V.com weekend vote: Oblong or Fitted Case?

January 5, 2019, 9:37 AM · I can still remember my first "real" fiddle case, and how I spent months leafing through the Shar catalog, pining for the oblong American case, with a velvet interior, a strap and a pocket for my music! It replaced a beat-up fitted case that had no strap and no place for music or my shoulder rest. It was a fantastic case and lives on, many years later.

violin and viola cases

Over the years I've had different reasons for getting different cases: a very cheap one, just to store a student instrument, a lovely Musafia to go with my Italian instrument, a BAM fitted case for travel. At this point, I do use both oblong and fitted cases, on different occasions, depending if I want to travel light, carry music with me, use my teaching violin, play outdoors, or keep my fiddle in its nice case.

What kind of case do you have? Is it oblong, or fitted? Are you happy with it, or do you wish to switch? Do you have several cases you use for different occasions? What are the benefits of each kind? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts below in the comments.

Replies

January 5, 2019 at 03:51 PM · A fitted one does nicely when air travel is at hand.

Otherwise, I am a bit happier to use oblong, even if I am less likely these days to put music in the outside pocket.

January 5, 2019 at 04:03 PM · I have oblong because I have 3 bows I interchange when playing. Most fitted don’t have the room for 3 bows. I also like to carry my music in my case and not separately. That being said, the BAM cases are beautiful and on my wish list, but hard to justify because other than driving to my lessons, I don’t travel much.

January 5, 2019 at 04:23 PM · I travel quite a lot and I have a Musafia Lievissima which I love . It replaces my previous Musafia dart which stood me in good stead .... both expensive but worth it !!!

January 5, 2019 at 05:27 PM · I travel by air weekly with my violin, and have found my oblong has had the airlines (American, my frequent flyer) looks at me at times, like "what are you trying to carry on the plane?". I downsized to a Bam Overhead model with a violin bow tube and a Mooradian cover, which overall, looks considerably smaller and yet still does a great job protecting my violin and bow. It has made flying much more relaxed and the Mooradian cover even has a pocket inside for music. My Gewa 2.1 Oblong is fantastic but just feels too big to fly with. When I fly though, I only travel with a carbon fiber violin and bow, my old wooden one is too precious to me, in the off chance that the airline were to make me check the violin as luggage. It has never happened but I read the stories that make me shudder what has happened when the airlines do force a musician to check their instrument. Smaller is better when traveling and attracts less attention and nothing is smaller than the Bam Overhead.

January 5, 2019 at 05:43 PM · Not included in vote options, is an "half-moon" case, that is smaller than an oblong but still pads the violin like an oblong plus allows room for a couple of bows, packets of strings, mutes, humidity sensor, rosin and A4 sheet music / tablet. The Wolf Forte Secondo shoulder rest just fits. It is basically an oblong with two corners rounded off, making it lighter and less bulky. My HQ is much better made than my previous rented oblong case, with sturdier D rings for back/shoulder straps, but the clasp/lock or zip covers aren't as sturdy/satisfactory. I aim to get a waterproof bag for this one as I often have to walk in the rain.

January 5, 2019 at 05:55 PM · I voted "I have both". I have an oblong for my violin and a fitted for my viola, but my viola case is not very good because it has no velcro strap over the neck and it's not very protective (I'm currently borrowing a viola right now). In the future, I would like to own a viola and have an oblong case for it.

January 5, 2019 at 06:00 PM · I use several old fashioned wooden cases, mainly for nostalgic, some would say eccentric, reasons, a black canvas covered rectangular case made by Hidersine for my Chinese fiddle - used for playing at Ceilidhs - which carries 2 bows, some sheet music and a lead to connect it to the PA system, it's quite light in weight and sturdy. My favourite is a black ABS fiddle shaped hard case by Carlton, which has protected my 'best' fiddle for the last 15 years, takes 2 bows and is almost indestructible. One thing I have noticed is the fashion for flashy, bright coloured cases, not a good idea I think, criminals would steal something that looked expensive, as these do, it's probably best to have something that looks as though it's not worth stealing!

