About Gamut Strings


Treble Gut: Used for high and mid-range strings of  most small instruments.

This gut is processed to be a little harder than the other kinds of gut. The treble string also has a lower twist of about 15º. This construction gives it the strength and resistance it needs to stand the strain in the treble register.

This type of string is characterized by a low twist that is sometimes not even visible. The color of the string ranges from clear to white and sometimes to transparent yellow.

This type of string is an ideal use for: 

  • Violin: e-1 and a-2
  • Viola: a-1 and d-2
  • Bass viol: d-1, a-2, and e-3
  • Tenor viol: g-1, d-2, and a-3
  • Treble viol: d-1, a-2, and e-3

Lyon Gut: Used for top strings on larger instruments like cellos and basses, mid-range and low strings on other instruments.

This type of gut is named after the town in France which was famous for a particular type of flexible gut string. From the 16th Century these strings were recommended as being some of the best strings for basses.

Our reproduction of this string is made from sheep gut specially processed in our shop to be soft and responsive. The gut is twisted in one direction to about 45 degrees for the optimum combination of durability and flexibility.

The Lyon string is not as flexible as the Pistoy string, but both Lyon and Pistoy can be used for the same string positions.

The Lyon should be preferred when a little extra stiffness is required under the bow or finger. This type of string is characterized by a tight and visible twist. The color tends toward opaque light to medium yellow.

This type of string is an ideal use for:

  • Violin: d-3 and G-4 
  • Viola: d-2, and G-3 
  • Cello: a-1, D-2 
  • Bass viol: e-3, C-4, G-5, and D-6
  • Tenor viol: f-4, C-5, G-6
  • Treble viol: c-4, g-5, d-6

Pistoy Gut: Used for mid-range and low strings on most instruments.

 The Pistoy strings is a unique development of Daniel Larson at Gamut Strings. It is named for the town in Italy which was famous for producing the best string for basses, being "flexible, smooth, and well twisted".

Our reproduction is made of three strands of gut twisted in one direction and then the three combined together by twisting in the other direction in rope fashion. When dry, the string is polished down to the specific gauge required by the instrument.

The results are a very flexible string with a quick response and a full, round sound. This is not a polished catline as some think. At first glance this might look like such a thing but the Pistoy is fundamentally a different kind of string. It shares one trait with the catline in that the string is made with two directions of twist. This is where the similarity ends.

The Pistoy has no space in the structure like the catline does and therefore has the same density as any plain gut string. The Pistoy is tedious to make because it takes a lot of time to sort the gut into small bundles to twist and retwist.  However, the result is worth the trouble because the gain in the flexibility allows even thick strings to be supple and responsive.

The string is characterized by a noticeable twist and flexible feel. The color ranges from clear white on thinner strings, (1.00 mm to 1.10 mm), to opaque yellow on thick strings.

This type of string is an ideal use for: 

  • Violin: d-3 and G-4
  • Viola: G-3, and C-4
  • Cello: D-2, G-3, C-4
  • Contra bass: G-1, D-2, A-3
  • Bass viol: C-4, G-5, and D-6
  • Tenor viol: f-4, C-5, G-6
  • Treble viol: c-4, g-5, d-6

Gimped Gut: Used for mid-range and low strings on most instruments.

This type of string was first mentioned in 1664 and marks the first evidence of joining wire with musical strings.

There is some room for discussion as to exactly what the nature of the gimped string was; some feel that it was a gut or silk string wound with metal wire, and there is other evidence that it consisted of a wire that was wound into the gut, rather than on top of the gut, and this is the model concept we have used to develop our string.

The wire is twisted into the gut at the time of construction to resist buzzing and failure. There are several ways one can construct this string. The way that I have settled upon is a type of Pistoy construction so that the string will be as flexible as possible. This is important as the introduction of the wire has a stiffening effect.

