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]