January 5, 2019 at 06:03 PM · Very important for all fitted case users: Make sure you carry your case with the larger-diameter end facing forward. Style matters!

January 5, 2019 at 06:10 PM · Great tip Paul!

I use both. One is my lightweight cheapy for a quick grab on the road when only needed for practice.

The other holds all the extra paraphernalia but is actually quite heavy because of that. With so many pockets and pouches, I tend to fill them up!!

January 5, 2019 at 06:52 PM · I have a fitted case that was bought in 1996 along with a German violin (etc) with money from my Mother for that Christmas.

Inside it is crushed velvet lined and has a fitted outer cover that I spray to keep it waterproof..

Inside I wrap the violin in a matching coloured velvet sheet that keeps it warm and acts like a suspension system.

It also has a 'hard' shaped top to prevent pressure on the violin.

There is no 'maker's label; but at a cost of only £53 in 1996 it has drawn marvellous comments on how well it looks even now.

Stewart (UK)

January 5, 2019 at 07:12 PM · Paul, when a schoolkid, I used to make my way out of a crowded bus with the SMALL diameter end facing forward - Style gave way to perceived penetrativity!

Once I started cyclin

January 5, 2019 at 07:12 PM · Paul, when a schoolkid, I used to make my way out of a crowded bus with the SMALL diameter end facing forward - Style gave way to perceived penetrativity!

Once I started cycling to school, my father got me a cover fitted with rucksack style straps for me to carry my violin on my back (and because of my age, the area of case in contact with my back was cushioned). We were the first of our entire acquaintance to employ this method of carrying a violin.

January 5, 2019 at 09:14 PM · I wanted to like an oblong case for my viola, but found it too bulky and heavy. It also didn't sit well in my hand to carry it, felt off balance. I would have liked it to have wheels, because it was so tall and heavy. I ended up selling it and am very happy with a fitted Gewa case.

January 5, 2019 at 10:02 PM · Oblong. I don't travel anymore and never traveled with the violin. Now that I assist with a youth orchestra that large covered box at the top is filled with strings, tweezers, small needle-nose pliers, and a peg wrench and hand sanitizer also a crescent wrench to tighten those wobbly music stands.

Yeah it is heavy and it allows me to carry both my music and extra copies for the young musicians who lose/forget their music (only every week right up to the performances).

January 5, 2019 at 10:42 PM · Laurie, "fitted" refers to the inside of the case. They're all "fitted." On the outside they're either oblong or "shaped," and then there's "dart" shaped cases, which are a kind of compromise between the two primary designs.

Me, I've always preferred shaped cases because they're substantially less bulky. I don't carry anything in my case that requires the extra space of an oblong.

January 5, 2019 at 11:03 PM · Ugh....church gigs in the loft....carrying the music, stand, and instrument...the smaller the case the better....being the violist, I had the mule duties.....but just remember, The Violist Always Gets The Girl...

January 5, 2019 at 11:12 PM · Definitely an oblong. It has space for all the things belonging to the violin, extra bow, rosin, strings, cloth for cleaning rosin of the violin, mute, sheet music, shoulder rest and what else could be relevant.

Does it make the case more heavy? Well, it makes a difference, but the alternative solution would be to have an extra bag for all those things and that is certainly less handy. It is also convenient to have those things belonging to the violin in the same case as the violin.

January 5, 2019 at 11:30 PM · I like my (super heavy) oblong case for most things, because it can store so much, but I would like a strong fitted case for when I want to carry my violin on my motorcycle.

January 5, 2019 at 11:45 PM · Oblong, to fit my bon musica shoulder rest.

January 6, 2019 at 12:00 AM · Oh for heaven's sake Mark. Everyone knew what Laurie meant by "fitted."

Gee ... I dunno how to vote because I thought the choices should be oblong vs dart. I'm so confused ...

