Antonio Stradivari (Lat.: Antonius Stradivarius) was born in 1644 in Cremona, Italy. He was trained as a manufacturer of string instruments by Nicolò Amati, before setting up his own shop.

Stradivari is most famous for his Stradivarius violins, although he also made harps, guitars, violas, and cellos. It is estimated that Stradivari made around 1100 instruments. Nowadays, only 650 instruments remain, including approximately 500 violins.

Unfortunately, there are also many "fake" Stradivarius violins on the market. Until 1957, German manufacturers were building exact replicas of Stradivari's designs, including the original inscription "Antonius Stradivarius, Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 17.." and a circular mark with a cross, bearing the initials A.S. Many other countries also built replicas that are difficult to distinguish from the real instruments. The total number of Stradivarius replicas is in the millions, although it must be noted that some replicas are quite good with respect to their sound.

Stradivari's earliest instruments were similar to his master's; solidly constructed small violins with a thick yellow varnish. Around 1684, Stradivari switched to making larger instruments, and he started experimenting with many changes in features of the design. He also started using a deep colored varnish. The formulation of this varnish is often considered as the secret to creating the perfect sound of the Stradivarius violins. Other factors, such as the thickness of the wooden top and back plates, and the microstructure of the wood are most likely just as important. It must have been a very arduous experimental task for Stradivari to achieve such a superb control over these factors.

Around 1690, Stradivari returned to his older designs, but he widened his instrument again around 1700. From this point until his death in 1737, Stradivari's instrument achieved the highest level of perfection. Two of Stradivari's sons, Francesco and Omobono continued the craft after his death.

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