Simple pest control techniques may have given rise to the greatest violins ever made.
“What we can see is the result of elaborate wood treatment,” says Nagyvary. “Woodworm and fungus were significant problems for the craftsman. They probably boiled the wood in a brine that contained various minerals to exterminate infestations.” Exactly what chemical recipes were used is unknown.
The end result? Wood that is harder, lighter and produces a smoother sound.
However, the theory is not without its critiques:
He says Nagyvary’s work looks sound, but it is hard to know if his theory is right without taking two pieces of the exact wood used by Stradivari, treating one and not the other, and comparing the sound of the instruments produced.