Gut strings last way longer on fretless banjos, needless to say. :)
I get Misty.....
A mist string wears way faster...
Sounds pretty nebulous. ;D
Seriously, Mathis is my hero. Misty literally brings tears to my eyes. My first musical goal was to sing like him but, alas, it was not achieved. Hence, banjo.
That's quite a jump Scott...from Mathis' silky voice to ...banjo. =8-*
The gut strings I had on the Fairbanks & Cold frayed were my nail picked the strings. Eventually, it cut right through the first string and it was all over. I don't think the frets had enough time to do much damage.
Well, gut is an expensive and high maintenance habit, but worth trying. You must experience it....then give into a life of nylgut.
I've been using guts on my Classic Banjo for some time, they last about a year before I get fraying. Actually, I wear out the wound 4th faster than the rest (it gets divots from the frets). My fingernails are pretty soft and I keep them cut way back. I get my gut sets from Clifford Essex...and they're indeed pricey @ $27 per set.
The Ashborn has nylguts on it at the moment. I have a set of guts but the nylguts last so long on the fretless that I've never needed to change them out. One of these days...!
If you think guts are pricey for your banjo, you should try orchestral strings. My viola = $150 per set.
Yes I have Gamut gut strings on my rebec. Very high quality strings and great knowledgeable service.
Scott--I've always gotten my gut strings from Bob Flesher. They are always good. You can't use them outside in the summertime with a skin head on a humid day in North Carolina, so I if I encounter those conditions I have a banjo with a Fiberskin head and Nylgut strings. Go to Bob's website, get the telephone number, call him and tell him what you need. That's probably the easiest way. Sometimes his wife answers the phone, so don't be put off by that. Anyway, that's what I do.
Another interesting point is that the gut strings I got from Gamut are carefully varnished, supposedly so they are less humidity affected and less subject to fraying with play. He often supplies for early and medieval instrument musicians...vielle, viola de gamba, lutes, period venues, etc. Those people are usually way more exacting than banjo players. lolol
All that said Flesher is an A++ guy who of course knows his minstrel banjo stuff inside and out and is very reliable. :)