Since we have started offering the option of varnished strings we have received many questions about the advantages of purchasing the varnished rather than the natural strings.
When we varnish strings we put on three coats of a special varnish that we have found stretches with the gut.
The answer depends a little on your own circumstance: how you play, your environment and the acid content of your perspiration.
The varnish offers a protective layer between the surface of the gut and the environment around it. This layer inhibits, but does not stop, the absorption of moisture, oil and acid into the string. The varnish layer is useful under a few conditions:
- If you perspire a lot
- If you live in a hot, humid environment, or it is summer time
- If you have an acidic touch
Under these conditions, the varnish can extend the life of a string. Moisture and acid break down the collagen bond that holds the fibers of the gut together and can cause fibers to separate and ultimately lead to the failure of the string.
This protection comes with a couple of trade-offs:
- The varnish makes the string a little stiffer
- The varnish can not be put on the string perfectly evenly, so the varnish creates a little inharmonic content to the string, particularly in the upper partial range. Those players with particularly sensitive ears may find that the varnished string sounds a little false.
The decision of whether to have your strings varnished or not is a personal one. For some players it will be a great help and to others it will make no difference.