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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Fitted, or oblong case?

October 17, 2008 at 7:44 PM

I would love to keep my violin in a curvy, light, fitted case. They are so stylin', so easy to stash, so comfy to carry.

And yet, my fiddle and I come with a lot of baggage. Namely it's the shoulder rest, and don't you squeeky shoulder rest detractors dare make this about the moral and sonic deficiencies of shoulder rests; 78 percent of violinists on this site use them! If you use a shoulder rest, you need to bring it with you. While you can find a way to snuggle your Kun next to your scroll in a fitted case, I cringe at the idea of anything metal anywhere near my fiddle's 200-year-old wood.

When I was a child, I actually sewed myself a shoulder-rest pouch, which dangled from the handle of my fitted case. Now, you can even purchase such things, though the detachable pouch always felt like a somewhat unreliable solution for me personally. As soon as possible, I begged Santa Claus for an oblong case that would accommodate my gear. I still carry a tank of a case: an oblong Mufasia with a nice big pocket to house my Willy Wolf. It's gorgeous, just big. And heavy. And clumsy. I love it actually.

This is not the only solution. My second violin goes in a fitted case, and I put it in a rather thick, cloth bag to keep the metal from the wood. I'm confident that all of you have found other solutions, and that you have other reasons for preferring one shape over another.

Here I ask you which you PREFER; interpret that as you like. And tell us your solutions below, as well as if you have found some new way for carrying fiddles!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 9:07 PM
Mostly because of the music pouch, I like the oblong case.
From Paul G.
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 9:16 PM
I like my oblong because I hate the fitted look- Don't know why, I just dont like it. Maybe it's because it just reminds me of student instruments and I don't like them either! (trust me, i'm not this negative in general..)

I also love the subway strap on it, and after carrying it so long, it just becomes an extension of me and I don't even notice it anymore. The compartment for rosin, a pencil and a cloth also comes in handy. It also has a place for a shoulder rest, but it's no good for me because I use a comford cradle shoulder rest (I have a bag that I attatch to the handle for storage of it). And there is a place for the humidifier I use. The only thing I wish was that there were 4 bow holders, not just 2. But when I get a more expensive violin I'll probably get something like a Bam France case.

From Debra Wade
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 9:42 PM
I love the oblong cases for a lot of reasons.

The most important of course is because everybody (non-musicians) think I have a machine gun in there.

Funny story and then I'll get back on topic! When I was still in high-school I took the bus everywhere to rehearsals and such, and one time a lady called the police on me while I was on the bus because I was acting suspicious. It turns out that as I was busy shielding my case from getting knocked around by people getting on and off the bus she thought a bomb or something. The officer that responded was one of my Dad's best friends and had a great laugh over that one... :-)

Anyway - the oblong case has room for all my stuff that keeps accumulating. I do put my shoulder rest next to my scroll but it's in a bag and there's enough room that it wouldn't touch my violin anyway.

From Jerald Archer
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 10:16 PM
I’ve always preferred the fitted case. Not only is it lighter, easier to store away and is a great accessory for a pinip suit, I have also found it a great deterrent to crime when walking home, especially late at night. And, on more than one occasion, a invaluable tool in negotiating a good price at the local butcher’s shop.

Although I do find it difficult to get a cab when I carry it under my arm. But when I do, they usually insist on placing it in the trunk. I never ask questions, as I fear the answer I may recieve in return.

Policemen find the fitted and oblong case equally attractive and are always asking me to let them see what's inside. Most are pleasantly surprised to find it really does contain a violin, and I usually show my gratitude by playing them a jig or two.

I wonder if the old coffin cases had such a bad rap?

From Debra Wade
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 10:47 PM
I'm showing off my ignorance here but what is a "coffin case?"
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 10:44 PM
I like the oblong also because I carrey a shoulder rest and a little cushion, my favorite device to play with but if ever it breaks or someone wants to try my violin, I carry a rest. I have 2 mutes, my rosin, 2 cloths, a small allan key for the chinrest, spare strings a diapason, a metronome, a pencil so you can put a lot, trust me. However, I always put my scores and study books (the latest ones I used) in a separate bag and I leave them always in that bag, exept when I practice because it is so fast to just grab a bag when you go out somewhere with your violin. I used to always forget scores at home before...

Interesting topic!

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 11:11 PM
When I was a kid I started out with a fitted case, yes they are lighter and easier to carry, but for a forgetful ditsy brained type like me it was waaaay too easy to leave the right music in the wrong place.

Now, I wouldn't dream of not having my oblong cases. For my dream boy "Johannes" I splurged on one of Musafia's special offers, while Charles the Frenchman has a basic oblong Ebay special, though obviously if he was going to the luthier or on a trip, I'd transfer him to the other case.

I can get all my current music AND a glossy magazine plus newspaper to read into the music pocket, my shoulder rest fits inside just fine with my duster and spare strings and even better I've got another storage space for additional rehearsal essentials such as mute, eraser, pencil, extra strong mints, a small banana (in plastic bag) and current favourite chocolate bar.

It may be heavier, but when I use the straps, it balances really well on my back/shoulder so I really don't feel the extra weight at all.

But primarily I feel a lot happier about the overall safety of Johannes. I had an incident the other week where some hoodies "accidentally on purpose" tripped over my csse on the subway. With my old case I'd have been seriously worried, with the Musafia I just picked it up and swung it threateningly in their direction... no problems.

