Making a Case for a Case

February 17, 2007 at 07:10 PM · I'm planning to get a new violin case for my birthday, so I want your advice!

I'm looking at either BAM or an American case. I like that the BAM is lightweight, but in the Shar catalog it says it's not as protective as the "Continental" American case, which got five diamonds for protection. But it's the only case in the whole catalog with five diamonds, and I can't really quite see why. The "Manhattan," for half the price, seems nearly identical; it just doesn't have the humidity control. So is the humidity control the reason the "Continental" would be rated more protective?

I'm leaning toward an American case, even if it is a staggering 4.5 pounds heavier. I really love the pretty velvet lining, and the feeling that the fiddle is super-protected. I've had two American cases, and each has lasted 15 years.

Does anyone make custom cases? I have a friend with a nice case that is custom-upholstered with yellow silk and butterflies on it. Pretty!

Replies (44)

February 17, 2007 at 07:37 PM · Laurie,

I just ordered a BAM Hightech Contoured violin case from Johnson Strings. It is on backorder but should be arriving before the end of the month. I'll let you know what I think about it after it arrives.

Dave

February 17, 2007 at 08:25 PM · Hi Laurie, I haven't seen the American case but BAM cases are excellent. They're functional, quite plain to look at but they seem to last forever.

February 17, 2007 at 08:46 PM · I got my Humidi-Case (American Case Co.) in 1993 (!)) and it is holding up great. It is discontinued though.

If you are interested in a custom case, Weber cases are being made again (webercases.com). The Weber cases are really good, and hold up well.

I really want the Musafia Enigma Aureum, but "want" is different than "need".

February 17, 2007 at 09:27 PM · Oh, go and get a Musafia. There are few more attractive cases, and the M will protect and showcase your instrument. They are not particularly heavy, and it appears that they've put a LOT of thought into providing decent protection.

I was torn between the BAM hitech and Musafia when looking for a case for my granddaughter's violin. The seeming absence of thermal protection and general Spartan appearance and appurtenances of the BAM led me to go with a discounted Musafia.

Insofar as the current batch of demo and discounted cases is just about depleted, I'd keep an eye on the Musafia website for the next bunch.

They were very accomodating, by the way, when I ordered one from the discount list. They added the extra insulation to the case I wanted, at the usual charge, and sent me a free humidifier when the endcap popped off ours. Only drawback was the long wait for the case to come from Italy to Washington state, then reshipped to us. Took nearly a month.

February 17, 2007 at 10:36 PM · If I could get any case I wanted I would get...the Musafia Enigma, because it's so pretty. But I would probably never need a case like that, so I would happily settle for the luxury ultralight instead. But right now I'm using a bobelock featherlight which is quite nice, and was under $200.

February 17, 2007 at 11:27 PM · The lack of thermal protection is kind of scary in the Bam hightech models. I've never owned one, but I've heard winter horror stories from friends. Unless you're in a warm climate and rarely are in the cold, I don't know if i'd reccomend it. Besides the thermal protection problem, its a really neat case!

February 18, 2007 at 12:04 AM · If you decide to get the BAM Hightech, make sure you get the latest model. It comes with a numeric lock (instead of key) and has a shoulder rest strap in the case.

February 18, 2007 at 12:16 AM · The web site for weber cases is http://www.weberscases.com/

February 18, 2007 at 12:30 AM · Musafia made me a custom case. It's an Enigma.

A year ago I was walking up some stairs at my school, and someone's horn case knocked my violin case out of my hands. It fell quite viciously down a rather long flight of stairs, and needless to say I was worried. Well, of course, it wasn't even out of tune, and the sound post and bridge were fine. I've had American cases (2 of them), but none of these carbon fiber ones.

February 18, 2007 at 04:54 AM · My daughter has a Manhattan case by the

American Case Company. She complains that the case is too heavy. The top of the case is top heavy and closes unexpectedly. It started falling apart after a year. The stitching that holds the d rings unravels and the case fell to the ground twice. The last time it fell one of her bows was damaged. Their warrenty does not cover anything on the exterior of the case even if the problem is do to poor manufacturing. I would stay away from anything the American Case Company makes.

February 18, 2007 at 05:26 AM · If you want a good combination of protection and light weight, go with the Musafia Aeternum.

It weighs in at 6 pounds and can be custom-ordered with options that add neglible extra weight like upgraded thermal insulation and waterproofing.

Musafia does custom cases as well. They have a whole section on custom cases on their web site.

- Ray

February 18, 2007 at 06:44 AM · I have a Bam case that can be carried on my back like a rucksack as I cycle to and from work.Last week I was caught in a heavy rain storm which poured a wall of water over me for the half hour journey home.I was completely wet through inspite of my protective rain gear however the case did its job beautifully (thank goodness).

