Case Insulation

February 22, 2010 at 05:39 PM ·

Here in these crazy dry winters of NY, I fear walking out with my violin. From house to car is fine, but anything more gets me concerned.

Is an instrument blanket enough to insulate the case for about 15 minutes? Maybe several blankets or an instrument bag. What are your opinions on blankets, bags, and the materials for insulation?

I also assume some cases insulate more than others...

Replies (43)

February 22, 2010 at 08:20 PM ·

Insulation is important to me!  I love my old violin.

I recently borrowed an instrument in a nicely insulated case that didn't seal very well.  Before it zipped closed i could see all the way through and zipping didn't help much!    When I purchased a new case the main requirement was that it seals up nicely, but the one i chose did not have any insulation.  I walk and bike places and my state is colder than your state :-) , so I needed an insulated cover.  I went to a thrift store and bought a sleeping bag, cut it down to size, sewed it back up and put it inside a denim duffel bag with decent back-pack type shoulder straps.

My insulation seems to be good for 30 minutes in sub-freezing weather.  Any longer than that and I drive.  When I drive, I warm up the car before the violin goes in.

When I arrive at my destination, I immediately pull the violin case out of the insulated bag.  If the case is cold, I let it warm up before I  open the case. 

Of course, if money is no issue, one can buy an insulated case cover online.


February 22, 2010 at 11:39 PM ·

I'm wordering the effectiveness of silk/satin instrument bags and blankets... seems like it would help

February 23, 2010 at 05:10 AM ·

I would think a case cover such as the Cushy case or the Bobelock case cover, coupled with an instrument bag, and a good heavy case inside, would be the best. I don't know of any instrument bags aside from the silk ones.  There may be polyester ones, but I don't think that would make any difference.

I've traveled solo cross country in a vehicle and wrapped my good violin in quilts and then put all that in a green garbage bag so that when I get out of the vehicle it won't look like, oops, she's got an expensive instrument. 

Another thing you can do is to have a case cover made for you by Mooradian:

I've had them make a case cover for a double violin/viola case;  they will make whatever you like, with whatever dimensions you give them, and the covers are quite nice.  (And no, I don't work for them or use them as distributors). 

February 23, 2010 at 06:02 AM ·

 I use a Bobelock smart bag ($70) over a Gewa Maestro case. It works well for my 20+ minute treks from my dorm to orchestra rehearsals, even in the winter. It's also good because the Smart bag is a bit oversized, so I can throw all sorts of accessories (music stands + binders for gigs) in it that wouldn't fit in the case itself. It also protects the case from bumps and etc.

February 24, 2010 at 01:18 AM ·

FWIW, I prefer the Bobelock Smart Bag to the Cushy, also;  the Cushy has the product name prominently on the outside of the case-- I don't care to be a free walking advertisement for any product, shirt, other clothing or case. 

February 24, 2010 at 01:44 AM ·

"the Cushy has the product name prominently on the outside of the case-- I don't care to be a free walking advertisement for any product, shirt, other clothing or case."

That's kind of the way I feel. If they're not going to pay me like Tiger Woods to endorse a product (which no one has offered yet :-) ), the product will need to have some real merit. It's hard to understand why I should pay to be a walking billboard.

Stradivari somehow did OK without emblazoning his name of the outside of his instruments.

February 24, 2010 at 06:28 PM ·

Gee, David, maybe Cushy could work a deal to throw the babes at you, if not the bucks, just like Cheetah Woods!

February 24, 2010 at 08:25 PM ·

Would any of these case covers fit for an accord case?

February 25, 2010 at 06:58 AM ·

February 28, 2010 at 03:41 PM ·

Another vote here for the Mooradian cover. I've spent years researching what happens inside cases during temperature changes, and just the sheer bulk of insulation material of a Mooradian cover makes it a winner. They're also robustly made and not even that expensive. You can have it made to measure if necessary.

AND - made in the U.S.A..



