I have been looking for a case upgrade for some time now, but it's been an exercise in frustration I must admit. Why might you ask? Because it's almost like one's impression of a case is like a secret worth taking to the grave, i.e. comments on the Gewa Air 1.7 case though it has been on the market for years (or almost any other cases for that matter) aren't anywhere to be found, so my choice was somewhat driven by guts feeling and the spec on that one.
Had I have the financial means, a Musafia case would have been the obvious choice, but given the current abysmal CDN$ exchange rate it is not to be for me unfortunately :-( I was partial to shaped cases, so that meant a more limited number of options available. Once I eliminated the obvious cheap Chinese knockoff cases, and the overpriced, over-rated (IMO) BAMs, that left a very limited number of options, hence my choice of the Gewa Air 1.7 shaped violin case.
My very first impression:
Short version... a very nice case.
Long version... this shiny looking case oozes quality at first glance. Its hard (very hard) shell is light, and combines both the qualities of fiber glass (stiffness) and carbon fiber (strength and lightness) into one. I can't assess its thermal qualities, as I lack a remote (Bluetooth), fast reading thermometer, but it is rated high. It closes and seals nicely (though some will argue that tight seal isn't necessarily a good thing in a high temperature condition), and uses quality hardware. I'll forgo the usual description as this is widely available information.
The carry straps are very well put together, and nice thinking gewa, comes with backup steel cable to prevent total failure in the eventuality that the plastic hardware does fail. That is the only case I've ever seen that provided this safety feature. I've had cheap Chinese metal clips breaking on me, and accidental drop prevention goes a long way in protecting the instrument.
The inside of the case is spartan looking, lacking any decorative feature, yet functional. The suspension padding provides enough space between the back of the instrument and the case for me to slide my fingers with room to spare, giving the impression of effectively insulating the instrument from kinetic energy transfer in the eventuality of a drop. Attention to details, gewa provided extra padding over the hardware contact points to protect the instrument, which fits nicely, from accidental scratches though as improbable it might seem given their distance from the body of the instrument.
The attachments for the accessory pocket and shoulder rest were my prime concern when I ordered the case. In the case of the shoulder rest (I have a Pedi shoulder rest), it fits snuggly on the side of the finger board/scroll without difficulty. Once pressed down (these accessory are held by Velcro gripping on the velvety covering), the holding straps feel secure. The accessory pocket (which is small, but large enough for a spare E-string, 1 Rosin cake, mutes and Tuning Fork) feels like it could use some more Velcro attachments though (which I might add later), and if pulled out regularly, will most likely become less and less "grippy" over time as the fibers of the covering get pulled away. It is best left in place, I think, rather than pulled in and out routinely. That said, I measured the force required to pull it out of place to be well over 3kg (the max of my kitchen scale could measure, while the case with accessories weight 128g). Pressing right against the bow tip receivers, the small soft accessory bag really doesn't have anywhere to go if the case were to tumble, so I am not concerned about it.
Speaking of the bow. The bow holding mechanism spins very tightly with a positive clip at the 90 degree position, giving a nice secure hold. The tip receivers are flexible as to prevent accidental catching and breaking of the bow tip. The bows fit snuggly, and best with the stick oriented closest to the center of the case, which provides more room to spare.
The violin and shoulder rest retaining straps are not leather though, but synthetic. Not sure how they will hold over time, but should be replaceable if need be.
The one "negative comment" I've read was about the case not having a retaining ribbon to prevent its complete opening (i.e. it opens flat 180 degree). This has the disadvantage of requiring more room when opening the case, but IMO, has the advantage of preventing the case from accidentally closing down while removing the instrument and potentially damaging it (that happened to me), and provides a better angle for handling the bows in and out of their holding, so I rate this as a plus myself.
The locking mechanism on the high quality latches is nice to have, not so much for security reason, but rather for preventing the latches from accidentally opening up during transit with the instrument on my back. One person commented that resetting the combination was tricky, but I didn't think so. Pretty simple: open the latch, while opened, slide the locking mechanism that becomes visible with a ball pen tip, reset the combination, slide the lock back; that's all there is to it and safely prevents accidental reset of the lock combination.
Overall... see the short version!
Hope this first impression will be useful to some, who like me, find it hard to dig out any information.
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