From Cecily Ward
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 11:26 PM
Musafia super-leggero dart. I love it! I use a kun with foldable legs, which I used to wrap in a cloth to put next to the scroll, but the musafia has a nifty velcro strap that keeps the shoulder rest snug against the side of the case. Now I just tuck a cloth between that and the scroll and I'm on my way. I would never go back to an oblong case. The dart shape is much easier to stow on airplanes, and attracts less attention in general when traveling. I also like NOT being able to store music in the case. My music goes in a backpack on my back - much easier on my body.
From Jerald Archer
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 12:09 AM
I'm showing off my ignorance here but what is a "coffin case?"

It's not an ignorant question by any means and I did'nt mean to be morbidly comical. The old fashioned "coffin case"
would have been used, with some minor variations, for several centuries up until the beginning of the 20th century. It resembles a coffin, or someting close to it. You can still purchase them on E-Bay and they can be rather expensive, as they are considered an antique item. They are not as available as they were about 20 years ago. Check them out there to get an idea of what violinists in the past would carry their instruments in. Many violins were carted along in these seemingly unsafe items. But one has to keep in mind that the padding used to protect the violin was more of a "blanket" that was wrapped around the instrument. There was no padding in most, unless it was custom made, and very few of those exist except in private antique collections. The materials could get very elaborate. Exotic woods and precious metals were used, if one could afford them. I would not suggest however that they be used in a practical manner or to carry an expensive violin, as the structure is not protectivly sound by today's standard. I used to collect them many years ago and recondition them back to usefulness. Many traditional fiddle players seek them out for their historical value.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 12:16 AM
I use an oblong American Case Co. "Humidi-Case", which is discontinued. Loads of stuff can fit inside! It is currently lined with cat fur. (Insert smiley face here).

I also have an ancient American Case dart, and another no-name dart that is super light. The super light is flimsy, but handy for gigs.

I also have an antique Hill rosewood coffin case, with brass hardware, lined in lavender velvet. I don't use it: it just sits around and looks gorgeous. (Gloat).

I really want a Musafia Enigma Aureum, in green and paisley, but...

From Annette Brower
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 12:32 AM
I need an oblong for all my stuff. On the other hand, it is like a purse...the bigger the purse, the more stuff you THINK you need to carry around. More importantly, the inside is green...cause I like green.
From Tommy Atkinson
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 3:19 AM
A fitted case is WAY easier to carry on your back while riding a motorcycle...

And the BAM fitted cases look awesome. I would love one of those.

From Dottie Case
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 3:39 AM
I do have a heavy-duty oblong case that I love, but haven't actually used for a couple of years now. I do a lot of gigging on Mackinac Island where there are no automobiles. Therefore we walk almost everywhere we go on the island (unless we are going to Stonecliffe, where we take a horse taxi). So, I have a very light-weight shaped case with backpack straps on it. The light weight is important as we are also hauling stands, music, etc.
I find that I've gotten used to the light weight and ease of the case (love the subway handle on the top) and have just stopped switching it out when the season ends. I even bought a matching one in blue for my viola a couple of years ago.
From Gerome Stewart
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 12:16 PM
I prefer oblongs cases. I have too much stuff to carry (not just the large amount of sheet music that I always have in my case).
From Matt Peebles
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 1:23 PM
I'm a big fan of the oblong case. Currently I have a Musafia Master Series - although I don't need to carry a shoulder rest, it's nice to have the space to carry anything I need to a rehearsal or on the road to a gig. I'd like to think I could live out of my case if I had to...hehe!
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 4:15 PM
a vintage leather Jaeger oblong case that I got for high school graduation in 1968, still in mint/as new condition after all these years of is good
From Ray Randall
Posted on October 18, 2008 at 5:48 PM
Love my Musafia Master Series. Almost has enough room for everything.
From Jim Glasson
Posted on October 19, 2008 at 11:29 AM
Though I'm just a beginner in every sense of the word, I love my oblong (Bobelock) case.

The subway strap *really* works on subways and buses!!

From Bob Annis
Posted on October 19, 2008 at 6:23 PM
Prefer oblongs due to carrying capacity. Pleased to have a few discounted Musafia cases, which they were kind enough to customise for me with extra thermal insulation. I find that no other case provides the same awesome level of protection along with fine quality fittings and general attractiveness. There's something ro be said for uncompromising quality, and Musafia says it better than anyone else, IMO.
From Dwight Brown
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 12:39 AM
I have a new Musafia International Futura on the way. The case I have just doesn't do it for me. It seems to be made out of some odd stuff - not wood or anything good. The International cases are not made in Cremona so it is a bit of a risk, but we will see.


From Dwight Brown
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 12:43 AM
This thing is wonderful by the way. I am schlepping stuff around everyday. I don't work for Shar or have any financial stake in it.

Really comfy and stays on your shoulder


From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 4:23 AM
My American cases actually lasted very, very well. I'm surprised to see oblong cases win by such a longshot, here! I'd totally get a fitted one if I could do it. But I suppose therein lies the inevitable preference for oblong: utility!
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 11:08 AM
Fitted cases remind me of student instruments too, like someone else said, and of not having anywhere reasonable to put my shoulder rest. I also used to fold my shoulder rest into a contorted position next to the neck of my violin in the fitted student case, and I went through several of them that just got abused and wore out fast. For me, getting my first oblong case was like getting my first "real" violin. I felt like a more serious violinist.

And now, like everyone else, I have too much stuff to ever use a fitted case again. I use the external music pocket and I have extra strings and a practice mute and a tuning fork and a rosin-wiping cloth.

From John Hartge
Posted on October 20, 2008 at 4:53 PM
I use a Bobelock halfmoon case. It's a hybrid of the fitted and oblong case. It's just big enough to strap in my tall comford shoulder rest and has a good size cubby for tuner, mutes, etc. Since it is a crescent shape, their are 2 less corners for me to catch on doorways or people on the bus.

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