February 28, 2010 at 07:47 PM ·

Whether Cushy or Mooradian , be sure to check the measurements...saves on the return postage costs for your blunder...I learned the hard way

March 1, 2010 at 06:47 AM ·

Do the WORK, and do the MATH!

The rate of heat loss from the case is directly related to the temperature difference between the outside of the violin case and the inside of any thermal cover. The higher the heat capacity of the case and its contents, the longer it will take to lose heat - so this will reduce the rate of temperature drop inside the case. A "cushy" cover will have a lot of air pockets that reduce the convective and conductive flow of heat through the cover. A smooth surfaced cover will have less surface for heat transfer to the outside air.

1. You definitely want to have an external, insulated case cover. The most effective cover will have a heat reflective surface on the inside in contact with the violin case to reduce radiation heat transfer (Oh yes! even at those low temperatures). Or, a smooth, shiny silvered-surface violin case should be helpful too, I would think.

2. The smaller the surface area of the violin case, the slower the heat loss from the interior of the case. So a shaped case should be  better for thermal protection against cold than an oblong case; and the more rounded the sides and edges of the case, the smaller the surface area.

3. The larger the mass of the violin case and its contents, the slower the heat loss for a given case-surface area and inside/outside temperature ratio. So any extra stuff you put in there and around the violin will increase the amount of heat within and the length of time it takes to lose it.

4. If you put a thermometer inside with your violin, you can measure the rate of temperature drop for a given period of time. From that, you can extrapolate (or interpolate) for longer times. For example, if when you leave home, your well-bundled instrument is at 70°F and after 30 minutes outside at 20°F, the violin temperature is 50° F (even at that perfectly safe temperature it will feel cold - unless your hands are cold too), you have a 50°F temperature gradient causing temperature drop of 20° in 30 minutes. So during the next 30 minutes, you start with a temperature gradient of 30° (50 – 20), the temperature drop of the instrument would be about 3/5 x 30 = 18° and the violin would now be at about 32°F - FREEZING POINT of water!  These steps in temperature are too large for good calculus - better to have more measurements and shorter time steps.

But you get the idea: you can get a good estimate of your level of protection without endangering your instrument.

The greater the difference between inside and outside temperature, the faster the temperature drop inside.

The more insulation and sealing (i.e., thermal protection) the slower the temperature drop inside.

The longer the exposure, the more the temperature drops.


December 26, 2010 at 04:24 PM ·

Hi guys!

I have been looking at several violin cases, specially those by carbon fibre reinforced synthetic shell: Hima and Gewa Idea 2.3 

Both of them seem very good in many ways ( light but very strong, inner music pocket, leather handles, good quality interiors, cool exteriors).

BUT!!! It doesn't say anything about INSULATION.

Please guys, does anyone of you know if this kind of shell material are good for insulation? that is a must for me, as I don't want my violin to crack with heat or cold!!

As the Gewa Idea are not so cheap, I would appreciate your comments before I purchase it.

The Hima are cheaper, but I also don't know about its insulation (or lack of it)

Please help!!


December 26, 2010 at 04:35 PM ·

Actually, the Gewa idea 2.3 is Fiber glass that the same quality as carbon fiber reinforced? for insulation?

December 26, 2010 at 05:30 PM ·

i'm no expert, but I, too, have been looking for cases that are fairly weatherproof.  It seems that the carbon-fiber cases (very similar to fiberglass) are strong, but quite thin.  Neither the carbon-fiber nor the fiberglass shell has air pockets, so unless they say something about a foam core (or similar), they can't do much insulating.  If you go with the carbon-fiber or fiberglass, you should plan to buy or make your own insulated carrybag for winter use.

On the other hand, the carbon fiber & fiberglass cases almost always boast of a good weather-proof seal where lid meets base, so I, too,  am considering them. (I've made an insulated carry bag).

