Steel strings or gut strings? That is the question
The strings used on violins and other instruments today are generally either steel strings or nylon strings. However, steel strings became popular only in the second half of the twentieth century. Until steel strings came on the scene, gut strings made from sheep intestines, were widely used.
Steel strings were available from the end of the nineteenth century, but it took a long time before they were widely used. In the late 1920s, the debate over steel strings versus gut strings raged on. On one side were performers who touted the soft tone of gut strings, while others swore by the superior performance of steel strings with their brilliant tone and durability. However, final victory through the volume and durability of steel strings would not come until much later.
Today, however, performances on instruments that are made to the same specifications as the early instruments, i.e. "original instrument performances," have grown in number, and the revival of the gut string is one of the notable effects. The gut string and its ability to bring back the tone of the good ol' days is once again gaining widespread recognition.