Picture nr. 1 : Nylgut anniversary 1997-2007
Nylgut represents the coronation of a dream - but it may be more appropriate to call it a 'bane' - that in the years 1994-97 saw us us engaged in the attempt at developing a plastic mixture that would be able to combine, as far as possible, the mechanical properties of plastic with the acoustical properties of gut.
We knew only too well that neither Nylon nor PVF 'Carbon' had, until then, hit the mark, i.e. the reproduction of the magical sound of the natural material.
The task was all but easy, strewn with all sorts of obstacles, financial, technical and psychological, which often seemed unsurmountable.
It really wasn't easy (and each time we had the feeling we had to restart from scratch) to convince the few industrial producers of synthetic monofilaments, who are used to produce several hundreds of kilos of fishing line per day, to carry out for us experiments on a small scale with custom mixed plastic products, special additives &c and, on top of that, for the musical strings market which, in terms of quantity, is fairly poor and gave no guarantee of success.
In one particularly dramatic case one extrusion screw jammed, causing the pressure to rise to a level that was dangerous for the whole plant. Luckily no major accident followed.
Every time the costs of every experiment were high, even without counting the loss of raw materials - each time over 100 kilos - caused by each attempt to work out the starting parameters for the extrusion of the experimental monofilaments.
But in the end we succeeded!
And so the first Nylgut - a few kilos in all - was born it a very hot day in July 1997.
The official presentation, though, took place only on 3 September 1997, in the royal castle in Stockholm, where the lutenist Jakob Lindberg gave a concert on a Renaissance lute strung with Nylgut - incidentally, the same lute that in 1992 had been recorded for the first time strung with loaded gut bass strings.
Even delivering that first Nylgut set to Jakob was an adventure in itself: he wanted to try the new strings out in concert (risking a concert flop, since it was the very first time he was trying them in public), which was on a monday: but he spontaneously decided that as we were on the phone on the preceding saturday!
Finding a carrier to Stockholm on a saturday was out of the question, never mind getting the strings there in time.
Plan B was simple and efficacious: finding some willing passenger to Stockholm on the evening flight from Venice.
That meant a long and exhasusting waiting for a passenger on the 19.05 flight, the last one until the following monday, who would fly with the 'precious' strings ind his pocket.
The passengers booked to Stockholm were only six: three had already checked in, two were non shows and the last one did not seem to have any intention of arriving. He finally did, five minutes before flight closing time, a distinguished, elderly gentleman: I talked to him and showed him one of Jakob's CDs.
He swiftly put the strings in his pocket and disappeared.
The following monday I phoned Jakob Lindberg a few times, but no sign of the strings. The last time I called him it was already 2 p.m. and he had to leave for the concert venue. Pity, we thought.
After three days I called him again to ask him about the concert and he told me enthusiastically that the strings... were exceptional!
Incredible: his door bell rang just after my last call, he got the strings and had just time, and courage, enough to put them on his lute only hours before the concert...
The rest was achieved by the American lutenist Ed Martin who, after having tried the first Nylgut specimen on 23 October 1997, wrote in the international lute chat:
“For those of you who know me, you know that I am a proponent of gut strings. For the past 2 years, I have performed exclusively of gut, for I think the sound is very rich, and warm sounding … there is a new product, that will soon become on the market, & it is called "nylgut". The manufacturer has sent me a few samples of trebles, and I am announcing, to the net, that they are great! The string appears to be a milky white color, and they have an interesting texture about them - they actually "feel" like gut. And, the sound, judging from the few samples that Ihave , is identical to gut…’.
Nylgut had so began its flight...
Mimmo Peruffo 2007