What are the Differences Between Synthetic-Core Strings, Gut-Core and Gut Strings?
This article will give you an idea of the differences, best uses and the brand names of the most popular strings in each category.
Synthetic-core strings are normally made from perlon – a type of nylon. They have a full, rich tone quality and a quick response.
Synthetic-core strings have many of the fine tonal qualities as gut strings, even if their tone is not quite as complex or subtle as gut-core strings. The advantages of synthetic-core strings is that they do not need to be tuned as often as gut-core, plus they stabilize after only a day or two of stretching on the instrument.
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Popular Brands Of Synthetic-Core Strings
- Corelli – Alliance: Premium-priced and longer-lasting, these strings have a kevlar core. They produce a more brilliant sound than the Corelli Crystal, with more richness and complexity of tone.
- Corelli – Crystal: If your instrument is especially bright, these strings are excellent choice. Their warm, full sound can reduce the harshness and add a degree of mellowness.
- Pirastro – Tonica: With brilliance similar to Dominants, Tonica strings have more overtones, less edginess and a fuller sound. They break-in very quickly are long-lasting.
- Pirastro – Aricore: Perfect for cellists who a prefer darker, warm and mellow sound. As Pirastro ‘s first synthetic string, the D, G and C are still very popular with cellists.
- Pirastro – Synoxa: Produce a nice, brilliant tone, very similar to Thomastic’s Dominant. The silver cello G and C work well with steel A and D strings such as Jargar or Larsen.
- Thomastic – Dominant: The original synthetic-core strings, they tend to have a a slightly metallic sound when new, which fades away after a few days of playing. Probably the most popular strings for violin and viola due to their bright tone and responsive quality.
Possessing the greatest richness and subtlety, gut-core strings produce complex tones full of rich overtones. However, they need to be handled carefully as they are affected by weather changes, go out of tune frequently, require stretching on the instrument for nearly a week before stabilizing, are not as durable as metal or synthetic strings and are far more expensive. Gut strings are usually reserved for advanced players.
Here Are the Major Manufacturers:
- Pirastro – Eudoxa: The perfect string for older instruments. Before the introduction of synthetic core strings, the Eudoxa was probably the most popular string. It has a warm, mellow sound, but the slower response takes some getting used to.
- Pirastro – Gold Label: This is Pirastro’s economy gut string with a sound somewhere between the Eudoxa and the Oliv. The violin E string is actually quite brilliant and popular.
- Pirastro – Oliv: Premium strings with a brilliant sound. Cellists love the rich, complex overtones and relatively fast response, as well as the gold plated Oliv E string along with the pure, clear and brilliant sound.
Pure gut strings are used almost exclusively on Baroque or Renaissance instruments today. Purists believe they produce the purest of tones and are the only acceptable choice for early instruments, since gut was the only material strings were made of during the Baroque.
However, gut strings present a number of challenges. They go out of tune very quickly and require drastic changes in bowing and playing technique because they are more sensitive and react differently than other strings. There is a great deal of variation between brands and even between strings of the same brand.
Some cellists can navigate the different technique and bowing requirements of gut strings without too much trouble. Others find it’s not a good fit for them. If you love the warm, lush, resonant and darker quality only gut strings can produce, be prepared to deal with the necessary technique changes.