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The Craft : Peerless Mastery of Antonio Stradivari

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

13 violin moulds 3 viola moulds Perfected Forma B cello

Perfected Forma B piccolo cello

Antonio Stradivari experimented constantly with the violin form established by the Amati family. During his lifetime he created 13 original violin moulds, 3 viola moulds, a perfected Forma B and Forma B piccolo cello model that still represent the

gold standard for cello making. He also produced many designs for guitars, mandolins, lutes, viols and even a harp, going far beyond the scope of his contemporaries in Cremona.

Stradivari was clearly in search of a different sound. He changed the form of the arch—the curvature of the front and back plates, from the fully rounded shape established by the Amatis, to a flattened and far more tonally powerful form, which became the template for all modern bowed instruments. He also adjusted the distribution of thickness and weight of the plates, and enlarged the physical form of his violins while reducing that of his cellos.

A perfectionist, Stradivari selected the finest materials for even minor structural parts of the instrument. Works like the 1677 “Sunrise” and the 1722 “Rode” were lavishly ornamented in ivory and ebony, with sophisticated rococo elements inlaid around the rib garland, showing a level of execution far beyond his contemporaries in Cremona and Brescia. He also introduced red and orange hues into the clear varnish of the time, adding a beautiful transience to his instruments as colours would shift with wear through the centuries.

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