- Category: How we work
The goal of each string maker should be to get a good string. But how do you recognize a good string? One of the clearest and most complete definitions of a good string is that of Francesco Galeazzi, Elementi teorico-pratici di musica, in 1791, states:
"The good string must be diaphanous, gold-colored; that is, which it gives yellow, and not candid, as some wish; smooth, but this independently of being pumiced; without knots; or joins; at the elastic top, and strong".
Those who have already had a Cordedrago string in their hands will be able to confirm that it corresponds exactly to Galeazzi's description: it is diaphanous, that is translucent, and golden in color thanks to sulfurization, while the strings treated with hydrogen peroxide have a whitish or vitreous appearance; it is smooth and free of "knots" (ie more rigid and inelastic points), not only because it is rectified with modern techniques, but also for the intrinsic regularity of its twisting and of the lamb gut used, perfectly cylindrical and free of roughness and typical defects of the gut of adult animals used by other string makers; it is extremely elastic, thanks to different twisting techniques depending on the thickness of the string (see: Cantini di Napoli, Cordoncini di Roma, Cordoni Cordedrago, Cordoni di Roma); it is finally resistant to traction because the individual guts are subjected to tensile tests with a dynamometer before twisting, and furthermore very refined drying and rewinding techniques are used to allow the individual ends of the string to stick perfectly.
Only the Ritorte di Salle, used exclusively for the cantini, are whitish because they are made with bovine gut and modern techniques, to obtain the maximum tensile strength at the expense, however, of the sound quality.
It can be added to what was suggested by Francesco Galeazzi, an empirical test with which to verify the quality of a gut string: a perfect string does not bend or become weak when curved to make a knot, but maintains a regular curve and, if left, takes up the original form; moreover, if held taut between two hands and pinched with the ring finger close to an ear, it should produce a prolonged vibration rich in harmonics, similar to that of a rubber band, and not a dull sound that is immediately extinguished, as we find it in some competition strings, due to their rigidity.
The recovery of the ancient practices and of the raw materials used by traditional string makers is therefore not an antiquarian whim, but, as Cordedrago has demonstrated in practice, the only way to obtain a product of the highest quality.