Violin Case

Edited: August 22, 2017, 9:50 PM · I recently bought a new violin and bow - both are very expensive - the violin in particular. It is over 100 years old and has a gorgeous sound but it is incredibly delicate. The luthier recommended I buy a protective case. Seeing that i just bought the instrument for quite a bit, i can only afford up to around 500 AUS dollars - no more. What type of cases would you recommend?
Thank you
UPDATE: should i get a case with a seperate compartment for the shoulder rest to protect my pegs? because i cant find one that has that and is carbon fibre or fibreglass as well. maybe i should just stick to one of the fabricy kindish ones?

Replies (34)

August 20, 2017, 5:45 PM · I would go to a violin shop and check out various case designs. They must have adequate padding, must be made of sturdy materials and the violin should not be able to rattle inside the case.
August 20, 2017, 5:48 PM · Is fibre glass better than the ordinary fabric ones?
August 20, 2017, 5:51 PM · There are previous long threads here on cases; you might find the information you are seeking in one of them.

You definitely want a case with a suspension system.

Edited: August 31, 2017, 7:04 AM · For your budget I would go for a Bobelock plywood case with suspension. Stay away from no-name Chinese junk.

Cheers Carlo

Posted under my own full name in accordance with Vcom's rules.

Edited: August 20, 2017, 6:18 PM · RE: Cheap Chinese cases;

My experience with them is great for about 2 months, and then the first thing breaks. And then the second.. And then the third.

It doesn't seem to just be limited to violin cases, either. I've had guitar and ukulele cases fail in a similar timeframe without excessive abuse.

More expensive Chinese ones might be better, but the generics are not made to last, no matter how good they look or appealing they seem.

I'd recommend a plywood case. I was greatly swayed by the arguments Mr. Musafia made in a different thread on this forum and am now rather adamantly against carbon fiber cases. You should be able to find it if you look a little,

Edited: August 20, 2017, 7:05 PM · I have a tonarelli. It is cheap, sturdy, looks good and will do the job. However, if your instrument is very very very expensive (10k+) i would suggest a bobelock like carlo said or maybe even a musafia.

You see, it would be funny if you bought a cheap case and screw up your 10k violin because you wanted to save 300 bucks in the case...

August 20, 2017, 7:11 PM · Find a refurbished Musafia. It will be the last violin case you will buy.
August 20, 2017, 7:54 PM · i went around looking at some cases and there was one i quite liked - it was around $450 but when i went to another luthier, they said it was probably fake, the real ones would be around $1000 although i feel like he just said that so i would buy a case from him instead of the other guy :) would it be safe to buy the $450 one because i know there is no way i can afford the 1000 dollar one. The $450 one was fibreglass, oblong and looked rather protective.
(AUS dollars).
August 20, 2017, 9:14 PM · Have you found any more cases you liked besides the two you mentioned above? Also, what is a suspension in a case? Is it the rope that connects the two halves of the case?
August 20, 2017, 9:21 PM · Ella,

A suspension case is one in which the violin is not left to rattle freely. There are usually several points of contact where sponge-type-material (foam?) gently secure the instrument so it's 'floating' in the case. For example my case (not a great one) has two foam pads on the bottom and then one on the top that presses where the chin rest is. This is in addition to the strap for the neck.

I think the vast majority of cases beyond those $29.99 foamies are some form of suspension.

At least that is my understanding of the issue.

Edited: August 20, 2017, 9:28 PM · For the money I like Bobelock cases - I've got two (one violin, one viola both bought in the 1990s).

I've also got two Musafia's - they are very fine, but expensive. Their latching mechanism is impressive in that it appears it will prevent the top of the cases from moving relative to the bottom in a very severe accident. It is likely patented because even the faux Musafia cases i have seen do not have it.

I've also got a couple of Jaegers that I bought in the 1970s - (I also had a double case from 1947 Germany but gave that one to my granddaughter) they were expensive (for the time), but they have weaknesses of both the latching design and the hinges

"Suspension" refers to the padding that supports the edges of the back and prevents the back of the violin and the scroll from touching the hard bottom of the case. It was not a feature of the cases I bought before the 1980s. I think it is a good feature.

Edited: August 20, 2017, 9:34 PM · I am a student violinist but have a lot of experience with various case styles and materials from trial and error. Unless you need a compact light case I recommend a plywood oblong, as referenced in above posts. There are many good plywood cases in your budget range and oblongs definitely give you more room for accessories. Your needs may dictate a different shape.

Many members here have combined experience of case ownership exceeding many decades and I bow to their opinions on this matter except where my personal experience and testing differs from some of theirs with composite cases for special uses.

The fiberglass cases I have seen and tried scratched and marred relatively easily and were poorly insulated, if insulated at all. They are also noticeably heavier than comparable sized plywood cases. Just a heads up. I obviously have not tried all fiberglass cases but of three brands they were all similar in those respects.

That being said, I was in need of a more compact case than my plywood oblong Negri primarily for commuting with my violin on motorcycle, that had a more durable outside finish than fabric. I ended up going with the GL Combi Contoured with a composite outer finish and verifying that it was an adequately insulated case. It works great for a more compact and lighter travel case for my needs. The violin is properly suspended and there is adequate room for a few accessories including my shoulder rest. Quality of materials and workmanship is very good. I will be testing the internal temperature stability with remote thermometer probes from work within the next week or so. The finish is very scratch and scuff resistant as verified by my attempts to scratch it with car keys. The fiberglass cases all failed that test. My limited experiences and opinion. YMMV

August 20, 2017, 11:15 PM · Of you can stretch your budget a bit more, you can always find Mr. Musafia selling floor models of the lightweight case at a discount. It might fit your bill.
August 20, 2017, 11:17 PM · I'm going to have to go against the grain and recommend against the Bobelock. I got a 1017 Hill style earlier this year and it doesn't live up to its reputation.

1) Durability - the arched lid is surprisingly flexible. It only takes about 90 pounds applied over the area of my palm to bend the lid to the point where it would contact the bridge. In contrast both my Hiscox and Gewa Air cases can support my entire weight (>200 lbs) over roughly the same area. Maybe the case I got was a defect but I'll stick with my narrative until someone is willing to demonstrate with their own cases that I'm wrong.

2) Padding - the padding around the body of the instrument is pretty sparse on the Bobelock, and there isn't a lot of room to decelerate the instrument during an impact. In addition, the tail block sponge in the lid has very little resistance, and I don't think it provides sufficient resistance to suspend the instrument away from the lid during any moderate to severe impact.

3) Interior fittings - this is specific to the Bobelock 1017, but none of the interior dividers for the pockets are attached structurally. They are only adhered to the bottom panel, and this means they move around significantly when pressure is applied to either the side or bottom panels. In addition, the space between the two side pockets is very narrow and your pegs may run into them.

My top two picks (based on what I've owned) would be:
1) Gewa Air
2) Hiscox

The Gewa is more expensive, but it is a little bit lighter and the shell is a little stronger. Also, it has larger clearances between the lid and the bridge, and between the bottom and the back. Both clearances are about 2 cm, which is the largest clearance I've seen in any case. The Gewa used to run for over $600 USD but recently its price has dropped

The biggest complaints I have with the Gewa are the lack of a subway handle on some versions, and the somewhat thin outer shell, which means it's good for a couple of hard impacts before it gets quite dented.

August 21, 2017, 12:22 AM · From my experience, the experience of my friends and the players of the local (prof) orchestra, backed up by Mr. Musafias article:
Dont buy an artificial material case! Laminated plywood is working better for everything on the market right now. Maybe a unoeotto?
August 21, 2017, 1:06 AM · I think the lighter the better because i do travel quite a bit with my violin and have orchestra weekly rehearsals that are 1 hour away so i get very sore shoulders from carrying it around all day.
August 21, 2017, 1:54 AM · Unoeotto dos way 1.8kg, thats why it was named liked that.
A negri venezia might also be good.
Edited: August 31, 2017, 7:05 AM · It is never a good idea to put lightness as a high priority. Protection needs to come first. Avoid foam cases and plastic or composite cases by BAM and Gewa as they are not fit for purpose IMO.

Cheers Carlo

Posted under my own full name in accordance with Vcom's rules.

August 21, 2017, 7:31 AM · AUD $500 is equivalent to about USD $400, which is a reasonable budget for a protective case. My numbers are USD, here.

You might try the relatively-new Bobelock 1051 Corregidor case, which runs about $300. Bobelock claims a redesign for more shock protection. (Like others on this thread, I have owned a 1017, and it was a nice case.) Bobelock is widely regarded as a functional case that is good value for its price point, but it's probably not going to be as protective as higher-end cases.

You can also get a Negri case in your price range; they start at around $350. Negri makes high-quality suspension cases.

If your budget could stretch a bit to $500, you could get a Riboni Unoetto; Riboni makes some of the best cases in the world. Given your concern for weight, this is likely to be a good choice.

Musafia sometimes sells refurbished cases that might be in your price range, but otherwise they cost more than your budget.

August 21, 2017, 1:20 PM · For viola trials lately I see Bobelock plywood cases most of the time. If durability was a potential issue at all I don't think folks would be using these for ground shipping expensive instruments half-way across the country. For violas though they're like 8-9 pounds vs 6-7 for the higher end European cases.

Would love to find a significantly discounted Negri midrange case (very understated and attractive but pushing $800 for viola), so we'll probably end up with a Bobelock.

