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Gut Strings Generally

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by TenorClef, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Hi TB users, a couple of questions for you guys who have experience with gut strings.

    I'm looking at these-


    Worth considering? Whats the up keep involved with gut strings (if any) and how are they to bow with? Thanks for any feedback inadvance. One last thought, are they difficult to put on a bass in comparison to steel/nylon strings?

  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Not all gut strings are the same. I have never heard of these ones. I assume "blank" means unwound. Traditionally people have played on unwound G and D and wound A and E. Some people play on unwound A. Traditionally round silver winding is used. Lately, people have been using other kinds of strings. Olivs for example are flat ChomeSteel and Eudoxas are flat Silver. I use unwound G and wound D, A, and E.

    Gut strings are not easy to bow. The low tension and lack of windings can be problem for many. Installation is not a problem but you need to make sure the bridge and nut can handle the larger gauges and you may also need to increase the action (height above the fingerboard) to compensate for the tension and to get the optimal sound. Gut strings also go out of tune easily.

    If you want to take a chance or can find some recommendations on those particular guts, then you could consider them otherwise I'd suggest something more widely used like Pirastro guts.
  3. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    I've been playing gut strings for years, and for me they are the way to go because thats the sound i have in my head.. Adrian pretty much said everything... if you play plain gut, you will need to oil them once they get dry and maybe trim the little hairs of the strings when they start to fray... not a big deal ...I had the chance to play with those strings you are refering, maybe 5 years ago and i hated them, they didnt seem very good made and didnt last long.... but maybe things changed. Im currently using plain G and D that i buy from Lemur(Efrano) and A and E Pirastro Olive (wound gut) . Gut strings will give you a different sound and you will need a different touch to deal with them, but like i said before, if thats the sound in your head, give it a try.
    good luck

  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Actually I made a slight mistake in my post. On my currrent bass, I'm using a non-gut E string because I found that the bass needs higher tension on the bottom strings. It's an example that lower tension strings don't always work on all basses. Like Nuno, gut is the sound I have in my head. I should point out also that some of the newer gut strings like the Olivs and Eudoxas really have a more modern sound than some of the traditional guts. They are easier to bow and have more sustain that you might expect.

    Most peoeple play gut for the sound. If you're not totally in love with that sound and willing to make sacrifices for it, then you might be better off looking at other alternatives. The other thing we didn't mention is that gut strings are generally a lot more expensive than other kinds of strings. However if the windings stay in shape, the strings can last a very long time which is not always the case with other kinds of strings.
  5. Thanks for that info, really useful. Maybe i should try finding some one who uses gut strings to hear and feel how it sounds before i make a definite decision.
  6. Adrian

    Something I learned recently while purusing the various gut string makers sites is that with wound strings, there is a great deal of variation in construction and subsequently sound. Some use pure silver windings, some have plated copper windings, some wrap the windings directly on the gut core, some use a buffer layer of silk or plastic floss which damps the string and helps alot with buzzing and winding separations apparently. Some have greater gut to winding ratio. The sound of a round wound gut string may vary from bright and twangy to totally dead. Apparently the new (relatively at least( wound guts from pirastro are only possible with the use of the aforementtioned buffer layer since the ribbon windings won't stick directly to the gut. The oldest string arrangement, and also the one that produces the fatest string is very thin silver wire wound directly on a thick gut core. This is also the most expensive construction. Some string makers are very open with their wound string constructions, and some don't really talk about it. Also, the guage of these strings varies all over the place since the gut to winding ratio changes the tension of the strings alot.

  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Jon, that's all very interesting info. I was recently telling some folks that I think people have the wrong idea about gut sustain. I find for example that the Pirastro guts, have a very long sustain and certainly nothing at all like the thumpy kind of sound people think of when one mentions gut.
  8. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    What kind of music are you playing?? Or listening to:
    to change to gut strings. Jazz, Rockabilly.Country??

    That made a difference for me to switch to gut strings on
    one of my basses. I listen to lot of the 60's Blue Note jazz
    and enjoy that sound: Paul Chambers, Bob Cranshaw, Scott
    LaFaro, Oscar Pettiford, early Ron Carter, etc.

    The King has Golden Spirals -med gauge G & D and D'addario Hybrd lights (steel) E & A. " 60's sound"
    I like little more bottom with steel as it cuts thru my band (sax, guitar, keys, & drums) a lot better.

