Question about cases esp Musafia

August 6, 2016 at 10:01 PM · Does anyone know if Musafia or other high end cases have a latch or some other mechanism to hold open the top?

To Mr Musafia - if this is not an option, can you build one on? Something very simple like the rod that holds open a car bonnet.

Replies (36)

August 7, 2016 at 12:37 AM · Curious, why would you like this? Has the lid ever dropped on your violin unintended?

Cheers Carlo

August 7, 2016 at 12:57 AM · There is nothing in my Musafia case that holds the lid open when case is open. There are two straps to keep the lid from opening more than a ninety degree angle. When the case is on a table and the lid is open it seems perfectly balanced to stay open without closing on its own.

August 7, 2016 at 02:42 AM · I know the lid won't close 'on its own'.

But 'perfectly balanced' is not secure and the lid can be knocked, the table can be bumped, someone could trip (after a glass or 2 of wine perhaps). And when my violin is resting in the case with a mute on the bridge, this would potentially have disastrous consequences. Presently I leave the storage compartment lid open to prevent this happening, but a discrete latch would be preferable.

What I wonder (Carlo) is why would anyone be opposed to or resist such a proposition. It is presumably easy to manufacture.

August 7, 2016 at 02:54 AM · I couldn't say from a design/manufacture point of view. But as devil's advocate, I would ask why you'd ever need your case to be open except when you're putting the violin in or taking it out? It's the safest practice! Especially as I enjoy a glass of wine now and again myself.

August 7, 2016 at 03:01 AM · I advise against the mechanism, if you are as clumsy as I am. Long time ago I had a case, with mechanism that does what you're describing. At one point, I slammed the case shut in haste, and the mechanism broke, and the parts almost scratched and dented the violin top. It was also responsible for an f-hole crack on my very first violin. When the rod fell, and I closed the case without inspecting it. It was a popular idea for student violins in Korea, in 1997. I cannot tell you the design or make of the case, because that case is long gone.

August 7, 2016 at 04:18 AM · Thanks for the info, Steven. As I am never in a rush, but am occasionally clumsy, I would still opt for the rod.

Nathan, when I take a short break eg to make a coffee (or pour that second glass of wine) I leave the violin in the case, which is left open on the table for this purpose.

August 7, 2016 at 04:25 AM · Put it on an unused part of the table or shelf-- or if you must use the case; remove the mute and shoulder rest.

August 7, 2016 at 04:34 AM · My very first case, the Tipo A introduced in 1983, had this feature. So did the first couple years of production of the subsequent Tipo B. At the time I too thought it was a good idea, but it was eventually phased out because it created more problems that it resolved.

From a philosophical point of view, the phenomenon is well-known. Resolve Problem 1 and you will have created Problem 2. Resolve P2 and you will create P3. And so on, ad infinitum. For more info you can review the writings of Sir Karl Popper, arguably the leading philosopher of the 20th century, and for a long time professor at the London School of Economics (one of his star pupils was financier George Soros).

Just to say that philosophy is not a useless abstraction. If P3 has worse side-effects than P1, leave P1 alone.


August 7, 2016 at 04:39 AM · @kd. Not opposed at all. I just wondered why, which you have clearly answered:-)

Cheers Carlo

August 7, 2016 at 07:09 AM · Dimitri, that was 30 years ago and you were a novice in your craft. Perhaps the flaw was not with the concept but the execution. The idea is a good one and if offered as an option I suspect others would select it too.

August 7, 2016 at 01:33 PM · After indeed 33 years in the profession I know considerably more now than I did then.

August 7, 2016 at 02:54 PM · kd, if you really want some kind of folding hinge that will lock and keep your case top open and unable to drop, it can be found. My father had an organ bench and if you lifted the seat there was a large compartment for storing music, the seat had a hinge which would lock in the open position so you did not have to hold the lid open while rummaging through the books. I think you could find a hinge like this St a hardware store or Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. Possibility you could install this device yourself or your luthier or a cabinetmaker could do it for you.

