Alternative to Golden Spiral Gut Strings? And some other questions about gut strings

Edited: June 15, 2023, 10:46 PM · 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.

Replies (27)

Edited: June 15, 2023, 11:27 PM · 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.)

Remember: stiff/rigid=only G&D, and only Eudoxa or Oliv

"Value" gut strings that still sounds good, only offered in one gauge that feels very comfortable, *Gold Label* set. Clear, no too deep, but definitely with a nice tonal character.

"Classic" Eudoxa regular, not stiff, low tension, actually rather warm especially if you go higher tension, which for Eudoxa, it will never be too tense (some players still prefer "medium" or lower tension.) They have very nice clarity-stiff offers a thicker, perhaps more robust tone that is also meant to resist more bow weight. Not necessarily clearer, just "stronger" in the lows, and more resistant to pressure.

Oliv regular-brilliance and warmth, many prefer Eudoxa because they are lighter tension and have a different tone they prefer, while the Gold/Aluminum has a bit more tension than the Eudoxa D. Oliv has more tension than Eudoxa, for better or worse-the stiff Gold/Aluminum wound D is very high tension, and many players prefer the silver D, which sounds great. I love the regular Oliv Gold/Aluminum D (non-rigid), others will always use stiff, but I feel regular Oliv (and Eudoxa) are more than usable and practical in non--stiff variants.

Eudoxa is warm, but clear, Oliv slightly less warm, clear, more brilliant. Important to note that unlike Obligato ("warm" synthetics), Eudoxa aren't muddy strings. Worth trying.

Passione, nice to try, but you may as well try the other options first, especially because Passione are expensive.

I like "weich" Oliv, and "stark" Eudoxa. Used to use stiff, but I think it's a personal choice. Currently using regular Oliv G 15.5, Gold/Aluminum D 16.25, a synthetic A (Perpetual Cadenza, but all Pirastro wound gut As are good), and Oliv E Mittel (can use many others, usually medium-personal preference and what my violin likes best.)

Please ask for clarification, so I can expand on my brief explanations above. Others may disagree with me, and that is also fine. :) Many won't use Pirasro, others will use a blend of Pirastro and other gut strings brands. Hope you find some great strings to enjoy!

I used to have your questions! Experimenting is expensive, but the ultimate way to find out what will work for you, your playing, music, and own violin(s). A luthier can also help, but knowing what works for oneself is essential. I haven't used every gauge, but have used several, knowing more or less what I like on my violin.

Edited: June 16, 2023, 2:19 AM · 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.
Edited: June 17, 2023, 3:57 AM · Back about 40 years ago, Gold Spiral had a reputation for doing one thing really well. A or E-- can't remember which.

I am messing around a lot these days with gut, or semi-gut. The Passione (not Solo) strings have a lot to offer on that front. The question for me now is whether I go all-medium, or goose up the G string on certain violins. And the E sometimes is best not from that line. On one instrument, I use the aluminum/steel wound Eudoxa for that.

June 19, 2023, 3:56 PM · 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!
June 19, 2023, 5:48 PM · 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.
Edited: June 21, 2023, 8:49 PM · Thank you everyone for the responses!

Nate, I heard that you were a student of David Nadien, do you happen to know if he used Eudoxas or did he end up switching to Olivs as well? And I seem to hear that a lot of old players went heavy on the gauges, so is it something that you would recommend as well? At this point my two favorite players happen to be Michael Rabin and Nadien, and so if I could follow in their footsteps just a bit I would be quite happy!

Alexander, it's interesting that you found playing on gut a completely experience. I did use Eudoxas for the past 6 months (bought a generic set), switched to dominants 2 weeks ago, and found that I couldn't stand the sound of synthetics anymore. At a distance it sounds fine, but close up it sounds like scratching a pan compared to gut. So I'm now considering my second set of gut strings. Didn't find too much of a difference between gut and nylon except with gut you couldn't press very much otherwise a screeching sound would start to come out when you played in tune.

Edited: June 22, 2023, 12:45 PM · 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….
June 22, 2023, 3:17 PM · @ 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?
June 22, 2023, 5:11 PM · 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.
June 25, 2023, 9:05 AM · 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?
June 25, 2023, 6:30 PM · R Y,

They are in stock, it appears. Just that the information page gives an 404. Maybe they are changing the website, or something went wrong.

Opinions and personal taste in *this* forum does not always translate to your own and what you think fits best your instrument. Tricolore had a hype time in these forums. Never had a bad opinion on them when I tried them. Now, it appears some do not like them. I haven't used them in some years, but not because I hated them or had problems. You should try them and make up your own mind (very sorry, I know "try and see if they work for you" does not seem to be very useful advice, but it's actually advice that *works*, because only you make the final choice of what set of compromises and benefits work for your own situation.)

The one thing to bear in mind is that pure gut of any brand is a bit different than wound gut, and you should allow yourself
time to get used to the differences. I do use wound A strings (gut or synthetic) but did not hate pure gut As-my Tricolore was very vibrant and nice, though it took time for me to get used to it at first, as a new user. Even wound gut strings are different to the touch of fingers and bow for new users. Passione are the path of least resistance towards using gut strings, but are expensive and I feel the Eudoxa, Oliv, and even the "humble" Gold Label strings are "better" to my ears (Passione do sound lovely and are "stable"-I am just being very picky in comparing them to each other.)

