Gimped Gut

This type of string was first mentioned in 1664 and marks the first evidence of joining wire with musical strings.

There is some room for discussion as to exactly what the nature of the gimped string was; some feel that it was a gut or silk string wound with metal wire, and there is other evidence that it consisted of a wire that was wound into the gut, rather than on top of the gut, and this is the model concept we have used to develop our string.

The wire is twisted into the gut at the time of construction to resist buzzing and failure. There are several ways one can construct this string. The way that I have settled upon is a type of Pistoy construction so that the string will be as flexible as possible. This is important as the introduction of the wire has a stiffening effect.

The process embeds the wire into the string so there is no roughness due to the wire. The string is polished smooth, in our polishing machine, but some strings have a slight texture to them. The gimped string is characterized by the barber-pole or candy stripe appearance of the wire in the twist of the gut.

We use two different types of wire we use for gimped strings; copper and silver.  The copper wire is a little lighter than silver, so the resulting strings are slightly larger in diameter than the equivalent silver gimped string, and the copper makes the string slightly brighter in tone.  Silver, being a heavier material, allows the string to have more weight with less gut, so these strings will be thinner than the equivalent copper gimped string, and, since silver is a softer than copper, silver gimped strings are softer and more flexible.

The tone of the gimped string is going to be influenced by the gauge of the string and the type of wire used.  Therefore, it is acceptable to mix them to attain a balance in the tone of an instrument.  For instance, if a baroque lute were being strung with gimped basses it might work better for the higher courses, say the 7th, 8th and 9th to be strung with copper gimps and use the silver gimps for courses 8 through 13.

Gimped strings are gauged by the equivalent diameter system. This means that a given string is equal in weight to a certain gut diameter but the actual diameter of the string is smaller due to the added weight of the wire. A gimped string may be gauged at = 1.50 mm but the actual diameter of the string is 1.10 mm. The thinness and wire give a bright tone.

Copper gimped strings are available in gauges equivalent =.84mm to =2.00mm in increments of =.02mm.

Silver gimped strings are available from =1.30mm to =2.80mm in increments of =.02mm.

Gimped strings are best used for:

  • Violin: D-3 and G-4
  • Viola: G-3 and C-4
  • Cello: G-3 and C-4
  • Bass viol: C-4, G-5, and D-6
  • Tenor viol: F-4, C-5 and G-6
  • Treble viol: c-4 G-5, and D-6
  • Lute: c-5, G-6 and lower fundamentals
  • Harp bass strings


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