Stradivarius: The Most Valuable Violin You Can Own

Painting of Antonio Straivari.

'Antonio Stradivari,' by Edgar Bundy, 1893. (Image: Public Domain)

Learning to play a musical instrument and becoming proficient at it is a skill that can bring you much delight. And, if you were asked what instrument you would pick if you want to learn how to play it quickly, then a violin might be one of your first options. Stradivarius violins are considered the best.

Though violins have a certain air of mystery and romance, many individuals dismiss learning to play them because they believe it to be too time-consuming, costly, or overwhelming. But the violin’s high pitch and compact design make it unique among stringed instruments. As a result, they are commonly used in rock, jazz, and country music.

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Over time, many violins have been made, and Stradivarius are among the finest and most valuable ever constructed. Does it intrigue you why these violins are the finest and most valuable ever made? Then keep reading to discover everything there is to know about this instrument.

A Stradivarius is one of the violins, violas, cellos, and other string instruments built by members of the Italian family Stradivari, particularly Antonio Stradivari, during the 17th and 18th centuries. They are considered some of the finest instruments ever made and are treasured collector’s items.

Four Stradivarius instruments in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art collection: The Antonius violin (1711), The Francesca violin (1694), The Gould violin (1693), The Batta-Piatigorsky Violoncello (1714). (Image: via New York Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The man responsible for the Stradivarius

Antonio Stradivari is a legendary luthier behind the creation of Stradivarius string instruments. In Italy, he started as a violin maker and repairman. His violins earned him widespread fame as time passed, but Stradivari also produced string instruments such as violas, cellos, guitars, and harps.

Despite that, his early life is a mystery, including where he was born and how he became the best violin and cello maker in Cremona, Italy. 

He produced more than a thousand instruments during his lifetime, most of which were violins. And only about 650 remain, with 450 and 512 violins still in existence. Still, one thing is sure: he devoted his whole life to developing the violin.

He was already well-known in his own time, but his fame and reputation have only grown more than 250 years after his death.

A brief history of Stradivarius

These violins, manufactured by the legendary luthier Antonio Stradivari, are often regarded as the finest instruments of their kind. Between the years 1700 to 1720, professionals acknowledged his instruments to be of the highest quality violin. Then, around 1690, he shifted in style, switching to more prominent violins with a deeper varnish. 

It wasn’t until 1698 that he returned to making a violin of more compact dimensions. The instruments he produced in the late 1720s and up to his death are perceived as slightly lower quality than those he made during his golden period. It is because of the effects of his increasing age, yet they are still considered to be of excellent quality.

The Lady Blunt of 1721 is one of the best-preserved Stradivarius violins. It has survived, like the Messiah Stradivarius of 1716, in near-original condition since it has resided mostly in the hands of collectors and has seen little use. It last sold for US$15.9 million in 2011 in Japan. (Image: via

What makes Stradivarius so unique?

A Stradivarius instrument has many features that make it so valuable and special. Below are the reasons why it’s generally agreed that these violins are the best of the best.

Unique structure

Stradivarius violins are easily recognizable by their small structure. Before Stradivari’s work, violins tended to be shorter and broader. In contrast, it became lengthier and slimmer, with sharper edges and a distinct upper and bottom half. 

Furthermore, researchers at MIT have concluded that the size of the f-holes on the violins’ tops is the key to the distinctive Stradivarius tone. The greater the length of these openings, the louder the instrument can play. Longer and thinner than those on earlier instruments, Stradivarius elongated the f-holes.

Material used

Many instruments attributed to Stradivarius have been found to use exotic woods and varnish materials. He mainly worked with alpine woods like maple and spruce, and researchers have discovered metals like aluminum and copper in the varnish. It is still unknown whether or not these factors affect the tone of the instruments.

Beautiful design

Stradivarius violas are among the most favored worldwide because of their beautiful style. The style combination of its long neck and small sound hole makes the violin special. That also resulted in a full and balanced tone with minimal distortion.

The label

One thing that makes the Stradivarius unique and valuable is that Stradivari put labels on his violins. Simply put, information about the instrument’s maker, its place of origin, and the year it was manufactured are all printed on the label.

Sound quality

A Stradivarius violin has long been regarded as the most extraordinary and beautiful instrument in the world by musicians. Cooler temperatures from the 1200s until the mid-1800s are supposed to have resulted in thicker tree barks. This produced a more extraordinary quality wood for the Stradivarius violins, giving them their superior acoustics.

A Stradivarius violin makes the music more soothing

Stradivarius’ fascinating history makes this well-known violin today. This instrument is legendary among violinists, and mostly the wealthy can afford this kind of instrument. Since every surviving instrument is at least three centuries old, they are more than just musical instruments. They are also cultural symbols. 

Regardless of its value, old violins like Stradivarius sound better. So having one will be worth it because it will make your music more soothing. 

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