Violin Strings Made by Spiders Sound Smooth as Silk

By Jamie Condliffe on at

The world's best violins come with strings made from catgut—which isn't typically from cats, but does definitely come from the inside of an animal. If you want a more vegetarian alternative, though, how about a set made from spider silk?

In a world first, Japanese researcher Dr Shigeyoshi Osaki has used thousands of strands of spider silk to produce a set of violin strings, and he claims they have a "soft and profound timbre" compared to gut, reports the BBC.

But how do you make a violin string from spider silk? Firstly, you need a lot of spiders; Osaki used 300. Next, you need to collect 3,000 or so lengths of their dragline silk—that's the type of silk they dangle from—and twist them together to make make a bundle. Once you have three bundles, twist them together, in the opposite direction, to make a single string. You'll have to do that four times to string an entire violin. The process is to be outlined in a forthcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.

Speaking to the BBC, Osaki said:

"Several professional violinists reported that spider strings... generated a preferable timbre, being able to create a new music," he wrote... The violin strings are a novel practical use for spider silk as a kind of high value-added product, and offer a distinctive type of timbre for both violin players and music lovers worldwide."

Sadly, the silk isn't quite as strong as catgut, and tends to snap a little more easily, but maybe the tone's worth it. If you can find enough spiders. [Physical Review Letters via BBC; Image: land_camera_land_camer]