the perfect violin case?

November 14, 2014 at 12:52 AM · When I got my first nice violin 25 years ago, I got my first nice violin case to go with it -- a Bobelock oblong case. It had no bells and whistles, just your basic cordura-covered oblong case with a big pocket on the left, two little pockets by the neck, a large zippered music pocket on the top, and a single strap that attached to the underside, essentially making it a one-shouldered backpack style. I really like the pinch-to-open, press-to-close latch action. No wire loop to flip, no latch to catch. It didn't have suspension, but for my purposes as a high school student it was good enough, and frankly I was proud of it.

10 years later it was getting worn out, and I was looking for an upgrade, and so I found the Bobelock 1017. Had all the features of the previous Bobelock (except the single-shouldered backpack strap which I missed) and also upgraded the two small pockets to GINORMOUS pockets by the neck/scroll as well as added suspension. I did notice recently that a tiny corner by the c-bout of the instrument was catching on the velour fabric ever so slightly, resulting in an almost unnoticeable tear.

Now that I'm getting to a certain age and running from gig to lesson to gig, I'm finding that my beloved case is, well, heavy. So I'm looking for a replacement. Any advice? Any reviews? I think I've got my choices narrowed down to:

Bam "Lotus"

Gewa "Idea 2.3"

Musilia "P1"

Bogaro & Clemente "Nicole"

I'd really like to see more info about the B&C Nicole but their website is woefully uninformational. Does anybody have one? I saw one briefly at my local violin shop and have been obsessed with it but somebody snapped it up before I could go and get a better look at it again.

I'd like a low maintenance case that is light on the arm/shoulder, light on the pocketbook, has tons of storage (which, I suppose, is contrary to my search for a light case in the first place), is easy to close/open, and fits my 4/4 (but ever-so-slightly wide) violin. Is there such a thing? Living inside my violin case are a few pencils and eraser, a small towel, my Wolf shoulder rest, sometimes a small metronome, and my Bernardel rosin (with its rather bulky pouch).

Replies (24)

November 14, 2014 at 05:53 PM · You've made quite the list of plastic-fantastic violin cases! That's great if you have a plastic violin too.

Otherwise, I might suggest considering a "real" case, made with time proven and provenly superior wood laminate - not any heavier - from any one of the makers out there that provide good ones: Negri, Riboni, Winter, and others.

November 14, 2014 at 06:45 PM · Quality issues aside for the moment...

You could ask your local store to get a case in for you. If they order one for you...and you don't like it...worst is that you'd have to pay a restocking fee (I would hope).

I prefer to see what I'm getting vs. just ordering something on line. As good as photos are...there seems to always be something you didn't notice until you the see the item in real life.

November 14, 2014 at 07:43 PM · I agree with NAM--see before you buy. I have to do that, b/c my violin is larger than a large-pattern Strad, and won't fit in many standard cases, but even with a more regular violin, it's a good idea to see your instrument in the case before you purchase it.

And Mo. Musafia is correct--the more natural fibers in the case, less chance of deleterious out-gassing or other issues with synthetics.

November 14, 2014 at 08:04 PM · I like the Pedi cases. I have one for my violin and just purchased one for my viola. They are lightweight, sturdy and have a nice music pouch on the underside. there is sufficient room in both cases for a shoulder rest (Everest in the violin case and Comfort in the viola case. There are also compartments for rosin, pencil, and aspirin.

My last case was a Bam Classic which lasted 17 years and the only failure was in the zipper which just got too old to close properly.

November 14, 2014 at 08:35 PM · I agree with Mr. Musafia -- wood cases for wood violins. I presently own a Negri Milano, which is excellently made and designed, but my next will be a Musafia, which is by far the best.

November 14, 2014 at 10:37 PM · Another vote for wooden cases; they're light, and absorb energy from a strike, rather than reflexively passing it to the instrument. Also the outgassing; also, a good synthetic case is heavy. (I have two different, yet pricey, synthetic cases for mandolins; each one weighs in at twelve pounds with the instrument inside. Nicely paded and hermetically sealed, but rather a burden.)

