Some case recommendations, please

August 24, 2018, 3:07 PM · Hello,

I have a plywood case that I like, but it's heavy. I'm interested in lighter-weight carbon fiber cases. I've looked at quite a few, but I was looking for input on cases that have the following:

Oblong shape (I need the storage space_
A dedicated (non-removable) storage pocket
shoulder-rest holder/strap
2 bow holders (it could have more, I need to)
secure latches
comfortable to wear as a backpack.

Any input you have is appreciated!

Replies (33)

August 24, 2018, 3:26 PM · Do you have a budget in mind?
August 25, 2018, 9:51 AM · I’d like to stay under 1000 usd
August 25, 2018, 11:16 AM · I know several violinists who are using BAM CF cases. They seem happy.
I don't mind the weight of my beautiful wooden Musafia!!!

I don't know how protective CF cases are. I know (from experience) that CF cases can be designed to contain the very high internal pressures of rocket motors, but not external crushing forces.

August 25, 2018, 11:46 AM · A Musafia Lievissima is about the same weight as a CF case, and considerably more protective, I believe. And within your budget.

August 25, 2018, 12:55 PM · Don’t buy CF, it doesn’t protect the violin.
August 25, 2018, 1:23 PM · Really, the Lievissima is <1k? Cool. Couldn't find the price tag...
August 25, 2018, 5:40 PM · The Bam Hightech Violin case is really nice. Light weight, strong, holds 4 bows, oblong, and nice backpack straps. I curious to why are so many people here are against carbon fiber? I have one and it does a fantastic job. I also know somebody who got into a really bad car accident with other musicians and instruments in the vehicle(everyone ended up being okay). The only instrument that wasn't damaged was the one in a carbon fiber case.
August 26, 2018, 2:22 AM · The Lievissima can be found under $600 online.
Edited: August 26, 2018, 4:53 AM · BAM Hightech cases are made of PLASTIC not Carbon Fibre. They have a picture of CF in the finish to look like CF. They are poorly insulated and scratch easily. OK for cheaper student violins only.

Cheers Carlo

August 26, 2018, 7:10 AM · To add from the archive:

August 26, 2018, 8:13 AM · Seems I'll have to change my motorbike helmet for a plywood one. And raise the issue to the racing organizations... Considering composite plastics don't protect...

Funny that.

August 26, 2018, 8:37 AM · I think it's possible to make sturdy case out of "plastic" (sandwich of foam and other material). See for example how Hiscox cases are built and what they can endure:

They are fairly cheap even (about 150€ for a dart shape), but rather barebones on features (no subway handle or backpack strap, and it will only fit strad-model violins).

I think my teacher has a lightweight BAM case; not sure whether it's CF or something else. But unlike a motorcycle helmet (which is more like a Hiscox case), her case is just a thin shell. Walk in the sun with that thing and your violin will be cooked.

I bought a Hiscox case a while ago after trying out several other (budget) cases (gewa, bam, no-name) in the shop by leaning on them (about 30 kg). All the other ones gave in quite a bit; one cheap wood laminate one made scary sounds.

Edited: August 27, 2018, 7:21 PM · For starters, there is no perfect case. I have a bam contoured high tech which I wish had a bit more storage, but no matter what I’m carrying a separate music bag anyways. Yes it is plastic, however at least the top and bottom is some type of sandwich is plastic and foam, giving it some insulation qualities. As for scratches, it’s a case, who cares if it’s scratched. It’s better than torn fabric. As for protection, we all have to decide how much we need. I think it provides plenty for normal commuting and likely incidents. For some reason plywood is talked about here like it’s the material of the future. What I personally like about the Bam case is the size/shape work very well for me when I take it to work as I have lessons and orchestra afterwards. I can use one of the back back straps as a shoulder strap and carry it in addition to my computer backpack. Also while waiting for the train, it can be wind driven downpour, and I have no worries about water getting to the violin. At the end of the day I think each person has to decide what attributes they need and take it from there. I thought some of the comparisons however valid they are , get into extreme situations that may be relatively unimportant in the overall scheme of things
September 13, 2018, 7:49 AM · I saw a video review of a BAM case that wouldn't induce me to buy one.
Pedi seem OK. Anyone agree?
There are makes like Courier, which may only be available in the USA. I don't know - I haven't done much research yet.
But I'd like to ask a question about rain and rainproofing.
Some have these flaps over the zips to keep off rain, but is that adequate? Some of the flaps seem bigger than others. Or if it's really pouring, do you put your violin case in a bin-liner or something?
September 13, 2018, 9:09 AM · I know David Burgess recommends keeping a plastic trash bag in your case for heavy rain.
September 13, 2018, 9:28 AM · I carry two folded plastic bags in the case. One is to put the violin, the other one is to cover the whole case. It has worked in tropical storms, often.
There are dedicated rain covers for the usual shapes. Oblong, contoured, etc. Like the ones backpacks have (which would work if the size fits).
September 13, 2018, 9:38 AM · thanks, will do.
September 13, 2018, 10:14 AM · Carbon fiber is great if you want a high stiffness/weight ratio. But it's brittle, and doesn't absorb impact well. Ever hear of a carbon fiber bulletproof vest?

