Music is a gift to the world. Author Hans Christian Anderson once said, “When words fail, music speaks.” We turn to music to express ourselves by listening to songs or playing an instrument. Whether you’re a musician or an instrument collector, quality is always valued. But, why is quality so important anyway? Why fixate on the materials used in the production of, say, a handmade violin or a guitar? The truth is, we want what others can’t afford. And that includes exploring the world of luxurious, bespoke instruments, designed exclusively for us.
The Beauty Of Craftsmanship In Handmade Instruments
Craftsmanship is when an artisan creates fine pieces of work by hand. In today’s modern world of mass production, many have sacrificed real craftsmanship for convenience and cost. Let’s take the violin, for example. Most people buy a factory-made violin as it is more affordable. But for those that seek an exceptional sound quality, a handmade, bespoke violin would fit their needs.
As we speak of handmade violins, a Stradivarius violin remains one of the world’s most famous violins. The name “Stradivarius” comes from a talented, Italian luthier named Antonio Stradivari. Throughout his life, Stradivari built more than 950 violins, with only about 500 of them surviving till this day. A master craftsman in his own right, some of Stradivari’s finest works stood out during the “Golden Period“.
Why Is the Stradivarius Violin So Expensive?
A Stradivari creation ages like fine wine, it gets better as time goes by. Like most handmade items, the Stradivarius costs a fortune because of its beauty and quality. Hence, it’s not a surprise that most Stradivarius violins have tripled in value since 1990. In fact, a violin made in the “Golden Period” would cost millions! Currently, the Messiah Stradivarius is the most expensive violin in the world, valued at USD 20 million. Bewitched by its sound brilliance, Joseph Joachim once said that the violin had a charming and powerful tone.
Now, let’s take a look and see why these violins costs so much.
1. Quality Wood
Scientists say Stradivarius used a specific type of wood from the Little Ice Age period between 1645 to 1750. The wood Stradivari used includes a European spruce for the top. Meanwhile, maple wood was used for the violins’ back, neck, and other parts.
2. A Fashionable And Historical Icon
In the music world, having a Stradivarius is a symbol of status and opulence. With over 300 years of history, the violin has become a valuable and historical icon. To this day, the Stradivarius remains a fashionable musical instrument.
3. The One With A Legendary Tale
The tale of the Stradivarius violin never gets old. Both musicians and music enthusiasts have heard stories of reputable violins and their extraordinary worth. However, with such an expensive price tag, only few could afford such luxury.
“It’s an amazing thing that a violin used today is still as useful as it was 300 years ago. In fact, there’s nothing better around today.”Joshua Bell, American violinist and conductor
A Modern Day Equivalent To The Stradivarius Violins
You might say, “Well… this is cool and all, but I don’t think I’m a violin type of person… “. As a classically-trained pianist and violinist, I can assure you that we all have different passions and interests. In fact, as time went on, I wanted to learn the guitar. To me, the guitar is a fun way to express my love for singing. At the same time, it’s also a great way to learn new skills. What I like most about the guitar is that it’s versatile. You could strum or pluck the strings, depending on your style of playing. As a matter of fact, you can play a variety of musical genres on the guitar. Some of these include jazz, pop, and rock.
“The thought of having something as valuable as the Stradivarius appeals to me. But I’d rather have a modern alternative, so… what works for me?” The answer is, a bespoke guitar made just for you.
What Goes On Behind The Scenes When Crafting A Handmade Guitar?
How many of us have seen a guitar’s interior? At first glance, you’ll see a finely-shaped guitar body with a finished layout and a neat design. Like a secret cave, the inside of a guitar beholds treasures of groundwork prepared and assembled by a luthier.
Every single detail added to the guitar can either enhance or reduce the overall quality of the sound. As there’s no formula in crafting handmade guitars, the luthier firstly imagines a specific sound in his head. Then, he translates the sound into his creations. In all respects, this is what makes a handcrafted guitar a complex form of art.
Connect With The “Inner Natural Musician” Within You
Believe it or not, everybody has the gift to make or appreciate music. So, if it’s always been your dream to take up music and learn an instrument, try giving it a shot!
For die-hard guitar fans, you might already have a dream guitar in mind. The next step is to look for a luthier and express your specific needs to them. It helps to know the type of sound you’re after to determine your ideal guitar size, wood, and any customisations. Then, delve into the style of music you play, for the guitar to be voiced to your needs. To deliver the desired tone and sound, the luthier will select the right type of wood for you. Consequently, the luthier decides how much wood to shave or sand off, followed by the guitar bracing part. And get this: even the amount of lacquer applied onto a guitar can affect the overall sound!
Behind Every Handmade Guitar Is A Committed Luthier
Jonathan Woo is a passionate luthier experienced in crafting handmade guitars hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A man of many talents with an apt for learning new things, Jonathan remained committed to his craft in guitar making. Now that Jonathan can make a guitar in just two weeks, he still challenges himself to enhance his lutherie expertise.
Lutherie, like everything else, is always a process. It’s a constant search and making tiny improvements over years and years of development.Jonathan Woo, Malaysian luthier, and sole apprentice to Jeffrey Yong
Keen to have a chat with Jonathan? Simply reach out to him to learn more about him and his handmade guitars.
Positive Affirmations To Keep You Going In Your Music Journey
Whether you’re a musician, or a luthier, you need to practise to excel in your craft. Remain patient in your quest for success, and you’ll soon be able to see the fruits of your hard work. Here are some words of motivation to help you stay on track.
Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight.John wooden, American basketball coach
Both experienced musicians and luthiers would agree with the saying above. Just like Stradivari, Jonathan went through many years of his life perfecting the art of lutherie. Jonathan’s trademark is creating clean-looking instruments optimised for sound and playability. In fact, this makes his creations as modern equivalents to the Stradivarius violins. Always inspired to create something new, Jonathan’s guitar models are constantly evolving. With Jonathan’s quality work, his guitars will be very valuable in the future. After all, the fact that his guitars comes in limited pieces makes them even more special.