On the other hand, the Mu$afia ca$e$, with WeatherGuard, PressurePorts, Tropicalization, and SuperSilk look like they are the ideal $olution for my weather conditions.    If my violin was earning its keep or worth 2x more, I'd go for the Musafia Enigma 2 ...  we can always dream, eh?  :-)

December 26, 2010 at 05:57 PM ·

From my experience (and testing), fiberglass and carbon fiber shells provide very little insulation. The best shells from the standpoint of resistance to heat and cold are the styrofoam ones, which anyone who has a beer cooler knows! The problem with styrofoam shells is that the material isn't mechanically strong enough to stand up to anything resembling hard use over even the medium term.

Second best in my opinion is wood laminate, which is the reason I use this material for my own cases. As Helen points out, you need some air in there to help insulate, and there is air in wood laminate. I don't want to speak against any of my colleagues, but so far I have not been impressed by any of the other materials beinig used today to make violin cases. So I stick with wood laminate!

If you add a nice, bulky over-case cover as described in previous posts on this thread to a wood laminate case, you should be doing fine.

December 26, 2010 at 06:17 PM ·

The best option may be the same things that keep humans insulated from the cold: wafflewave long-john material, flannel, felted wool, polartek.  Line bags made of these materials with silk or satin so they keep the varnish pristine.

December 26, 2010 at 06:24 PM ·

I used a down-alternative throw to make a "mummy bag" for my violin cases.  Not perfect, but gotta be better than nothing.  I'm checking into a Cushy oblong case cover (sized for viola) -- it should be large enough for my "D-shaped" 4/4 violin case or my shaped 3/4 violin case, but I need to find out the inside dimensions of the Cushy case before I can decide for sure.

December 26, 2010 at 10:22 PM ·

Dimitry - when you add "weather guard" or "tropicalization" to your cases, what does that consist of?

Anyway, I've found that when you put the violin in a bag or blanket, zip it up, and then put the whole case into a thick "Cushy" bag, it makes a big difference in protecting the violin from the cold - and to some extent, the rain. Other brands, such as Moradian make similar bags.

December 26, 2010 at 11:53 PM ·

So say that you've got a carbon fiber or fiberglass case. If you wrap the violin in some kind of blanket made out of flannel, felted wool, polartek or silk, would it protect the violin from cold temperatures (without having to use a cover for the case?)

December 27, 2010 at 02:13 AM ·

how long could a very thin bag prevent a temperature change ? test one!  put a thermometer inside a bag and stick it inside your freezer.  see how far the temp drops in different bags in 5 minutes, but make sure each bag is sealed the same way and the thermometer is in the same position in each bag (e.g. one layer of fabric between it and the frozen surface).

those fabrics you list help our bodies maintain temperature because they help keep moving air from pulling away our heat- but we are constantly producing heat.  In essence, a layer of the things you describe help trap the heat we make.  A violin is not making any heat.  It contains heat, and a sealed blanket/bag could help maintain that heat- especially if it traps a lot of warm air or other warm mass--  but ... and this is a total guess... i'd say the thermal fabrics might give you an extra 1-3 minutes in freezing temperatures- nothing I would trust to protect my instrument. 

You need to trap as much heat around the instrument as you can- the pockets, towels, and other contents of the case will also have some heat stored in them- why not use them as well?  A well sealed case traps all the heat contained within it .  Heat is lost from the case if (1) air moves into/out of the case (2) heat is transfered from the shell of the case to any object touching it (solids, liquids, or gases). The case material will transfer heat from the inside of the case to the outside- fairly fast if it is carbon fiber, fiberglass, metal, or a similarly thin, solid material.  The case material will transfer heat slowly if it is a closed cell foam or similar substance that holds lots of air. 

The best way to trap the maximum heat on the inside of the case would be to make sure the case is sealed tightly and to add insulation to the case shell or the outside of the case, not a little blanket around the violin.


December 27, 2010 at 04:31 AM ·

"If you wrap the violin in some kind of blanket made out of flannel, felted wool, polartek or silk, would it protect the violin from cold temperatures?"

Beats me.  :-)  I live in LA, so it's not a concern for me at the moment ... but those sorts of things work for humans.  Then again, humans generate their own heat that such materials trap.

