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Why Stradivarius violins are worth millions

Many musicians prefer these 300-year-old instruments, but are they actually worth it?

Antonio Stradivari is widely considered the greatest violin maker of all time, and his instruments sell for as much as $16 million. For centuries, people have questioned what makes his violins so great, and many have investigated the source of its superiority — doing MRI scans, analyzing the wood density, and studying the chemical composition of the varnish.

A Stradivarius violin at the Met in New York.

But are these violins actually better than modern ones? One study pitted old Italian violins like Strads against modern violins in a blind test to see if musicians could tell the difference. Turns out most violinists couldn’t reliably tell the difference, but most also actually preferred the sound of the new violins.

Watch the video above to find out why the worth of a Strad extends beyond its sound. You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. Subscribe and stay tuned for more.