Why Stradivarius violins are worth millions

Published on May 14, 2018
Many musicians prefer these 300-year-old instruments, but are they actually worth it?
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Antonio Stradivari is generally considered the greatest violin maker of all time. His violins are played by some of the top musicians in the world and sell for as much as $16 million. For centuries people have puzzled over what makes his violins so great and they are the most scientifically studied instruments in history. I spoke to two world class violinists who play Stradivarius violins as well as a violin-maker about what makes Stradivari so great.
Special thanks to Stefan Avalos for the Stradivari research footage.
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Comments

  • Violins aren't the only thing where a high price may not translate into quality. Watch our video on why expensive wine is for suckers: bit.ly/2wBvje9

    • Vox ,People talk about stuff they do not understand or know anything about. Why is an old and used Ferrari Dino worth more than a new Ferrari? The new Ferrari is even faster, but it is worth less. No one would be dumb enough to trade a Stradivarius with a new Yamaha violin, even though the Yamaha is a perfectly fine instrument. The Stradivari is NOT just about quality, although the quality is guaranteed to be very high, but it is NOT only about quality. The Stradivari is an antique item and a very rare one, made by a luthier that was the best around even then, and who today is legendary. It is a piece of history. But you can find the Yamaha in any good music shop. What would you have, a painting of Van Gogh or the painting of a living painter? An original score by Mozart or one by a living composer? The living composer might be a fantastic musician, but Mozart is a legend, and for very good reasons. Stradivari isn't different, he is a legend today for very good reasons, and it is your fault if you do not know why, go learn your music history, will take you years. Who says that it is only about " quality" ? You mention "quality" because you know nothing better about musical instruments. It is like saying that a colour modern painting is better than a black and white sketch made by Da Vinci just because there's colours in the other painting. It is Stradivari, ignoramuses, not Yamaha, Sony or Panasonic :) if you just want a good violin buy a Yamaha, if you want a very special and legendary violin, buy the Stradivari. And besides, it is a killer investment too.

    • Tech Freak the test participant are professional musician, but they are not the elite violinist would get to play or own a strad. I actually have passed the ABRSM grade 8 piano exam when I was 13 (much like many other Asian kids) and I went on to study the performance diploma, if I made my mind up to be a pianist as my career, I can be called a professional as well. But does it means my ears is as sensitive as Mozart? Can I go to a performance, hear it once and play it out base solely on my hearing? Hell no.

    • Landy Flowers I agree! Also these strads violin are meant to use by the best violinist and the most trained ear, it doesn’t need to appeal to the general public or average professional, since these ppl are not even the violin’s target market. People is willing to pay a ton for fresh ice in say a desert region, while the Eskimos probably won’t be willing to pay a dime. A value of a product is not solely depends on quality alone. And that “double blind”experiment is a bit faulted in design. First of all, if a musician have to play so many pieces on 11 violins, how can the “quality” of each play be exactly the same? And the conclusion the experience draw is that average professional prefer the sound of new violin over old strads, it’s a very clear misinterpretation to use that conclusion to say old strads quality is inferior to the new. A better design for that experiment would be they invite owners /players of the strads to hear the sound of these violins played by a controlled robotic arms, and then ask them to rate the quality of the sound of the violins.

    • That moment when you see a Vox video right under a "Louder With Crowder" video, lmao

    • Jack Jammen: That's a really good idea but, a 52-pound violin would be a bear to play.

