Thoughts on BAM Cases in 2021

July 14, 2021, 7:59 PM · Hi everyone!

I'm a student starting my studies at a Conservatoire this year and am currently looking to buy a new case. I currently have a Gewa Pure Oblong case, which I like, but is quite heavy to carry around everywhere - as it weighs around 2.9kg when it's empty (around 4.5kg when full). Since I will be moving around a lot, I wanted to find a light violin case that offers strong protection and also good thermal protection (since it is very often over 35°C here in Summer).

I was instantly attracted to the Bam High-tech Contoured cases - both from what I saw and from what I heard from several professional orchestral musicians. What mainly caught my eye was the Bam Panther, since it offers much better scratch resistance compared to the "original" high tech case - which is commonly labelled as a scratch magnet.

After scrolling thoroughly through Blogs on V.com, I was slightly disheartened as many threads were against the BAM high-tech cases - mainly about poor protection against bumps/drops (God forbid) and thermal insulation - which was surprising considering BAM's reputation. However, almost all threads I came across were from anywhere between 2005-2012 and did not find any recent in-depth threads regarding this.

So I would like to ask if anyone maybe has any personal experiences with Bam Hightech in the more recent years, as I believe that the technology has probably improved from 15 years ago.

I would greatly appreciate any info regarding this!

Thank you,
Kurt

Replies (21)

Edited: July 15, 2021, 12:28 AM · I currently own 6 cases. The first one is a beat-up old Concord Case that I had with the first violin I ever bought. It's a wooden case and it protected the violin very well during my high school years until the lid for the accessory compartment inside the case wouldn't close anymore and one of the bow holders came off.

When I got my next violin for college I bought a Bobelock Corregidor Case with it. It's built like a tank. During my freshman year, I tripped up the stairs at my dorm and the case went tumbling down the stairs. When I opened up the case the violin wasn't even out of tune. Can't recommend this case enough if you're going for a well-built, protective case without breaking the bank. The only downside to this case is that since it is built like a tank it is also heavy like one. It's about 8lbs (3.6kg) empty and was well over 10lbs (4.5kg) full which made it a chore to lug across campus.

Because of that, I ended up getting a Pedi violin case which was great until the accessory compartment started falling apart a year into owning the case. I asked a colleague who had a pedi case for his viola and he said that just happens eventually. I think he was on his 2nd pedi case.

This prompted me to get a boblelock half-moon case. I got it because I knew the bobelock brand was reliable and the half-moon was lighter than the corregidor while still being able to hold more things than one of their dart cases.

I eventually left this case for an oblong case so that I could hold more things, but I still wanted it to be light so I ended up with a Gewa Air oblong case. These are great cases are to me are a direct competitor to the Bam Hightech oblong case and contoured cases. They cost a little less too. It's held up nicely over the 2 years I've owned it. It currently houses my violin from my high school years.

My current case is a Bam La Defense case. It's light, protective, and holds everything I need it to. To help with thermal insulation I got the Bam hoodie with mine and it also protects the case against scratches. A downside to these kinds of cases, the Gewa included, is that they don't hold temperature well in cold weather. With the hoodie, I haven't had a problem and I have a stretto humidifier system in there to maintain the humidity. If I had to pick between Bam and Gewa I would say get the gewa because it's a little more affordable unless you don't want an oblong case. If you want a smaller case get the Bam high tech contour like you originally wanted because it'll likely hold more than the dart cases from Gewa. I only got the La defense over the hightech because the la defense came in orange which is my favorite color. they're essentially the exact same otherwise.

Basically, if you don't want wood, get Bam or Gewa.

If you want wood then get Bobelock as a budget option (it'll be heavy though) or Musafia if you want to splurge. There's also Negri for a mid-priced option. I think Vengerov uses a Negri case for his Strad. Musafia has a lightweight option as well I think if you want the peace of mind of having a protective wooden case.

At the end of the day, 9/10 wood will still be more protective than polycarbonate shells like Bam and Gewa, but there are plenty of professionals who trust non-wooden cases to protect their prized instruments.

