Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What do they sound like?
  They sound for all the world like plain gut.   Click **HERE** for sound samples, both Pizzicato and Slap. No, they don't sound EXACTLY like gut, but most people consider them to be closest thing there is.

Q.What if I'm in the USA, but I order an "International" set by mistake?
A. You might wind up paying more for the strings.  People do this, and I try to catch it, refunding the difference through PayPal.    You risk my not catching it, however.  International sets are identical to USA sets, but they cost more because shipping is higher, there are currency-conversion and cross-border fees involved with PayPal, and I have to go to a lot more time/trouble to ship them, because of the Customs requirement. If the strings will be shipped to an address in the USA, please give us both a break and click on the "USA Set" link.

Q. What do they look like?
  They are black with a Kevlar core. (not visible, but it's there)
King Doublebass Slapking, with Hillbilly Slap Strings.

Q. Do I have to tie knots in the tailpiece ends?
A. No. They come ready to string.
Tying the knots is a somewhat tricky proposition, especially on the "A" and "E".   The line is slippery and stiff, a combination that makes it love to slip out of knots as they're being tied. 

Q. Are they good for playing slap-bass?
A. They are EXCELLENT for slapping. They give the same somewhat-dulled, woody sound to fingerboard clicks that you get from plain gut, and their tension for slapping is AT LEAST as low as gut, generally considered even a little lower.

Q. Are they good for playing Bluegrass?
A. They are EXCELLENT for Bluegrass, slapped or not.

Q. Will I need to enlarge my nut, bridge, and tailpiece slots.
A. You SHOULD be able to get by for a short time without modifying slots in the nut and bridge, if you just want to see how you like the strings, or if you want to get an idea of whether you'll want to move on to actual plain gut. The diameters of Hillbilly Slap Strings are very similar to plain gut, very slightly smaller. You will probably need to enlarge the tailpiece slots for the "E" and "A" strings, minimum. 

However, if you decide that guts or Hillbilly strings aren't your cup of tea, enlarged tailpiece slots won't prevent you from going back to smaller strings without modifying the slots back to smaller sizes. Enlarged nut and bridge slots may require a little modification when going to smaller-diameter strings. 

In the long term, running the strings on under-sized slots will damage them, though not as quickly as it would damage guts.

Q. Do they sound like guts.
A. Yes... not exactly, but moreso than any other currently-available strings.

Q. Do they feel like guts?
A. Not exactly. They are a smooth surface, whereas guts have a textured feel to them. Some people prefer this, some don't care, and some have run a little 600-grit sandpaper over the Hillbilly strings, saying that it gives them the same textured feel as plain gut.

Aside from the smoother texture, they pull, release and respond remarkably like guts.

Q. Do they have low sustain?
A. Yes, just like plain gut. That's part of the classic sound of gut for old-time Jazz, Bluegrass, and Rockabilly. If you have never played on gut strings, it will probably change your style of playing. You will not be able to play an open "A" note and let it ring for three beats. You will find yourself playing more notes, or more note-rest combinations.

Q. Do they last as long as guts?
A. Nobody knows yet. People typically play guts for 5-10 years, and often run them for close to 20 years. They will certainly go longer before breaking, but tonally, nobody's been playing them long enough for a set to die.

Q. Do they stretch like guts when you first put them on?
A. No, they stretch MUCH more. On initial stringing you may think the string has slipped out of the hole in the tuning post, because you will crank the keys forEVER before they start coming up to pitch, then about 3/4 of the way there, they will lose tension, and drop several steps in the tuning, as if they had slipped on the tuning post.

They will eventually come up to pitch, though, and after you get them on, they play in quicker than guts do, and hold their tune better after they've been played in.

Q. What are the string sizes?
Medium Gauge String sizes are all virtually the same as Plain Gut. Light Gauge sets are, of course, a little smaller in diameter.

Q. What are they made of?
A. They start out as clear nylon, with a black Kevlar core. The core is not visible on black sets, as it's black, but it's there nonetheless!

Q. Do they need to be oiled and trimmed, like gut?
A. No.

Q. Can they be bowed?
A. Reports are that some people are bowing them successfully. YMMV.