Buying a Violin Case

Buying a violin case isn’t a regular occurrence so when you do buy one it’s worth spending a little time over the decision so that you choose one that suits your particular needs, and one that will last.

Reasons for Buying a Case

Reasons for buying cases can vary and therefore so can the selection criteria.  For example if you’re buying a case to put your instrument in storage you may use different selection criteria than if you were looking for an everyday case for frequent playing at different locations. As well as protecting your violin from knocks and bumps it also protects your violin from dust and dirt, particles of which can collect on your instrument and stick to resin particles which can in turn risk damage to your violin varnish. A violin case is also a place to store and protect your bow(s).

Criteria to Consider

Here are a few examples of some popular criteria that many people consider when shopping around for a new violin case:

Budget. Case prices vary greatly. They can range from lightweight styrofoan / organic flax / natural material exterior cases from approximately £120 , up to BAM triple ply shell cases from £200-£700, and beyond. Many violinists say that it is worth buying the best case that you can afford because it is likely to last a long time as well as providing a high degree of protection for your instrument. This is particularly important if you have spent a lot of money on your violin / if your violin has a high value attached to it.  Violin aficionados may know that some of the most highly regarded (and most expensive) cases were those made by Stradivari and indeed by W.E. Hill & Sons in the late 19th century.

Level of outer protection.  You may decide that a hard shelled case ultimately provides a greater level of protection or that a well padded styrofoam case provides the level of protection and convenience and portability that you’re looking for. A rigid, heat-reflective shell provides a good outer level of protection for stringed instruments.  With hard-shelled cases it is also important to find one that opens and closes easily.

A word of warning.  Some hard-shelled cases have a layer of metal trim around the edge. This could potentially scratch the instrument when putting it in or taking it out of the case.Buying a violin case

Protection inside the case. The kind of protection offered by the inside of the case could also be part of the selection process.  For example a case with a good soft pad or suspended padding, a velvet blanket and drawstring case, a light and high density foam inside (e.g. Airex as in Bam cases), padded velour or velvet lining are all options that could prove attractive where protection is concerned. A case with shock-absorbent internal supports will provide a good level of protection for your instrument.  Custom fitted padding can often provide the ideal internal support for an instrument.

Straps. For cases with straps, you could choose a case with Metal carabiner hooks.  These however can come undone gradually and should ideally be tightened every time you use the case. The threaded section of the carabiner can also scratch and cause wear on the outside of the case.

Rucksack / backpack style cases are popular and padded straps can be more comfortable.

Weight.  The importance of this factor depends upon the intended use of the case.  If it’s for simply storing an instrument then it’s not really and issue.  If you need a case for frequent use e.g. carrying between rehearsals and performances then you will need the case to be light and comfortable enough. The weight of the case will of course depend upon the materials and construction, although most modern cases are made from relatively lightweight materials.

Although a lighter case is of course preferable, ultra light cases can mean a compromise on other important features such as solidity, quality handles and feet, good quality catches, and stability when opening and closing the case.

Shape / size. With hard-shelled cases for example finding a case that strikes a balance between having a strong outer shell without being too bulky is worth considering.

Stability when standing.  Even though the instrument is in the case when being transported it still needs to be protected when you put the case down / rest it against something.  Finding a case that is stable when standing is actually very important.

The bow holder.  It’s not just the violin of course that you need to transport around or store safely, and you may need to store more than one bow in your case.  The quality, space and design of bow holder in the case are important considerations. Magnetic bow holders, for example, may not be as stable as other types, and you may need the space to store 2 or more bows in your case.

Pockets and extra compartments. Having string / music pockets in the case can be very helpful.

The handle and / or strap. The importance of this practical consideration shouldn’t be overlooked. A comfortable but strong handle (perhaps leather bound) and /or a good, strong, padded strap / backpack straps can make carrying your instrument around that bit easier.

Opening / closing and fastening. A soft case is going to have a zipper whereas a hard-shelled case is likely to have (metal) fasteners and locks. Zips tend to be quite hard wearing on instrument cases or you may decide that you need and prefer the security of locked, hard case.

For many players the ideal situation with a hard case is to have a small number of strong and durable catches. This keeps the instrument safer, and easily accessible, and means that you won’t have the inconvenience and added cost of having to get catches fixed or replaced all the time.

Design / appearance extra features. You may prefer a case that has an attractive design / appearance and is perhaps an attractive colour. You may also require your case to have extra protective features such as a built in hygrometer.

Ease of repair.  This may not be the first thing you think of when buying a new case but it is worth noting that some cases are much easier to repair than others if something goes wrong. Cases made by European manufacturers, for example, may be easier to repair of have parts replaced on them than cases made in e.g. China. This is because some Chinese case makers, for example, don’t provide accessories / parts for their cases.

It is also worth noting that if you purchase a case from a reputable dealer rather than just and online store you may have a much better chance of having any repairs carried out by that dealer.

Warranty.  You may wish to ask whether the case that you choose has a warranty and what the details are e.g. if it’s a higher end, more expensive case it may have a good warranty.

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