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November 13, 2009


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Pearl Deans

Mr. Bruno Frohlich:
It may not be necessary for modern instrument makers to copy the instruments made by Stradivari. But I think the more pertinent question is, is it desirable? I can imagine there are at least one or two master instrument makers who would love to use modern technology to make replicas of the instruments made by Stradivari.


Wow that is extremely interesting. I'd like to see this same study done on different brands of guitars.

the violins described above are solid-body models. This means that the instrument has no hollow, resonating chamber and therefore produces little to no sound unless it is "plugged in." However, another way to create an "electric violin" is to replace the bridge on an acoustic violin with a piezo pickup bridge-mount that can be plugged in just like a solid body.

Steven DeBardelaben

Does this study take into account the density of the wood? I have read a theory that for a century or so, the period of time before Stradivari was born, was a time of colder temperatures in Europe. The theory was that this resulted in different growth process in the trees. There was discussion that some of the tone richness from his instruments was due to the density of the wood that grew in this cold period. This was supposed to be the wood that Stradivari used.

I never heard of this theory being explored further.


About the size of the instruments:
Unfortunately the two images of the top boards may suggest different sizes. Actually they are of the same size. One amazing observation with violin metrics is that there is very little variation in the size of the instrument over time. We find that older instruments may have a more significant curvature on the back and top boards whereas more modern instruments may show a more flat shape. I believe that some of this change took place during Stradivari's time. The purpose may have been that by utilizing less curvature the instrument maker could make the boards thinner and still keep the constructional strength required for the instrument to be functional. Thus it may be that the direction from more curvature to less curvature could be a product of the desire of producing a lighter instrument. The volume or mass of the wood will decrease while the volume of the air mass within the body may stay almost the same.

Bruno Frohlich


Mr. Pablo Sacco:
I agree with Mr. Saccos statement. It is not necessary for modern instrument makers to copy the instruments made by Stradivari. High quality modern instruments following the traditional ways of manufacturing are master pieces in their own ways and will most likely produce an excellent sound quality if played by an expert musician.
Bruno Frohlich


Mr. Michael:
I am not exactly sure why some modern instrument makers are so interested in telling people that he/she is making copies of the original Stradivari instruments. I think it is marketing more than anything else. One problem with making copies of Stradivari's instruments is that we do not know how many repairs and/or changes may have been done over the years. The instrument we see today as a Stradivari instrument may have little similarity with the instrument produced by Stradivari more than 300 years ago.

Bruno Frohlich


Dear Mr. Altmaier,
The color displays are reflections of the thickness of the wood used in the construction of the instruments. Thus red colors indicate higher thickness values and green colors smaller thickness values. Any additional pieces of wood, which may have been attached on the inside of the body, will show up as higher thickness values(toward the red color). In some of the instruments we see many small squares suggesting patches which have been added to repair or prevent cracking of the wood. The long lines represent the 'bass bar'. This is a long narrow piece of wood, most often soft wood, glued to the inside of the top board. The bass bar should improve the sound production and is found in all violins and violas. I hope this answers your question.
Thank you for your interest in our research

Bruno Frohlich

Ralph Altmaier

I am wondering if the vertical line in the scans is an artifact of the process. I see it in all of the scans. There are 2 thicker places between the f holes that I see on most of the violins. Can you provide some thoughts on these thick spots?


I don't see the problem with making copies of the these great instruments. One would only hope that the newer models would last many years so that future generations can enjoy playing and or admiring the great works of musical art peices. I doubt that these old violins will be around another 100 years in a state that they could be played without the risk of damage. Just my thoughts on the matter for what it's worth.


I only hope that violins manufacturers will not start to exploit these discoveries in order to produce new "original" Stradivari instruments.

Some things should remain perfect as they were. No need to make replicas of these perfections... :(

Pablo Sacco

I would like to know the measures of the violins under test. I can immagine they are different. Does it mean he had to raise the heigjt of archings and ribs if the instrument is shorter or narrower?
Other factor to consider is the pass of the time and restorers in that time. There's no Strafivari's instrument exactly the same as he constructed them. When somebody "reshape" the thicknesses of the plates, that produces a very big impact in the volume of the plate itself, while that cents of millimeters affect only a few in the total amount of the air volume inside the body.

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