I wonder if it wouldn't be possible to put warmers in a case, something like the handwarmers you can buy from REI, but not quite as hot.  Honestly, I think the best thing to do is just to put a bag around the violin, a bag around the case, and move quickly when you are outside.  Stringed instruments are just not meant for robust weather.  If you absolutely need one in such a setting, get a CF.

I suppose the root question is: why do you need to be outside for longer than it takes to go between a car/train/bus and an enclosed heated space with your violin for longer than 15 minutes?  Is it a matter of walking to and from a bus stop?  If so, can you wear a largish overcoat and just tuck a small violin case under it next to your body?  If I were in that position, that's probably what I would do.  If it were very cold and I were forced to be outside for a long time -- walking home from a stopped car, for example -- I'd probably take my viola out of its case and put it directly next to my skin before bundling up like an eskimo.  It might end up with the bridge out of place and I'd get poked with the pegs, but it'd be better than a split belly.

December 27, 2010 at 05:01 AM ·

lol, Janis.  I probably thought that way, too, a couple of decades ago when I lived in So.Cal.  But now I spend time in Minnesota.  Sometimes I drive to/from rehearsal at night when it is 0 F, and just two weeks ago I had to walk an unexpected extra distance to a concert because roads and parking lots were closed due to a blizzard the previous day.  I was really glad I had on my gloves, snow boots, snow pants, parka, ear-flapped hat, and had Freyja in her parka as well.   One thinks & plans differently in the  snow and  b i t t e r   c o l d   conditions. 

December 27, 2010 at 05:05 AM ·

Designing a case really isn't so simple. A lightweight case will behave very differently from a heavier case in both temperature change, as well as humidity change. Whether the case allows some air leakage or not also has a huge influence.

The absolute change in temperature or absolute humidity isn't really the big problem--the rate of change if temperature, and the range of relative humidity and time at off-nominal, is the issue.

Take case#1: Lightweight High Insulation case but low specific heat materials, with perfect hermetic seal.


Case#2 heavy case, medium insulation, high specific heat materials, vented.

Take a starting point of 70 degrees F, 50% RH.

Take both fiddles and put them in a space at 45 degrees F, with a relative humidity of 50%.

Leave both in the space for a period long enough for Case #1 to reach an internal air temperature of 57 degrees F.

What do you find? You think that case #1 was better, right? It has excellent insulation, so it took a long time to cool down. This is of course an asymtotic process. Let's just say it took one hour. But because the case was hermetic, what happened to the air inside case #1? The relative humidity rose. Fro m 70F/50%RH, which has a dew point of about 58 degrees F. If the case cools to this point with hermetic sealing, you will have dew on your fiddle! And the temperature will "stall" at 58 degrees or so because of the latent heat of vaporization being released by the dew. In other words, it might be 40 degrees outside, but your fiddle is going to stay at 58 for quite awhile--until you have made a lot of dew, and eventually dissipated the heat evolved. Then the temperature will continue to drop, and the fiddle will stay wet.

Case #2. Because the outside air is at the same relative humidity as the inside but at a lower temperature, as the air comes into the case, it will be drier than the air inside. As the outside air slowly exchanges with the outside air, what happens is that the water vapor inside tends towards an equilibrium concentration but across a temperature gradient. The high heat capacity of the case slows down the cooling rate--it takes more air exchange to bring the case temperature--and the surrounding air--down. As not all of the moisture in the air in the case gets out, the humidity in the case rises, but not so high. It might  get to 70%.

In my real-world case, I started a journey tonight with a bobelock (similar to #2--or to a Musafia) and it was at 70F/55%RH at the start. When I opened the case after a 7 hour drive, I found the inside temperature at 55F with 65% RH. This means that the air exchange with the outside air prevented the case from developing a 100% humidity condition internally.

All this stuff has been studied exhaustively in the Building Trades and all applies to instrument cases as well.

^^^^^Edit^^^^ Added next day:

I was too tired to finish this post. The rest follows.

