This is a single length (60cm, 24") gut core string with a sterling silver wire wound onto the gut in tandem with a thin silk layer wound onto the core between the gut and wire. Because the wire is round, the surface of the wire is polished so that the string has a smooth, “half-wound” feel. The tone is warm and full.
The end of the string that goes into the tailpiece is knotted and there is a loop of gut on the end. This knot will hold the string in most historical tailpieces, but will slip through a modern tailpiece. Modern tailpieces have a hole-and-slot arrangement for holding the string in place and most tailpieces today have slots cut into them that are so wide that the knot tied at the end of the gut string will slip through when tension is put on the string. To prevent this, we can install a leather washer on the string before it is wound. This washer is wide enough that it will prevent string ends from slipping through most tailpiece slots. There is an extra charge for this service.
A new option now available for the Academie line of wound strings involving the silk underlayer. This is a thin wrapping of silk that is wound around the core of the string before the wire is wound on. For many years we have been putting this underlayer on Academie strings in response to customer requests, but awareness and knowledge of historical performance practice has progressed enough now that we can offer this feature as an option. According to our research, it is unlikely that such an underlayer would have been used on wound music strings before about 1900 — and for those players who want to explore the true nature of historical strings, we are now offering to make strings without this buffer layer. The effect of the underlayer is to increase the internal damping in the string which gives the string a warmer tone. Without the underlayer, the tone of the string is brighter and has more of the lush, ravishing tone attributed to historical times.
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.