Services

Investigative tree-ring analysis on Musical Instruments

Peter

Ratcliff

DENDROCHRONOLOGY Ltd

VIOLIN

CELLO

VIOLA

VIOL

LUTE

LYRA

GAMBA

GUITARS

DOUBLE-BASS

"primarily identifies the period in which the tree was growing"

 

"often helps an instrument expert to confirm an attribution"

 

"has found that 16 Stradivari bellies originated from the same tree"

 

"extended research reveals relationships between the wood used on several instruments, and these often have links beyond that of the wood origin"

Our services

Initial tests with email result

 

For the less valuable instruments, or simply if you are unsure whether a full report is required, or just interested in the basic information revealed by the test, I always offer this service at a reduced cost.

 

The basic information gleaned from the initial, successful cross-dating tests, will allow you to make an informed decision whether a full report would be advantageous, or compliment an existing appraisal or certification. I would of course advise whether this new information would significantly contribute to an appraisal.

Basic results information is also available in the form of a letter for an additional fee.

Written dendrochronological reports

 

Full dendrochronological reports are available, if required following a successful test, and contain the results of the cross-dating process, taking in consideration the latest research based on a whole database of tree-ring patterns from thousands of instruments. This might include overwhelming links to a particular group of instruments, often related by their nationality. In some cases, when one or more "same tree matches" are identified, these can strengthen an existing attribution, although tests have revealed that different workshops have been known to use wood that originated within a single tree.

 

Dendro-testing

 

The main purpose of a dendrochronological test, is to determine when the tree used to make the soundboard of an instrument was growing. A process known as cross-dating, identifies the similarities between the pattern formed by the tree-rings of a sample, and those of thousands of dated references.

When it comes to testing instruments, cross-dating can reveal very interesting and valuable information. The dated references contain countless ring patterns gathered from instruments of all types, nationalities and periods. Often, a successful test will find strong links between wood from several instruments. These links, of course are "wooden" links, and identifying a "same tree match" does not necessarily signify that two instruments were made by the same maker. However, when dealing with certain groups of instruments, often from specific countries, during given periods, recurring patterns occur, giving us an insight into the trade routes of musical instrument tonewood over the centuries.

 

Other objectives

 

The increasing use of high resolution images, as well as allowing for exceedingly accurate recording of tree-ring measurements, allows for intensive picture editing and analysis. This process often reveals hidden crack repairs, wood removal/renewal, as well as providing clues as to wood species in the various components. Purfling (decorative inlay) comparison between the belly the and back of instrument from detailed photographs, often identifies differences, both of materials, and of measurements, making the evaluation of an assessment more objective.

 

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