I'm pleased to have a few Musafia cases, all of which I'm quite pleased with, some of which were quite a bargain. I can also attest to the very high level of customer service provided by Sr. Musafia.

November 14, 2014 at 11:01 PM · I also agree with Mr. Musafia.

Get a real case.

My previous case was a Musafia luxury model,I bought in the early 90's to house my recently bought Vuillaume. After 23 years, it still looks very good with minimal wear and it had been around the globe a few times, protecting the violin. Last year I decided I wanted an upgrade and I bought a refurbished Enigma from the Musafia site loaded with options. When it arrived it looked like new and I'm sure will last me more years than I'll live to see it needing replacing.

It really pays to buy the best. Remember also that a case has to protect the instrument well.

Now I am at the end of restoring my ex-teacher's 18th century Viennese violin and I'm going to have to buy a new case for it. Believe me it's going to be another Musafia.

November 15, 2014 at 01:44 AM · If you can afford a Musafia, you'll never regret buying one. There are some marked down on his "New, pre-owned, discounted..." page.

I'm sure there are other good ones that cost a tad less, but it's a quickly changing landscape out there so I don't know what I would recommend.

November 15, 2014 at 02:28 AM · Another agreement with Mr. Musafia. Wood violin cases are still tops for protection, if you get a well-designed one. I second the suggestion for Musafia and Riboni.

November 15, 2014 at 04:26 AM · What part of the OP's "light on the pocketbook" do you guys not understand???

November 15, 2014 at 04:18 PM · I am very devoted to my Musafia case. I have an oblong/eliptical Aeternum. It is not really light but it payed for itself in a split second in the Detroit airport a few years ago. My Matsuda violin got knocked of my shoulder (my fault) It landed top down on the concrete. I realize this is not the most expensive or rare violin in the world, but it is much better than the likes of me deserves! The upshot is that the instrument was ok and it was still in tune! The case was not cheap but it cost a lot less than the repairs would have and far less than even a cheap bow. It also looks like a million bucks if you had a car like it it would have to be a Rolls-Royce. I know Dimitri has some new lighter models as well. The service and kindness I have had from Musafia has been as if I was some sort of a concert artist and not the small town South Texas violin teacher I am. I is very devoted to his craft and "good enough" is never good enough. I cannot say enough about his cases. I don't work for him, and we have never met face to face, but I have enjoyed interacting with him via email and he has always been very responsive, even sending me his ltest bow holders to try out! BTW the bow holders are enough alone to but the case, they are the first I have ever seen that where really thought out. We but 60 grams of wood and metal worth tens of thousands of dollars into a fifty cent bow spinner and hope. His are made of special soft plastic, they are shaped so as not to snag the hair and the detent always holds them in position. I never open the case to find a bow flopping around inside. I am fixing to have him make a case for my viola pretty soon. The only downside I see is that he isn't going to get to sell you a second one as they will last nearly forever.

November 15, 2014 at 07:47 PM · Foogling Musilia with the jphone fielded some interesting results...

November 15, 2014 at 08:41 PM · Yeah, "Musilia" tries to foogle you into thinking they are "Musafia:" they aren't.

November 16, 2014 at 02:16 AM · Light on the pocketbook can and does correlate with Musafia. I have one case that cost me $99, if I recall correctly. Others were a few hundred dollars. Refurbished by the manufacturer, and therefore both less costly than new, as well as equal to the task set for them, they remain true bargains. I'm grateful that Sr. Musafia is willing to do this.

Amortise that over ten years, consider the value of the contents, and make your decision.

A (very long) while ago, I bought my first good instrument; despite the fact that I was paying for it about 20 dollars at a time, whenever I could afford to do so, I did not take possession of the instrument until I also paid for a case, which cost half as much as the instrument itself, and delayed my gratification significantly.

Today they are both in fine shape, and each is worth considerably more than its original price.

Buy once, cry once.

November 16, 2014 at 03:04 AM · The perfect case is the one you need for a carbon fibre violin - none!