For caes #1, you are thinking !disaster! right? Not necessarily.  How long is the fiddle coated with dew? And howe much dew?  If the dew is inly on the fiddle a shoty while, it isn't likely to cause a lot of trouble. If it isn't very much dew, it isn't likely either. If the case is trulyhermetic, how much dew will form? Very little. You can figure it out by using a psychometric chart and doing some calculations. 70F/50%RH air has a moisture to air ratio of about 0.8% (eight in one thousanbd parts). If the hermetic case has Low Volume, the amount of moisture is exceedingly small. The amount of dew forming is negligible. A small, lightweight hermitallcally sealed case with good insulation is fine for winter conditions if it is effective in slowing the rate of temperature change to an acceptable level What is acceptable. I don't know!!!

Now compare to the case with some venting. A vented case is working with a much larger volume of air--because of air exchange. But because colder air has less moisture content than warmer air, going from a warm place to a colder one isn't such a large problem for a vented case with large thermal mass and slow air exchange. Let's take typical London weather as an example. At 51F, a london fog (ignoring the fog itself) has an RH of 100% and at that temperature, the absolute moisture content of the air is 0.8%--exclty the same value as 70F/50%RH air. Any colder, and there is less moisture.

What I am showing is that going from warm to cold isn't a big problem in either design. And I haven't even begun talking about hydroscopic materials!

If you have hydroscopic material in your case, it will seek to equilibriate with the surroundings--this includes the wood in your fiddle as well as the velour--if it is cotton, rayon, acetate, or silk. The more of this material you have, the more it acts as a "sink" adding thermodynamic inertia. With hydroscopic materials, let's look at the Case#1 again. As the temperature drops, the relative humidity rises. However the plush velour has a lot of fiber surface area--and assuming the velour was at equilibrium going in, it will start taking up moisture from the air as the RH rises. This can have a dramatic effect on the ultimate RH at the cooler temperature. IT will tend to suppress the development of dew.

Of course this hydroscopic aspect works in heavy cases, too.

Now the interesting thing is to go the other direction. Start with a fiddle in a vented case (and note that most cases are vented by their method of construction. Only a Very Few if any would be truly hermetic) equilibriated in 37F/50%RH air. That would be just ordinary autumn air where I live. The absolute moisture content is 0.5%. If we take an hermetically sealed case that started at this condition, and move it into a 70F space and let it come up to temperature, then ignoring hydroscopic aspects, we will see the air go to about 30% RH at 70F. Including hydroscopic effects--inlcuding the fiddle itself-- this will be somewhat higher. I don't know how much higher--I'd have to do some arithmetic! But somwhere higher than 30% and lower than 50%.

If you bring your 37 degree fiddle into a house directly, it will of course get covered in dew until it warms above 58F--the dew point for 70F/50%RH air.  

A vented case will, due to air exchange, see a smaller drop in RH as the fiddle comes in from the cold, This is because while the fiddle is still cool but warming slowly, some of the humidity of the air outside the case will get in. Not a lot--a vented case as I am discussing isn't open. It is just seepage through the valence.  Add in the hydroscopic effects, and of course it is moderated further.

Summing up, there are really two main ways to protect a violin from thermal and moisture. They are very different. A very lightweight minimal volume case with hermetic sealing and some hydroscopic moderating plush, or a larger, heavier (but especially greater thermal inertia--wight itself is not desired) non-airtight case with large system volume and large hydroscopic capacity.

In both cases, you seek to minimize air exchange with the surroundings, but in the small case, the importance of a tight seal is much greater because the violin by itself becomes a much larger proportion of the system--and so minimizing the volume of air limits the absolute moisture involved.

When you add humidifiers, now it gets really complicated!

When you deal with hot sun, it gets coomplicated! If you have hydroscopic materials i nthe case, and you start at say 70F/50%RF and put the case in the sun and rapidly warm it, the temperature gradient from outside to in will be steep. As the hydroscopic materials in the outer, hotter portion warm up, they evolve moisture--and that moisture enters the surrounding air. Convective air currents inside the case then bring that hot air to the cooler areas, where the moisture then makes itself known. I believe this tnransient convective behavoir may also be at work in Musafia's experimental evidence of high heat/high humidity.

