Concept

Catgut

Summary
Catgut (also known as gut) is a type of cord that is prepared from the natural fiber found in the walls of animal intestines. Catgut makers usually use sheep or goat intestines, but occasionally use the intestines of cattle, hogs, horses, mules, or donkeys. Despite the name, catgut is not made from cat intestines. The word catgut may have been an abbreviation of the word "cattlegut". Alternatively, it may derive by folk etymology from kitgut or kitstring — the dialectal word kit, meaning fiddle, having at some point been confused with the word kit for a young cat, the word "kit" being possibly derived from Welsh. In the 16th century a "kit" was a "small fiddle used by dancing teachers," a name probably derived from a shortening of Old English cythere, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara (see guitar). Historically, catgut was the most common material for the strings of harps, lutes, violins, violas, cellos, double basses, acoustic guitars, and other stringed musical instruments, as well as the heads of older marching snare drums. Most musical instruments produced today use strings with cores made of other materials, generally steel or synthetic polymer. Gut strings are the natural choice for many classical and baroque string players, and gut strings are still most commonly preferred in concert-tension pedal/grand and some lever harps because they give a richer, darker sound as well as withstanding high tension within low alto, tenor, and high-bass ranges. Many acoustic guitarists moved away from gut strings in the early 1900s when the C. F. Martin & Company introduced steel strings, which gave greater volume to the guitar. "The demand for steel came from ensemble players, who couldn't make themselves heard clearly without it." Within a few years the majority of Martin guitars were made with steel strings to accommodate the demand. After World War II, most classical and flamenco guitarists switched from catgut to the new nylon strings for their greater smoothness, durability, and stability of intonation.
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