Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737)
The maker of the “Stradivarius” or “Strad” stringed instruments is the most famous luthier of all times. During his long life he made at least 1,116 instruments. It is assumed that only around half of his instruments survived until today, but the exact number is not known.
His instruments were regarded to be the best stringed instruments ever created already during his life. They are highly prized for their superb tonal qualities
and excellent playing characteristics.
Stradivari was a perfectionist and his instruments are perfectly executed. He sold them often to the royalty and laid the foundations of stringed instrument-as-an-investment. His instruments were always highly valued.
Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (1698-1744)
The most prominent luthier after Antonio Stradivari was Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. The term “del Gesù” originates from the Greek abbreviation for Jesus (IHS) (Jesu Hominum Salvator) and a Roman cross that Guarneri used on the labels inside his instruments. It indicates veneration for the Holy Name.
Contrary to Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesù made his instruments quickly and sold them for a low price. Despite of this also his instruments are exceptional and highly valued.
Only around 135 violins, none viola and one cello build by Guarneri survived until our time.
Why Are The Instruments By Stradivari And Guarneri So Special?
The master stringed instruments made by Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù excel in a supreme powerful, rich and colourful tone that is ideal for a solo instrument.
A Stradivarius in a good condition emits high-frequency sounds in a range where human hearing is the most sensitive. These frequencies become more audible in larger rooms. That makes the Stradivarius ideal for concerts in spacious concert halls and for performances together with big philharmonic orchestras.
The sound of these sublime instruments is so very characteristic that an observant listener can distinguish their superior tone when hearing the same artist playing on different instruments.
The sound of the old master instruments is not only superior in the vivacity of the tone; it is also insistent and captivatingly beautiful. The lustre and beauty of the instrument’s tone is as close you can come to the immaculate voice of a great opera diva.
Science has not invented an instrument that could measure or quantify the beauty of a sound yet. Only the metaphysical investigation could possibly tackle the phenomenon.
Thousands of hours and millions of dollars were spent in the search for the secret formula of the old master stringed instruments made by Stradivari and Guarneri, but no clear all-explaining answer was found. Neither using x-rays or the wood of specially grown trees nor anything else has helped to re-create their excellent characteristics.
Tip to spot a fake Strad label
This is the most commonly copied Stradivarius label of all ‘Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 1…’ with the last digits of the year of manufacture written by hand. The clue which reveals the fake is that from 1700 to 1730 a cursive ‘u’ was used in place of a ‘v’. After 1730 the Roman ‘v’ was used. Hence, Stradiuarius, Stradivarius.