There is, what I believe to be, a commonly held belief that any older instrument is likely to be better than any newer instrument. Particularly, anything over a couple hundred years old must be better then anything made today. This is predicated on the mistaken beliefs in lost ‘ancient wisdom’ and techniques of making, and that aged instruments gain some quality that cannot be instilled in modern instruments.
I won’t weight in on this topic myself, but I there have been a series of articles in recent years about this. There are many factors to consider, including the variety of factors that go into any scientific study. As well, there are semantic arguments that have been raised in the past which may or may not apply, such as the size of the room, if it is a concert hall – is it full or empty.
One of the most recent articles is published in ‘The Strad’ magazine. This article looks at a set of new and old instruments (some of which were may be the most famous makers) and did a double blind test (see picture). Some very interesting results that give hope to new instrument makers. The article is here. Worth reading!