That said, I think the important factors of a case aren't so much in the material, but how it's designed.

Edited: September 16, 2018, 10:22 AM · Hoffee makes CF cases that I find pretty impressive.

Hoffee case terror test part 2

I don't know how fragile an acoustic guitar is compared to a violin, but dropping the case from 3 m onto concrete or throwing it from a car at 50 mph (80 km/h) sounds pretty rough to me.

I think they are a CF/foam sandwich. Not cheap: violin cases are listed at $800.

I've never seen such videos by BAM and GEWA.

Edit: formatted link

September 13, 2018, 1:04 PM · Before I bought my CF bow, my only experience of CF was with cross-country skiing sticks in the 80s. After I had broken fibreglass sticks a few times, I treated myself to a carbon fibre pair, and broke one after only 3 days, so I went back to fibreglass.
Edited: September 13, 2018, 3:42 PM · Meanwhiles I own three Negri Venezia - two for my violins and one custom fit for the nicer of my violas. And if I was in need for another one, I'd get exactly the same again. They are sturdy, well manufactured from nice materials and not too shrill but rather a bit understating. Good hinges, latch and zippers. Four high quality bow holders, which I do very much appreciate when I'm on one of my frequent bow shopping tours again. No velcro, but leather strings to fix the neck, and a leather latch to fix the shoulder rest below the neck. Only thing I'm missing is a string tube holder or two, because recently I'm more and more into gut, and I'd really like to have the option to fix a precipitube. (Although I haven't found a source of supply in Europe yet... Feel free to jump in!)

My decision for the Negri simply was because it was the best I could get locally for the money. I'm not willing to spend almost as much on the case than on a good violin. I've never touched a Musafia yet, but regarding the mentioned price for a lievissima, it would definitely be worth considering. Although it also doesn't seem to have a precipitube nor a string tube...

September 14, 2018, 5:22 AM · In fact I suspect I may have to buy a double case for violin and viola because I will need to carry both a violin and a concert-sized nickel-plated resonator uke (on my back). There will have to be a good separator between them so that the uke doesn't damage the violin.
Edited: September 14, 2018, 2:03 PM · " Carbon fiber is great if you want a high stiffness/weight ratio."
Don, I don't want to contradict you, but the exact opposite is true. CF flexes but doesn't break easily, that's its quality, and is especially adapted to complex surfaces, such as motocycle helmets or Formula 1 racing cars.

However... one of the highest stiffness/weight ratio materials out there is wood, reason for that even violins are made out of them! :-)

September 15, 2018, 10:19 AM · To contradict your contradiction:

Actually carbon fiber has a slightly higher stiffness/density ratio. CF is used specifically in stiffness-critical applications like monocoques, wings, splitters, wheels, and roofs.

CF: 45 GPa flexural modulus at a density of 1.5 g/cm3
Plywood: 10 GPa flexural modulus at a density of .5 g/cm3

But for *solid* laminates plywood works better because of how bending stiffness scales more than linearly with panel thickness - a panel twice as thick will be somewhere between 4 to 8 times as stiff.

September 15, 2018, 10:52 PM · The usual misunderstanding it's that most of the cases people call "carbon fiber" are not carbon fiber,but laminated composites of plastics. Nothing wrong with that... Most motorbike helmets and even shock absorbers are made with them. Plastics can mean anything, and a properly design composite is good even for spaceships...
But calling composite cases "carbon fiber" leads to compare that material to wood, which is a useless debate because few cases are actually made with Cf...
I agree with Don Noon above... Material matters little. the important thing is the design... And manufacturing quality... Where I see cases flaws it's not in their main toughness, but their details: hinges, locks, handles, straps, zippers, etc. Bad cases are not bad because they use plastics, but because their hinges are cheap and faulty and they lock poorly.
I put value to manufacturers like Musafia, Negri and others because they don't cut corners in those details, which are really the weak link of cases.
At the same time, I say its absurd to state that a wood case is safer just because its wood.
September 16, 2018, 12:35 AM · And there's this stuff called polycarbonate. I don't know what it is, but it looks a lot better than the ultra cheap wooden cases. Problem is when violin cases use it, they look as though they skimp on the plush inside. I love plush.
Edited: September 16, 2018, 3:56 PM · Exactly my point, Jeff. We're talking violin cases here, not 787s. :-)

