Quick Survey!

December 5, 2006 at 10:21 PM · Just wanted to do a quick survey, oneword answers are fine, but if you could give a reason, it would be much appreciated:

What violin maker do you prefer, Stradavari or Guarneri Del Gesu?

(stradavari - VERY bright and brilliant vs. guarneri - has wider range of colors such as dark/ominous tone)

Replies (32)

December 5, 2006 at 10:50 PM · I like the way G. looks more. S. has a more austere look that's a bit harder on the eye to me.

December 5, 2006 at 10:50 PM · Whichever one would give the colors on the lower ranges, and still be able to handle the upper ranges with brilliance--not really qualified to compare, but I love playing things in the lower ranges now that I can get over there with some power...

December 5, 2006 at 10:55 PM · Greetingsm

Guarneri Del Gesu is thre e words...



PS Both. It depend s on the player

December 5, 2006 at 11:16 PM · Well, I've never understood how people generalize the tone of Strads or Del Gesus, I mean, it's not like you can recognize who the maker is just by listening to the violin. Depends entirely on the specific violin, not the maker, no?

But, from the Strads and Del Gesu's I've heard, I'd have to say I've liked the Del Gesus more.

December 6, 2006 at 12:02 AM · In my search for a better instrument, I realized that first I had to be sure what I was looking for. THerefore, I have been checking out as much violin music as I can. You can't judge how an instrument responds very well from a recording (which is perhaps more important than the tone) but you can at least form SOME opinions as to overall tone & response.

To date, my favorite sound belongs to Leila Josefowicz. (Sonata For Solo Violin In E minor, oh my) After a little research, I found that she plays a Del Gesu. FWIW.

Most of what I have seen written on the subject seems to imply the same thing, over & over: The G's tend to have thicker tops, hence have more complexity but are harder to play. The Strads tend to have thinner tops and hence are easier to play but have a slightly lesser timbral range. I obviously have no first-hand knowledge of this, it's only what I've read, but I've read this from countless sources. I would not be surprised if some here dissagree.

Leila Josefowicz is able to bring out the sweetness & fullness of Millstein, as well as the fire and sharpness of Heifetz. Is the Del Gesu partly responsible? Maybe.

Also, of course, if you are trying to determine the difference between a modern S-copy vs a modern G-copy, this all goes out the window, since many copies are superficial at best.

BTW - I'm not very good at one-word answers. (g)

December 5, 2006 at 11:48 PM · McJesus

December 5, 2006 at 11:29 PM · Of those I have heard in concert hall, I seem to prefer the Strads (played by Zimmermann, Znaider, Skride, Takazawa, Blacher...). They are a little brighter, refined, and elegant in sound. I find that the del gesu instruments are a little plainer in sound (those played by Rachlin, Midori, Pamela Frank) but still great.

My view is based on listening, not playing. Those who have played will have more to say.



December 6, 2006 at 01:21 AM · Greeitngs,

I`ve played a few of both briefly. But the greatest violin I ever tried by far was actuaklky by Andreas Guarneri.



December 6, 2006 at 01:30 AM · Played a Strad once, never played a del Gesu. For listening I usually prefer the del Gesu sound, but I wouldn't refuse a Strad.... :)

December 6, 2006 at 02:46 AM · The greatest I ever tried was a Montagnana


December 6, 2006 at 02:49 AM · I tried a Scarampella once that was absolutely gorgeous--it had this dark, rich, slightly husky tone in the lower register, and sang like a great coloratura on the chanterelle. ;) It was also $100 grand, so back into the dealer's case it went.

December 6, 2006 at 03:27 AM · The Fulton Collection is great, it contains the greatest examples of both, Stradivari & Del Gesu.

It also depends on what one feels most comfortable with (playing wise).

Depends on your "bow arm" style too.

H. Hahn sounds pretty fantastic on her Vuillaume.

December 6, 2006 at 03:26 AM · I've played a few of each, and I've found Strads I like, and I think I like Del Gesus more.

I tried 2 Strads last weekend as well as Gofriller, and I liked the Goff much more than one of the Strads. I've definately played and heard a few strads which are really not worth it at all.

Perhaps the best violin I ever tried was a Bergonzi which is privately owned. And, I remember when Ilya told me about that Montagnana, and I must say it's not the first time someone's told me about a magical violin by that maker. Goes to show that maybe all you need is 1 million instead of 2 or 4. hah

December 8, 2006 at 09:47 PM · I've played a few Strads and a few Guarneris in my life and I've actually found that I don't care for the sound of some of the Strads at all. Some of them produce too bright and nasally of a tone. I definitely have liked the Guaneri's that I've played. Anyone want to give me one???