January 6, 2019 at 10:06 AM · I have a very basic "fitted" violin case and an expensive oblong one (Brass Bags Precieux for over US$100). The basic one has never failed me, especially when I take a plane to travel a long distance. It also has a compartment to store my spare strings, rosin, tuner and muter and space to put my shoulder rest in. The expensive one, well, has disappointed me greatly: the shoulder strap hook broke off in the first few days (used less than 5 times). And then I noticed one of the snap fasteners didn't function - actually two male snap fasteners had been sewed as a pair. The most disappointing thing is when I wrote to the customer service of the violin case company, they didn't even bother to reply. My conclusion: the cheap may not necessarily be worthless while the expensive one may not mean good product and better customer service.

January 6, 2019 at 12:09 PM · Dart shaped, as light as possible but with space for a shoulder rest and backpack straps are a must! I mainly travel on local buses, and it can be awkward getting up and downstairs even with a light shaped case. I also carry a backpack with music etc over one shoulder which can be awkward

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January 6, 2019 at 02:55 PM · With the oblong case you can use the Joey.

January 6, 2019 at 11:51 PM · I have a musafia oblong case I ordered immediately after my violin was soaked through the existing case at a medieval festival, (and back when I still had savings). She's just a german trade violin but she belonged to my great grandmother and is actually a rather good instrument, though a bit limited high on the g string. As well as the waterproofing, the 'tropicalisation' has been great when lugging the case around in sydney's humid climate.

The benefit of the extra strong case was knowing she was also safe on my back when cycling, which was my main form of transport, but like knowing she'll also be fine in a hall full of people dumping their armour round the edges without looking!

I particularly like the non-flashy cover with the giant pocket that fits things like an extra shirt for when it gets cold going home at night, as well as all my music and teaching gear...

These days though, with compressed discs and lots of public transport, I'm lusting after a tiny bam case that I'll never afford.

January 7, 2019 at 05:47 AM · I have 100 years old Czech violin (I am from Czech and living there too). I have ordered Gewa Bio oblong at my luthier, he will sell me one. I am looking forward to more space.

Most of my life I was playing rock musician still bringing with me huge guitar strong case with electric guitar, so the heaviest violin case with equipment is still lighter than my empty guitar cases :) So I am fine with sturdiness and weight :)

January 7, 2019 at 10:11 AM · I have an oblong case, lightweight, looks good, and protects the instrument and bows. Only problem is that there is no place for the shoulder-rest.

January 7, 2019 at 10:23 AM · I taught violin and had to catch the orchestra bus to concerts where I played viola. I had a double case made that is beautiful but heavy and, unfortunately, out of balance when I put it on it's side. Years later I bought an oblong case that I wore out (the cover). Now I am retired and wanted a light, fitted case for travel and protection. I bought a student viola case that is light but built to endure thoughtless kids!

January 7, 2019 at 11:38 AM · I have been around the block with violin cases, starting out with those shaped styrofoam ones you get with student instruments. Perfectly fine for travelling to and from school on the bus, with my delightful violin shaped object on the inside... Once I got a better violin at 16 (its french, 1890, sounds great), I decided it was time for a more robust case. I went for a Tonareli wooden oblong, and it was stripy. I loved the look and the feel of the case, great for travelling to and from youth orchestra rehearsals on public transport, and held all of my music. However, the clasp on the front of the case broke within months, and the D rings for the straps became loose very quickly. So, I used it until it was not safe to store a violin in, and I graduated to a BAM shaped case. I have not looked back. Its great, robust, plenty of space for shoulder rest (Wolf) and strings. I have all the bits I need in the pouch. My recently bought viola has a Tom and Will oblong case, which is a great case to start with. But I have too many compartments in it. I am hankering after a Gewa shaped or another BAM when money allows. So I while I currently use both, I prefer shaped cases. :)

January 7, 2019 at 12:15 PM · My issue with putting a lot of music in the pouch is that my case then tips over backwards when I open it. Nothing bad ever happens but that's annoying.