Carlos, you might find interesting reading in the four-part article on violin safety using different case shell materials which I published in the official journal of the A.L.I. (Italian Association of Violin making). It's in both Italian and English, and due to the quality of the content, the publication is listed among Italy's scientific journals.

To clarify once and for all. I'm not against carbon fiber per se - I happily own a car which has a lot of CF parts, even the wiper blade arms! and a few of them I had upgraded myself from the original non-CF - but my 35 years of research (yes, I'm getting that old...) has led me to believe that it is not the optimum material with which to make violin cases.

Otherwise - I would be using it.


September 16, 2018, 10:32 AM · Dimitri, could you provide a pointer to this four-part article?

I can't find it on, nor Google Scholar, nor

the publication is listed among Italy's scientific journals.

That is a vague statement; it depends on who listed it and in what kind of list. Is the article series peer-reviewed?

In the past (2016, 2017) you have mentioned that you work with the university of Milan on research on cases. But still there are no peer-reviewed scientific publications, or am I looking in the wrong place? If the outcome was unambiguously that wooden cases perform better according to reasonable metrics (e.g., protection for a given weight), you would certainly have encouraged the scientists to publish it, wouldn't you?

Edited: September 16, 2018, 1:17 PM · Han, you need to contact ALI and order the magazines. They are not online.

The journal is classified as a scientific publication by the National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes (ANVUR) with ISSN number 1825-7054. I expect that to meet your standards.

Lastly, the research with the POLIMI (Milan Polytechnic U.) is not yet completed, and therefore not published. That said, its purpose is not to validate or invalidate wood laminate cases but to simply measure the performance of different case shells under stress by a FAA-affiliated laboratory specialized in safety in transport.

I collect this information thus obtained from a hyper-qualified research lab for my professional use, obviously, and specifically to try to manufacture better products. If it turns out that marshmallows make better case shell material, I will use marshmallows. I have no ongoing love affair with any material.


September 16, 2018, 1:36 PM · With the help of Google translate I find:

Classification is carried out exclusively for the sectors required by the relevant legislation, i.e. those that are part of the human and social sciences and identified as "non-bibliometric". (...) The ANVUR does not make any evaluation of the magazines for the remaining scientific areas. [source]

As far as I understand, being on the list does not necessarily mean that it can be counted as a scientific publication for the field of mechanical engineering, which is where the construction of musical-instrument cases belongs.

("Liuteria Musica e Cultura" is listed in Area 08. I couldn't figure out what area 8 is supposed to be; it seems to include Architecture.)

Could you provide bibliographical details of the English versions of these articles (year, issue, and page numbers)?

Edited: September 17, 2018, 1:26 AM · I am unsure why you seem to doubt the editorial quality and State-granted status of the official journal of the Italian Association of Violin making, without apparently having read a single page.

Being that I am only an occasional contributor, for more information regarding the classification of the magazine and the process of selecting articles worthy of pubblication, please allow me to suggest that you contact the editor, who also presides over the scientific committee. The subscription staff will also help you to purchase the desired copies.

Enjoy your day.

September 16, 2018, 4:17 PM · I hadn't seen the Hoffee case before, but interestingly, unlike other CF cases, it's not light -- their website says about eight pounds. That's far heavier than most other CF cases and at the top end of plywood case weight, too. Even a Musafia Enigma, which I think is the heaviest case in the Musafia line, only weight 7.5 pounds.
September 16, 2018, 4:46 PM · Calton's new fiberglass & foam sandwich core cases come in at 11 lbs, and that's the shaped version. Karura's shaped CF cases also come in at 8 lbs for the shaped version.

I suspect that because Hoffee/Calton/Karura are predominantly guitar case makers, they design with the assumption that it will be thrown into the cargo hold/dropped/run over on a fairly regular basis. Quite different from the majority imitation CF or thin solid-laminate CF cases which are more like glorified bags.

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