Oh No, Kittens are Killed for Violin Strings! – the Truth about Catgut

by | Oct 16, 2014 | Maintenance | 5 comments

Some say that violin strings are made out of catgut…

In this video I will show you the truth about catgut.

Just to reassure you… violin strings are not made out of the guts of cats. Sissi (starring in the video) is still alive and kicking and I’ve got vegetarian strings on my violin.

Why do a lot of people think that violin strings are made from cat intestines?

The name catgut is confusing. There are two explanations for the mix up.

Catgut is an abbreviation of the word cattle gut. Gut strings are made from sheep or goat intestines, in the past even from horse, mule or donkey intestines.

Otherwise it could be from the word kitgut or kitstring. Kit meant fiddle, not kitten.

Find more information and how to make gut strings on Wikipedia (click here),

These gut strings are still used today by players specialized in authentic performance of baroque music and music from the classical era. They use catgut strings to imitate the sound from the era as good as possible. Some people just use gut strings, because they prefer the sound of gut strings to other type of strings.

You might be wondering… What are modern strings made of?

At the moment there are roughly three types of strings in the market:

  • gut strings (mostly used in authentic performance practice)
  • steel strings (very durable, clear and thin sounding, mostly used in the folk scene on fiddles)
  • synthetic core strings (most popular strings at the moment)

The type of strings depends on the violinist and the violin, so it’s hard to say what strings will suit you best.

Are you relieved by this video? What type of strings do you use? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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5 Comments

  1. Peter

    Hi Zlata. I use catstrings on my violin. 3 blanks and the G string is gut core and wound. On my viola’s I use modern synthetic core strings and they are all wound. Best regards. Peter.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for your comment, Peter! What made you choose for gut strings on your violin and synthetic strings on your viola’s? Is it the sound? Or do you use them for different styles of music?

      Reply
  2. Christian Schroeder

    Hello,

    I play syntha core on my old violine (150 yr) and steel on my new instrument. Why? Age and steel shall not support each other and steel was an the other. I’ll restring in the nearer future. It just to profit of the steel strings as long I own them.

    By the way Zlata, perhaps you might help us! If I remember correctly you own your business, what about a video of diffent strings on the same kind of violin? I do own only two of them from different manufacturers.

    Bedankt en dag!
    Christian

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Christian, thanks for your comment! The thing is different strings have different effects on different violins… so I doubt if a test like that has value… but I will think about it. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
  3. Tai Fu

    These give a feeling of pain and often plays itself backward as a part of a satanic ritual…

    Reply

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