August 7, 2016 at 03:49 PM · A locking hinge, it seems to me, would create more problems - what about wear and tear.....stickiness...what if I didn't want it to lock? A far simpler solution would be the find a rod of an appropriate material and wedge lid open. You could store it in an extra bow bay, or the string tube holder, if you have one.

August 7, 2016 at 06:46 PM · A new pencil would be long enough to hold the lid off the instrument, is portable, and multi-functional.

August 8, 2016 at 02:14 AM · Why not torque or friction hinges?

August 8, 2016 at 02:34 AM · Good idea Jeff, but no doubt someone will have a reason why it would be a catastrophic failure.

August 8, 2016 at 08:04 AM · A wedge of foam

August 8, 2016 at 06:05 PM · The major problem with a metal rod, or external or internal props (what we used originally), is that they intrude into the "action area" of the case when open and can provide a hazard to the instrument if handled carelessly, or in the dark behind the stage, etc. That's a major hazard for the violinist and to an extent a liability for a case maker.

A professional case should be able to go through 15,000 open-close cycles (approx ten years) without appreciable decay of operation or failure. Torque or friction hinges can loose their "grasp" over time and become a hazard or a nuisance. Keep in mind that the lid of the case does not have a fixed weight, because when you add music to the pouch it becomes heavier, so torque calibration becomes an issue. Most such hinges are too bulky for fitting in a violin case. Some types can be adjusted but that requires dismantling the case.

In addition, these hinges put a lot more strain onto their fixtures, requiring through-bolting that makes subsequent repair more difficult and costly, and reinforcement of the case shell in that area.

Worth engineering only if there is tangible demand.

August 8, 2016 at 06:19 PM · A good violin case should be well made of superior materials but very simple in design. Simplicity translates to longevity.

August 8, 2016 at 06:24 PM · What's not there won't break. You got it, Paul. Cheers!

August 8, 2016 at 06:30 PM · I probably overload the music pouch with a small binder and small music stand, but even empty the lid can fall closed if bumped or not on level or wind etc. OTOH a spring prop or hinge would want to open an improperly latched case. If you want the case to stay open, put something under the handle side to tilt the bottom and gravity will keep the lid from closing.

August 8, 2016 at 06:49 PM · I often set my fiddle down in my case on the floor during a gig. The fiddle has a shoulder rest and onboard microphone, so I can't close the case. Occasionally the sound person will walk by and graze the back of the case, causing it to close on the fiddle. My solution is to roll up my music stand cover and insert it under case back stop (a strip of cloth that limits the backward motion of the top). This is okay, but it would be nice to have a engineered block of foam that "locks" the case from closing.

Since you bring up the variable weight of the top - another case annoyance is that if you have a lot of sheet music in the top, the case might sit flat on the floor when the violin is in it, but upon removal, the case falls back on its top. A built in prop (outside the case so that it's not a danger to the fiddle) could be be very handy.

August 9, 2016 at 12:02 AM · That's easy, just design the case right from the beginning and that won't happen. Any case that falls over because there is music in the lid is a joke.

August 9, 2016 at 01:33 AM · if I may make a suggestion, a hydraulic piston system(seen in sedan class car trunk), are probably most desirable for this.

August 9, 2016 at 01:49 AM · Of course you may! But please read my posts above.

August 9, 2016 at 02:16 AM · "That's easy, just design the case right from the beginning and that won't happen." I don't understand - are you suggesting that this doesn't happen with your cases? From the pictures on your web site, the top half of the case (presumably with music pocket) sits behind the bottom when open. With enough weight, it must tip over. You could certainly weight the bottom to prevent this, but I prefer light cases. What am I missing?

August 9, 2016 at 04:18 AM · Dimitri, while I acknowledge you have a reputation for making an excellent case, I suspect this may have clouded your vision slightly. You seem to lack humility and be overconfident in your product and engineering. Have you even revisited the idea of a rod, or lock, or some other device, in the last 30 years? There seems to be a market for it, and tech has improved a lot since the 80s.

