Documenting your instrument


Varnish macro-photography on the back of a G. B. Guadagnini violin, in visible and UV light

Nothing can substitute the direct examination of a great instrument of the past. The outline and the f-holes are traced avoiding any possible distortion, the arching templates are adapted to the instrument and every part is measured following a rigorous procedure. It is also possible to obtain three-dimensional moulds which provide constant references during making, and to effect endoscopic investigations to determine the methods and materials used for the internal construction, as well as any restoration which has been carried out. In developing our methodologies even more complex procedures have been employed, particularly when working on our publications.

X-ray examination, for example, enables us to evaluate the state of conservation of the instrument, especially in the presence of xylophage insects; axial tomography helps to understand details of the construction in depth: this permits us to determine the density of the materials, estimate the vibrating masses of the plates, obtain an accurate reconstruction of the form, of the elevation of the arching and the volume of the internal air.
Dendrochronology can date the exact years of growth of spruce; frequency response can give useful indications regarding the vibratory behavior of an instrument. Stratigraphic investigation helps to debunk myths which have hindered unbiased approach to varnishing procedures, indicating the succession and the chemical composition of the products used. These methods lead to a more complete knowledge of the techniques of the past and guide the continual bettering of our making.


A cross-section of the viola by Girolamo Amati Cremona, 1625 ca obtained with axial microtomography