  • N O O N E C A R E S

  • In addition to my previous argument that kills your ignorant one: why an old Ferrari Dino is worth more than a brand spanking new Ferrari, especially considering the new one is even FASTER? why a 1950's Fender Telecaster with rust on, is worth a lot more than a new Fender Telecaster? Why a 1950's Les Paul is worth a lot more than a new Les Paul? Why an old Marshall amp is worth more than a new Marshall amp? I could go on for weeks. And I am comparing an old item vs a new item FROM THE SAME FACTORY, and note that the quality of the new items is NOT lower. So why a Stradivarius violin is worth millions, and new Yamaha violin, a quality instrument, is worth only a tiny fraction? why a 1959 Les Paul is worth a LOT more than a new one? The new one is hardly lower in quality, you still get killer quality with a new one. But why an old and rusty same model from 1959 is worth a lot more? Because old is better than new, or sounds better, or is built better? Why is gold worth a lot more than silver, or platinum more than gold? Well, here's why: you can buy a Yamaha violin anywhere, but you cannot find a Stradivari anywhere. The Stradivari is very rare, and is a legendary item. It is an instrument that carries hundreds of years of history with it, built by a legendary luthier who has not been around anymore for centuries. The Yamaha is just a solid quality instrument for the working musician. The one has nothing to do with the other, except it's two violins. Wow, you are a genius.

  • Vox ,People talk about stuff they do not understand or know anything about. Why is an old and used Ferrari Dino worth more than a new Ferrari? The new Ferrari is even faster, but it is worth less. No one would be dumb enough to trade a Stradivarius with a new Yamaha violin, even though the Yamaha is a perfectly fine instrument. The Stradivari is NOT just about quality, although the quality is guaranteed to be very high, but it is NOT only about quality. The Stradivari is an antique item and a very rare one, made by a luthier that was the best around even then, and who today is legendary. It is a piece of history. But you can find the Yamaha in any good music shop. What would you have, a painting of Van Gogh or the painting of a living painter? An original score by Mozart or one by a living composer? The living composer might be a fantastic musician, but Mozart is a legend, and for very good reasons. Stradivari isn't different, he is a legend today for very good reasons, and it is your fault if you do not know why, go learn your music history, will take you years. Who says that it is only about " quality" ? You mention "quality" because you know nothing better about musical instruments. It is like saying that a colour modern painting is better than a black and white sketch made by Da Vinci just because there's colours in the other painting. It is Da Vinci, ignoramuses. It is Stradivari, not Yamaha, Sony or Panasonic :) if you just want a good violin buy a Yamaha, if you want a very special item and legendary violin, buy the Stradivari. And besides, it is a killer investment too, which the Yamaha is not, you brilliant, worldwide renowned experts ;)

  • marketing

  • at my school we have a upright bass named “K” made in the 1930’s

  • It’s... made out of... wood...

  • Excellent video, Thanks!

  • 0:28 it's like losing 4million subscribers...

  • It would be neat to play "Stratovarius" on the Stradivarius

  • I’m a musician, never heard of one of these lol

  • Some of his guitars still exist too.

  • Imagine if somebody who couldnt play a violin bought a Strad

  • 0:49 Ray Chen

  • Orchestra players, where you at?

  • Stradivarius viola anyone?

  • Why everybody still keep confusing worth with cost. They cost millions. Because somebody decided. Their worth is a completely different topic.

  • Its just the money talking

  • "Even if you're not a musician like me""

  • Sooo... basically these are the iPhones of the violins...?

  • It was something to do with the wood as well, I think a study was done of the tree rings.

  • So basically it's fetish

  • 4 million?? it better teach me to play then .

  • Snob nonsense. Heard the same notes from a Walmart electric violin 🙄

  • when the results of the blind test were revealed....ROFL Snobby classical musicians hahaha

  • Beautiful playing, Michelle!

  • You would have to do this *plays the violin* Im like what u talking about...

  • Excellent Video!

  • Because stupid rich people think they’re worth that much

  • Wow, so you use a violin makers study. Surely you would think he has a vested interest right vox?!?

  • You know what is surprising? The ability to tell the difference between a super expensive and less expensive instrument fades in comparison to how an instrument makes you feel. Musicians mostly search for the vibe the instrument gives us with its sound being in a tight 2nd place.

  • To me, it still doesn't explain why they are worth millions.

  • A distant relative of mine had a Stradivarius violin and sold it to buy a house

  • Rip viola players Also why not just get an electric violin for W A Y cheaper?

  • All of the best things in life, are Italian.

