If the violin sounds good, it might be the mushrooms.
A Swiss researcher announced Thursday that treating maple wood with a certain mushroom improves its sound quality.
Speaking at a conference in Basel, Switzerland, Francis Schwarze said his maple violin, a replica of a 1698 instrument made by the Italian master Antonio Stradivari, has a sound comparable to the elusive timbre of a Stradivarius, according to a report from Agence France-Press.
Schwarze, of the Zurich-based Federal Materials, Science and Technology Institute, treated the wood with X ylaria longipes, a mushroom that grows on the bark of trees. The mushroom nibbles lightly on the wood, reducing its density and intensifying the sound, he said.
"It has a very good sound and also carries well," violin maker Michael Rhonheimer said at the Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel.
Many researchers believe the unmatched sound of Stradivarius violins comes partly from the instruments' age.
Researchers have studied the density of the wood, the quality of the finishes and the shape of the violins and other string instruments made by the Stradivari family in an effort to determine why their sound is so rich. As of yet, the sound has proved irreproducible.
Because of the high value placed on the violins, which can sell for more than $1 million, numerous con artists have tried to pass off other instruments as Stradivariuses.