The process embeds the wire into the string so there is no roughness due to the wire. The string is polished smooth, in our polishing machine, but some strings have a slight texture to them. The gimped string is characterized by the barber-pole or candy stripe appearance of the wire in the twist of the gut.

We use two different types of wire we use for gimped strings; copper and silver.  The copper wire is a little lighter than silver, so the resulting strings are slightly larger in diameter than the equivalent silver gimped string, and the copper makes the string slightly brighter in tone.  Silver, being a heavier material, allows the string to have more weight with less gut, so these strings will be thinner than the equivalent copper gimped string, and, since silver is a softer than copper, silver gimped strings are softer and more flexible.

The tone of the gimped string is going to be influenced by the gauge of the string and the type of wire used.  Therefore, it is acceptable to mix them to attain a balance in the tone of an instrument.  For instance, if a baroque lute were being strung with gimped basses it might work better for the higher courses, say the 7th, 8th and 9th to be strung with copper gimps and use the silver gimps for courses 8 through 13.

Gimped strings are gauged by the equivalent diameter system. This means that a given string is equal in weight to a certain gut diameter but the actual diameter of the string is smaller due to the added weight of the wire. A gimped string may be gauged at = 1.50 mm but the actual diameter of the string is 1.10 mm. The thinness and wire give a bright tone.

Copper gimped strings are available in gauges equivalent =.84mm to =2.00mm in increments of =.02mm.

Silver gimped strings are available from =1.30mm to =2.80mm in increments of =.02mm.

Gimped strings are best used for:

  • Violin: D-3 and G-4
  • Viola: G-3 and C-4
  • Cello: G-3 and C-4
  • Bass viol: C-4, G-5, and D-6
  • Tenor viol: F-4, C-5 and G-6
  • Treble viol: c-4 G-5, and D-6

Wound Strings: Used for low strings on most instruments.

Gamut Strings offers a unique line of wound strings for bowed and plucked instruments.  The machines used to put the wire on the gut were made and used originally by the Perfection Musical String Co. of  Brunswick, IN. which is the company that made the old Wonder Tone, Gold Label and Tricolore strings.  The cello string machine from this workshop was made in about 1900 and has been making strings almost daily for 100 years.   

 The recipes of the strings, the diameters of gut and wire, have been carefully researched to duplicate the kind of tones and tensions that were used historically.


Types of wound strings:

* Silver wound / gut core

 We use pure silver wire that is specially drawn and tempered to our specifications for each type of instrument.  The silver wire is laid onto the core in tandem except for the equal-tensioned silver wound strings which have a single wire wound on to them.  The wire is round, but when the wire is in place on the core it is polished so that the surface of the string is smooth.  The tone of the silver string is characterized by warmth and power.

* Silver / Copper wound / gut core

This type of string is represented by several extant samples of strings from the early 1800s that were made for the violin and cello.  The copper and silver wires are laid onto the gut core in tandem creating a striped barber-pole effect if the string is looked at closely.  Like the silver strings, the round wire is wound onto the core and then polished smooth.  Since the speed of sound is faster in copper than it is in silver, the copper wire lends a little brightness to the tone of these strings making the silver / copper string a good choice for an instrument that has a dark lower register, or if you just want to try a new tone on your instrument.

* Silver Plated Copper wound / gut core

One of the most common wires seen on historical strings is silver plated copper.  Before the advent of electro-plating, wire was plated with silver with a chemical process and there are extant strings of this type that were made for violin family and keyboard instruments.  The wire we use, like the historical examples, is round and left round on the core so that the tops of the wire can be felt.  If the wire were polished the plating would be removed.  The tone of these strings is very bright and this is a good, general use string for most instruments.

Wound strings are available for:

  • Violin: G-4
  • Viola: G-3 and C-4
  • Cello: G-3 and C-4
  • Bass viol: G-5, D-6 and A-7
  • Tenor viol: C-5 and G-6
  • Treble viol: G-5, and D-6