Stradivarius or a shiny new violin? A new study has found that professional violinists couldn’t distinguish between the antique Italian instrument and its cheaper new counterpart.

Researchers, who blindfolded ten renowned soloists and asked them to play a range of violins, found that the majority preferred a newer instrument.

They were asked to choose a violin to replace their own for a hypothetical concert tour, ‘The Telegraph’ reported.

The blindfolded violinists were invited to play the instruments over the course of an hour.

After that they were asked to rate each on loudness, projection, playability, tonal quality, clarity and overall preference.

Six of the ten violinists selected a new violin as their preference, with one of the modern instruments emerging as a clear overall winner. Only three picked a Stradivarius.

The soloists also rated the new violin higher on average, while comparing their playing qualities with their favourite old one.

“A single new violin was easily the most-preferred,” researchers said.

The study closed the “perennially fruitless” search to “learn the secrets of Stradivari,” said Professor Claudia Fritz, of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris.

“Great efforts have been made to explain why instruments by Stradivari and other Old Italian makers sound better than high-quality new violins,” said Fritz.