If you keep the case baking, eventually the RH for the whole system will fall--fairly dramatically but dependent on the ratio of hydroscopic material to air volume.

December 27, 2010 at 08:20 AM ·

 so.......does it mean that when it's 'cold outside' (and how cold is too cold? less than 10 degrees? less than 15? less than 5? less than 0?) it would be better for me NOT to travel to work on my motorbike with the violin but take the bus/train?

twice a week I go to work on the motorbike, it take 45 minutes, so for 45 minutes the violin is on my back in a Gewa case, in winter temperatures are anything from 10 to -8.....

when I get to my destination I don't open the case for MINIMUM 30 to 60 minutes.

If I had to take the bus/train it would be extremely expensive but if you tell me I would avoid potential disasters for my violin I'd do it!

Still, when travelling by bus/train I could be waiting at bus stop/train stop anytime up to 20 minutes sometimes..... so am I 'defeating' the point? And some of the buses are not that warm, temperature maybe is only 10 degrees in there.

December 27, 2010 at 08:46 AM ·

to Raphael: my Tropicalization feature is the addition of thermal insulation between the case shell and the cover. It slows temperature changes and thus variations of relative humidity as well, without the bulk of one of those over-case padded covers. The latter are however more effective; my solution is just intermediate for those who want this feature built-in. The WeatherGuard feature is a valance-and-groove solution for the fitting together of the lid and bottom of the case. The overlap makes it less likely that rainwater will get in, and also adds to the overall strength of the case in the event of impact. I'd also like to mention that I devised what I call PressurePorts, a simple feature designed to reduce the effects of air pressure build-up in when the case gets heated up. The ports are calibrated by diameter and number to be in relation with the internal air volume of the case, and are positioned and protected in such a way that air can go out but water can't get in. 

to Helen: testing is indeed very informative and can be fun too! I discovered the "pressure cooker effect" entirely by accident, while I was comparing interior air conditions inside different cases left under the hot July sun here in Cremona. I was monitoring air temperature increase, and didn't expect the 100% increase spike in relative humidity in one of the cases in a short time, so I set out to discover why.

to Bill: excellent post! When my wife was a young girl, she used to play in the meanders of the privately-owned Palazzo Martini, a 16th-century patrician palace in the center of Cremona where Napoleon once spent the night. One of her favorite rooms was near the dungeon (I'm not kidding, there's a real dungeon) and that was the ice room. It is a black hole of a room, the shape of an inverted cone, where they used to shovel in ice in winter which would keep for the rest of the year. That's where the nobility kept their perishable foodstuffs before refrigerators were invented, and has a staircase spiraling along the wall to reach the lower levels as the ice level itself decreased in the warmer months. It is protected by hugely-thick brick walls that acted as insulation, or better, provided the inertia that you mention. Even today if you go into one of those palazzos in the height of summer, they're cool inside without A/C.   

December 27, 2010 at 12:59 PM ·

Dimitry - thanks for your candor.

Marta et al - no, that would not be enough. I feel that you really should have something like a "Cushy" cover if you're going to be out more than a few minutes in temperatures below 45 degrees Farenheit or so. I think that any changes in temperature should be as gradual as possible, so that there isn't a shock of a sudden change. More layers help this, depending on the material.

Herre are typical scenarios for me: I only have a few steps to my car, but it takes a while for the car to heat up.Then, at my destination, I'm not sure how much I may have to walk from my car. Or I have about a block or so to walk to the subway. But when it's cold or windy, that makes a big difference in a short time. And then, till the subway comes, or you're in the subway, and there isn't heat, or there is, but when the doors open you get a blast of cold air.

Despite the way it sounds, a violin is like a cold-blooded animal;it depends on outside sources for heat or insulation. I also toyed with the idea of slipping in heated socks. But I wonder how controlable they are viz over-heating. The "cushy" covers are a bit of a pain. They add bulk, plus about 3 more pounds. But they really provide a significant amount of insulation, plus cushioning for mild shock, etc.

