Choosing the strings

Playing on guts strings is a research journey, I share ideas and comments based on my own experience and research but I encourage you to make your own research on the topic.

Understanding tension and forces on your instrument will help you find the best strings for your set-up. Tension is a word often used and heard, but it is also something we feel when we play. 

mass - DENSITY

Mass of a string? 

Amount of matter contained by the string.

The matter of the string: plain guts

Density of the gut: number of Kg/m³

About the wound around the guts: it allows the string maker to produce a thinner string with a theoretical equivalent of plain gut string (because material like silver and copper are is heavier than the guts).

tension - tension force - 

Tension force of a string?

The tension force is the force that is transmitted through the string when it is pulled tight by forces acting from opposite ends. The tension force is directed along the length of the string and pulls equally on the objects on the opposite ends of the string. 


(A tension force is measured in Newtons, the newtons are then converted in Kg-force : One kilogram is equal to 9.81 Newtons.)

How to define the TENSION-force and the diameter of the string needed for your instrument?

Which diameter ?

The thickness of the plain guts string depends on the string length of the cello for the pitch and the tension force needed.

  • Very thin string may be too meticulous and picky, and will break easily, 

  • Very thick may be dull and hard to put into vibration.

How much tension force does your instrument need? 

For example, you string lentgth is 69cm, you tune in 415, if you play an A string of a diameter of 1.20, the tension force of the string is be 12 kg force etc. 

  • Are 12kg enough or too much for your cello to sound well?

To know if you need more or less tension force on your string, you can increase the tension of the string (go sharper) and see if it reacts better. and do the opposite.

Note: an important pressure on the sound-board might damps the sound if the bridge is too high. 

equal tension or equal feel?

Have you heard about equal tension and equal feel of tension?... 

Equal tension:  same tension force on each string

Equal feel of tension: same feeling of stiffness to the touch.

How to choose the other strings once you have your first string?

This is where you have to make you own opinion and experiments... Experimenting is the best way of finding well sounding tensions on your violoncello.

Read different opinions and make your own... 



Gamuts strings made things easier for us, depending on your tuning, string length and the tension you want on your cello you can calculate the diameter of strings you need: Calculate

comparasion To understand the consequences of the string length and the Tension-force

Two examples: one with a string length of 69cm and one with a string length of 71cm on equal tension.

String calculator

Gamuts strings made things easier for us, depending on your tuning, string length and the tension you want on your cello you can calculate the diameter of strings you need: Calculate
Gamut page


I play on heavy tension but not equal tension on all strings


For my first set of strings I went to Potsdam to Pure Cordes by Valentin Oelmüller - Pure Corde (II,III,IV) and by Toro Strings (I)

  • I: Ø 1,20 Diskant by Toro 
  • II:  Ø 1,64 - High twist Darmsaite 
  • III: Ø 2,55mm - Pure "triple" 
  • IV: Silver wound gut  Equiv. Ø 4 mm

I then tried more strings with the help and advices of Bastian Muthesius, in Berlin, I also tried strings by Aquila, Kürschner, and Gamut Strings


My first strings set from PURE CORDES and the one I used during my analisis of the manuscripts.

Strings I used for the RECORDING:

I : Toro - Ø 1.20
II : Aquila - Ø 1.50 HT
III: Toro string Silver wound gut HT
IV: Silver wound gut string Equiv. Ø 4 mm by Pure Cordes 
Nowadays, I play on equal tension of 13 Kg for I and IV and less tension force on the middle strings, but still heavy (between 10 and 12). My string length is 712 mm, and my bridge height is 80 mm, angle over the bridge 155°


Installing the strings
Making knots, with or without loop


VIDEO: guts stringS knots - violoncello

You can also scroll down for photos, step by step...

how to make the knots on guts stringS -  step by step



Guts strings knots cello
Guts strings  loop knots cello

4. iNSTALLING the guts strings on your cello

iNSTALL YOUR STRINGS - tutorial step by step

Depending on the size of the hole, you might not need to go through the loop or not
Put the string through the bottom 

Et voila, you are ready!