December 9, 2006 at 01:38 PM · Guarneri Del Gesu

December 9, 2006 at 01:52 PM · I think it depends on what you want to hear that day. In the most typical examples they can sound so different that it's not fair to make the comparison or choice, and I'd agree with most of what everyone's said so far, without taking sides. I recently heard a Goffriller that I thought was incredibly interesting sounding, but it's sound had nothing to do with any Cremonese violin's sound. It was a Stainer model, and gave me a window into why Stainers were once so popular (a feeling I've never gotten from a real Stainer, by the way).

December 9, 2006 at 07:19 PM · I find Guarneri's are more pleasing to my eye. Strads always look to me to be a bit tubby--they seem to have a big butt. The most beautiful fiddles I ever heard were Oistrakh's Strad and Milstein's--also a Strad.

December 10, 2006 at 02:15 AM · I think Strad's actually have much more variance in colors and subtleties than a Guarneri does but I prefer the power and depth of a Guarneri (usually) over a Strad.

December 10, 2006 at 02:55 AM · I like G more because the mold is usually already smaller e.g. LOB = 352 mm.

December 10, 2006 at 04:53 AM · I'll take whatever I can get but I go with Jim and Jay on this one: the del Gesus just look so much nicer.

December 10, 2006 at 08:23 AM · Stradavari: the name is more ubuiquitous to nonviolin players.

December 10, 2006 at 09:13 PM · Hi,

The back lenghts of Del Gésu vary from violin to violin (from about 351 to 359), so not all are smaller.

Colour of sound is partly the instrument, partly the player. Having played several Strads and Del Gésu, the manner of playing required for the two are different. Strads demand a faster, lighter bowing while Del Gésu require the opposite - slower bow, more weight to respond.

In the end, I have no preference. Colours come from the player who makes the sound, not the fiddle.


December 11, 2006 at 08:35 AM · I have tried around 15 Strads and 4 del Gesú's. I must say that it's quite impossible to say which maker is best. It really comes down to the individual violin. I do tend to prefer the late Strads over the golden period ones as a general trend. I adore Guarneri. Anyway both makers are now so far out of reach for musicians.

December 11, 2006 at 12:16 PM · I have played a Strad (a 1692 long Strad), but not a del Gesu.

I much prefer the look of del Gesu.


December 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM · Neither. Can't afford either just yet.

December 21, 2006 at 05:55 PM · Both are nice collector's items. Both of these makers are more difficult to play than a Douglas Cox instrument, which has fabulous sound. For old makers Carlo Bergonzi is a nice blend of the S & del G properties.

December 21, 2006 at 10:19 PM · S: for its generally brighter sound.

BUT use G. comfortably because of my size. :-(


Sorry just realized you might be asking for the real thing. My answer is neither. Cannot afford and will not want one even if I can afford. Too expensive for a 4th class player like me if I can make it a player at all.

December 22, 2006 at 01:19 AM · the 1680 Comet Strad

i played on it when i went to chicago and decided that my life goal would be to purchase it (it costs $1.5, so i may have to save a bit)

December 26, 2006 at 07:44 PM · I had the great pleasure to play one of each today at Peter Prier's violin shop in Salt Lake City Utah.

The Strad was from 1727 - "the Smith" - and was not set up to sound its best. :( That said, it had a complex and beautiful singing sound.

The del Gesu was from 1734, the "prince doria" and it was a dream. It felt like it had an endless amount of sound, the G string was just delicious, and it made me feel like I sounded like Szeryng.

I also got to try a Peccatte & a Tourte. The Peccatte sounded great on the Strad, the Tourte was amazing on the del Gesu.

What a great Christmas treat - especially since I just went in for a rehair!

December 27, 2006 at 06:16 AM · The Prince Doria was owned by Zvi Zeitlin, he bought it in 1962. I didn't know he was selling it.


December 27, 2006 at 05:06 PM · I saw that as well - I think I remembered the name correctly, but I suppose I could be wrong. It was a really beautiful violin!

December 28, 2006 at 02:15 AM · To add much unwanted grist to the discussion...the best, most responsive, biggest sound,widest range of controllable dynamics and easiest fiddle I've ever played was owned by a student. It was made of aluminum, with a wooden neck and scroll. Made in Buffalo NY as were many fine aluminum string basses. It was set up with a thin sound post, painted on perfling, and gut strings. I was right out of college and was playing a very dark sounding Wrona, also made in Buffalo. The aluminum fiddle was such a blast to play...light in weight...moral code kept me from trying to weedle the tin can from the 7th grade student...but I loved to switch instruments during lessons...Ah,if only Strad and Guarnerius had been tin-smiths.

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