I have taken the first faltering steps in the recondite world of gut strings, and have a few early impressions / remarks to offer, spurred on by the recent post on Carles Trepat.
On Rob's kind advice I got some unvarnished harp strings from Bow, as well as 2 Gs in different gauges from Damian Dlugolecki, marrying them with Aquila Seta, and later Ambra basses. I have (had) 2 sets of trebles to play with.
Let me say right away that I really
like the sound - very pure, good sustain, easily distinguished from nylon. I think they would suit some guitars better than others, and perhaps my Contreras with its big Madrid sound is not the ideal test bed. The feel under the left hand is good.
Before the following remarks I will state that I did not
cut my nails off; but they are always very short and highly polished. I suppose I wanted to have my cake and eat it
The E (6th) wore out very quickly - by this I mean it became rough and 'hairy' under the right hand. This impaired the vibration and sound, and made it noisy to play. The B fared no better.
The E felt a little thin and I might try a thicker gauge.
While I freely admit that I could expect them to do better without nails, I can't comprehend how Trepat's strings can last any time if he 'plays nails'. And 100 year old strings - I just don't get it.
So I spent a lot of time with my string-winder last weekend and am back on nylgut. I still have a gut set in reserve but will not put it on just yet - perhaps I'll keep it for the JW Simplicio.
So, an enticing and tantalising experiment - but, it must be acknowledged, an expensive one, with an attrition rate measured in a few days.
(The Aquila D I found quite insubstantial as well ... 2 of them broke, quite unprovoked, and felt thin to the left hand.)
As a footnote to all of this, we (in Sydney) are experiencing a run of extremely hot and humid weather, and I was (rather crossly) beginning to wonder if any
strings were going to sound right!