November 16, 2014 at 09:15 AM · A cherished instrument should have an adequately protective case against every possible unpredictable risk.

I'll give an example.

A friend of mine once had a very good violin keeping it in a sub-standard case. Once he was entering a bus and the door closed on the case smashing it and also going through the violin.

The violin was repaired, but never sounded the same after that. The same happened to me a few years ago with a Musafia case and nothing happened to the case or the violin. The bus door closed on the case and stayed there trying to close the whole way, until the driver opened it again. Upon inspection, the violin was not damaged at all and it was even in tune. The Musafia had done its job admirably as it is supposed to do and was money well spent (invested).

The moral of the story is that we cannot guard against every possible calamity, so the case has to be able to protect the violin inside against every possible risk.

Finally, the cost of repairing the violin will be much more than the outlay for a new Musafia case.

November 16, 2014 at 10:57 PM · Dimitry, is any of your case models available in depleted uranium? I mean, wood is so fragile...

Seriously, I got Johnson String's special edition Bobelock case and I'm pretty happy with it. I'd like to have a Musafia -- someday --

November 17, 2014 at 08:19 AM · I'd recommend Musafia's newest and lightest case yet called Lievissima. It won't break the bank. I was first introduced to it from a colleague of mine who has this in a dart format, and it certainly has advantages over the composites in weight along with the sturdiness of wood. Simple style, with elegant styling, about 4 lbs for a dart, just under 5 for an oblong! If I wasn't already invested in two of his cases and needed a lighter case, I'd get one myself. Don't quote me on this, but I believe they are in the $600 range, perhaps you can get a demo one on his website. http://www.musafia.com/lievissima.html

November 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM · What about answering Lyndon's question!

November 17, 2014 at 02:37 PM · I suppose we need a guideline as to what constitutes 'affordable' - since everyone seems to have their own opinion. I'm thinking $200 is affordable...more than that is expensive...lol.

...and what is meant by 'lightweight'...

...and how much room is really needed...

If I had to define the above - relative to the OPs question, I would suggest $700, 5 lbs and oblong for most practical use.

November 25, 2014 at 06:46 PM · Thank you so much for your responses. I do prefer to see before I buy, which is why I'm taking so long in actually purchasing a case. My friend's got the Musilia, and I've seen the B&C (although I've never actually put my violin *inside*). I've only seen photos of the Gewa and the Bam.

And just for "stitch" and giggles I took a peek at the Musafia "available" web page and was quite pleased to see that cases were offered in the price range that I'm looking in: around $500, give or take a hundred or two. I'd never considered Musafia because they looked to be about the same weight as what I'd carried before (I was wrong!), looked way too luxurious for me (read: expensive), and I'd always thought they cost well over $1000. So now I've added another case manufacturer to my short list. But again, there's the question of buying sight-unseen. :-( I think if I could see how my violin would fit in the case I'd easily drop the $600. Well, not easily, but you get my gist.

November 25, 2014 at 09:15 PM · One more thing about violin cases, in case you intend to fly with yours. I love my Musafia oblong case, but when traveling, I discovered that those gate agents, etc., see an oblong violin case and don't immediately understand what it is; it looks to them like oversized luggage. If they see a fitted case, they are a little more likely to understand that it's an instrument, and that's why you are trying to carry it on the plane. I'm planning to get a fitted BAM just for travel; will let you know how I like it!

November 26, 2014 at 05:40 AM · Laurie

You no longer have your yellow Tonareli fitted case?

November 26, 2014 at 08:09 AM · Ditto Laurie's experience on flying.

I usually use a Musafia Master Series case on a daily basis, but when I fly I have one of those oddly shaped BAM hightech cases that I can fit underneath the seat in front of me if need be. I did recently purchase a new Musafia Luxury Ultralight model for my wife...it's an incredible case and it's by far the lightest Musafia I've ever held.

I can understand though, why someone might not want to spend close to $1000 on a case. Some of our students have a pretty economical shaped BAM-like fiberglass case that comes in many colors from Howard Core, under $180. Works very well!

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