I think most of us that play a stringed instrument love instruments of all types, but given a choice, will always pick a vintage instrument over a new one. While it’s true that new instruments are generally better in build quality than old ones in terms of consistency thanks to new computer controlled routing machines, it’s that inconsistency of older instruments that lets that one exceptional instrument stand out from the rest. That said, a Stradivarius is a symbol of an instrument that has stood the test of time.
Antoni Stradivari managed to craft 1,100 instruments (only 650 survive) in the late 17th century that are still prized today and sell for millions of dollars.
But is a Stradivarius really worth that kind of money? You could ask the same thing of a 59 Les Paul and yet you’ll find people willing to part with upwards of a million dollars for a real one of those with no problems. That’s because it’s not always about the tone (something that musicians forget) and collectors may not give a second thought. The history and the story have a lot to do with its value.
Here’s a great video that outlines some of the differences in a Strad from other newer instruments, as well as a surprising study that managed to change no one’s minds.