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Hi everybody. I've enjoyed reading all your posts about this dilemma for ethical musicians. I'm sorry it's taken me 14 years to respond, but to be honest I've had nothing to add until now. My name is Padraig O'Dubhlaoidh, an Irish violinmaker working in Malvern, Worcestershire. I'm currently celebrating Veganuary with the launch of my Vegan society certified, hand made vegan violins. The first in the world. This has been a long labour of love for me and I'm proud to present my 100% Vegan handmade violins to the vegan community. After a long and difficult process, they have been certified by the Vegan society as free of animal products. There's more information on www.veganviolins.com
As for strings, there's no problem for modern musicians, as there are plenty of steel and nylon core alternatives, but for early musicians the nylon core strings that sound most like gut strings are Obligato brand strings from Pirastro. These come in 3 gauges, Soft, Medium and thick. Most people use Medium, but If your violin can deal with it, I think the Soft gauge would be even closer to the early music gut sound. I hope this is helpful.
Happy Veganuary, Padraig O'Dubhlaoidh.
Thank you for taking the time to update us on this thread, as well as inform us about your vegan violins! I do not play violin myself, but knowing that you make vegan violins will surely help me inform friends and family in the future.
 

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Good luck with your new venture, Padraig! As a former amateur guitar player (aiming to get back into it), I've always been a bit in awe of going fretless... especially when placing your finger just a tiny bit out-of-place will send your note very noticeably sharp or flat.

@Louelou I hope your cello playing is going well.
 
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