July 15, 2021, 12:29 AM · My vote is definitely for a wood laminate shell case. T.A. Timms makes both oblong and contoured shape, while Riboni and Negri make good oblong cases in the BAM price category. Riboni especially make lightweight ones too, around 2 kg. (the UnoEOtto model).
Edited: July 15, 2021, 1:24 AM · Not to mention Musafia cases ;)
I don't find my Musafia very heavy. I did change the carrying straps to the ones from BAM which I find much more comfortable (sorry Dimitri).
And as a young friend (who saved up to buy a Musafia) said about the case: "it makes me happy every time I open it"
Edited: July 15, 2021, 1:45 AM · If price is an issue, you might wanna try to find a used Musafia case. Regarding durability and thermal insulation (Musafia cases include a humidifier), Musafia cases have it all. They also have a brown exterior with gold accents that I find stylish but not tastelessly flashy (thankfully). I have a Musafia ultralight violin case, and it is amazingly light for its size. Also, I have heard that you can contact Mr. Musafia for support anytime in the lifespan of the case; I know that my case came with a card saying that the case had lifetime warranty. There have also been past testimonies to this (on Vcom too).
July 15, 2021, 2:08 AM · Thank you everyone for your kind comments! However the OP mentioned being a student so I think that a Negri or Riboni might be better as new ones are in the BAM price class. Cheers!
July 15, 2021, 11:47 AM · Many of my colleagues have a shaped Bam case: they find the clasps have to be watched and maybe re-tightened.
July 15, 2021, 2:01 PM · FWIW I have a Bam Hitech case for my viola, and recently I dropped it directly onto concrete - thought that the Mooradian outer padded cover was zipped when it wasn't - and although the nose of the BAM took a nasty dent, the viola wasn't even out of tune. So, my confidence in this case is higher than it was before. I've also owned a Musafia case for my violin and it was very nice.
Edited: July 16, 2021, 2:13 AM · Adrian, you bring up a good point. All cases have hardware that sooner or later will wear out. I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay attention to those parts subject to wear and take steps when necessary.

The integrity of parts such as carrying strap attachments are extremely important to check from time to time. They almost always give ample advance warning before breakage and possible damage to the case (and possibly the instrument too).

Edited: July 16, 2021, 2:59 AM · As to hardware giving out, yes, I still remember the time the handle on my oboe case broke as I was running across a road to catch a bus!

I've rarely seen anything good said about BAM.
I saw a Negri case the other day. It looked very nice.
Since you talk about weight, ultralight "hard" cases made of styrofoam or whatever are better than you might think. My teacher keeps her $50k viola in one (Hidersine).
I have followed her lead.
There's no case that will 100% protect a violin - airport luggage handlers have competitions to see how easily they can break things (I saw a secret video of them on a guitar forum once). But if the worst you will do is carry it on the back of your bike, then polycarbonate may be ideal, unless a car runs over it.
Possibily you just have to weigh up the unpleasant compromise that is "somewhat protective case" + insurance?

Edited: July 16, 2021, 3:26 AM · I would like to draw attention to Mr. Musafia's recommendation of Riboni's Unoeotto. It still features a proper wooden shell while maintaining an amazing combination of low weight, functionality and price. You can read more about it here.

I personally use their new Zerootto model, which is slightly more expensive and ever so slightly heavier but has a more traditional-looking interior. If you want to reduce weight and size to the max, order one WITHOUT the music pocket - I've had colleagues describe my case's appearance as an optical illusion because the curved design of the lid without the music pocket makes it look so thin on the sides. I weighed my case (again without music pocket) at exactly 2 kg empty and 2.6kg with filled.

Do note that Riboni is not well known or distributed in the United States - I certainly had never heard of them till moving abroad. I get the impression that they are popular enough in Europe and in Asia to warrant not worrying about the American market. I can't personally vouch for the longevity of their ultralight models (although mine still looks almost new after a year), but I've seen plenty of their more traditional models that wear amazingly well, similar to Mr. Musafia's cases, much better than Bam cases (and Gewa). In my humble opinion, Cordura covers (IE Riboni, Musafia, Timms, Negri) wear about 100x better over time than plastic shells.

