I have long wondered why the modern world has never been able to equal Stradivarius and Amati violins. After all, it wasn’t too many years ago that we were using computer punch cards and bulky machines, instead of laptops. Most other goods have improved in quality since the 17th century, and more than just a bit. Why should violins be so resistant to technological advance?
We may now know the answer as to why Stradivarius violins are so special. In addition to first-rate craftsmanship, the wood from that time had a special quality. Why? Longer winters, due to a mini-Ice Age. The cold weather yielded denser Alpine spruces: “narrow tree rings would not only strengthen the violin but would increase the wood’s density.” In other words, the greenhouse effect will raise the prices of good Stradivarius violins, by making it harder for us to match that achievement.