|Table of Equal Tension Bass Viol Gauges|
This is a single length (122cm, 48"), double twist, Pistoy-style string intended for “Equal Tension” performance practice made with beef serosa available with either a natural or varnish finish.
Plain gut strings are available with a natural or varnish finish. Natural strings are hand-rubbed with a light oil. Varnished strings have three coats of finish before being hand polished with the oil. There is an additional charge for varnished strings. The string comes with plain, unknotted ends. Knots may be tied for you, and leather washers added for an additional charge.
Instructions on how to tie a string knot are on the back of each package.
The Pistoy string is a unique development of Daniel Larson at Gamut Music. 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. The string is characterized by a noticeable twist and flexible feel.
This is not a polished catline as some think. At first glance this might look like such a thing. However, 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 twists. 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 string is expensive to make because it takes a lot of time to sort the gut into small bundles to twist and retwist. The gain is in the flexibility. Even in thick gauges the string remains supple and responsive. The color ranges from clear white on thinner strings (1.00mm to 1.10mm) to opaque yellow on thicker strings.
Equal Tension is a concept that was used on violins historically. The idea is that each string has the same amount of tension, resulting in equal tension on all strings. The customary way to tension strings is to decrease the tension from the top string, which has the most tension, to the bottom string in decreasing amounts on each string. From the 16th to 19th centuries there are writers who mention or recommend equal tension, and this seems to have been one aesthetic that some players used. Merssene, in the early 1600s, mentioned that violin strings should have equal tension, but that in practice most players used less tension on the lower strings. It may be that the idea of “equal” was an intellectual concept of perfection and that, in practice, players found that lowering the tension on the thicker bottom strings was just more practical. Regardless of the extent of the historical use, many modern players find that this system of string allows a quicker and louder response from the instrument. The extra tension on the lower strings allows the bow to play more on top of the strings resulting in quicker bowing.
Because of the added diameter on equal tension strings, your instrument may need some adjustment at the tailpiece, bridge or nut to allow for the extra mass of the strings. The instrument may also need sound post or other adjustments to bring out the most responsive tone.
Academie strings are manufactured in the USA by Gamut Music, a leader in the revival of early music strings and instruments. Gut strings are not intended to be used with fine tuners or string adjusters and those devices should be removed before installing the gut string on the instrument.