Anyone arco using gut strings?

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by pathdoc2, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. pathdoc2


    Oct 16, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I've always wondered about this. Surely long ago when gut strings were the standard players must of been using a bow with gut strings. But how about nowadays? Is there a reason you shouldn't do this?
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I've heard a lot of bad noise coming out of this setup, but I heard Paul Nowinski a few weeks ago and he sounded great bowing on gut.
  3. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    If it's possible, I wonder if it's possible with a nylon hair bow...?
  4. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    ...and using Petz rosin?
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Axle grease on a dowel rod?
  6. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Bacon grease on barbwire, mounted on a 2x4.
  7. pathdoc2


    Oct 16, 2002
    Allen, TX
    This is a serious question since I'm about to have my rebuilt Epi back and I"ve requested a set of gut strings be installed. If you wouldn't mind could you please add to this discussion in a meaningful way. I'm beginning to wonder if I should go with different strings. As you know this will be costly. Thanks.
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't have any equipment information for you, but I do know that gut guys might recommend black hair and different rosin than steel guys. I forget which way gut guys go with rosin, but I think (if memory serves) that they go with hard, black rosin. I know this was discussed at TB at some point. Maybe some creative searching of the threads will get you to that conversation.
  9. This is something that I am dealing with currently.

    I have plain gut D&G on three basses...I can never get them to sound right (bowed)...plain gut is out of the question, just forget it.

    I would love to go full wrapped gut with my orchestra bass (currently with Helicore orchestras)
    People round' here say the Pirastro Oliv/Eudoxa are a good choice for wrapped gut (bowed). I would like to try them myself. At $300 a set, someone please tell me that the Oliv or Eudoxa works better bowed than Lemur's "European" wrapped gut. The "European's" have been my only experience with wrapped gut.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    For wrapped gut I would think that 'steel strings' rules might likely apply to hair and rosin.
  11. I love, totally love my Olivs, on both my expensive orchestra bass (in the avatar) and on Old 87, my 1925 American Standard. As they get older, they stay in tune longer.
    I believe you just can't beat the warmth of gut. If you don't need ringing sustain, some people like them pizz. The E pizz is muddy and unclear, however.

    I'm tempted lately to go with unwrapped gut. My friend Louise Koby, Orch of St. Luke's (NYC) does alot of Baroque this way.
  12. I use the same bow hair and rosin on Olivs or Flexocor, i.e., black, and Nyman or Carlson
  13. My former teacher Arnold Gregorian of the Baltimore Symphony uses gut strings on all of his very old, very expensive basses. I played a couple of them and the sound is "kinda different" to the player, but listening out front it's really wonderful. Great projection and warmth. He uses Oak rosin that he makes himself. (he has the original recipe and is actually going to start marketing it soon)
  14. New-style metal covered gut is acceptable for symphony work but today, sadly not plain gut strings. Symphony bassists largely switched to steel in the 60's although if one is to believe Elgar's books, there was a mix of steel and gut at least until the mid 1960's. Jazz guys made a wholesale switch by the 1970's. So bassically everyone bowed on plain gut G and D, wound or plain A, and wound E up to the middle of last the last century. I personally love bowing on plain gut, although it requires a lot of practice and patience to avoid crunching, scratching, whistleling and squeaking. The sound is soooo different, and to me very satisfying and organic. Guys that play period chamber music use old style gut, but these days no pro symphony guys use plain gut. Some do use covered gut like Olives and Eudoxa '92s to good effect. A lot of the bowing problems are solved with the plain metal covering. If I could get away with it without being laughed at, I would change back to plain gut G and D for everything - problem having a setup for both orch. and Jazz solved! The sound is better IMHO and tuning isn's as much a problem as is commonly thought. Unfortunately for good gut strings like they used in the old days, which are heavier guage in general than what is available today, you have to pay an arm and a leg. Also, you have to use really high action to get a clean sound.

  15. The one AAA player I know who works with both natural gut and Oliv/Eudoxas says that natural gut requires a lighter bow, either a thinner stick or a more porous wood.
    Here's a link to an article on how gut strings are made
  16. Thanks Don. That makes sense to me. Really sticky rosin also helps in my experience. Does your guy play plain gut in regular symphonic settings or just in Baroque or Jazz? One experiement I did involved tuning my D string up a whole step just to feel what the higher tension would be like. Arco was a lot easier with the higher tension string., which approximated solo spirocores tuned down to orch. pitch. (around 26kg; regular orch. strings are at 30-35kg, todays cheap unwrapped gut strings run around 18-20kg) - Jon.
  17. She plays Olivs with Orchestra of St. Lukes
    and natural gut in Baroque chamber settings.

    Somewhere, I read a strong warning against tuning guts higher than the intended pitch.

    A set of Spiros is 126.5; Flexocors, 125; Obligatos, 120.2
  18. I have seen that warning too, but I thought it mainly pertained to wound strings where the winding could come loose. Plain gut? no problem from what I have read. Gut will break at some point, but way higher than one whole step. As it turns out, the breaking point is a function of string length and pitch, not string diameter, since as the diameter goes up, so does the strength of the string. I actually tuned my D to a G, and G to a C just to see what happened. Nothing happened. The strings are as good as the day I put them on. If the strings are low quality I suppose they could break or go false since they might not stretch evenly. Is the tension you listed for Flexocor for the new or original? The tensions I listed are for single strings by the way in case there was any question about that. Looks like the tensions you listed are on the low side of what I quoted. Obligato is more tense than I thought for how flexible they are.
  19. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2003
    Madison, wi
    i have been using plain gut D and G and wound gut E and A on my bass for a while now. I have been learning how Viola Da Gamba and Violone players approach bowing-they use gut strings. i am exploring the sound of gut strings and learning to accept and appreciate them - not expecting them to sound like metal strings. it seems to me that bowing on gut has become a lost skill in the double bass world. the sound is different but can be really nice- in fact, i find a wide range of tones with gut strings. i am noticing that alot of the time you need less right hand pressure with arco- faster bowing produces a better tone--i think that may be part of the reason that gamba bows are longer--more hair is needed. -bow placement seems different too. the gamba people talk about finding a sweet spot for the bow. of course, these are my observations. i found these great videos on a gamba website that gets into the way they approach bowing:

    there is a ton of info about gambas on the web.
  20. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    I use all plain gut in my two jazz combos, and bow them with good results- It took a bit of practice, a bit more rosin than I used with steels (but that may be due to my substandard bow), and higher action, but the sound is nice and warm- If you're going ALL arco though, I'd stick with steels...