How polishing has changed through the centuries, from hand to machines
...and, most important for us, from delivering on the market strings sorted by numbers of strands (so to say, in a 3 strands bulk you can find strings from 60 to 76) to deliver strings singularly packaged and labelled with a precise gauge.
Polishing is a part of the process which really affects the quality of the string in matter of length of life, quality of sound and bow technique.
In the following video I try to unfold the methods used before the end of the19th century: horse tail, horse tail again, and the both of them with oil...
The first machine for polishing gut strings was introduced at the end of the 19th century.
For the first time a gauge could be imposed with a level of accuracy, leading for the first time to the possibility to sell single strings by gauge (for marketing purposes, the perfect fifths Strings) instead of bundles of 30 strings of different gauge made from the same number of strands.
A secondary effect was that it was so easier to work with this machine if the strings were stiff and low torsion... so this is the direction they took.
Polishing strings in a 20th century workshop... you will never guess what they did use for big double basses cordones...
Polishing strings today: centerless rectifying machine.
In this video I explain how it works trying to use my drawing. I'm not talented in drawing, sorry. I wish I had an education in this!
Update: in 2020 I took a 52 weeks course on cartooning, and I am now active also as a cartoonist, as you may have noticed wandering around this blog. Let me tell you this: drawing is like playing. There is exceptionally talented people out there, but basically all you need is a good teacher and constant dedication. Practice, practice, practice. And you'll finally get there.
In this short clip from MORE THAN TEN (whew!) years ago I am showing the centerless rectifying machines at work to the Australian Ukulele artists Bosko and Honey.
For the complete video, click below: