Violin case recommendations?

January 25, 2021, 2:47 AM · Hello everyone!
I’m looking into changing my violin case as I have a cheap chinese one right now and I am looking for recommendations.
So just for a quick overview. I have a 120-130 year old violin from the Bohemia region. So not an exceptional violin but it is very dear to me and I love it.
I live in a tropical island where we get 70% to 95% humidity all the time, with it falling to 65%-75% when we put air conditioning. In summer, temperatures are between 25ºC and 35ºC, and in “winter” they go between 17ºC and 23ºC and sometimes 14ºC when it is *very* cold. In contrary to other situations I’ve read about in other threads here, my main concern is not the cold but more the heat, especially as I may have to walk in hot sun or leave my violin in a sun exposed car for a few minutes (which I try to avoid as much as possible), and the humidity as I have noticed it affects my violin and my bows a bit (especially when it varies).
So I’ve been looking around the different brands and threads around this topic on this forum and I’ve seen Gewa, Negri, Musafia and Bam cases get discussed quite often. If I had the funds I’d go for a Musafia but I don’t 😅. I’d also rather get a european made case rather than a chinese one except if the quality really is on point. I also know that some appliances have a treatment called tropicalisation specifically for areas with tropical weather and I was wandering if some cases were tropicalised and if it was useful ?
Anyway sorry for this very long message and thanks in advance for your help 😊
Mel 🎻

Replies (28)

Edited: January 25, 2021, 10:39 AM · I also live in high humidity. I have a Gewa Air 2.1 MSV, it's very isolating, water proof/pretty good at keeping the humidity out. When I take it from a room with dehumidifier to another place, when I open the case after a long time, the humidity level inside is still at the level that it was in the dehumidified room. Very protective and resistant to shock. The only con is that the case is really shiny but it gets scratched very easily, any bump against a door or wall... very annoying and frustrating.
Edited: January 25, 2021, 9:02 AM · You might investigate the BAM Hightech insulated cases.
Also look into the possibility of getting a case cover to keep it from getting scratched.

A number of my violinist friends have bought BAM cases. One of my cello cases is an original BAM Hightech. 2 of my violin cases are Musafias and they are great.

I usually recommend Bobelock cases, but I don't know how well they handle your extreme conditions (I have a couple of them too). They are certainly less expensive than the other brands I have suggested.

January 26, 2021, 1:14 PM · I believe that Bobelock cases are built in the Philippines, so they start life in a pretty humid environment. They are very solidly built and hard to beat at their price point.
Edited: January 28, 2021, 6:47 AM · Thanks for all your answers I’ll look into those !
However I’m still interested in other recommendations if people have some.
I also wanted to know, I saw on Negri’s website that they add insulation to their cases for a supplement, I was wandering if it was good and useful in my situation ? If someone knows about it...
Edited: January 28, 2021, 9:41 AM · While not cheap, the new line of Lievissima Musafia is much less expensive, and you might be able to pick one up from their page of used/demo/blemished models:

They can also add insulation ('tropicalization'), which should buy you a little time in the sunshine or while your car's air conditioner gets up to speed.

Another tweak that might help: Boveda has 2-way humidity controllers. No idea how they work for your level of dampness, but supposedly they will soak up or emit moisture to get to a specific target of relative humidity. Most people in North America are urged to aim at 50%, but you might get more practically useful results if you got a 60% option. Anyway, just open one or two and put them in the case next to or under the scroll.

January 31, 2021, 5:10 AM · Thanks for those informations Stephen ! I just had a look at the cheaper demo and all at Musafia’s and they might just fit in my budget. I’ll also have a look at Boveda.

I’m still open if there are still other ideas, reviews and such !

January 31, 2021, 6:15 AM · I'd always go for a wooden case, plus a rain cover if you're living in a monsoon region. The wood buffers the humidity and allows to accommodate slowly when climate changes.

I've always been very happy with my Negri. After 4 years of use they look and work like new. They're beautifully made, not so opulent as the Musafia but more understated. Without detail knowledge about the technical construction and durability over decades, I'd guess that they're not far behind in quality. If you're used to the usage of a shoulder rest, the Venezia model offers a perfect storage solution.
Living in a region where it tends to get a bit too dry especially during winter, I use a one-way humidifyer pack. I think the Boveda bags are great, but not available in my region.