August 21, 2017, 1:50 PM · I've had a Negri Venezia for 20 years (granted my violin sat under the bed for 12 of those years), but... it's been a great case. I am now schlepping it to/fro work and lessons (over 2hrs commuting time on public transportation) a couple of times a month, and find that it is sturdy and keeps the violin very well protected. I like that the accessories box is at the frog end of the case so the violin itself is more protected if the bow comes loose.
August 21, 2017, 2:20 PM · A good point, my very first girl friend still has a big mark on her at this time brand new made violin because I dropped the frog on it when I put it into the case...
August 22, 2017, 9:34 PM · My GEWA Jaeger shaped case is doing well, and I spent ~$600 Cdn on it. A little bit over your budget. It does well in all seasons except for summer because the case interior reaches over 50 deg C.

Also there are few people on this forum who highly criticizes the case, or at least the earlier versions of it, so it may be best interest to be able to try whatever case you wish to first.

August 22, 2017, 9:53 PM · UPDATE: should i get a case with a seperate compartment for the shoulder rest to protect my pegs? because i cant find one that has that and is carbon fibre or fibreglass as well. maybe i should just stick to one of the fabricy kindish ones?
August 23, 2017, 1:21 AM · So you decided on fiberglass?
My advice, if you can stretch your budget just a little and weight really is your concern:
Look for a good Unoeotto or a refurbished Musafia Levissima
Although I have to say, the normal Negri cases felt light for me too, comparing it to my old plywood cases.
August 23, 2017, 12:28 PM · I recommend the Bobelock 1051 "corregidor" case
August 23, 2017, 1:16 PM · If you want the case to be protective, plywood suspension is the only way to go, period. If you're protecting a valuable investment, it behooves you to buy a decent case.

Of course, what a given poster means by "very expensive" varies tremendously. Some people might think that a $2500 violin is very expensive.

Edited: August 31, 2017, 7:06 AM · I agree with Lydia 100% on this one.

Cheers Carlo

Posted under my own full name in accordance with Vcom's rules.

August 25, 2017, 7:53 AM · Marc - my bow has come loose (well, I neglected to secure it because I was talking and thus distracted) and I was SO grateful for that accessories box, and that I put my violin in the cloth bag!

Tangent: I don't understand why all cases are not designed this way, it is an easy re-design and is better/safer for the violin. Musafia, for all their expense, still uses the accessories box at the scroll end of the violin (at least with the cases that I've seen); it's such a shame because it would be "the perfect" case if it had that design feature. Also, why can't someone design straps that reach around to the front of the hip so that the load is not borne on the shoulders?

To the OP - the Negri case allows you to secure the shoulder rest underneath the neck of the violin, away from the scroll and pegs. When it comes time to buy another case, I will likely purchase the same one.

Lydia does make a very good point. I could not afford to replace this violin if something happened to it, and my bow/violin together are valued at less than $10,000 (which is pennies compared to what some violins cost these days). As such I protect it with a good case. Those ultra-lightweight cases are tempting, but I know better than to trust them with something that I consider irreplaceable.

I understand that many high quality cases are twice what you have budgeted for (or more), but if you can stretch a bit to remember that this case will last you for a very long time, you might be able to find the will and way to get a quality case.

A quick search online shows that some Gewa cases have my favored accessory box location, and they are within your price range.

Good luck!

August 25, 2017, 8:00 AM · Most of the cases I saw to date have the accessory compartment under the frog end of the bow.

About the musafias: I think only their superlegero has the bow spinners over the body of the violin...

August 25, 2017, 8:11 AM · Good to know, thanks Bruno!
August 25, 2017, 8:22 AM · +1 for Bobelock.

I recently bought a Corregidor, which felt quite luxurious compared to the Bobelock student case that I'd had since college (which is incidentally still in great shape, just not suspension).

I think the Negri and Musafia cases are works of art and would love to have one someday...but this one is beautiful, protects my violin, and even (bonus!) has enough room in the end pocket for my Comford shoulder rest. It cost ~$350 with tax.

August 25, 2017, 10:13 AM · Musafia cases have the main accessory compartment at the frog end of the bow, except for the Enigma, which has a large curved accessory compartment at the tip end, and a smaller one at the frog end.

I don't like violin bags personally (I always worry about dropping the violin when getting it into or out of the bag), but I do think that a good case blanket is valuable for those horrible times when you forget to secure the bow properly. (I worry more about what happens to the bow in those instances, since it's very easy to damage the head. I've done this before with a very expensive bow and was briefly terrified when I opened the case and realized what I'd done.)

You can buy backpack straps with a sternum strap or hip belt, and just attach them to the backpack buckles on your case, rather than using the backpack straps that came with the case (assuming that you've got a case that has backpack attachments).

Edited: August 26, 2017, 1:20 AM · You can always ask Mr. Musafia to put it on the other side if you choose a case where it is possible.
I also had a bow come loose in my case once, luckily the cloth protected my violin.
A good case is about 1% value of the equipment it carries for me, so I would be stupid to buy cheap and insecure.

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