Much of the Early Music world is buzzing about the recently announced closing of gut string production at the Aquila String company in Italy and several musicians have contacted Gamut Music with concerns about the supply, quality and availability of gut strings. I would therefore like to reassure our customers with this explanation of the situation as I understand it.
Aquila posted a notice on their web site stating two reasons for the decision to stop gut string production: the first is the bad quality of raw material and the second is European and specifically Italian regulations concerning the transport and use of gut. In this posting they specifically mention beef gut and no mention is made of sheep gut, leaving us with no understanding how of these issues effect that material.
As to the first issue: It is always a struggle to find quality materials for making gut strings. The fact is that gut supply is limited at the moment. Due to general worldwide economic conditions, droughts, low agricultural prices and increased demand, there is greater pressure on the supply of raw materials but good gut is still available. Here at Gamut, we work and invest constantly to find the best material for strings and I can assure you that fine quality material is in our workshop at the moment. It is more expensive and might become more limited, but among our suppliers it is still available. I would also like to stress that markets ebb and flow and I am confident that, as conditions change, the price and availability of materials will become easier. We are just experiencing a tough time at this moment.
As to the second issue: I don’t know the specific rules that control the regulations of animal casings in Italy, but I have a general understanding of the regulations concerning the production and use of casings and serosa in the European Union and I have discussed these issue with other European string makers and gut suppliers and here is what they have told me.
In Europe there is no restriction on the trade and use of sheep gut.
There are, however, some regulations on the use of beef serosa, but if you have a licensed Technical Plant you can transport and use beef serosa under that license without restrictions.
My understanding from talking to others is that there may be trade restrictions in Italy because the Italian authorities want production materials to come from domestic sources rather than abroad and the regulations have more to do with Italian domestic protection than anything concerning gut specifically.
Gamut Music has plenty of quality gut in stock and we are working every day to make sure you have a reliable supply of high quality gut strings.
If you have any questions about the quality and availability of gut, please contact me at:firstname.lastname@example.org