February 18, 2007 at 12:56 PM · Laurie;

If you deal with Leroy Weber (Weber cases) you'll love the guy!

The two grades of American case used to have the same shell, differing only in the fittings, so protection would have been similar. I don't know if this is still true because they are no longer manufactured here in Ann Arbor.

If you want to save some money, Bobelock cases are made by a guy (Steve Bobelock) who used to be a partner in American Case Co., and many of the cases are still very similar. I don't think they're available with the silk plush interior right now.......their supplier went out of business. I use both for shipping, and the Bobelock has held up at least as well as the American. You'll sacrifice some protection if you choose the "featherlite" case.

http://www.bobelock.com

David Burgess

http://www.burgessviolins.com

February 18, 2007 at 01:34 PM · I have a Musafia case that I bought about 11 years ago, and it's great. Unfortunately I don't remember the model name anymore, but it was one of the less expensive ones without all the extra features. It's light but still roomy. I occasionally rode my bike with it on my back in my misspent youth when I first bought it. The top stays open when I want it to--something I hadn't even thought of until a previous poster mentioned it, but yeah, that sounds important. It's still in great shape too, although it spent 7 of its 11 years not being used very much. It has a dark blue velvet interior that I chose out of a selection of colors when I ordered it.

It also has a blue cloth cover, which I was recently told is not "in" anymore, but I still like a lot (blue is my favorite color--can you tell? At least my violin isn't blue). The other three instruments in our house--my rental viola, my daughter's 1/2 size and my son's 1/4 size--all have standard black cases, and I like being able to identify my violin at a glance from across the room. Not to mention when it's in a sea of cases at an orchestra rehearsal.

February 18, 2007 at 02:06 PM · I'd suggest a worn and ripped Musafia from estate sale. Tres chic.

February 19, 2007 at 02:21 AM · Laurie;

You have some good choices (depending on your budget). I've been impressed with Musafia's cases, like the BAM hightech (a little industrial, but plenty protective), the Webers are nice, some players still swear by Mick Gordge's cases, etc. I have a Jaeger (upper end) case I love, but it's not light (and not cheap).

The American cases are no longer made in Ann Arbor (as David mentioned), and I have been led to believe that they not all are made by the same manufacturers or in the same country. The Continental is still a "tank". Heavy and strong. I believe they may be made in Germany at theis point, but I'm not sure. I've recently had a poor experience with the Manhattan case... Seems these may be made in China now (so I was told)... Had a client who wanted one, but the first had a problem... was returned and replaced only to have the second one fail as well. A BAM has been ordered as a replacement/upgrade. Don't know if American has addressed the problems or not.

It's the shell (materials/design/method of constructin/workmanship) that gives a case it's strength.

If you can manage to visit a few local dealers who carry the various cases, there's probably nothing like picking each one up and seeing how they feel, checking out the features in person, and deciding which one you don't mind looking at every day (for the next decade or so).

Good luck,

Jeffrey

February 18, 2007 at 05:16 PM · I have a Master Series Exclusive that is actually holding a violin that is worth less than the case. Just want to forewarn anyone with brand new violins whose varnish is not totally set yet. My 2003 violin sat in the Musafia case while I was on vacation for 3 weeks, and when I got back, the velvet pad at the shoulder and tailend had made impressions in the varnish. I e-mailed Mr. Musafia and he said it was because the varnish on some new violins take years to set. He suggested French polishing but I did not do that and instead just accepted it is there. Also there were disturbances to the ribs too where the plushness pushed in. He said the marks were due to the pressure and plush protection, holding the violin in there firmly.

Hence a 120 year old JTL French violin with century old oil varnish sits there now... :-)

February 18, 2007 at 05:11 PM · QUOTE: "If you can manage to visit a few local dealers who carry the various cases, there's probably nothing like picking each one up and seeing how they feel, checking out the features in person, and looking to see which one you don't mind looking at every day (for the next decade)." END QUOTE

And... you'll be able to test your personal violin in the case. I looked at a BAM last summer when we were in Austin, TX (very nice violin shop there btw) but my fiddle was too large for it. It's standard length.. but a bit taller/deeper in the belly. So... test before buying. Or make sure that you can return if you order by mail.

February 18, 2007 at 07:28 PM · Apparently prophetic, my post about a new list of Musafia discounted cases being due has brought forth a new listing today, with a dozen or more ranging from 99 dollars to 1599. I trust more than one of you will find that of some interest.