  • Anyone knows the music played at 4:34? Thank you!

  • Anyone here after hearing Jack Black play on his Sax-A-Boom?

  • Is this the violin sleightlymusical uses?

  • I had front row seats to one of the New York Philharmonic's shows. It was amazing!

  • I honestly think these are just normal-feeling violins, but people think they “feel better than the regular ones” just because they spent millions of dollars on it, and they don’t want to feel like they got scammed

  • No violin should be over $20,000 and that's still too much for such a small sound difference. A $5,000 violin doesn't sound much different than a 2 million dollar violin.

    • Brethren of Yeshua but the 2 million violin is made by experts. And the $5,000 violin will break much earlier the 2 million. Just think. This type of violin is made *AGES* ago. Perfected every year by people who is making this violin by making small adjustments to increase the overall performance and because of that, the sound will come out much clearer. I don’t know how many months it takes to make a violin that is worth 2 million, but its probably much longer than the $5,000 one.

  • I'd rather have a 59 Les Paul

  • so proud im named after him

  • In a very general sense it’s the law of diminishing returns, an instrument costing a 4000 dollars is usually worlds better than one costing 400 but the improvement of a 40,000 dollar instrument over a 4000 dollar one is much much smaller. It works this way for almost anything once you scale the prices; guitars, cars, clothes, etc.

  • some gombeen just drove up the prices so he could make a lot of money, they do same thing at norman's "rare" guitars. you can get a kit to assemble your own violin made out of the same wood as a strad for about 300 dollars

  • Now what about a sax-a-boom? Cuz I hear that they're as rare as a Stradivarius.

  • The most beautiful instrument in the world, both musically and visually

  • What are they made of?

  • but... i can tell the differents between old and new violins.

  • There goes my dream

  • the problem is that its an instrument. you make music with it. it should be sold at manufacturing price + 40% for the profit. I can (and everybody else) make the violin.

    • The REAL problem is that its not a normal instrument. You and me are just normal people. If you made a violin, even the most talented violinist will not even play with the “instrument” you’ve made. Just like the replier said above me, you can apply that to the violins made in factories and those sound like *crap.*

    • I dunno.... you can apply that pricing for machine/factory made fiddles. Those sound like crap. For hand-made violins it takes at least a month to make one. Throw in labour costs in there and you're in the $10k range for a hand-made violin.

  • It's worth it if you can play

  • I have Strads but I don't know how to use it.

  • I smell bs! if the strat is so great, just copi it! its just a handmade instrument... use old wood and make a replika.

  • I imagine part of it is psychological. They believe in the violin, which in turn gives them more confidence and so they think the music is better. A placebo, just without pills/IV's. Personally, I would be so afraid of breaking the damn thing that I would play worse. It would be like breaking a piece of history.

  • I thought philippe said Philippines lol

  • The fact that these violin are meant for the elite violinist or the most trained ears, means it doesn’t need to sound good/superior for the general public, it’s not meant for the general public or average professional to appreciate the difference. The double blind study should in fact invite the owner or play of strads violin to do the study, if these owner also prefer new over strads, then the study can say the hype is irrational.

  • Strad vs. Strat

  • Why is Andy Garcia in this?

  • People just love overpriced stuff..

  • In short you like it because, it's rare, expensive and most people are likely to never have one. An instrument is a tool the musician is the soul. A bad musician will sound bad on the most expensive instrument, but a professional can make even some of the cheapest instruments sound tolerable.

  • Perhaps you should have mentioned the wood he used was actually submerged in water for years this washing away substances found in the cells of the wood, thus the wood became lighter and more resonant. Modern day treasure hunters have found felled trees submerged in lakes and rivers (especially old growth Maple) to have very similar tonal quality. Thus this lumber fetches literally $1000s. It's amazing that you simply didn't mention the most vital information about the strads. So sad for the younger generation that believes everything they read online. Even more sad that someone like you omits vital facts and pawn yourself off as some factual content product. I'm a modern day luthier working with no power tools and work the wood by hand...but what do I know...I'm not VOX!

