Press Release October 11, 2012

PLOS One study finds wood typically used in violins throughout Europe in the first half of the 18th century have similar characteristics to wood chosen by Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu

A study published in the October 10th release of PLOS One finds that the top (spruce) wood chosen by violin makers in Europe contemporaneous to the careers of Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu is remarkably similar in density.

Wood biologists recognize density as perhaps the key prognosticator of the three principal wood characteristics necessary to build high quality musical instruments (density, stiffness, and damping) and as such these findings have significant impact in supporting or debunking the common conception that Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu has access to wood with significantly different wood properties than wood available to other makers in other countries and at other times.

In another study published in PLOS One in 2008, Stoel and Borman found that the wood chosen by these two most illustrious classical makers had overall density quite similar to woods chosen by modern makers. They also noted differences in the density differential between early and late growth wood. This expanded study, testing woods from 12 modern instruments and 18 classical instruments, focusing primarily on overall density and the significance of density as a key forecaster of tone-wood suitability.

The authors state, "based on the well-understood relationships between density, wood stiffness, and internal damping, our results indicate increasing difficulty in sustaining the notion that the classical Cremonese violin makers such as Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu had access to wood with significantly different material properties than what contemporaneous could, or modern makers can, access".

For access to the full article go to:

Berend C. Stoel is assistant professor at the Division of Image Processing, Department of Radiology at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Leiden, the Netherlands ( This group of 40 people performs research, implementation and validation of image processing techniques, with a goal of producing objective and reproducible assessments of medical images.

Terry Borman is a luthier and acoustic researcher with over 35 years experience making violins and studying instruments of the classical period. He has previously published research papers and articles on the subject of CT scanning of historic instruments and the acoustic properties of stringed instruments.


For questions related to CT densitometry and image processing contact:
Berend Stoel, Ph.D
Leiden University Medical Center

For questions related to acoustics, violins, or wood biology contact:
Terry Borman
Instrumental Insight

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