No matter what you'll be deciding for, you could always carry an old blanket in the back of your car, to store the case underneath. For shorter periods of time it will save your instrument from excess heat there, especially from rapid changes.

January 31, 2021, 7:53 AM · I think it would be helpful if you mention if weight is a factor. The Bobelock cases (I have one, its beautiful) are dreadfully heavy. My main case is Bam with the thick polystyrine liner. However, my climate problems are rather different, living in Canada :D
January 31, 2021, 8:06 AM · I'm very happy with my oblong Bobelock. Not light but very protective and beautiful. It's also made in the Philippines, you might want to contact them to see what recommendations they may have for your needs.
Edited: January 31, 2021, 9:44 AM · Bobelock fiberglass cases are better for humid climate, right? A wooden case is humidity/water susceptible.
January 31, 2021, 10:23 AM · Not long ago I ordered a case from the demo/pre-owned list from Musafia‘s website. The case I ordered was a demo and in perfect condition!

I could not be happier with the case I purchased and the customer service through out the transaction was top notch.

If ordering from this list makes a case from them within your budget this is a option I would encourage looking in to.

January 31, 2021, 1:18 PM · Just to add: when I bought my last case I was told that a wooden case is much better with direct sunlight than a synthetic one. Even if well insulated some synthetic shells heat up very rapidly with radiant heat.
January 31, 2021, 2:27 PM · You should never leave your violin at direct sunlight no matter what case you are using.
January 31, 2021, 2:46 PM · Of course David - but it can happen, especially for students at campus say.
January 31, 2021, 2:49 PM · Even if you're being responsible, you might have to walk in the sun toward the bus.
January 31, 2021, 3:04 PM · That's one thing. The other is that wood can buffer humidity. Let's say you pack your violin in a warm humid place, then head to the airport or other cool, climate controlled surrounding. In a wooden case, the humidity will never condensate but evaporate. In a perfectly sealed hard shell case... well... It's physics, but maybe I'm just overly concerned about stuff like that...
Edited: January 31, 2021, 8:40 PM · Stephen, that's hardly ever enough long to matter. Unless you usually walk a long way, then I suppose...
Once when I was using a wooden case, I caught rain, when I arrived to the rehearsal there was water inside, on the violin. Since I've changed to a Gewa Air 2.1 MSV many years ago, that never happens. It keeps the humidity level sealed and I'm pretty sure the sunlight must take a real while to heat it up.
January 31, 2021, 4:50 PM · Boveda makes a 49% humidity pack for the purpose of absorbing moisture from a case that is too humid. It has a larger outer pack and you replace it when it swells up completely.
Edited: February 1, 2021, 5:18 AM · @David Duarte: It all depends. My atelier is a 30-minute walk from the train station and in summer it's often 90°F.

Inside a black color composite shell violin case in those conditions things happen. Assuming you start at 70°F with an outside of temp of 85°F, in 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight the temperature inside the case is 92°F, after 20 minutes it's 110°F, and after 30 minutes it's 121°F.

Perhaps even more interesting, is that starting from 50% relative humidity, in those conditions the RH spiked to 78% after only 10 minutes (probably more owing to the unavoidable inertia of the humidity probe itself). One of the reasons for that is the air-tight shell.

These are test results using a case of similar materials and construction to the one you mentioned.

February 1, 2021, 5:43 AM · Thank you, Dimitri. But, when the case is heating up, shouldn't the RH decrease? How would you explain the increase?!
Edited: February 1, 2021, 8:19 AM · @Nuuska, in normal conditions the RH would indeed decrease with the increase in temperature. But we are dealing here with a restricted air mass of finite proportions.

Two things concur to increase the RH value so quickly, and they are related. One is that the air inside an air-tight case will try to expand when heated, and being that it cannot because it's trapped inside,it goes under pressure. The increase of pressure increases the dew point, which increases the RH.

The other factor is that the increase in heat will cause the air to absorb all the humidity it can from its surroundings: the cloth lining, the padding, the humidifier, the violin. That's why after the RH spikes it gradually starts to come down again even when the air temp continues to increase (although it will level out at a greater value than at the start of the test), as all the available absorbable humidity has been drawn out.