December 27, 2010 at 01:37 PM ·

Raphael - you may find this interesting:

This graph depicts test results deriving from an indoor>outdoor>indoor winter scenario as you have described. It shows what happens inside one of my normal cases and one with Tropicalization under the same conditions simultaneously. The case with insulation has a gentler curve and the extremes are inferior to that of the non-insulated case. A Cushy cover (or similar) would offer even better results.

(I apologize for the clunky link to my website, I tried to paste the graph into my response but it didn't come out! :-)  )

December 27, 2010 at 02:20 PM ·

I added more discussion to my post above.

Joe Parker:

Looking at Musafia's T-T curve, you can see that, should your case be the same as the standard Musafia, going out into 3C air for 45 minutes is not a problem for you at all. Of course this is not including the wind effects of your motorbike--but if it is on your back and you are riding upright rather than cafe bars that means much less arflow.

Your 60 minute rest period should be more than enough. Note that Dimitri's curve goes from 21C to 1.6C outside in 10 minutes, while the standard case drops to 10C after 45 minutes. Assuming you started at 21C/50%RH as I discussed above, you need only get your fiddle up above 14.4C to avoid any dew at all when removing itom the case. Again looking at Dimitri's curve, you can see that starting from 10C, it is only 20 minutes or so to be at 15C--and that is against an outside temperature that is only 15C going up gradually to 21C (his ouside temperature doesn't step right back up to 21C).

Sounds like you have found a proper way of doing things--provided you have a Musafia:-)

(I converted the chart to Celsius for your convenience).

December 27, 2010 at 03:05 PM ·

Bill, with regard to the final part of your edited post, please see this other graph I just uploaded:

Here are two identical cases out in the hot sun (on July 27 of 2005 starting at 14.00). One case was left closed, the other with the lid slightly open, i.e. the lid resting against the closed latch. That resulted in an aperture of about 1cm along the handle side of the case. 

You can observe the spike in relative humidity in the former due to the increase in internal pressure which however gradually diminishes as the air finds a way out, while in the latter the air was free to escape (too much so, actually) resulting in dangerously LOW levels of RH. 

In this test the ambient temperature was a steady 93°F, while the temp inside the closed case levelled out after 60 mins. at 128°F (130°F after 150 mins.) and in the open case at just under 120°F (122°F after 150 mins.). Enough to bake any violin to a crisp.

To paraphrase Heisenberg, our very discussing these phenomena should open some eyes and conceivably save some violins down the road!

December 27, 2010 at 03:38 PM ·

I see guys. thanks for the responses!

At the moment I live in Spain, in an area where temperatures are fairly mild all year round. But I do travel around quite a lot. So I understand, according to a previous post by Raphael, that when temperatures go below 45 º F  I should use a cover for the carbon/glass fiber case.

And what about hot? I hardly ever have to walk to rehearsals in the summer, but if i had to do it in a fairly high temperature (25º-35º Celsius), I must use the case cover again then, is that right?

December 27, 2010 at 04:41 PM ·

 Bill Platt:

thank you for all that explanation, it looks like I 'should be alright'


I have a Negri case not a Musafia so don't know how much they differ..... ;)

of course on the motorbike the case is behind me on my back, I have a 'windscreen' on my bike too so no wind hits me at all from my nose down....I do ride in temperatures up to -8 (minus) so I'll go from 19 degrees (in my house) to -8 outside for 45 minutes and in my office at work where it is about 22 but yes like I've mentioned I'll leave the case closed minimum 30 minutes, often an hour before I open it once I am there....

Thanks again


December 27, 2010 at 05:11 PM ·

Jo - if I may say so, Negri makes their cases out of laminate too so if you cover it with an over-case padded cover (Cushy, Mooradian, etc.) I think you'll be on the safe side.


December 27, 2010 at 05:42 PM ·

 Thank you for the suggestion Dimitri.

by the way, being half italian I very very regularly come to Italy and am very 'intrigued' by your cases. 

