Secrets of Stradivarius Violins Revealed

Posted Jul 6, 2008 by Chris V. Thangham
The difference between the sounds of Stradivarius violins and other wood violins is vast, and now scientists have found out why.
Stradivarius Violin in Museum Display
The image of the Spanish II Stradivarius (1687-1689) on exhibit at Palacio Real de Madrid
Previously, others thought the sound quality in Stradivarius violins were due to the varnishes present in the violin, the boiling and submersion of the woods in ponds. But scientists have discovered the secrets of Stradivarius violins by analyzing it in a CT scanner.
The study was published yesterday in Public Library of Science ONE. Dutch scientists analyzed five of the violins made in the early 18th century by Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari with the help of a CT Scanner.
The three dimensional X-ray images revealed that wood used in the Stradivari’s violins had an exceptional uniform density packing, with hardly any variation in growth rings added to the tree it was made from each year.
In normal wood, there is more summertime growth than wintertime growth and results in broad rings of wood and alternates with the growth of narrow, dense winter bands. Whereas with Stradivarius violins, the woods had uniform growth both in the summer and winter, sothe quality of the sounds in these violins are exceptional and often high priced.
Stradivari lived during the Little Ice Age, the trees, where he got the wood from had only a little more growth in summer than in winter. Thus he was able to get uniformly denser wood for his violins.
This discovery has solved the long mystery on why Stradivarius violins have great sounds.
To find out more about the study click the link here from journal PloS ONE.