Instruments produced by Stradivari and Guarneri “del Gesu” are held as the gold standard for violinists.

Mechanically. Acoustically. The rare and valuable Italian antiques have claimed complete tonal superiority.

Until now.

A new, double-blind study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences put the historical instruments to the test against new violins, and found the most-preferred violin among 21 musicians was new.

“Most players seemed unable to tell whether their most-preferred instrument was new or old,” wrote Claudia Fritz, the study’s lead author.

“These results present a striking challenge to conventional wisdom,” Fritz added. “Differences in taste among individual players, along with differences in playing qualities among individual instruments, appear more important than any general differences between new and old violins.”