Making Matters: All laid out in black and white

Figure1

Stradivari’s method for laying out f-holes has long been a mystery. Torbjörn Zethelius reveals the method he believes the Cremonese master may have used, and how it can still be useful today

Antonio Stradivari’s busy workshop produced instruments that were fairly consistent without being exact replicas of each other, as became the norm during the Industrial Revolution, a few decades after his death. The workshop contained at least two of his sons, and possibly assistants who either helped him or were making instruments entirely on their own under the guidance of the master. Stradivari’s method for laying out f-holes allowed the worker to minimise the errors that numbers and calculations inevitably produce. Thanks to the well-preserved state of many Strads, as well as the tools and templates in the Museo del Violino, we can deduce this method with great certainty…

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