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Real Guts Strings

Real Guts Strings started out purely on an experimental basis - to make strings for period instruments where what was currently available did not seem either satisfactory or even historically credible. Naturally, replacement strings were needed and friends of customers also wanted these strings and the enterprise gradually expanded to meet the demand. Baroque violinists Oliver Webber and Stephen Rouse take part in the making sessions and it is run in the spirit of a musicians cooperative.

The original purpose for making these strings was, and still is, primarily to find a way to string historic instruments that need all-gut (no metal winding) for all strings, including the lowest. The modern gut industry has forgotten how to do this for a number of reasons but mainly because the demand has been for wound strings. As and example: for a baroque violin g string to have the correct tension its diameter would need to be similar to that used for a double bass top G string. A modern gut string of this diameter would be far too stiff and inelastic - it would sound horribly scratchy and it would be very difficult to make it speak. The most likely explanation as to how suitable strings were made in the past seems to be that some kind or rope construction was used. If this is done with freshly prepared sheep gut and the right amount of twist in the sub-groups is used it is possible to make a string which is very flexible and elastic, smooth and only needing light surface polishing, This is the approach that Real Guts has taken and refined over around 10 years. 

If a string is thin an only medium twist it may be given the "Cat" label, or if it is very thick it may be awarded the "Elephant" status. Most just get the regular "Sheep". (It is mostly a matter of industrial ergonomics.)

If you are interested in ordering any Real Guts strings the best way is to send me an email but you can phone if you prefer. It is helpful to have as much of the following information as is available:

Hopefully, in the near future, you will be able to download the Real Guts String Calculator. This is a little application implementing the Mersenne-Taylor formula to calculate diameters, tensions etc. There will be a number of sample files which will show typical tension profiles and illustrate ways of using the calculator. Windows 95 or later is needed. Unfortunately, it will not run on a Mac unless you have PC emulating software. 

George Stoppani, 6 Needham Avenue, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 8AA  UK

Phone: +44 (0)161 860 7386 email: george@stoppani.co.uk

Home About George Stoppani Instruments Real Guts Strings Historical Technical