A new article from the journal Nature suggests that the specific chemicals used in treating Stradivarius (and other 17th century violin makers) instruments is what gives them their superior tone. National Geographic reports on the new article:
Chemical tricks were the key to creating the unparalelled tones of famed 17th- and 18th-century Italian violins, a new study says. Texas chemist and violinmaker Joseph Nagyvary collected tiny wood shavings from violins made by Antonio Stradivari and Guaneri del Gesu and submitted the material for new chemical analyses.
“We sought to answer the centuries-old question of whether Stradivari and Guaneri used chemical tricks,” said Nagyvary, who retired three years ago from Texas A&M University in College Station.
For example, experts have wondered, “did they boil their wood in a way that would alter the acoustical properties and make the sound more beautiful?”
The test results, reported in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature, suggest that the wood used to make the priceless violins was “dramatically different” chemically from wood used in both modern instruments and instruments from the same time period made in England and France.
“So the answer is yes, They had a magic potion,” Nagyvary said.
Read the complete National Geographic article here, or check out the above link to Nature for the complete original article (you will need to do a free registration process with Nature to access it).