After ditching a Chinese VSO that sounded like a cathedral, I wondered what the biggest problem was. Presumably it was CNC'd to a 3mm thickness throughout (that could be a totally wrong assumption), but a CNC machine could easily be programmed to give the wood the exact thickness profile of, say, a Strad (or any other competent violin). It wouldn't result in a Strad, of course, but it would be a basis. Maybe that's done already and there are other reasons why a Chinese VSO might be crap?
No two apparently identical planks will have identical density and stiffness, even if they come fro the same tree.
I chose the words "it would be a basis" carefully. We're talking factory. I don't suppose many workshops achieve what Stradivari achieved. And if they didn't, the result wasn't crap. If instead you assert all workshops apply unique consideration to every piece of wood, then I'd have to take that as a definitive answer, assuming VSO's don't have uniform thickness.
Mass production is about getting as much of the product out the door as possible. Product quality is compromised. It will be calculated as a percentage of returns. The recipient of the container will most likely be the quality control manager. My point is, that quality is not as important as it should be as far as the manufacturer is concerned
No two Stradivarius violins are dimensionally exactly the same even though some can be really close. There is extreme similarity in tap tones, deflection, etc. That requires a human touch, know how, and experience. Nothing wrong with using a CNC to rough out parts, but a knowledgable and experienced human will still need to spend much time on the finished product. Inexpensive instruments are inexpensive because they cut back on quality materials and time to finish. You might be surprised to find out that some really fine modern makers use CNC machines to rough out parts as well.
Power planers and routers are not good for tonewood tap tones, I had experience with a really great tap tone piece of wood after power planing to thin it down the tap tones were destroyed and the wood was dead as a doornail, so no CNC is not a good idea, to the Chinese makers credit very few factories are using CNC machines, almost all their violins are hand carved, the wood may not be properly aged on some of them, though.
If you've ever seen a Chinese factory operation, it becomes apparent that humans can develop incredible speed at manual tasks, to where CNC would be too slow and expensive (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SvfNhMlnBE&t=717s)
"I don't suppose many workshops achieve what Stradivari achieved."
Woodworking is a skill, it takes both years of practice and a dedication to perfection that not a lot of people have.
i'm actually just doing repairs of antique instruments now, just found out the baroque set up violin I thought I was finishing has a 3" bass bar in the wrong position and its coming loose, so I have to take the top off and fit a proper baroque bassbar, much more work than I thought, as the violin has no cracks and I had no previous reason to take the top off, should have looked inside earlier, live and learn, I've put so much work into it already, there's no option but to fix it properly, will be a better instrument for it.
Got the top off, the 4" bassbar was on the wrong side, the treble side where the soundpost is supposed to go, well its gone now, new one on the way!!
Is it not a left-handed violin, Lyndon?
no, pegs are normal, its Salzkammergut, no liners some don't have bass bars, much nicer on the outside than inside, but the top is thicknessed well, not too thick, good wood, it may well sound quite good with gut strings as it would have had originally
Well I've fit a properly dimensioned baroque style bassbar on the correct side, and just glued the top back on, I'm back to the point I thought I was at three days ago, just needing to fit soundpost and bridge to finish. Should be an interesting instrument, doesn't look bad.
There was evidence of soundpost indentations underneath the wrong side, poorly glued bass bar, which I removed, and evidence it originally had a bass bar glued on the correct side, so maybe it was converted to left hand but was not originally.