February 18, 2007 at 08:45 PM · Laurie,

Over the past few years I have acquired the following: a Gordge (best model, non-suspension) a Weber model 653 (Hill style), and a new Jaeger Linea Nova (leather.) All are fine cases with excellent finish and materials and their own strong points.

The Gordge is meticulously built. The fit of the interior is detailed, sturdy and precise. While my violins move a bit in the case, the side padding is the densest with the best shock absorbtion. My case is not a suspension case, but I remedied the problem by adding two thin silk covered foam pads under the violin and a foam pad in the lid to secure the chin rest when the case is closed. The lock is a spring loaded hasp that inserts into a sliding button lock. It is fairly cheap pressed brass hardware.

The Weber has a higher crowned lid (supports over 200 lbs. see Weber site), has the most usable storage and the most comfortable handle. My only complaint with the Weber is the thiner padding around the ribbing of the violin. You can actually feel the screws or rivets of the lid hinge which lines-up with the widest part of the lower bout. Admittedly, you have to push slightly with you finger to feel it, but the padding isn't the quality of the Gordge.

The Jaeger is my favorite. The full French fit interior is well padded and holds my violin snugly. It is a suspension case that achieves the goal by curved padding in the bottom of the case that is thicker under the shoulders and tail piece, leaving air space beneath the sound post. The bow holders that support the tips are a pliable plastic that prevents broken bows when dropped or hastily (and carelessly) removed. As well, the main storage compartment is to the right of the violin, helping to prevent bows dropped whilst storing and removing from having the frog hit the violin. The case has the best cast metal latches that are the spring loaded hasp type with sliding button locks and are lockable with a sort of two pin key. The case has curved ends, is as slim as the Gordge, but still has an arched top for strength. Frankly, Jaeger seems to be the only maker making a traditional leather case with an independent, removable heavy canvas cover that is felt lined. If you travel regularly with the case, the detached cover would probably be an inconvenience. However, I did a quick cool-down test of the three cases and found that the Jaeger, with it's wooden shell, leather cover, and felt lined canvas cover was the most resistant to temperature change. What's more, and like the Weber, the Jaeger's lid has a lip that interlocks with the base and forms a better vapor barrier than just a butted union with a zipper holding the case lid in line with the bottom. I also prefer the pads in the lid of the Jaeger that compress against the chin rest and the fingerboard when the lid is closed. The velcro tie and the leather ribbons on the Weber and Gordge are less convenient, and given the double locks on the Jaeger, the lid seems unlikely to open unintentionally. The drawbacks to the Jaeger are an utterly useless humidifier, cloth hinges on the storage compartment lids, and a beautifully stitched heavy leather handle that despite it's quality, is the least comfortable of the three.

The perfect case, in my view, would be a Jaeger with metal compartment lid hinges and a humidifier tube similar to the Weber or Musafia (which I remedied by drilling the string tube which I never use anyway and inserting a fiberous core. I prefer the slim design of the Jaeger since I am forever smacking door jambs with the thick Weber,a and I think its lid is stronger that the Gordge because of its bowed shape.

Hope this helps... Good luck with your decision.

RU

February 18, 2007 at 10:12 PM · Wow, you guys, thanks for so many great suggestions! Now, I need to figure out if it's possible to get the right kind of Mufasia for about $500. Also, I'm wondering how to find Jaegers. I'll go back through all these posts.

Thanks so much! And I still welcome any more suggestions!

February 18, 2007 at 10:13 PM · Do any of you know what the Musafia Hill Model case is about? It sells for $329.

February 18, 2007 at 10:14 PM · Where do I find a discounted Mufasia? ...Ideas? Still haven't ruled out Weber or Jaeger.

February 18, 2007 at 11:01 PM · Laurie,

Honestly, just e-mail Dimitri Musafia himself. He was incredibly helpful with my case, and I'm sure he could direct you.

February 19, 2007 at 12:25 AM · The site for discounted Musafia cases is:

http://www.musafia.com/discounted.html

(I'm assuming this is the site that Bob was referring to).

I got my Musafia Ultraleggero this way, and have been extremely happy with it.

February 19, 2007 at 01:28 AM · Greetings,

you can get a Musafia on that budget in Japan so I`m sure it is also posisble in the US.

Cheers,

Buri

February 19, 2007 at 02:25 AM · Laurie;

Shar lists the Jaeger Linea Nova case Robert mentioned (I think it's about $1K). Don't know who else is stocking them in the US.

I have a similar case, but it's a special edition they made a while ago (textured leather, special lining). At this point (I think I'm glad) I can't recall what I paid for it... but I recall it "hurt" slightly at the time. :-)

February 19, 2007 at 04:09 AM · Does anyone know of a case comparable to the American Case company Continental Dart? Mine is about 12 years old and just starting to show wear - I love the dart shape and pretty much everything else about this case.

