V.com weekend vote: What is the single most important element in deciding on a violin case?

July 9, 2022, 8:50 PM · If you suddenly found yourself needing a new violin case, what would be the single most important thing to you, when looking for one?

violin case and velvet

Obviously, protection is the entire reason that we get cases, so certainly that is a factor. But would it be the deciding factor?

During the times in life when I've had to travel or walk long distances with my violin, I've found the most important factor to me was having a lightweight case with sturdy ergonomic straps.

Of course, there are other factors to consider. Back in my early school days, when I walked to school with my violin, I found it very distressing that my shoulder rest did not fit into my fitted case. (I even sewed myself a really complicated little bag that could hang from the handle and then detach when needed!) That was actually a major factor in getting a new case: it absolutely HAD to be big enough fit my shoulder rest. Even now, my shoulder rest is not so collapsible, and there is no way I'm going to carry it around apart from my fiddle!

Another important factor is the appearance of the case - does it have a lush, velvety interior? Do you want it to have that? I must confess, I would not want to drop a lot of money on a case that I did not find to be at least reasonably attractive. (And I might spend a little more on something with a special look!)

And speaking of dropping money - perhaps economics is the number one factor for you - finding something that is decent quality for the lowest price. On the other hand, if you have ever had a super-cheap case - where the zipper breaks after a few months, the handle starts falling off, the straps give way, the interior comes loose -- you may be willing to pay a little more for quality and sturdiness.

It also helps when a certain kind of case has the recommendation of friends, as well as a good reputation. When someone says that their case made by x-brand has lasted for many years and is still like new, that definitely speaks well for the case brand.

What is the single most important thing to you about a violin (or viola or cello) case? Please participate in the vote, and then tell us all about it. And also tell us how you arrived at your standards for cases - did you learn through experience?

If you have an idea for the Weekend Vote, please e-mail me. I welcome your ideas!

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Replies

July 10, 2022 at 12:03 PM · I chose brand reputation because I believe a fair amount of "instrument protection" comes with that. Both of my cases (violin and viola) are Bobelocks from JSI because JSI has a "special edition" Bobelock that has the features, colors, etc., that I like, and the price is reasonable. My only quibble is that the Bobelock cases have Velcro neck straps whereas I would prefer a leather tie. My daughter has the Embassy Courier case and that's a nice case -- the interior is arranged cleverly and it has a leather tie for the neck.

July 10, 2022 at 12:37 PM · What Paul said. I also use Bobelock cases for my violin and viola. It combines all of the features that seem important at an affordable price. It is not the lightest case out there, but, for a good price, you can't have everything.

July 10, 2022 at 04:15 PM · Of the three cases I've owned, two came with the instrument so I had no choice there. When I bought a violin case, I went to the person who sold me the violin. His shop is very small so I trusted that all the cases would protect the instrument and went with space for all the accessories. My viola case does not have room for the shoulder rest. I appreciate Paul's and Tom's recs. My viola case is fine otherwise (and has an especially elegant interior, which I admire every time I use it) but if it wears out, I'll look at name brands.

July 10, 2022 at 05:29 PM · A couple of small things: 1) no velcro closures--I hate it when my concert clothes get snags; and 2) for my period instruments, an appropriate bow holder mechanism—-spinners don't work well on baroque bows.

July 10, 2022 at 09:35 PM · Instrument protection. I don't play professionally or travel with my instruments; but if I need to ship one of them out to a luthier for repair or adjustment, then having sturdy case construction gives me added peace of mind.

Weight doesn't really matter to me. If I have to carry an instrument a long distance, I just switch hands if one hand and arm get tired.

Appearance and shape are factors I consider. I prefer shaped cases and have one for each of my three fiddles. My first teacher had this kind with a dark green interior. I stick to subdued exteriors and interiors - dark greens, reds, browns, grays.

July 10, 2022 at 10:38 PM · I use a beautiful, custom-made Musafia case at home. It brings me great joy to open it and see my violin resting comfortably in there. But I use an ultra-light, shaped, carbon-fiber case from Bam for traveling.

July 10, 2022 at 11:25 PM · @Jan Woo - what kind of case doesn't have bow spinners? I have only ever seen a different holder on the Artonus Ellipe cases (and I love them) but they are very difficult to find here in Australia.

