Violin case for a tired back

January 7, 2018, 5:47 PM · I was very fortunate to acquire my "forever" violin when I was a young teenager--around 1989 or 1990. Along with the new violin, I received a new case--a Jaeger--which I loved! It was "THE" thing to have back then--a sign you were a "serious" musician. :-) Well, that tank protected my violin through highschool orchestra and a music major in college. It was dragged around and left out in the car more times than I'd like to admit. Then it sat forlorn under the bed for many years when violin faded from my daily life.

Now, happily, the violin is back in action and I'm playing regularly with a rock band! But my 40-something back is really suffering from lugging around this heavy beast of a case. I'm so scared to get a new case, because I credit my old Jaeger with taking amazing care of my violin.

The violin is French--built in 1938 and purchased from Bein & Fushi. It was last appraised in the low 5 figures about 10 years it's really nice, but not a priceless Italian! I am willing to spend a little to protect it within reason.

I think I've read every case post and review on this site and I'm still indecisive! I'm leaning toward a wooden half-moon Bobelock b/c it seems to be significantly lighter than my Jaeger. But will this be as safe and protective? I live in the southeastern US--no severe temps, but 4 distinct seasons. I do carry my violin around town to rehearsals and gigs.

What do you all suggest? Thank you so much!

Replies (24)

January 7, 2018, 5:55 PM · Low 5 figures 10 years ago means you've got a real nice violin. There's always a trade-off, but for me I draw the line at buying any case that is not primarily constructed of plywood. I just don't think foam or fiberglass cases protect as well.

But wait! You said you're in a rock band? Where are your groupies?? They should be carrying your violin!

January 7, 2018, 6:11 PM · Musafia Lievissima, or the Musafia Luxury Ultralight, if you're willing to spend some money on a good case and weight is a big consideration.

If you still live in Chicago, or anywhere else that has significant temperature extremes, I'd suggest getting one with the Tropicalization feature.

January 7, 2018, 6:30 PM · Bobelocks are known to be sturdy, reliable, and medium weight. However, they don't offer the luxury of the higher end wooden case designers. Riboni zero 5 is good, lightweight and sleek, as well as Musafia Lievissima. I actually think darts are good if you have a separate bag for music. If not, the lightweight oblong is great!
Edited: January 7, 2018, 6:49 PM · A half-moon Bobelock suspension case will be only a tiny bit lighter than a Jaeger rectangular/oblong, I think. Jaegers are also medium weight, and essentially in the same class of case quality as a Bobelock.

(Of course, an old Jaeger might be much heavier than a modern Jaeger, but I don't think that's the case.)

January 7, 2018, 7:56 PM · First question: Do you carry the case in the hand, with one shoulder strap or with two, like a backpack?
If it is in the hand, move to other system that doesn't force you to bend.

From the specifications of most violin cases, the differences are 1Kg-1.5Kg. That's peanuts for the muscles in the back.
If you are having back pains carrying it, the solution is in the ergonomics. You should try them with the straps. By the rule of the mountaneers and travellers, a weight in the back is more comfortable and easier for the back the higher it rests without tightening the straps too much.
The truth is that the cases "backpack" style should be designed to have the body of the violin and the compartment for the accesories higher and the scroll down.

Edited: January 7, 2018, 9:34 PM · Recommendations will depend on many factors: budget, transport, climate, playing environment, degree of abuse and beating you expect the case to be subjected to. It sounds like it was a good thing that you currently have a tank for a case ;-)
January 7, 2018, 9:40 PM · Maybe go to a store, look at a bunch of cases, and pick your fave.
January 8, 2018, 5:21 AM · I understand you, most of my life I am a guitarist, and guitar hard case (which I use on all of my guitars, are much more heavier beasts:))
January 8, 2018, 8:05 AM · It's actually really hard to shop for a case in person. Most violin shops carry a very small selection of cases, often in a limited number of brands. Musafia dealers often don't have any physical inventory available.
Edited: January 8, 2018, 9:53 AM · OBSERVATION: If you are out and about ("around town") a lot, I don't think you want to be carrying an expensive case like a Musafia - TOO ATTRACTIVE! I notice my own reaction to violin cases when a new player shows up at one of my"groups." Especially two recent and sometime players, both excellent, and gorgeous sounding and looking instruments, one has a case that might be typical of a Jr. High kid, the other a Musafia. Which one is more likely to be grabbed around town?