February 19, 2007 at 06:10 AM · Musafia Superleggero Dart, perhaps?

Does anyone have experience with the (newish) Gewa Maestro cases? They seem to have the old Jaeger design, and I think they look pretty spiffy, but I'm wondering how sturdily built they are.

My 16-year-old American case is getting long in the tooth too...

February 19, 2007 at 06:44 AM · I just bought a BAM Hightech (oblong) with a small music pocket. I live near Brobst Violin Shop so I was able to get it there (and for much cheaper than a lot of places). I love it! I've only had it for a day and a half but it's marvelous. It's 4 lbs without my violin in it and since it's only a small music pocket (which I like), you can't fit 5 lbs worth of music in it (a crime I'm often guilty of). I highly recommend it!!!!!

February 19, 2007 at 09:22 AM · Back in the mid-80’s I’ve owned one of the first Musafia cases, it did look more or less like a Hill model and was falling apart after 2 years of use… Things seem to have improved since them, according to the reports here. I also owned a couple of Jaeger cases, which seem to be built for the eternity, but were really very heavy. The last 4-5 years I had a Continental, for me a very good case, also rather heavy but better balanced than the Jaegers, with lots of storage space in the inside and very carefully built and finished. Unfortunately, it was stolen last year, so I’m also searching…Maybe a Gordge (since they finally offer a suspension system) this time…

February 19, 2007 at 07:01 PM · We got an American case from Shar a year ago for our daughter whose instrument came with a coffin case. My husband likes the durablity, but when it gets really cold and windy I noticed that the strings "popped" off... probably due to my daughter fogetting to fill the humidifier. So we got a "cushy" case for the outside, which makes it even more heavy.

I know someone with a BAM case and they seem to really like it.

Jodi

February 19, 2007 at 07:20 PM · Take a closer look at Musafia cases. I bought one a few weeks ago. I am fascinated by its beauty, its relatively light weight and - most importantly - the perfect protection it provides. Very thoughtful construction! It's not cheap. However, I think your Gagliano deserves a nice case.

February 19, 2007 at 09:28 PM · As a dealer and maker Musafia are by far my favourite cases. Beauty, durability etc. I use them for my own instruments.

Dimitri is an absolute gentleman to deal with also. A once in a lifetime investment.

February 21, 2007 at 09:54 PM · I have a Musafia Master Series Exclusive and a Gordge. They are both beautiful, especially the Musafia. I've heard that the Musafia is the Cadillac of violin cases. They were very expensive, but it's worth it. I would highly recommend either one.

February 22, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Hi everybody, I ordered a I ordered a Mufasia case. I'm so excited!

February 22, 2007 at 07:08 AM · Which model did you get?

February 22, 2007 at 12:38 PM · That one's pretty, I like the color. I think maybe I'll get one to go to college, because I hope to be playing a lot then.

February 22, 2007 at 01:29 PM · Good choice- you won't regret it

February 27, 2007 at 06:27 AM · congrats on your musafia!

best case (jmo) out there!!!

what color did you get?

mine was black with brown piping (i qasnt crazy about the brown) and the inside was a deep rich red crushed silk!!!

expensive, yes, but nothing but the best for our fiddles, right!?!? :)

April 6, 2008 at 04:38 PM · I have my 88 year-old mother's original Jaeger shaped case. I can see on various websites that these cases are still available new. I'd like to buy a replacement canvas jacket, but I hate to spend the money and time having one custom made. Does anyone know if replacement jackets for this model can be bought anywhere?

Thanks.

Marjorie

April 6, 2008 at 07:27 PM · I have a BAM high tech contoured case, and I LOVE IT! It's very protective, despite Shar's reviews. It's incredibly light weight, which is a big plus since I'm always carrying it around. And not that this really means anything, but whenever I take it in enormously varied temperatures, it always stays in tune, which is a big plus. I'm pretty sure that BAM sells an add-in hygrometer too, which would definitely be a good investment. 'Hope this was of some help!

April 6, 2008 at 07:34 PM · My Musafia Masterseries case saved my violin after I stopped quite suddenly for a deer. Case when flying big time in the car. Violin was just fine. Picked it up on the used/demo page. Tney said there was a sligh flaw inside which they fixed better than new so I got it a lot cheaper than retail.

April 7, 2008 at 05:37 AM · I agree with Adam, I love my BAM hightech contoured. Just recently I traveled internationally with it and all over the US, and the case was not only very light and easy to carry but I also noticed that my violin hardly ever went out of tune. Actually when traveling from Jordan to the US, which is about a 24 hour trip, my violin used to go out of tune with all the clunking around. But it didn't this time!

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