"they intrude into the "action area" of the case when open and can provide a hazard to the instrument if handled carelessly, or in the dark behind the stage, etc. That's a major hazard for the violinist and to an extent a liability for a case maker."

This statement indicates that the problem was with your design not with the concept.

August 9, 2016 at 07:25 AM · Cary, read my post. In a properly designed case that doesn't happen, and it doesn't need counterweight. Same goes for Negri, Timms, and other properly designed cases. It's a question of point of balance, angle of aperture, form stability and center of gravity.

August 9, 2016 at 07:36 AM · OK people. I've tried to freely and very openly share my knowledge and experience for the benefit of all but I guess that knowledge is more limited than I thought, evidently, and thus of limited value. No sense in insisting.

I'm on vacation in the middle of the Pacific right now and wish to enjoy it. If anyone has any further concerns about Musafia cases, please contact our office directly and my assistants will be happy to oblige. Mahalo!

August 9, 2016 at 09:35 AM · @Dimitri. Enjoy your holiday! Stay away from computers and phones. Let your mind relax and come back refreshed!

Kia ora Carlo

August 9, 2016 at 10:10 PM · Musafia cases generally seem to have a design point that safety and reliability over the long term comes first, and all other features are secondary.

August 9, 2016 at 10:58 PM · To be clear, I was definitely not implying Musafia to install a rod, that would be unsafe, exactly, as Dimitri says, and not a mod I would want on a case, as it could easily damage violin. However, if for some reason, someone has an issue with the lid falling ????, that person could use a pencil!, aptly put, I was thinking of a carbon fiber or polyurethane type a little longer with beveled edges, which you could store in the string tube holder, or better yet in the music pocket.

I am somewhat dismayed this line seems more of an attack against a fine case maker. Point made, if this was a reasonable and safe option, Negri, Timms, and others would have it!

P.S. Enjoy your vacation! We are on fire watch again. :-(

August 10, 2016 at 12:38 AM · Concerning that the varying levels of music in the lid will require fine tuning of the friction or torque hinges (if installed):

This would make sense if the weight of the lid with music in it was not balanced in such a way it is mostly in-line with the hinge itself. This conflicts with the statement that a properly-designed case with well-considered aperture angle would not tip over - to do so the load of the lid with music must be balanced fairly well over the hinge to begin with, so the resistance of the hinge only needs to bear a fraction of the weight in the lid. In this scenario the friction provided serves mostly to prevent minor bumps from knocking the lid down. Depending on the amount of friction, an added benefit of torque hinges is to slow the opening of the lid if the latch were to fail or if the user neglected to engage the latch.

There was also concern raised about the life of torque hinges - the first page of a quick google search for "torque hinge cycles" will yield at least 5 or 6 different brands of torque hinges rated for over 20,000 cycles. Considering that most cases have a butted closure or a simple overlap of the lid over the base, I'd be concerned if the latches and hinges weren't through-bolted in the shell since any shear stresses applied to the case (i.e. dropped diagonally) are concentrated at those attachment points. I will concede that torque hinges are typically bulkier, but in commercial carrying or shipping cases that's not an issue since they're also recessed behind the geometry of the case to prevent direct impact or shearing.

August 10, 2016 at 03:48 PM · For what it's worth, I normally don't carry music in my [musafia] case because I don't want to stretch out the top canvas, but as an experiment I just loaded it with three times the normal amount of music I'd be carrying, opened the lid, and took out the violin - no tipping. I have had the case tip over before when I took the violin out, but I think it generally happens when I put it down with the backpack straps bunched up underneath.

August 10, 2016 at 07:57 PM · This has nothing to do with anything, but Dimitri, were you honored that Joshua Bell uses your case?

August 11, 2016 at 11:34 PM · I have a modded tonarelli case where this issue is non existent.

On the top, there is a sewed strap that can be buttonned to the side of the bottom half when the case is open. When the case is closed, it buttons accross the lock as if to keep the case shut.

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