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Violinmaker uses CT scans, 3D lasers to hone craft

BY Connie Kargbo  June 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM EDT

Based in Brooklyn New York, Samuel Zygmuntowicz has been crafting stringed instruments for about 30 years, working with musical greats such as Yo Yo Ma and Joshua Bell.

Many consider Zygmuntowicz preeminent in his field, as he works to construct violas, violins, and cellos with decades-old wood.

3d animation

“Titian” Stradivari 3D vibration pattern animation at 2994 hertz frequency. In playing one note on a violin, the instrument can create several different vibration patterns simultaneously. By analyzing the patterns of motion at various frequencies, violin makers can focus on the movement of a violin to alter the tone. Credit: Strad 3D

He has extensively studied the art of violinmaking and looks to the Italian makers of the 17th and 18th century like Antonio Stradivari for guidance.

But he also increasingly uses modern tools like CT scans and 3D laser vibration scans to hone his craft.

Coronal View

CT scan of “Titian” Stradivari. Much like CT scans are used for the human body, these same scans were also used during the Strad 3D project to show the interior and outer parts of the “Titian” violin. The scans help to expose the density and evenness of the wood. With additional calculations, these scans even lend themselves to identifying the weight of different parts of the instrument. Credit: Strad 3D

Zygmuntowicz spoke with NewsHour Weekend about the evolution of his craft and what he looks for when piecing together a new instrument. View the video above.

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