Reminder: Eudoxa, lower tension, Oliv Medium tension in regular, high tension in stiff, Gold Label, medium-low tension. For Tricolore, compare tension to Pirastro's website for a better idea. No tension is universally "the best" for all of us, even with individual strings our violins may prefer a lighter G, heavier A, etc.

Sorry it appears more confusing than it is. Once you begin experimenting, it stops being so daunting, after getting used to what you feel works for yourself.

Edited: June 25, 2023, 8:31 PM · 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.

One of their representatives on the phone told me in the Fall that they had ‘run out’ of sheep gut because the Juilliard store had just bought up their entire stock. So I told him, I lived a few blocks from Juilliard and would go to the store….silence on the other end. I got to the Juilliard store later that day after a short subway ride, and there were literally 5 Gamut strings there. I asked the clerk at the front desk if these were all of the strings and he said ‘yes’ and if they were expecting any new orders in from Gamut. He said ‘no.’ So I found that story to be rather interesting.

Fast forward to the Spring, they gave me another run around about not having sheep gut and they sent me some dreadful A string that looked like a beef gut string that would not tune up to even a F-natural - a major 3rd below A440. So I decided that it was time to find a better source for my strings. Did I ever!

I found a much better alternative for lamb gut strings that are far more affordable. Aquila strings ( They use unsplit lamb gut, from a single source of gut, whereas some other places use different strands and God knows what else to make a string. As a result, the strings are a lot more stable even without added varnish, whereas with Gamut, even back in the day, their unvarnished strings had many issues on my violin. I was always under the impression that one had to coat the string with tons of varnish to keep it stable. Boy was I wrong!

June 25, 2023, 8:31 PM · Yeah the Aquila lamb gut are great
Edited: June 26, 2023, 6:30 PM · Absolutely. Aquila strings are fabulous.

Here’s yet another example of why people should not believe everything they read on the Internet. Make sure to do your own research. Sure it was written in 2011 but it is still up on the web and currently completely false:

June 26, 2023, 5:29 PM · To be fair to Mr. Larson, it is an old, old article, and it may have been true at the time.

To my knowledge, gut string competitors in general tend to not throw shade unto each other, as it's a niche market. It is not good for Gamut if Aquila bites the dust at some point, and Gamut going out of business must not necessarily help Aquila.

Perhaps it's just my idealism at work.

Of course, nothing against you, Mr. Robinson. Glad you found strings you really can love. :)

It may be that Gamut has grown "too much"? I cannot say, and haven't used their strings in a while. I know Mr. Larson himself used to answer emails-not sure how business is structured nowadays.

June 27, 2023, 2:40 AM · 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.
Which gauges do you use for modern tuning?
I'd love to try the Aquila A on my violin. On the viola I currently enjoy the Tricolore C and G, but will consider Aquila for my next set.
June 27, 2023, 11:19 AM · I tune my Aquila unsplit lamb gut A to 440. The medium gauge is very similar to Gamut's med. A, perhaps slightly lighter.
Edited: June 27, 2023, 11:40 AM · 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.
June 28, 2023, 9:45 AM · 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.

Can anyone else confirm or deny what Nate said about Tricolores using beef gut lately? I find it crazy that they could swap so easily when they're completely different. Anyways, kind of leaning towards a set of higher tension Eudoxas for my next string change. Does anyone know what the 16 3/4 in the gauge size stands for? I can't figure out if its supposed to stand for cm, inches, or mm, and of what...

June 28, 2023, 10:20 AM · I believe it is units of 0.05 mm
Edited: June 28, 2023, 10:39 AM · R Y,

Just read the description, it’s on their website. If they’re making the wound gut Tricolore with beef gut core, what’s stopping them from using it for their plain gut. Also they have been using beef gut for their Academie line for a while (read the link below).

Edited: June 28, 2023, 10:56 AM · 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...

Bo, thanks! Though I have to say that that is quite the unusual unit of measurement to use...

Edited: June 28, 2023, 12:11 PM · Sounds like they are trying to turn a bug into a feature ;)
Edited: June 28, 2023, 5:11 PM · R Y,

That is a Pirastro thickness/diameter measurement number-do not overthink it, you will get used to it.

Higher number for higher tension. Eudoxa tension is such that the highest numbers isn't really too high/tense. 17 for Aluminum D is fine. 16 for G, 14 for A. Rigid G/D may go over 16/17, but I may not remember well (also have Oliv numbers in my head.) Obviously an Aluminum wound D is thicker than a Silver wound D-that is why it's always a higher number than the G. It's a matter of taste what you prefer for windings on the D (Eudoxa currently only offers Aluminum Ds, though.)

I prefer Aluminum Ds, though some consider them garbage or worse, after getting used to silver windings on their D strings. Love how aluminum windings on the D feel under the fingers and under the weight and pull of the bow. Generally very resonant and relatively "bright", though if too thick and heavy, it may prove a bit sluggish in response (and not that bright at all.)

Edited: June 29, 2023, 6:35 PM · 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?
June 29, 2023, 10:21 PM · 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.
June 30, 2023, 4:59 AM · 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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