How did Cremonese luthiers use consistent measurements?

T-18 violin pattern front.jpeg

Simone Zopf argues that there was in fact a single unit of measurement from which most of the rest can be derived

Discover more lutherie articles here

Read more premium content for subscribers here

The measurements used by early Cremonese luthiers to create their instruments has always been a subject of debate. Without doubt, they used simple tools of the period, namely a ruler and compass, and applied the geometric principles of Pythagoras to achieve a perfectly balanced instrument. With this in mind, the idea of a standard unit of measurement is of particular importance. Previous research into the methods of the Cremonese masters has mostly dealt with their geometrical construction rather than measurement. Recent discoveries of tools and drawings, however, have allowed us to conclude that the makers of both the Brescian and Cremonese schools may have used a standard unit of length, and that this unit corresponds to the Roman oncia

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.