Over the last few decades, chemical and physical studies on bowed string musical instruments have provided a better understanding of their wooden finished surface. Nevertheless, until now only a few of them investigated the effects of the chemical pre-treatments in the traditional making procedures. Those treatments are believed to affect wood properties, its interaction with the following treatments (i.e. varnish application) and its vibro-mechanical behaviour (that may contribute to the acoustical properties of musical instruments). In this study, two traditional alkaline treatments were applied to reference samples of spruce wood, the wood commonly used to make violins' soundboards. An integrated analytical strategy, which combines infrared spectroscopy, analytical pyrolysis coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and gel permeation chromatography, was employed to investigate the chemical alterations of lignocellulosic polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin). Results have shown that the selected alkaline treatments induce the partial hydrolysis of the hemicellulose chains and a slight decrease in the crystallinity of cellulose. We could also prove: (i) the cleavage of lignin-carbohydrate complexes formed by the covalent bonds between hemicellulose and lignin in spruce wood, and (ii) the partial breaking of the hydrogen bonds network in cellulose. According to the literature, the alteration of the lignin-carbohydrate complexes is responsible for changes in wood mechanical behaviour. Hence, future perspectives of this research could outline new knowledge on the vibro-mechanical behaviour of the violin soundboard and the consequent acoustics.
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