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What makes a great violin? How can we analyse violin quality?

14 November 2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Palmerston Lecture Theatre, Spark Building, Solent University, Southampton, SO14 0YN

Audio Engineering Society – South of England Group

Palmerston Lecture Theatre

Spark Building

Solent University, Southampton


Weds 20th November 2019.  6pm refreshments, 6:30 start.

What makes a great violin? How can we analyse violin quality?

Sara Rubio



String instruments of the violin family have been analysed in a number of ways over many years. The methods vary from an objective frequency response analysis to subjective blind-testing whilst listening to different instruments. However, the outcome always seems to be somewhat inconclusive. There appears to be a boundary of minimum quality about which it is possible to distinguish a poor and good quality instrument; unfortunately, above that boundary, current methods struggle to show a significant difference between “good” instruments and “exceptional” instruments such as 18th Century Italian violins. The comparison here presented is based upon the experiments carried out in 2018 by Sara Rubio with the help from Jonathan Beecher, an experienced luthier who has been working with string instruments of all qualities for over 40 years.


Sara Rubio has a BSc in Acoustics and Music, along with an MSc in human responses in combined sound and vibration stimuli from the University of Southampton (ISVR). Having played the violin since the age of only two, Sara studied at the Conservatoire in Madrid before coming to the UK to combine acoustical engineering with her continuing musical education. This allowed her to further develop her passion about violin acoustics from the perspective of both a high standard violinist and a qualified acoustic engineer. Sara joined the Musical Acoustics Group of the Institute of Acoustics (IoA), becoming a committee member in 2017. She presented on this subject, together with Jonathan Beecher, during the 1-day meeting held at Edinburgh University in October 2018.

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Parking space cannot be guaranteed, but is usually available in the main university car park, accessed off St Andrews Road (SO40 0YN).   Other city centre car parks are available.  We are within 5 minutes walk of Southampton Central Rail station.

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