Gut & Silk 800 – For 1790 – 1880 Performances
Aquila’s superior string making technology and dedication to the realm of ‘old world’ instruments has allowed them to create authentic ‘historical’ strings from gut and silk, typically used in historical guitar sets.
For those using gut strings for the first time, please understand they cannot be handled in the same way as Nylon or Fluocarbon strings (PVF).
Gut strings have much higher production costs than those of plastic materials due to long and difficult working procedures. Each handmade string requires 12-15 days of labour to produce.
Remember that the lifespan of a gut string (only a few days in regards to the treble string) is traditionally much lower than that of modern Nylon and Fluocarbon strings due to the wearing action of right hand finger nails and metal frets. To improve the lifespan of your strings, please keep nails short and oval shaped.
In practice, the treble (1st) string normally lasts around 2-7 days, just as it did in the time of Llobet.
Gut strings are not as smooth as those made of Nylon or Fluocarbon as the modern player is used to. The surface feels similar to satin and may require some tactile and psychological adaptation to get used to.
The sound of silk wound bass strings is also very different to modern wound strings made from Nylon multifilament. The silk bass sound is less persistent, more percussive has poor overtones.
Please understand these specifications are perfectly normal for this type of string and are certainly not manufacturing faults. On occasion strings may appear slightly inhomogeneous due to the natural characteristics of the silk.
Gut is a very soft material which tends not to slide into the grooves of the nut and can easily be sheared with teeth. Gut often squashes or sticks and is therefore quite sensitive to the cut.
With all these issues to take into consideration, why then do we still use gut and silk wound bass strings ?
The answer is simple, the natural acoustic qualities of real gut strings are the best one can possibly achieve and those who experience them will be aware of the deep emotions they evoke in one’s playing and overall feel of the instrument. Once you have tried real gut strings it is very hard to return to normal Nylon or Fluocarbon strings.
Before stringing the instrument, please make sure the nut and bridge are free from sharp edges and that the nut grooves are perfectly smooth and not too deep.
You can eliminate sharp edges using very fine sandpaper, grit emery cloth (600 grade) or the finest steel wool (000) to polish and smooth the edges. In these polished furrows, place some soft graphite or well dried soap. Do not install gut strings on guitars that have small diameter rollers suitable for metal strings.
The best sound quality develops when the strings have completely set which will generally take sometime. To achieve stable intonation in just a few minutes, repeatedly pinch each string at mid length with your fingers, pulling firmly sideways, then re-tune and repeat. Stop when the string does not pull out of tune anymore.
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