  • Rey Chen at 0:50

  • Are the the same stings

  • she rips!!!!!!!!!!

  • I wish i could afford one.

  • Two words: placebo effect

  • Sartorius?

  • Its does have a soul! 😲😲😲

  • And the internet thought the iPhone X was expensive...

  • Hypebeast of the music world.

  • I guess the beauty in these instruments is that they’re still playable to this day

  • The reason strads have this tonal quality is because of 2 things. The material they're made out of, and the person who made them. The wood used for the bodies of the strads was taken from trees that grew during the mini ice age that happened from the late 1600's to the mid to late 1700's which is the time period these violins were made. Because of the colder temperatures any trees that grew during this time frame had tighter groupings of rings on the inside of the trunk. So basically the idea is the higher pitch you're stringed instrument, the tighter the rings of the tree need to be. When the sound resonates inside the body those rings in the wood vibrate. And since higher pitch frequencies travel faster, the closer your rings are together the better the resignation from the body will be.

  • I play in band. Idk why I’m watching this expensive violin

  • One thing that might be an important matter is, that controlling sound that violin and YOU create is HARD. Generally, less stressful violin should not sound too loud or echo too much. This is quite a nut to artisans who builds violin. As the artisan who construct violin from random piece of wood(quality wood is not only expensive but also has a lot of odd against those who want to buy it.) have to pass test, which he or she must hope pieces of woods wont not crack, improperly get bonded, etc. and THEN he or she must hope that survived pieces of wood integrate to form, a violin. THEN now he or she must hope that it do make sound-sounding-sound. THEN now buyer, whoever he/she is, must hope, violin's sound to be generally acceptable, and THEN hope it is reasonable to control. Point of Stradivarius is, that it is built when those annoying chunk of woods were generally the best among human history that we can reasonably consider. At least, very first step, praying for reasonable quality from wood, is out of concern in Stradivarius. Which is very very BIG thing. Else, matter of random sh** Ah ALSO, almost every single Violin now-day is BASED on Stradivarius. It is standard. Whenever we rate violin, Stradivarius is measuring standard.

    • you have quite overlooked the Guernieri del Jesu; and the Amati[s], both of which are copied today as well as the Strads

  • Damn. Imagine if the cab driver knew what that was.

    • lol, he'd either be living the good life right now or be in prison forever. Probably the latter, since finding a fence for a $4 million violin is not something a random cab driver is capable of.

  • Better than stupid postmodern paintings

  • They're like the Rolls Royces of the string world

  • all I could hear the entire video is farts anyone else had this problem?

  • Just sounds like a violin love

  • Twosetviolin? Anyone? XDDD

  • My violin is 1k and I am already jealous and careful lol

  • Strad? like stradocaster

  • oh really? instrument have soul

  • I miss playing my violin

  • My violin is worth $1000 😅😅

  • yo ma ma

  • We have lots of staphylococcus in my ward.

  • Stratocaster is the best instrument in the world.

  • The timbre of the Strads is significantly greater than the average, modern day violins. I have a hard time believing that professional musicians had a hard time deciphering which one was which.

  • Viola's better.

  • its a cult

    • It's fine art, which means it has relative value compared to the scarcity. Functionally, there is very little difference between a well-made violin from the 17th century and one made today, but there's much more behind the economics of it. Are Picasso paintings and Air Jordans also cults? Art and culture add value, whether you appreciate that or not.

  • The Irony at 4:06 that's actually a piano sheet😂😂😂😂

  • TLDW: They aren't really worth it. Just placebo.

  • So..... why... Why Stradivarius violins are worth millions??

  • Why does that guy look like Andy Garcia mixed with Robert DeNiro

  • Stradivarius are just myhological, no point ever using one over a new violin.

  • It's value is priceless. There is no comparison. One truly is an heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation and the others are just modern violins.

  • 1:59 Damn, thought she was going to play Paganini's 5th Caprice there for a second

  • That cab driver regretted it for the rest of his life....