Why do buy
a modern instrument?


With regard to the problem of the “superiority” of antique instruments, I would like to dwell briefly on a few indisputable facts: almost all of the instruments of the “Classic” period have undergone modifications (length of neck, its inclination, the mortising in the body of the instrument) so as to be able to play modern music; the great majority of antique instruments have been restored more or less completely, especially with regard to the graduation of the thickness of the belly and the back in some cases the alterations have been such that very often they have had a fundamental effect on the acoustic performance; there is great interest in the market in antique string instruments, sometimes even to the extent of attributing works of minor craftsmen to more celebrated ones, to say nothing of forgeries and counterfeit reports.
Acknowledged experts are few and far between and they often refuse to carry out scientific analyses (on varnish, wood, dendrochronology...), which would certify indisputably that an instrument belonged to a specific period and a definite school; the construction technique is substantially the same (internal mould for “Classic” Italian violinmaking, external mould for the “French style”, etc.); and the tools used by the violinmaker are also very similar, especially the most important ones.
Ultimately nobody at a concert or in an auditorium is able to recognize whether a skilled performer is playing a violin of the “Classic” period or a good modern instrument.
Having said that, I am convinced that there are splendid antique instruments with a marvelous sound and superb timbre, but others of the same period and the same school, which, for various reasons, have a dull, out-of-tune sound.
The same is true of modern instruments. There are pieces of great interest and value, but there are many others with poor acoustic quality. This is borne out by tests made in the laboratory of acoustic physics at the International School of Violinmaking in Cremona.
The question is whether a splendid modern instrument, be it from the point of view of aesthetics or acoustics, will still sound good hundreds of years from now.
My firm conviction is that in two or three centuries modern instruments Will play better than the “Classic” ones, which will be “finished” by then, but the question cannot really be answered.
What must also be stressed is the importance of a skilled violinmaker in acoustically improving an instrument, antique or modern, be it the correct fitting, the positioning of the post, the inclination of the bridge, the correct position of the fingerboard and its inclination, and many other details of essential importance.
As a historian of the art of violinmaking, I could not possibly deny the importance of classical violinmaking, particularly in the various Italian schools. This is certainly not the problem; there is no question about their value and their importance; the same cannot be said of the financial “value” of many pieces, which has risen out of all proportion, even for instruments which have no particular significance with regard to their history, performance and acoustics, these days there too many speculators and swindlers around.

Prof .Gualtiero Nicolini, (Was teacher of the Cremona International School of Violinmaking and President of the ANLAI)

I mostly play one of my two modern violin.
Henryk Szeryng

The glorification of antique violins and the trenchant disdain for modern violins is a phenomenon which belong to the word of supertitions and mysticism.

From: The antique violin. An untoucheble fetish? of Giorgio Finale Montalbano Ed. Studio Stradivari