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The Strad Sound Secret - The varnish!?


l33tplaya
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Yet another article about the Strad varnish chemistry - the Angewandte Chemie, 2021 paper...https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/study-confirms-superior-sound-of-a-stradivari-is-due-to-the-varnish/

Any additional thoughts?  At least this summary and intro was written well, and fairly conveys some of the prior work...

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3 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Yet another article about the Strad varnish chemistry - the Angewandte Chemie, 2021 paper...https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/study-confirms-superior-sound-of-a-stradivari-is-due-to-the-varnish/

Any additional thoughts?  At least this summary and intro was written well, and fairly conveys some of the prior work...

I think it is the same thing that has already been discussed and appeared here numerous times, like these:

 

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Stradivari had a good varnish, and good varnish is good for the tone, but he was also an incredibly good maker, other Italian makers used the same or similar varnish and they are not considered as good, and some German makers had very good varnish, so varnish is just one part of the puzzle

If there was a secret to Stradivari, it was getting almost everything right, not just one thing like the varnish or the ground..

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2 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Stradivari had a good varnish, and good varnish is good for the tone, but he was also an incredibly good maker, other Italian makers used the same or similar varnish and they are not considered as good, and some German makers had very good varnish, so varnish is just one part of the puzzle

If there was a secret to Stradivari, it was getting almost everything right, not just one thing like the varnish or the ground..

True enough. Also lets not forget that he was a great business man and self promoter and that the 100 or so best ones carry on their shoulders the other 400 which are cranky bitches kept performing well by scores of the most talented luthiers and musicians in the world.:)

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59 minutes ago, nathan slobodkin said:

True enough. Also lets not forget that he was a great business man and self promoter and that the 100 or so best ones carry on their shoulders the other 400 which are cranky bitches kept performing well by scores of the most talented luthiers and musicians in the world.:)

Strad had about 90 unsold violins when he died.  I think I can do that too.

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Yes, @Davide Sora I knew it was the same referred article we have discussed before.  I am impressed that there are so many articles in the popular press referencing it; this one seemed a little more balanced.

@Don Noon slo-o-ow burn! Trenchant. ;) 

Exactly, @chiaroscuro_violins. We know that not all of AS's violins were equally good - at the very least, there are different shapes - i.e. long pattern, and we have what is nearly universally recognized as his golden period, etc.  I have also heard from way more than 1 dealer that not all Strads are equal, and as discussed before, someone trying to make their mark will not turn down a Strad if it is loaned to them, unless they are already famous.  Of the 3 or 4 of Tony's creations I have been privileged to play, I can attest that even in my hands they are most definitely not equal, though all were set up by known luthiers, and in good condition (irrespective of past repairs). 

OTOH, @Strad O Various Jr., I also believe you are correct, our man Tony got many things correct, and wasn't afraid to experiemnt. That seems to have been his "secret," with lots of self promotion, an astute business sense, and the fortune to have had most of the world's best players on his violins.  I recall many here pointing out that at one time, Stainer violins were more popular than Strads.

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22 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Yet another article about the Strad varnish chemistry - the Angewandte Chemie, 2021 paper...https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/study-confirms-superior-sound-of-a-stradivari-is-due-to-the-varnish/

Any additional thoughts?  At least this summary and intro was written well, and fairly conveys some of the prior work...

The FoxNews of violins?  Misleading rehash of old news. 

 

To be fair, I only glanced.  But, it rather looks like she is agrandizing, falsely recasting, and taking credit for others recent work.

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14 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

Do all of your violins turn out exactly equal??

What is ‘exactly’?

we judge Strads solely on their tonal merits and I suppose nobody knows on which standards Strad based his production. 
 

I dare to say that ‘sound’ was most likely not the number one on his priority list. 
 

On the level of craftsmanship he had very high standards which were always the same (even when he used cheaper wood) but there are of course and naturally variations. 

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I am purely speculating here, but I am sure there are Strads in impeccable condition that aren't the best sounding examples, and Strads that have been extensively repaired that sound great.  Unfortunately it's just too hard to find enough examples for a controlled experiment.  I like to partake in these discussions, but it's really just a distraction from how to actually make a great-sounding instrument, which is to make a lot of them to a very high standard.  

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for a microsecond...I read Jezzupe stripper.  :P:ph34r:

@chiaroscuro_violins  I have wondered about that too... I have seen a few violins that were extensively repaired - oodles of cracks on the top - would never consider buying, but they sounded great.  A topic for another dicussion... Also, probably impossible to know with certainty what other "repairs" might have beeen done  - regraduating, bassbar, etc.  Controlled experiment - sets of 2 identical violins, as practically can be done; smash (lightly) and repair one; gauge results....Smash differently - once, sound board, small cracks; another, cracks the length of the top, etc.  Repeat, with various parts of the instrument, then combine in defined patterns...Then we could have Andreas french polish and see if they sound or measure differently...  Impractial, to say the least...

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5 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I am purely speculating here, but I am sure there are Strads in impeccable condition that aren't the best sounding examples, and Strads that have been extensively repaired that sound great.  Unfortunately it's just too hard to find enough examples for a controlled experiment.  I like to partake in these discussions, but it's really just a distraction from how to actually make a great-sounding instrument, which is to make a lot of them to a very high standard.  

I am pretty sure that strads which have been patched up on the top in larger areas (or, much more than a sound post patch) have not any more their original sound potential. 
 

Listening tests by Fritz et al. unfortunately didn’t disclose the condition of Strads participating in the test. 

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32 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I am pretty sure that strads which have been patched up on the top in larger areas (or, much more than a sound post patch) have not any more their original sound potential. 
 

Maybe they're better than they were originally? Are there any left with the original bass bars?

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Maybe they're better than they were originally? 

Then no Strad without patching would sound good? I’d be curious to know in which condition the best sounding strads are right now. 

Heavier and longer bass bars are a kind of better tires on otherwise well tuned sports car.
You forgot to mention the new and longer neck which has a much bigger influence on the sound than a new bass bar. 
 

Instead of repeating this endless discussion, c’mon let’s have beer in the pub around the corner and let’s talk about something else.

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