The new light-weight BAM cases are supposed to be protective - a couple of violinists I know use them - at least one with a violin into 6 figures.

EDIT: I do have a couple of Musafias, but I only carry by hand from door to car and car to door. Actually, the Musafia dart-shape is quite light, has the major Musafia protective features and I bought it in preparation for a flight in 2001 because it had the smallest dimensions of any case I could find (in Ifshin's at the time). If you are happy roaming around with only 2 bows and limited accessories in your case - this one could do - and would not attract the same attention as a Musafia oblong case.

Edited: January 8, 2018, 10:19 AM · Musafia Master dart is pretty light and I like the build more on that line that the (admittedly very good) lighter models. If you do a special order, I think you can get a pre-tarnished finish on the gold hardware. That plus one of the less conspicuous colors of canvas cover will give you a bit less visibility.
January 8, 2018, 10:18 AM · I own several Musafia cases. And in my opinion, Musafia Lievissima looks rather humble to me. Although it is the lightest option that Musafia has available, that is also the one case which I will never purchase, unless a new design for the outer shell becomes available.

So, if one wants to look inexpensive but keep the violin safe from destruction, I would probably recommend this very case.

On the other hand, I am in the market to shop for a dart shape case right now, and I cannot make up my mind as to getting a custom fabric superleggero or the Gewa Air Prestige dart. Each of them has its pro and cons. I wonder if anyone here has a Gewa Air Prestige and would like to share the user experience?

Thank you all in advance.

January 8, 2018, 10:55 AM · For weight/portability/protection, I don't think anything beats the Bam contoured high tech. Very waterproof, and the case itself is some type of sandwiched plastic/composite/foam, so there is some insulation. It isn't solid plastic/composite.
If weight is less of an issue, and need some room for music, the BAM stylus is not bad. A plastic shell, with lots of foam. The place where I bought it from made a felt covered dowel to prop it open, since it doesn't stay open by itself.
My concern with the more inexpensive plywood cases (non-musafia)is the interior doesn't feel as robust as I would like. Another annoyance with all cases.....why is velcro used to hold the neck? I'd prefer a rope to tie it rather than something that will wear out in a year. One thing I've determined....there is no perfect case
January 8, 2018, 11:19 AM · There was a recent discussion here that noted how protective the BAM cases are not, including the top-end ones.

Musafia cases are pretty anonymous on the outside. The case covers look like basically any other case vendor's, and after a little bit of use they look suitably weatherbeaten. Even the interiors don't, to a casual glance, look much different than any other case vendor's, unless you've gone for patterned silk. Musafia owners may identify the exterior of other owners' cases by the fact that the case covers have a brown edge, which I think is unique, but it doesn't make the case look more expensive.

Recent Musafia cases use a leather tie around the neck rather than velcro, precisely because the tie is longer-lasting (although I've never worn out the velcro on a case of mine). I originally thought that the tie was going to be kind of annoying compared to the ease of velcro, but I've found that I can secure and undo it quickly without a problem, so I'm thumbs-up on the tie.

January 8, 2018, 11:52 AM · I injured my back in the fall, and thought I'd have to purchase a new case but the weight difference was not so much compared to my current case (a Negri Venezia, from 1996!) that I could not justify the cost. I use suspension straps, which are great, but I now carry my music in a small tote bag vs in the case's top compartment to save on the weight on my back and shoulders.
Edited: January 8, 2018, 2:08 PM · This is probably off the topic already, but no, I disagree with you, Lydia, on the issue of the anonymous look of Musafia cases.

I have seen so many cases (a lot of those are unknown to the American market) in my traveling around the world to tell you that a discerning thief would spot a Musafia right away. No matter how lesser brands try to copy the styles, the trimmings and the designs, the quality of a Musafia case just sticks out among the crowd.

Everything from the stitch work, the choice of leather trim, the selection of the fabric cover, to the refined look of each metal part is a screaming Musafia. You just cannot SEE the same quality from any lesser brand.

