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Classical 101

Guitar, Hero: Meet the World’s Only Playable Stradivarius Guitar

sepia-toned photo of a left hand playing a guitar
Brian Richardson
Creative Commons/Flickr

It may well be the only guitar with its own YouTube channel. It’s also the only one of its kind in the world, which in a day of 3-D printing means something.

The “Sabionari” Stradivarius guitar is the world’s only guitar made by the great Cremonese luthier Antonio Stradivari that is still in playing condition. It is thought that only five Stradivarius guitars still exist, the Sabionari being the only one still enjoying something of a concert career.

That career has put the instrument in the hands of some of the world’s finest guitarists and taken it to perform at venues like German castles, ancient Monasteries and the Stradivari Violin Museum in Cremona, Italy. Lutenist and baroque guitarist Rolf Lislevand plays the Sabionari Strad in the video at this link, published recently on the music website CMuse. View the video there, or here:


The Sabionari Stradivarius gets its name from Giovanni Sabionari, who bought the instrument from descendants of Antonio Stradivarius. It is not known when Sabionari bought the guitar, but by 1854 it was owned by the bookseller Filippo Benetti, who apparently sold the guitar to Vincenzo Tioli, according to a handwritten document published at sabionari.com. The Sabionari Stradivarius has gone through several more owners between 1854 and today. You can read about some of the instrument’s ownership history at sabinoari.com.

Recently, another world-class guitar appeared on Classical 101 when international guitar soloist Xuefei Yang stopped by our studios for a conversation and performance. Click here to hear her talk about how she came to play the guitar, and listen to her performance of Roland Dyens’ Tango en skai and the 1966 Xi Dance, inspired by traditional Chinese music.

Read more:

  • Hear the Only Playable Stradivarius Guitar left in the World the “Sabionari” Made in 1679 (CMuse)
  • Sabionari.com
Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.