hurdy gurdy strings

Hurdy Gurdy Strings

Hurdy gurdy strings could be of four types: melody strings, drone strings, trompette strings and sympathetic strings, are you hurdy gurdy beginner and want to know all of them? keep reading because… YES hurdy-gurdy is a string instrument

Melody Strings for hurdy

Melody strings, chantarelles or chanters are the main strings on the instrument, which are played with the keyboard. They are usually made of steel or gut and come in various gauges, with the thicker strings producing a lower pitch and the thinner strings producing a higher pitch.

Here’s my quick chart for melody strings in modern setting:

Low G (G3) -> Viola G string

High G (G4) -> Viola A string

Low C or D (C3/D3) -> Viola C string

High C or D (C4/D4) -> Viola D String

Don’t buy steel core strings, they sound horrendous with the exception of perlon core like helicore. Our “Go to” brands of viola strings for hurdy gurdy are:

Thomastik Vision / Vision Solo

Corelli Crystal

Thomastik Dominant

for historical or more traditional approach you can use:

High G -> Gut 0’94

High D -> Gut 0’70 or Yonex BG65

Although this depends a lot on the string length that you need, you can use a string calculator like this one to see gauges VS tension

etching of a hurdy gurdy

Drone Hurdy-Gurdy Strings

Drone strings are usually located on the outer side of the hurdy gurdy and produce a constant low tone. They are usually thicker than the melody strings and are also wound

In modern settings you want to use cello strings, if you doubt get Dominant

Low G drone -> C cello string 1/8 (kids cello)

Low C or D drone -> G cello string 1/8 (kids cello)

in more traditional setings you can use copper wound strings with gut core such as savarez BFC, lately I use this strings of Viola da Gamba BFC 360 for C and BFC 640 for G

drone string detail of benjamin pouzadoux gurdy
Drone string detail of Benjamin Pozadoux

Trompette Strings

Trompette strings are the ones closer to your body, they produce a buzzing or percussion-like sound when played, the concept of this comes from the medieval instrument “tromba marina“. They are usually thin and are made of gut or synthetic materials.

in this case, use Gut, Fluorocarbon or Nylgut. brands to go are, Aquila, Kürschnner or even some fluorocarbon harp or guitar strings, nylon is too soft for my taste, I wouldn’t recommend, but there are some makers using them that prooved me that they work, so feel free to try them and decide.

C (or D) trompette -> 0.84mm to 1mm gut

G (or A) trompette -> 1.05mm to 1.20mm gut

gut strings for hurdy gurdy
Gut Strings

Sympathetic Strings

Sympathetic strings are strings that resonate by themselves, it’s basically like having built in reverb, If you are lucky to have sympathetic strings in your instrument, make sure they are perfectly in tune, because if they are out they can make your instrument sound really bad!

we normally use acoustic guitar strings, mandolin, viola d’amore, sitar strings, baglama or even kanun bronze strings, here you have to be creative and try 😉

sympathetic strings detail
Sympathetic strings of a Largo by Sebastian Hilsman

Hurdy Gurdy Strings for sale

where should we buy them? in this case Hurdy Gurdy Amazon works! they have a wide variety of strings, you can also try thomann, or your local violin shops, for gut strings I’d definitely check aquila web or specialized early music shops like cuerdaspulsadas!

This are basically the best hurdy gurdy strings, It’s important to maintain the proper tension on each string to produce the correct pitch and tone, the strings are expensive, but do you know… how much does a hurdy gurdy cost?

Replacing strings is also an important part of maintaining a hurdy gurdy. Over time, strings can become worn or break, which can affect the sound quality of the instrument. When replacing strings, it’s important to pick the appropriate gauge and material, make sure to check the list above!

Overall, understanding the different types of hurdy gurdy strings and how to properly maintain them is essential for any player looking to produce the best possible sound from their instrument.

keep on cranking

Sergio González

Doubts? Book a gurdy consultation or a single lesson with me 🙂

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