The reason I say that the two causes are linked is because if your case is not air tight, then the air inside will not go under compression, and also the air itself will be able to absorb humidity from the outside of the case. So the increase in RH will be a lot less in a non-air-tight case, as will also be less the increase in interior air temp.

February 1, 2021, 8:14 AM · Great info Dimitry. I'll drill a hole in my air-tight case :D
February 1, 2021, 8:35 AM · If you do put a one-way valve in it and you'll be fine! :-)
February 2, 2021, 8:52 AM · I recently purchased a Tonarelli oblong case (carbon fibre pattern, but it's rather fiberglass). There's lots of colours as well as white to reflect sun/heat.
Interior is spacious and I can fit my Wolfe Forte Secondo under the neck no problem. There's an adjustable pad on velcro for violin size/length (so even 3/4 and possibly 1/2 can be accomodated) for.
There's a little "essentials bag" that is velcroed in as well, arguably quite large.
A porous blanket cover for the violin. Room for 4 bows. Handles are nice, possibly even leather - I'll confirm as soon as it gets back to me as I sent the case case out with the violin that came in it for a luthier look-over.
It closes on spring latches and there's a seal that...seals quite nicely.
Backstraps have carabiners covered in some kind of nylon (?) and combined with a safety wire in case the carabiner fails.
A small music folder/holder can be purchased and latches on to D buckles on the back.

When the case comes back I'll take some photos, possibly even make a quick video. But I'm fairly happy with it.

As for scratches, think of them as battle scars ;)

Edited: February 2, 2021, 10:32 AM · @Mark, my Mercedes is 15 years old and doesn't have a scratch! Really, not even one. But then I am a real maniac - to each his/her own :-) !
February 3, 2021, 12:49 AM · I also have a very precious to me but not especially valuable German trade violin.

Since she regularly comes along to medieval camps in hot humid sydney, i bought a musafia case from his discount page. I had waterproofing and tropicalisation added and they have been wonderful.

The case is solid enough that I don't flip out when someone decides to strip off their armour near her in the great hall (usually the coolest spot), and the tropicalisation does a great job of keeping the internal temperature several degrees cooler than the summer outside, and seems to be remarkably consistent about humidity, especially when moving between air con and outdoor climates.

My case has been lugged about regularly by bicycle in rain and on super hot days and still arrived at orchestra rehearsal pretty much the same as when I left home. After a small cycling accident, my case was unmarked and my violin was still in tune.

There is a small amount of rust on a couple of screws which Mr musafia contacted me about the last time I mentioned it, but it doesn't seem worth the cost or the carbon emissions to send it to the other side of the world for such a tiny repair. It happened nearly straight away and hasn't gotten any worse in more than ten years.

The downside is weight - this was before he began making the levisimma range. When my back was at it's worst I used a light foam case, which taught me why a good case is important. On more than one occasion, even with it's own down sleeping bag, I found that my pegs had all popped on cold nights camping.

And there was that terrifying terrifying morning when I out my fiddle to play for dancers and the fingerboard fell off! The glue had melted during the very hot night. All I could do was gaffer tape her together (yes I know, but there were about 200 dancers in the bush for 2 days and I was the only fiddler at that particular workshop) and sob to the luthier when I got back to sydney (she was fine and the luthier didn't even yell at me about the emergency repair).

She's been in the musafia case ever since.

Moral of the story - get a good case even if it means you have to ask someone else to carry it for you!

Edited: February 3, 2021, 1:39 AM · Thank you Anish. As someone who is a bit obsessed with violin case making, I need to point out that I'm not alone.

Maurizio Riboni, T.A. Timms, and Luis Negri all make superlative cases, and I've heard that Wiseman cases are very good too, although I'm not familiar with them. Bobelock is a great value for the money. Styles are different, so it can be for the most part a matter of personal taste.

But my suggestion is that if you really care about your violin, stay away from the multinationals and buy a case from someone who is proud enough about the product to put his own name on it.

February 8, 2021, 12:41 AM · Hello everyone!
Thank you all very much for your answers! And especially thank you Anish, I’ve lived in Sydney and I know Australia so it makes it easy for me to understand what you are talking about and I can then relate it to my own present situation. I think I might go for a Musafia demo case as the demo Lievissima fits right into my budget.

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