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      A Comparison of Wood Density between Classical Cremonese and Modern Violins

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      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          Classical violins created by Cremonese masters, such as Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri Del Gesu, have become the benchmark to which the sound of all violins are compared in terms of their abilities of expressiveness and projection. By general consensus, no luthier since that time has been able to replicate the sound quality of these classical instruments. The vibration and sound radiation characteristics of a violin are determined by an instrument's geometry and the material properties of the wood. New test methods allow the non-destructive examination of one of the key material properties, the wood density, at the growth ring level of detail. The densities of five classical and eight modern violins were compared, using computed tomography and specially developed image-processing software. No significant differences were found between the median densities of the modern and the antique violins, however the density difference between wood grains of early and late growth was significantly smaller in the classical Cremonese violins compared with modern violins, in both the top (Spruce) and back (Maple) plates (p = 0.028 and 0.008, respectively). The mean density differential (SE) of the top plates of the modern and classical violins was 274 (26.6) and 183 (11.7) gram/liter. For the back plates, the values were 128 (2.6) and 115 (2.0) gram/liter. These differences in density differentials may reflect similar changes in stiffness distributions, which could directly impact vibrational efficacy or indirectly modify sound radiation via altered damping characteristics. Either of these mechanisms may help explain the acoustical differences between the classical and modern violins.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Acoustics of wood

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            On measuring the elastic and damping constants of orthotropic sheet materials

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              Defining the transition from earlywood to latewood in black spruce based on intra-ring wood density profiles from X-ray densitometry

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2008
                2 July 2008
                : 3
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Radiology, Division of Image Processing, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Borman Violins, Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States of America
                Purdue University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: BS TB. Performed the experiments: BS TB. Analyzed the data: BS TB. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BS TB. Wrote the paper: BS TB.

                Article
                08-PONE-RA-03998
                10.1371/journal.pone.0002554
                2438473
                18596937
                Stoel, Borman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 7
                Categories
                Research Article
                Computer Science
                Plant Biology
                Radiology and Medical Imaging/Computer Tomography

                Uncategorized

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