July 11, 2022 at 04:07 AM · In the summer of 2001 I bought a Musafia dart-shaped violin case because it was actually the smallest case I could find to carry a violin and bows on an airplane to play at my nephew's October wedding across the country; 9/11/2001 intervened and for various family logistic reasons we did not attend the wedding - so I never flew with that case. (The wedding did occur and they have two kids, the older one finished his freshman year of college this spring.)

A few years later I bought a Musafia oblong case from the same dealer and I had simply craved it since seeing it in Musafia's on-line "catalog" - and he had it in my chosen color and met my offered price.

July 11, 2022 at 06:48 AM · Very interesting numbers - I am truly surprised to see that instrument protection comes in as first priority. From my almost-40 year experience (which includes consulting with musicians and retailers alike) the vast majority of people want the lightest case they can get.

Instrument protection is generally a distant second as a priority, which explains that popularity not only of carbon fiber and styrofoam cases, but also famous-name but poorly designed cases with insufficient clearance for the bridge or the bows over the instrument, which are truly dangerous.

As a result, I have seen at least half a dozen Strads kept in $100 styrofoam cases by their A-list owners, which should be considered criminal. The only way for this trend to change is - unfortunately - a number of high-profile mishaps in which a lousy case helped destroy an irreplaceable instrument.

July 11, 2022 at 11:38 AM · @Dimitri - I am, like you, a bit surprised at the numbers. While protection is obviously important (although I think some musicians focus too much on it), most decent cases offer that feature. If you have a really expensive instrument, that factor may be terribly important, but most of us do not have the kind of instrument which warrants that level of concern. I also think that for most musicians, weight is not that crucial either, and the numbers back this up. All other things being equal, I would want the lightest case, but most other things are not equal, particularly price. So, I have Bobelock cases.

July 12, 2022 at 02:26 AM · Very good! Of all the options and all the possible possibilities of violin cases, Musafia has always been and will be the best case on the planet. There is not, in my opinion, a discussion that has arguments in relation to which the best choice is. Among my friends and throughout my country, Musafia is an authority on protection, aesthetics, luxury, refinement and exclusivity. In my personal experience, after a concert I slipped off the stage and landed on the case with a strong impact. I opened the case and thanks to Musafia my Ceruti didn't even get out of tune.

July 12, 2022 at 04:06 AM · I voted for light weight, but what I would actually say is: lightest weight that offers adequate protection and accessory capacity. Arguably protection is more of a deal-breaker, but the reason I don't list it as first priority is that virtually everything in my target price range offers satisfactory protection.

July 12, 2022 at 11:55 AM · @Mateus - you may well be correct that Musafia is the best case, but they are expensive. For my instruments, having the best case is not necessary. As Andrew says, there are cheaper cases which offer adequate protection for most of us. Andrew's formula is probably one that satisfies most musicians trying to choose a case.

July 13, 2022 at 03:21 AM · @Ruth Klein Cook - Probably vintage. I found a shaped Bobelock a while ago, new-old stock.

July 13, 2022 at 06:14 AM · @Tom, I spoke last night with a famous collector who loans out Strads and the like. Do you know what it costs to insure a high-end instrument that goes out on loan? She told me $35-40,000 per year. In that context, what's a $1,000 case if not a bit more insurance?

Of course, you are perfectly right in that for lesser valuable instruments the math changes, although sometimes an instrument can be valuable to the player in a less monetary sense.

July 13, 2022 at 01:13 PM · @Dimitri - if I owned a Strad, or other high-end violin, I would pay a good deal to get the most protective case I could. I suspect that most of us on v.com own violins that are worth less than $15K (mine is worth $12K for insurance purposes). Other than violins which have some non-monetary, sentimental value that makes protection the major consideration, I am not sure most of us would be well-served by spending huge sums on protection.

July 16, 2022 at 08:56 PM · Sorry to come on here, but I can't email you or use any of the links, Laurie - they don't seem to be set up right. And you don't seem to have a way of private-messaging you, and my emails are being sent back too. Is there any way I can contact you about being on Violinist.Com? Thank you.

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