Early Guitars and Vihuela

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Hello all!

I just purchased a baroque guitar made by Martin Zalapa and I am looking to use gut frets instead of the pre-installed nylon. 

Apart from different gauges I saw that Gamut offers fret gut in Varnished or Unvarnished varieties and I know the difference between the two technically  but not sure what would be better for fret use.  Varnished sounds like it would last longer but then do I have to compromise for any fret slipping compared to unvarnished?  I can't seem to find much of a consensus on this.

Giving myself a big learning curve right now and any advice is appreciated :)



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I can give you my experience with both types of gut strings (not Gamut) and some of the information might apply to gut frets.


Varnished gut has a slightly harder surface, is a little less flexable and produces a slightly brighter tone (not important for frets, I guess). Varnished is also more resistant to finger sweat and moisture in general as well as being less inclined to develope "hairs" as they wear.


IMO, the one important advantage varnished has over un-varnished is the resistance to moisture. If you live in a humid location, like my area for much of the year, un-varnished seems to absorb a lot of moisture. It makes keeping an instrument in tune difficult and the frets on my baroque guitar (un-varnished) get very sloppy (helps to have a good supply of little wedges). The sloppy fret issue isn't so bad with my lute for whatever reason.

Thanks Scot and those were great things to consider!  Think I will go with the varnished for moisture considerations both in the atmosphere and from my fingers ;-) for starters.  I may adjust to gut strings for the instrument in the future and your advice is a big help there as well.



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