    The Juzek has Spirocores for a more modern sound
    like: Brian Bromberg,George Mraz & Christian Mcbride.

    And they are harder to keep in tune & bow as the pre
    vious posts have mentioned. A tradeoff.

  9. Where have you been able to find Golden Spirals?
  10. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Didn't think anyone was interested in them!
    I'm surprised!!
    Got the Golden Spirals from Weinkrantz Music in SFO last year.
    325 Hayes St. San Francisco CA
    415 399 1201 or 1 800 73 music.
    Steve is the owner.

    I was reading somewhere either in ISB (Intl Society of Bassists)(old issue) or Double Bassist that Scott LaFaro
    used them. Kolsteins in NY probably has copies of the
    article as I think they have Scott's bass (restored)
    on display.
    You might give them a call - they may carry the strings
    or David Gage in NY also.

    However I didn't buy them for that reason only, Steve recommend them to me for an overall sound.
  11. Thanks for the tip on where to find Spirals. I've used them for years. Bluegrass bass legend Tom Gray recommended them. I have Spirocores on E and A and Golden Spiral G and D. I heard they were out of production since Mad Cow Disease hit the papers. I'd be excited to get a couple sets.
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Neal Miner told me he bought a whole bunch of G & D Golden Spirals (some huge number like 25) before they went out of production. I thought they were definitely out of production.
  13. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    You should also check ebay, I've seen them pop up there. I bought 3 of them months ago and they're great
  14. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Out of curiosity I called Steve at Weinkratz to see if he
    had any Golden Spirals around, and the his assistant
    informs me that they do not. The company is supposed
    to make them again but has not got around to it. No
    further updates.
    Sorry about that guys.
    So I 'm on the lookout too.
  15. La Bella Goldtone (like golden spiral) are available if you can't get golden spirals-or they were a couple of months ago-from lemur music. As for E and A - i have had good luck with labella E and A strings. They are evenly wound and buzz less than others-the lenzners i tried were nice but they were bumpy (due to something wound between the gut and the outer windings) and that made them buzz. Velvet anima are a really cool string--to me they are a nice compromise betweeen gut and steel.
    i just love gut though-i always come back to it...

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The new Pirastro Pizzicato nylon wound G is an excellent string IMO. It is higher quality than the Golden Spirals. You can only get the Nylon wound G though.
  17. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Except for arco.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    That is true, but the Golden Spirals couldn't be bowed either. I think the Pizzicato is made a little better. I still like the Spirals when you could get them though.
  19. Just took a look for those LaBella Goldtone strings. My goodness they're costly! I can't recall what I payed for my Golden Spirals but I don't think it was that much. Curious though, about this set....
    La Bella Acoustic Bass Goldentone Red Label Nylon/Gut Chrome Steel/Rope. Can anyone shed light on these? Thanks.

    Meanwhile, how much did Golden Spirals fetch on Ebay?

  20. It seems to me that any of the hand made gut string makers could make exact replicas of Golden Spiral, Red-O-Ray, Artone and any other funky gut strings from the past. The manufacturing techniques are the same as for baroque gut strings for the most part. Of course to make Red-O-Ray you'd have to get the recipie for the "secret sauce" that they used to moisture proof them, and find out what tynex wrap was used on Golden Spirals. Someone who is realy into this should negotiate with one or more of these guys to make batches and then distrubute them online.

    As a side note, I am in the process of test driving some of the more common over-the-counter plain guts at my cost since I am appalled at the lact of manufacturer response to inquiries about technical specs, etc. Things I want to document are string guage, twist ratio, color, transparancy, feel, finish, flexibility, lifespan, etc. and provide close up photos so one can get an idea of what they're buying before they dump over a hundred bucks on a crap shoot. I hear a lot of subjective assements of various brands online here and elsewhere but not hard facts. My goal is find a string I can use that I can get reliably in short order for not too much money. If I can't find anything suitable, I will start on the boutique makers and pay the extra dollars and have strings made to my specifications. I'm starting with plain strings, and if that goes well I will try wrapped strings, but to my mind, the safest route for the E and A are Pirastro Olive or Eudoxa since they are consistant, readily available, and not that expensive.