their many options for years. (I did use Golden Spiral gut strings eons ago! Can't remember what it was like. Indeed a pity D'Addario killed the line.)
I also heard D'Addario unfortunately axed the Kaplan Golden Spiral line. I never tried this string but heard it was very good. Michael Rabin apparently used them at one point. Someone told me they are quite similar to the Pirastro Gold Label (wound gut string). I have tried the Gold Label, and it does have a pleasant sound, but the pitch stability is terrible. The Oliv is a darker more robust sounding string (especially the G and D), as compared to the Eudoxa which is in my opinion more mellow. I find the rigid G and D Oliv to work better for me personally.
Back about 40 years ago, Gold Spiral had a reputation for doing one thing really well. A or E-- can't remember which.
Playing on gut strings is a whole other ball game than playing on modern synthetic strings. I played on Eudoxa strings when I was a kid, but then switched to Dominants when they came out. I tried Eudoxas a couple a years ago and was shocked by how difficult it was to play on them. I would have had to overhaul my violin playing to become accustomed to these strings again. I took them off and gave them away to my luthier after about a month. It was an expensive experiment I won't soon repeat!
Synthetics may be easier to play and slightly more predictable. But the sound and dynamic range of gut is so satisfying. I am currently using Eudoxa, Oliv, Passione, and Aquila unsplit lamb gut combos on my violins and violas. Certain instruments seem to respond differently depending on the tension and gauge. Personally I find most synthetic strings too metallic sounding. Perhaps the exception being EP and EP Gold.
Thank you everyone for the responses!
Hi R Y, yes Nadien most certainly used Pirastro Eudoxa strings on his Matteo Goffriler violin when I played for him. He also tried my violin with pure gut D and A strings and sounded like David Nadien on it. Then he handed it back to me, and I didn’t sound like David Nadien….
@ Nate, that must have been something to see and hear him play personally. I've only heard old recordings. Are you still using pure gut D?
I used Goden Spiral for years and loved them. Latterly, however, the lifetime of the Golden Spiral A decreased to the extent that it became unsustainable. I am using Amber E with the rest Evah Pirazzi now (I had grown up using steel strings before I changed to gut at a time when synthetics viable for bowed instruments were not really available), but if I were to perform a Brahms Sonata again, I would consider investing in gut G and D, and perhaps even A if Pirastro As lasted a bit longer.
Been reading a bit more on this site about gut strings, I've seen nothing but what amounts to rave reviews for the Tricolore gut strings, are they still worth in 2023, over getting a new set of Eudoxas for my next string change? I also saw that it seems that the page for the Tricolore strings have been removed from the Gamut site, it now gives a 404 error. Have they been discontinued again somehow?
R Y, for a period of time, Tricolores were being made out of sheep gut, but a few years ago Gamut started using beef gut for these strings (which isn’t as good a substance) and Gamut was doing this for their other string lines like Academie. There was in my opinion a very noticeable decline in their quality and tone.
Yeah the Aquila lamb gut are great
Absolutely. Aquila strings are fabulous.
To be fair to Mr. Larson, it is an old, old article, and it may have been true at the time.
Nate - I have been looking at the Aquila line of strings and it looks like they are focused on baroque instrument when it comes to the violin family. I assume that the gauges are ment for tuning in 415 Hz. Comparing the available gauges to the Tricolore range (which are made for 440 Hz tuning) even the lightest Aquila A is heavier than the heavy Tricolore.
I tune my Aquila unsplit lamb gut A to 440. The medium gauge is very similar to Gamut's med. A, perhaps slightly lighter.
Hi Bo, you can certainly tune the string to A440. I would recommend you to experiment with the different gauges. Each instrument and player is different. Typically the heavier gauge strings can withstand more bow weight from the modern bow/setup, whereas the lighter gauges are more geared towards period baroque performance with the lighter baroque bow.
About the recent Tricolore issues, I sent a message to Gamut and they replied that they're having sourcing silver wire and that they would be back in stock in probably about a month.
I believe it is units of 0.05 mm
Nate, Damn, thanks for the links. Reading the website about the pros of beef strings, somehow I can't help but feel that that's cope...especially since you've mentioned your poor experiences with their beef gut strings! If what the website says is true however, it seems like the plain A and D still use sheep gut...guess Ill send them another email to check! Though with each passing day Eudoxas (or a brave foray into Aquila strings) are looking all the more likely...
Sounds like they are trying to turn a bug into a feature ;)
Would Pirastro Passione Solos' be a good string, a gateway, for someone who's been accustomed to PI, Evah Greens, or other synthetics for someone wanting to try gut after many years?
I found them to be interesting at first, but I tired of them very quickly. High tension, and much less interesting sound than the regular Passiones. That is my recollection, anyway. It was a while ago.
Jeff - I tried them but in my opinion you are much better off going to oliv (except for the A). Passione (or passione solo) A works well with the olivs.
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