Early Guitars and Vihuela

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I have a student who has recently bought a second-hand baroque guitar, and wishes to buy a set of strings, nylon or nylgut. I tried Bridgewood and Neitzert, but Tom said he couldn't help. The lady phoned the Early Music Shop, who advertise a BG set by Pyramid, but was told they didn't have any in stock and it was a big hassle ordering them.


String length 65cms, pitch 392 or 415. UK based. Can anyone help?



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Maybe not. I'm sure I can find a use for them, though. I heard back from Elderly on carrying nylgut for lute/vihuela. Apparently they wont sell strings for "early instruments" to Elderly because they have an exclusive relationship with aquilausa. So they will sell them uke, guitar, charnago, tuba, whatever, just not "early strings". I suppose this is so the price can be kept high. I have yet to try nlygut strings and I'm not so sure I will. I can, and have bought real gut for the same price from http://www.gourdbanjo.com/GBhtml/gut.html

Admittedly I haven't tried the gut yet - been saving it, but unless they really suck, which I doubt, I don't see any advantage to nylgut other than perhaps longevity. There certainly isn't any economic advantage. For my level of playing, Labella nylon is good enough, and especially when purchased from Elderly.com, the most affordable option out there.

There is a good discussion, covering many things, with Paul O'Dette and BenJemin Verdery on Youtube. Type in, Benjamin Verdery interviews Paul O'Dette, to your youtube browser. O'Dette gives his reason for using Nylgut over gut. I don't remember if it's in part 1 or part 2 so you might have to watch the whole thing.


The jest of it is that gut being hygroscopic (even the varnished types) is effected by variations in humidity and can be problematic to keep in tune in situations where the moisture content of the air changes quickly. For example the concert stage.


It's interesting to hear what he has to say about his choice...the rest of the interview is excellent also.


As Chris said, we could help you and anyone to calculate the right gauges for your instruments.

You can also calculate the gauges yourself by using the online calculator where you can find the equivalence between each material (nylon, nylgut, pvf, etc).


Use top white tab to translate the website to your prefered language.


David, your site looks beautiful, but the google translate is not so great. I know it would cost you money to pay for a good translation, but it might be worth it. People would trust what they are reading, rather than reading a computer approximation.

Thanks for your feedback Rob.

To be honest, we didn't plan to sell outside of Spain at the beginning, but as we have received several orders from Europe and South-America, specially, we have had to enable a basic translator tool.

For now, our customers are happy and many of them use the website as is. Others prefer to send me an email and i take care of everything.

Anyway, you are absolutely right and we must work to enable a full english site to improve our brand.

Thanks again for your words

Thanks Scot for posting that. It is a great interview, and I could listen to Paul talk for hours about the lute. I wish there were more interviews available.

I'm sure I will order nylgut strings from our one and only source in North America, but I was just a little put off by their refusal to sell a certain portion of their product to certain retailers - whatever their reason may be. I'm also a little put off by the price, although I understand it is a small company and I'm not sure how much volume they are able to produce. I have had very good purchasing experiences so far with Elderly, their prices are the best I've found, and they are based here in Michigan, so I have tried to make them at least my primary source. 

I didn't know if I should post that interview here, as we're guitar type folks, but the bit on strings kind of applied to what was being discussed so thought others might find it as interesting as I did.


Besides I suspect many here play lute too so wouldn't object too much.


I agree with your assessment of Elderly. I don't get a lot from them (strings sometimes) but when I do the service is always tops.


But don't get put off by the Aguila head office rules, Curtis over at Aquila USA is excellent and has gone out of his way to help with my "stupid customer" demands. I've had nothing but excellent service and can say only good things about my experience with him.

There is a bit of an overlap occasionally between this site and the lute site, but as you say, a lot of the same people are at both. Certain things kind of go with the territory.

My experiences with Elderly have been very good so far and they have agreed to add a few more items from Labella at my request. I also find their prices on tuning machines better than stewmac or lmi, generally.

I'll buy a set from Curtis and see how they sound. Do they generally last as long as nylon strings?


I am very interested in this discussion. Well, concerning the nylgut string gauge for the Baroque guitar I agree with the diameter given in this thread. Just one thing: the diameter refers to the NEW string made of nylgut, right? Now, when you put the string on the guitar it loses around 8 per cent of its diameter. I have experienced (measuring with a micrometer) that a 0.60 nylgut would become around 0.56 once in the guitar under the tension at pitch (let's say the second course). Now, does it mean that if we actually want 0.60 we should buy a 0.64 (because we would like the kilos corresponding to 0.60 and not 0.56)? I have asked this Mimmo Peruffo (Aquila's mind and boss), and he confirmed that the tension must be calculated according to the diameter AFTER the string is on the guitar. What is you viewpoint on that? 

I am not really sure...

the calculations of tension/gauge are relative too.

The string producers measure gauges of loose strings... 

If you buy M size T-shirt and when you put it on on it gets very tight and you strecht it by wearing it is still made as M-size)))

Kilos are just basic reference when we do not have enough practical confidence and experience. It'snot kilos after al what we're afterl.. it's playing comfortability and good sound.

to be honest I would not overthink it too much...  

My point it that a beginner should buy just basic set reccomended for scale and tension...  and then with practice he will eventually find out if he needs different gauges for his guitar, his playing style, his sound

gut strings often have different gauge for the same string in different places.. so what can we do with that?  and the players in old days did not use mocrometers I believe.

Hello Yuri, thank you for your reply. 

The thing is that it is not relevant if a t-shirt pulls one or two kilos on my body (it is a stretched M-size), but on the guitar hundreds of grams can change a lot. 

Physically if I want to calculate the kg I have to use this caliber data (with length, pitch, etc), so that's why I asked Mimmo Peruffo which diameter I should consider, before or after. I replied: after. 

The irregularity of the string diameter on its length is another thing, maybe the results comes from the average of the diameter (but also it gives an unpredictable temperament, a nightmare).

My problem is that following the luthier recommandations, I feel my guitar too loose. And when I measure the diameter they are lower than the new strings because of the stretching. 

In any case I want to walk about it again with Mimmo Peruffo, I'll meet him in April. 


Hi Gabrielle, 

I see your point.

Why would not you just try a bit bigger gauge? This won't kill your guitar. 

I had the same problem more or less with my first guitar... I just ordered reccomended string set...  but I was not satisfied with the feel and sound.  So I experimented a bit and more or less found my preffered gauges for that guitar.

To meet Mimmo Peruffo is surely great, but maybe even better it would be to meet and consult really experienced pro player if you ever have a chance.


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