Bam cases (and the more expensive Gewa ones) do have the advantage of being the absolute lightest, and the hard exterior allows you to put fun stickers on. But as a professional long-lasting tool I find the more traditional cases better, especially when you have options like the Riboni ones that barely compromise. For larger instruments, like cellos, the weight advantage naturally supersedes all else.

Even if you consider shipping and customs to the States (if you are there) they are worth a look as they are still within Bam's price range.

July 16, 2021, 6:51 AM · I looked at the pics of this Zerootto Riboni case.
I suppose that it's built for flatback violins..... :)
July 16, 2021, 8:50 AM · Thank you all so much for your input and suggestions! It is great to hear about some personal experiences with the cases. It seems as if almost everyone agrees that wood laminate cases offer the best protection. I had looked into the Musafia Lievissima Dart Shaped Case - as I think that it is the lightest Musafia case, however, it is a bit above my price range from what I saw. I would love to get one in the future, but I think it will have to wait for now. I also looked at some of the Negri and Riboni cases as suggested. Since one of my main points in the checklist is lightness, I looked at the Riboni UnoEOtto and the ZeroOtto models. As Marco suggested, the inside padding does look like it's built for flatback violins haha! But I shall not comment until I have done more research.

@Karl: It is nice to hear that the BAM case protected your viola from the fall - it gives me some trust in the options I have right now!

As I had mentioned, my main points on the checklist are weight, protection from any "accidents", and thermal insulation. I know that less weight is usually proportional to less protectiveness. For context, I am from Malta (hence the very high temperatures mentioned) and will be moving to The Hague next September, so I will most probably use a bike very often to travel.

Some questions emerged after reading all these comments, and I would love to hear some opinions about them:
How come companies such as GEWA and BAM are so popular considering that many comments (mainly from these threads) speak negatively of their experiences with them?
Secondly, is there a reason why many professionals trust their e.g. Strads in these cases (BAM/GEWA) considering that they are supposedly not as protective as wooden cases - as I would think that some thought would have been put in when getting a case for such valuable instruments.

Thank you!
Kurt

Edited: July 16, 2021, 10:05 AM · The Riboni cases have suspension. All their cases have it covered with one piece of cloth, so it looks very smooth, without blocks standing out, but it's there. I assume they know what they are doing, although of course a more massive design might have advantages too. There is room to spare in the Zerootto- in fact, my violin uses a raised chinrest. I custom made the case with a slightly smaller tailpiece block to fit it.

With regards to Kurt's question:
1. BAM and Gewa cases are "good enough." If you look at "average" cases from 100 years ago I think you'll see that modern cases are way more thoughtfully designed BAM included, and while there might be some thermal or weight bearing reasons against the plastic or carbon fibre cases they work well enough. Buying a BAM certainly won't condemn your instrument to disaster - but there are other options, for those who know and care. Personally I just prefer the appearance of more traditional cases :)
2. For a while BAM (along with the more expensive Accord) was the only option for sub 2kg violin cases. I would dare say that their popularity has inspired the more traditional case makers to work hard to compete, which is good for everyone :)
3. (I think the most important one) Bam and Gewa cases are made in far greater numbers, so you'll see more of them. You can walk into many violin and even general music shops and buy a BAM case. Smaller case makers like Riboni and Musafia might have wait lists and won't have a lot of stock always available. I've almost never seen a Riboni in a shop, and I'm sure they are made in far smaller numbers. That being said, several soloists playing with my orchestra have had Riboni cases. If you adjust for the total numbers of cases produced, in my (small) sample set Riboni does well.