Do you have a large display of your cases in Cremona, like a 'big showroom'? I'd love to see a large sample all under my eyes, often the dealers will only stock a couple of models and seeing them on the website is not like seeing them live.

If you do then I'll plan a visit in future :) although my regular visits often take me to Turin, Cremona is not that far away, not for someone like me who used to me a long distance truck driver hehehe ;)

December 27, 2010 at 09:38 PM ·

Thank you for your kind words, Jo! We do have a showroom but the display changes from day to day, as all my cases are made to order and therefore sold in advance. In other words, what you see in the showroom is already spoken for.

But if you'd like to drop in, please do e-mail me in advance and I'll be happy to arrange things. Turin is only 2 hours from Cremona on the A21.

December 28, 2010 at 12:12 AM ·

I have been able to avoid sudden temperature changes with my fiddles, but I do have some thoughts on this.

When I was spending a lot time with a camera, I used to keep the camera under my jacket, with velcro closures I could open quickly to get it free. That way, I kept the camera warm.

For a case, the discussion has focused on the insulation; one other factor would be the thermal mass. If you have a fairly good insulation case, you could possibly stuff the inside compartment with one of those flaxseed pillows that you can microwave. I would not suggest making the inside of the case tropical in temp, but any heat source would slow any cooling process. There are also those little hand warmers you can get; I wonder how much they could contribute to the temperature control?

December 29, 2010 at 09:27 PM ·

I commute from Queens to Manhattan with my violin every day, and my Mooradian cover does great for long walks out in the snow (though I didn't test it out in the blizzard that happened over the last couple days). When I don't feel like carrying my heavy oblong case, I switch to my Bobelock half-moon with the humidifier fully saturated, and two dampits (which I refill every night), one inside the violin, the other wrapped around the scroll. I never have any problems.

December 30, 2010 at 03:50 AM ·

"If so, can you wear a largish overcoat and just tuck a small violin case under it next to your body?  If I were in that position, that's probably what I would do."

On a recent cold day I took public transportation into Philly. I happen to own my grandfather's boiled wool cape from his military days. I strapped my Bobelock case to my back and wore the cape over myself and the case. I looked like Quasimodo but we both stayed warm. It is good that you can get away with wierdness in cities!

December 30, 2010 at 04:18 AM ·

I have a boiled wool US Army full dress cape with red lining, too!

December 30, 2010 at 11:27 AM ·

 I have now ordered a Mooradian cover for my Negri case :) I will no longer 'fear' so much for my violin when I take it on the back of my motorbike at -8 centigrades for my 45 minutes commute ;) or if I get stuck out there for 6 hours like I did last month when public transport ground to a halt because of some real heavy snowfall we had and I could not get home!!! I was stuck outdoors for 4 of those 6 hours :(

January 14, 2011 at 06:40 PM ·

 I have received the Mooradian cover I ordered, it's FANTASTIC!!! I love it to bits!!!

it fits around my Negri case so well, it actually makes my Negri case much more comfortable to carry as a back pack too.  Thanks to this thread I've discovered it, I never knew about it!

Now not only I am more comfortable when I ride my motorbike with my violin on my back but I also feel more reassured should I have an accident my violin is even more protected as it's in a good sturdy case + the mooradian for extra protection but also extra protected from temperature drops and humidity changes :)

its very good quality, well made, am sooooo pleased with it :)

March 3, 2012 at 12:32 PM · @Dimitri Musafia - What is the difference between wood laminate and layered plywood cases? Thank You

March 3, 2012 at 01:36 PM · Wood laminate and layered plywood are one and the same.

However, there are different quality grades of laminate, which take into account the eventual defects (knots, cracks, etc) of the layers. There are different standards for measuring the quality of laminated wood, however all take into account the these imperfections.

Since perfect wood is expensive, basic grades of laminate provide a "good" side (which is usually the visible side) and a "bad" side (to be away from sight). The layers in the middle can be good or less good, depending on the grade selected. So-called "marine grade" laminate has both sides "good".

The British Standard divides laminate in 7 different grades, from A to WG (best to worst).


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