Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Hello, folks,


just as the title says.  Please refer to this announcement on Aquila's website:



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I wounder if the European law would affect other string companies...

too bad. I've never used Aquilla though. I use these gut strings. http://www.damianstrings.com/. Very good strings. Recently I've tried these http://gamutmusic.squarespace.com/ but prefer Damians strings.

Hi, Lars,


thanks for the reply and links.  I've never used Aquila either, but use Kuerschner.  I'm rather concerned about the EU law, although it seems to be only applied to the beef gut.

Maybe i didnt read it well but what is it whith the beef gut

There is not much info on the beef gut itself.  The announcement just says that the use of beef gut is prohibited by the EU law.  I wonder if it is mostly for food (sausages)?


Gamut has been using sheep gut and just started to add new lineup using beef gut.  I think Kuerschner uses sheep gut.

It's my limited understanding that the ban is, at least in part, because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE - Mad Cow disease). Although we seldom consume our lute/early guitar strings (I find them a bit stringy unless boiled overnight), these kinds of actions (blanket bans on goods) seldom take into consideration all the different uses for a single item. As a result there are no exemptions for use and ridiculous rules often get put in place with little thought. The issue with the ban on tissue which may be infected with BSE is not limited to gut but all parts of the animal including lungs, guts liver, brain etc.


Even though the cases of BSE in cattle has dropped dramatically since the early 1990s there is still a big fear over this bewildering disease.


Another suggestion which has been put forward by some sources I've read, as a possible issue that may exacerbate the problem, is the longstanding European dispute with the USA concerning Beef Hormones (since 1989, I believe). As much of Europe refuses to import beef from America that has been treated with growth hormones (most of it), a source of useable gut is unavailable to European string makers.


I'm sure there are more reasons, political and otherwise, that will surface if one takes the time to look and enquire in the correct places.

I like my strings Al dente ;-) and sheep gut taste better ;-)


One of Julia Bradbury's tv programmes recently about what we do with the rest of the animal, after we've sorted out the meaty bits, covered beef cattle and showed gut manufacture from the only UK factory, which is producing it for tennis rackets.  This seems to be their only current use for it, although I do know that at one time fairly recently they were also making it for instrument string manafacturers.  Wimbledon anybody?


Scott, thank you for detailed info on the issue.  I suspected that BSE was one big reason, but haven't been aware of the beef hormone.


Peter, does NRI use only sheep gut?  I think they've been producing gut strings since the seventies.  By the way, are you planning to start "Early Tennis Racket" forum?  :D

NRI certainly DID.  You'll have to ask Eph.  I've never played tennis in my life, perhaps because my father was a county player (:?>  We both smoked a pipe.  I think we're straying off subject!

Thank you for the reply, and am sorry for pulling you into the complicity of deviation!  Your guitar doesn't smell like pipe, by the wa...oops, I should stop here!

I've heard that there is at least a "Save Gut Strings" signature campaign.  I hope the situation will change for the better.


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