July 16, 2021, 11:14 AM · @Kurt, Musafia has a list of demo and prototype cases sold at a discount.
July 16, 2021, 7:44 PM · My first cello case was a Bam, as the price was right. However, after a few years, the black foam supporting and padding the instrument inside the case turned into sticky, black gunk. I sent BAM photos and they sent me a box full of little cloth-covered pads to replace the rotted foam. The case was never the same. Very sad experience.
July 16, 2021, 8:33 PM · HHmm. I recently purchased a Bam Hi-Tech cello case (5 months ago). I have a cello with wider bouts than a Strad D model, and the case was still too big. I made black fabric covered pads to fit under the lower bouts, and at the bottom of the case to go against the back of the lower bouts.
It is an "air suspension" design case.
Yes, the case is a scratch magnet, it is light, it allows the cold in over night, and I have no idea how strong, or robust, it really is, having not dropped it, etc.
All in all, I don't regret buying the case, but I do wonder if it is the best option out there.
Edited: July 17, 2021, 3:50 AM · Kurt, it's easy to answer your two questions.

BAM and GEWA are multinationals. They have factories in Thailand and China, respectively, and especially GEWA has a multi-million dollar annual turnover, since they make also digital pianos, amplifiers, acoustic guitars, etc..

As a result, they can afford to buy advertising by the square yard and then of course the magazines they give money to will always give glowing reviews. Not to mention high profile testimonials they can afford.

As to why some professionals entrust the safety of their precious instruments to industrially made cases is a) what I've just explained, and b) often they simply don't think about the issue of instrument safety. I've seen two Strads (a 1696 long pattern, and a famous 1727) being kept in $100 Chinese-made styrofoam cases. When I pointed out to the owner of the latter that the case was dangerous for the violin, the answer was a shrug and "nothing has ever happened".

July 18, 2021, 2:57 PM · I think I will weigh in a little bit.

I am a long time user of a BAM Highech violin case and I really am very pleased with it. I got it back in 2013 or 2014, it has been used for commuting to work (I often had rehearsals after work), flying (very useful as a shaped case) and more recently a glorified storage box (my demand for violin is far less than it was).

The violin that uses this case is an old French, probably a JTL. Not the most expensive violin out there.

Things I love:
- Extremely lightweight, which is ideal.
- Solid construction (in my opinion).
- A spot for your shoulder rest (if you use one) to be velcro-ed in so it is not loose in the case.
- Being able to carry it on my back or on my shoulder. The shoulder straps are very reliable for me.
- Temperature/environmental bits: the UK is fairly temperate, so I generally do not get too concerned about the violin being adversely affected by changes in temperature.
- I have flown very easily with it! (useful, given that you are an international student about to travel to NL).

Things that are a bit "meh" after several years of use
- The latches are not as tight as they used to be, this annoys me and of course creates a risk. Nothing has ever happened, but you just never know.

Things that annoy me
- The case has to open flat, there is no ribbon to hold it at a 90 degree angle, which is common in a lot of other cases. This is rather awkward when you are setting up your violin from your knees or something.
- The surface of the case can scratch easily, which can be irritating for those that prefer a pristine looking case all the time.

I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy this violin case. It ticks a lot of boxes for me.

If I were to upgrade my violin, I would probably replace the case at the same time, however, I would not be in a hurry to replace my BAM for now, I like it.

Ironically, I am after a Riboni case for my viola in the future. It ticks a lot of boxes for that instrument!

I hope this is somewhat helpful Kurt, best of luck with your studies in the Netherlands!

July 19, 2021, 12:35 AM · Hello, I have inherited a extremely old violin and case. I am have sent the violin, a 1906 Giuseppe Marconcini, to a master violin repair craftsman in England. The case is a complete loss as time has not been kind to my Great Grandfather’s case. I am having a new one made. Can anyone please tell me the traditional color of velvet used for a violin case of this time? It will be a museum piece once I have everything back.
July 19, 2021, 1:40 AM · Drew, email me privately with some photos of the case and I can probably give you some insight.
July 19, 2021, 2:10 AM · Mr Zilpah,
- for the loose latches, always have a strap or belt round the case and add another latch of a different design, which a tag pointing the opposite way;
- for the lid add very flexible webbing from base to lid, at each end: but be sure that the case will not tip upwards and damage the back of the violin when removing it, and that the lid willnot fall on the violin if removing the bow catches on the webbing....


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