January 7, 2019 at 12:50 PM · @Paul, I am the same with that. Top heavy case rolling backwards is annoying, so you have to find a wall to be able to lean the top of the case against, and there is not always a bit of wall space available!

January 7, 2019 at 03:55 PM · Driving or going by bus or metro to rehearsal, I found that Oblong or fitted do not make a big difference.

A poll I'd be interested in is which one of these case you had less issue flying with your violin:

a) GL Combi Overhead Violin Case

b) BAM Peak Performance Compact Violin Case with Bow Tube

c) Bam Overhead Hightech Violin Case

d) other: ?

January 7, 2019 at 04:09 PM · I prefer the oblong case. I tend to have to carry a lot with me and it's just easier to deal with an oblong case than a fitted. I found that with the pocket, I only use it to transfer. I take only what I need so the zipper doesn't go into the stuck on open mode.

January 7, 2019 at 04:13 PM · Paul, when I was in school, I tended to carry my case in front of me. The isle was too narrow.

January 7, 2019 at 05:05 PM · I have an oblong (a 20+ year old Negri Venezia), and have been eyeing the BAM cases for traversing the subways with. Having a lighter load would be amazing... maybe in a few months.

January 8, 2019 at 03:00 AM · I had an oblong plywood case but it was annoyingly heavy and I swapped it for a carbon fibre Bam imitation case which has been great on all transport from trains to international flights.

I think it comes down to whether you mostly or always drive, or usually use public transport which I do. I get the impression that outside NY most people in the US drive with their instruments.

Terry

January 8, 2019 at 05:22 AM · I use my Musafia oblong case nearly all the time, but sometimes in air travel something smaller and easier to sling on the back is needed and I keep a BAM shaped case for that reason.

January 8, 2019 at 06:46 AM · Well, I think that I can answer this question in detail. Here is the breakdown of our case production in 2017:

Rectangular: 41.9% of our production

Oblong: 29.5%

Dart: 8.4%

Elliptical: 5.4%

Semi-elliptical: 3.7%

Since rectangular and oblong fit into the same category (four parallel sides, four bow holders, etc.) then that category scores 76.3% of our client preference.

However, tastes are shifting, and in the first semester of 2018 the dart case increased to 11.6%, to the detriment of the classic oblong (not the rectangular oblong, which actually increased slightly).

Definitely the trend is towards more compact cases, although a majority of people still want the advantages of the oblong case.

January 8, 2019 at 07:29 AM · Thank you, Dimitri! That's a definitive answer!

January 8, 2019 at 03:44 PM · One of my violin cases is rectangular oblong, with brown canvas outer. Regularly, when I'm walking homewards through a local park from a rehearsal carrying that case, dogs in the park see me from a distance, think I'm walking a largish dog, and run up to investigate. Then they (short-sighted creatures that they are) realise the "dog" has no legs, tail, ears, face, or doggy odour, and immediately lose all interest. Sometimes an owner will come up to me and apologise for their mutt's behaviour, but it's more amusing than anything else.

January 8, 2019 at 05:52 PM · I have a good Oblong case with lots of storage for everyday use, but also have a fitted case for flying. I can only take 2 bows when I travel, not much storage room, but it fits in the overhead easily.

January 8, 2019 at 08:33 PM · 143.107.122.81, have you tried different orientations for your shoulder rest? There are at least four, and some work better than others. The Kun shoulder rest for my viola just barely fits into one of the compartments, but only if I turn it the right way; a fellow violist gave up and puts his under the outer zippered flap along with his sheet music, where it makes an ugly lump.

January 11, 2019 at 05:00 PM · Living in Chicago, I love having a dart case-the trains and buses are always crowded and I can keep my violin out of the way (for the most part). Plus it is not that bulky like the oblong cases that I can walk back and forth long distances with it and not get as tired. However, I do miss being able to store music (and other stuff) in my case-my Cushy dart case cover has been great for that, but winter won't last forever (or so I am told). Probably when I move again in a couple years and start commuting by car, I will probably buy an oblong case.

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