Violin makers rely on their senses when selecting the wood. Photo: Wikipedia
Read aloud Violin makers could probably build even better instruments, if they would rely on the selection of the wood instead of their senses on modern measuring instruments. This results from tests with 14 renowned violin makers from Austria. Scientists led by Christoph Buksnowitz from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna had the instrument makers judge wood pieces and compared the evaluation with the results of acoustic measurements. The scientists had the master violin makers examine 84 pieces of spruce wood, as they are used for the front part of the body of violins. The masters judged the quality of the wood like generations of violin makers before them: they looked at color, growth and grain, stroked the surface and tapped the wood to gauge its subsequent sound quality. However, the violin makers were often wrong in their judgment, as the researchers showed in subsequent measurements, in which they recorded the density, hardness and acoustic properties of each piece of wood with modern equipment.

However, this does not mean that good quality violins can not be made from wood selected using traditional methods, the scientists emphasize. "Some instrument makers say they can make a good instrument out of every piece of wood, " explains Buksnowitz. Thanks to their great experience, they are able to compensate for any possible shortcomings of the material. However, a path to even better instruments that match in quality to that of the great masters such as Stradivari or Amati, could actually lead to an improved selection of the wood, the researchers say.

Nature, online service, DOI 10.1038 / news070409-3 Original text: Christoph Buksnowitz (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) et al .: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Vol. 121, p. 2384 ddp / science.de? Ulrich Dewald

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