2 popular violin manufacturers from Cremona, Italy, Antonio Stradivari and also Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesù,’ treated their tools with numerous chemicals that generated their one-of-a-kind noise, and also numerous of these chemicals have actually been recognized for the very first time: borax and also steel sulfates for fungal reductions, common salt for wetness control, alum for molecular crosslinking, and also potash or quicklime for alkaline therapy.

The ‘Gould’ violin by Antonio Stradivari.

The ‘Gould’ violin by Antonio Stradivari.

In string tools, specifically picked timbers work as transducers of power from shaking strings right into acoustic power.

Violin-family tools, consisting of violas and also cellos, are constructed from 2 kinds of tonewoods: Norway spruce (Picea abies) for soundboards and also maple (Acer sp.) for ribs and also back plates.

Oddly, leading violinists today still like antique tools made by Antonio Stradivari and also Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesù.’

Stradivari made regarding 1,200 violins in his life time and also offered them just to the really abundant, consisting of the aristocracy. Today, there have to do with 600 Stradivari violins continuing to be. He likewise made violas and also cellos that are very valued.

Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ had difficulty marketing his job, however his tools are currently thought about equivalent in high quality and also cost to Stradivari violins.

After 2 centuries of examinations, there is still little agreement on what makes Cremonese violins so one-of-a-kind.

“Every one of my study over years has actually been based upon the presumption that the timber of the fantastic masters went through a hostile chemical therapy, and also this had a straight duty in developing the fantastic noise of the Stradivari and also the Guarneri,” stated Teacher Joseph Nagyvary, a scientist in the Division of Biochemistry And Biology and also Biophysics at Texas A&M College.

Teacher Nagyvary and also associates checked out the product residential properties of Cremonese soundboards making use of a variety of spectroscopic, tiny, and also chemical strategies.

They discovered that borax, zinc, copper and also alum — together with lime water — were utilized to deal with the timber.

“Borax has a lengthy background as a chemical, returning to the old Egyptians, that utilized it in mummification and also later on as a pesticide,” Teacher Nagyvary stated.

“The visibility of these chemicals all indicate partnership in between the violin manufacturers and also the neighborhood pharmacy and also druggist at the time.”

“Both Stradivari and also Guarneri would certainly have intended to treat their violins to avoid worms from gnawing the timber due to the fact that worm invasions were really prevalent back then.”

Each violin manufacturer most likely utilized his very own home-grown techniques when dealing with the timber.

“This brand-new research discloses that Stradivari and also Guarneri had their very own private proprietary technique of timber handling, to which they can have connected a substantial relevance,” Teacher Nagyvary stated.

“They can have involved understand that the unique salts they utilized for impregnation of the timber likewise passed on to it some useful mechanical stamina and also acoustical benefits.”

“These techniques were concealed. There were no licenses in those times.”

“Just how the timber was adjusted with chemicals was difficult to think by the aesthetic evaluation of the ended up item.”

“The varnish dishes were not secret due to the fact that the varnish itself is not an important factor of tone high quality.”

On the other hand, the procedure of exactly how the fresh spruce slabs were dealt with and also refined with a selection of water-based chemical therapies is essential for the noise of the ended up violin.

“Such expertise was required to get an affordable benefit over various other tool manufacturers,” Teacher Nagyvary stated.

“We discovered the chemicals utilized were discovered throughout and also inside the timber, not simply its surface area, and also this straight influenced the audio high quality of the tools.”

A paper explaining the searchings for was released in the journal Angewandte Chemie.


Cheng-Kuan Su et alia. Products Design of Violin Soundboards by Stradivari and also Guarneri. Angewandte Chemie, publihsed online June 1, 2021; doi: 10.1002/anie.202105252