Edited: January 8, 2018, 12:36 PM · I love my shaped cases for the fact that they occupy so much less space. Moving them into and out of a car, or whatever, is so much easier for me. And I don't use shoulder rests, so I don't need space for them, but even if I did, I'd just be inclined to carry them another way.

My personal favorite case is my shaped Jaeger Prestige. It's light, compact, and seems strong enough to me. And it has a simple, low key exterior. I'd buy it again if I needed to.

January 8, 2018, 12:19 PM · It does not take much more time to rehab a velcro "tie," than it does to tie a leather "string." SImply glue new "male" velcro over the old one (the male velcro usually fails first) - but you can rehab the female velcro the same way---that's the way I keep my velcro shoe ties alive.

Personally i like the velcro neck ties. The instrument for which they can be a frequent danger is cello.

Edited: January 8, 2018, 11:40 PM · The OP referred to his "tired back" so weight is obviously the issue here.

One piece of advice I can give is to not trust the case weights that most manufacturers declare. All you need is an accurate scale (a digital bathroom scale will do) and you find out that most cases weigh a whopping 20% more than claimed.

So weigh them yourself before deciding, if lowest weight is your priority. Then choose.

January 9, 2018, 10:00 AM · Thank you everyone for your replies! I weighed my case fully loaded and it was 11.2 lbs. 8.3 lbs empty. Guessing violin plus bow is less than 1.5 lbs, so the shoulder rest, pick up, rosin, strings, etc. must take up the rest.

I do carry it on one shoulder and kind of "steer" with my hand, and the way the straps are attached I can't do the backpack style. In fact one of the reasons I'm considering a new case is that the piece of metal where the strap attaches is sticking out and very sharp! It ripped a hole in my comforter when I dragged the case over it.

And Paul Deck--I love your comment! I surely do need some groupies to carry my gear! :-)

Thanks again! You've given me lots to think over.

January 9, 2018, 10:18 AM · 8.3 pounds is heavy, and is heavier than most comparable cases today -- you're probably looking at about 7 pounds for a comparable Jaeger model today, I think. (A Musafia Enigma, at 8 pounds, is on the high end of case weights and is heavily reinforced.)

I'd try a good padded strap, and maybe backpack straps, on a solidly protective plywood suspension case. You'll have to figure out how much weight is too much weight. If the case, empty, already feels too heavy, you're going to have a challenge -- that suggests that you need a case that's less than 5.5 pounds if you're going to stuff 3 extra pounds of stuff in there.

January 9, 2018, 7:51 PM · It is very normal to fell uncomfortable or even pain if you are carrying 11 pounds on only one side.
The lightter the better of course, but I think that your priority is to find the most comfortable backpack case. And in that sense I would advice to find a permanent backpack and not a hand carrying one with detachable straps. One I have tried is Riboni Unoeotto type 3 (fixed straps) and it was very comfortable. There might be others.
Edited: January 9, 2018, 7:59 PM · Gewa Air shaped case is 3.5lbs! 5lbs max with the instrument and bow, that's half the weight, but you won’t fit 1.5lbs of junk in it that’s for sure. If you don’t want the weight, you won’t get the storage room.
January 17, 2018, 2:41 AM · So i have several cases, I wouldn't just go by weight alone. For comfort a lot of it is also the ergonomics of how the straps work with the case and how it falls on your back.

For example, I have a BAM hightech which is very light on paper. As a backpack configuration it quickly became uncomfortable. While the straps are really good with padding and neat D ring connectors, the lower half of the case hits my lower back at awkward spot.

I also have a Pedi case with built in straps. It was very light and looked very comfortable. However the design has problems. The music case is right behind the straps when you use it as a backpack, you feel the edges and it's not particularly comfortable as a backpack.

Recently got a Musafia, it's heavier than the other two, but actually has light padding on the back that makes it somewhat more comfortable. I find myself carrying it combination of one shoulder and by hand because the leather handles feel good to the touch and are nice to hold.
While it costs more money, it's pretty high quality.

Anyway, I wouldn't go on a 10 mile hike with any of the violin cases and your mileage may vary.

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