Making Matters: All laid out in black and white


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…

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.