Your treasured violin can be vulnerable. It has a design and a build that cannot take too much damage. They just aren’t the strongest of instruments, so you need to take care of them.
What is the first line of defense in ensuring its safety? Many of you might be thinking the case. I would say no; the first line of defense is you and how you treat it, whether it’s in a case or not.
If you aren’t going to treat it with respect and care, then even a case might not save it. That said, I have put together a Violin Case Buyer’s Guide to help you find the best protection for your precious instrument.
- Violin Cases Have Improved
- Violin Cases Perform a Function
- Shapes and sizes
- The Weight Issue
- What to Consider When Buying Your Violin Case
- Storage Compartments
- Is the shape of the case important?
- Internal Suspension
- Environmental Damage
- Locks, Latches, and Handles
- Colored Cases
- Looking for a Great Violin?
- Violin Case Buyer’s Guide – Final Thoughts
Violin Cases Have Improved
It might be fair to say that violins have never been as secure in their cases as they are today. The shell of the case has toughened up, and the interiors have become extra soft. For those that want to “make a statement,” they are also produced in a range of colors.
Fashion statements are irrelevant, though. The only statement that should be made is how you play. And how safe it is when you transport it.
Violin Cases Perform a Function
The first thing it must do is protect the instrument. Have you just bought a Violin that hasn’t got a case? Or are you buying a case to replace an old one? Whatever the reason, there are some things to consider when buying a violin case.
The first function
This is to provide protection when it is being transported. But you can extend that to when it is not being used. Depending on where you keep it, the case needs to protect the instrument from any environmental or localized damage. We will return to environmental damage later.
Shapes and sizes
These days, there is a variety of violin case shapes and sizes and even materials. It will, of course, be a personal choice, but there are some “must-have” elements to it.
One thing you need to consider carefully is the fit. Not all cases fit all instruments. There are different sizes of Violins. Some people don’t want a heavy case, and some people will require special features. These are issues that you need to prioritize when you are choosing your case.
The Weight Issue
At one time, weight equaled security. The heavier the case, the stronger it was perceived to be. There was an element of truth in that, but these days not so much.
Cases used to be made of Plywood. It was a proven favorite and is still high on the list of favored materials. It is durable and provides protection. But in later years, ABS plastic, fiberglass, and even toughened foam are often used. They are lighter to carry and throw down a challenge to the old weight equals security idea.
What to Consider When Buying Your Violin Case
It must be made of a very solid material. You can buy cases made of cloth material. They might look quite attractive and are often cheaper, but they are not going to protect your Violin.
As we have said, the choice is between wood, which tends to be the heaviest, ABS plastic, or Carbon Fiber. The latter is usually the lightest.
An example, the MI&VI Deluxe Hardwood Violin Travel Case 4/4 (Full Size) With Leather Handles is a good wooden violin case. Likewise, for a high quality Fiberglass violin case option, I would recommend this 4/4 (Full-size) Carbon Fiber Violin Case.
The most important thing to consider here is the shape of the padding inside. It needs to fit the shape and size of your Violin. Ensure there is no or very little movement of the instrument when placed inside. The padding should “cradle” the violin.
This provides safety. Especially if it happens to be dropped or is subject to accidental impact, if the violin is “loose” inside, then there will be problems.
Check the size
Let’s go back to size. Your violin has to have a case that is the correct size. If you have a 3/4 size instrument, then a full-sized case will be no good. It will move around inside, as I have just been discussing.
Storing the Bow
This is also a very important area. There are two things to consider. Firstly the bow needs to be secure. You don’t want any damage to it when it is being carried around. A good bow is not cheap, and it is something you will get used to playing with. Having to replace it is not a good idea.
Secondly, make sure the bow does not touch the surface of the Violin at any point when the case is closed. You don’t want to open the case and find your beloved instrument with scratches all over it.
Many cases have small storage compartments built-in. These can be very useful for carrying around important items that you might need. Rosin for the bow being just one example, as is a cloth to wipe down the violin after use.
However, the contents inside need to be secure, and the compartment must not fly open during transportation. In that situation, the contents could damage your instrument or your bow. Check for a secure fitting.
How large does your compartment need to be?
Some people carry everything and the dog with them. If you’re going to carry your shoulder rest, music, food, or even your phone, it needs to be large enough to cope.
If you are planning to carry your shoulder rest in the compartment, take it down to the shop with the violin. Make sure it will fit completely inside the compartment when it is closed and secured. I have seen some that won’t fit inside safely.
Is the shape of the case important?
These days there is a range of shapes for cases. And the shape of the case can have an impact on weight. Oblong cases give you the most storage potential, but they also tend to be somewhat heavier.
Smaller, shaped, or half-moon cases are lighter. But then, they can be restrictive in terms of storage capacity. You are going to have to decide whether to trade off weight against storage if you want something lightweight.
Some cases use a system of suspension where the interior padding will cradle the violin, so it is almost floating inside the case. This has its merits in terms of protection for the instrument. The biggest downside is ensuring the violin will fit inside. The design internally is slightly different.
Let’s return to this issue which we mentioned earlier. Your violin is probably made from wood. This can be susceptible to changes in humidity or temperature. Such environmental changes can cause cracks in the wood or, at worst, twisting of the body or neck.
The thermometer and hygrometer
You can buy thermometers and hygrometers. These are great ways to check the humidity and temperature inside a violin case. Some of the more expensive cases have them built-in. Although, you can install them yourself. Just ensure that where you put them means they cannot make accidental contact with the instrument or the bow.
They are not expensive but could save you a lot of problems. If you’re interested in getting one, I would highly recommend the Stretto 1060 Digital Hygrometer for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double bass Cases.
Another little gadget you may want to consider for your case is a Humidifier. This helps regulate the level of moisture that exists in the case for a bit of extra protection.
However, you must ensure that it is safely stored, preferably by itself. They are not expensive, and I would personally recommend the Stretto 1010 Humidifier for Violin, Viola, and Small Instruments.
Locks, Latches, and Handles
All important considerations. The handle especially should be attached firmly to the core material of the case. Not just to a fabric covering or a foam outer. Does it feel secure when you pick it up? You don’t want the handle falling off when carrying your violin up a flight of stairs.
Likewise, locks and latches need to look and feel secure. How many times will you open and close them? Are they up to the task? When you click them shut, there should be no movement. If there is, it might indicate they are cheaper varieties that could spring open.
We haven’t mentioned them yet and left them until the end of this Violin Case Buyer’s Guide for two reasons. Firstly, because most designs and colors are not what people would walk down the road with.
And secondly, the color of the case bears no relation to the protection it offers your instrument. The color is irrelevant. But if you want a highly colored case for whatever reason, there are plenty to choose from.
Looking for a Great Violin?
We can help you with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Student Violins, the Best Electric Violins, the Best Violin Bows, the Best Violin For Kids, the Best Electric Cellos, and the Best Violin Cases you can buy in 2021.
You may also enjoy our informative guides on 9 Bowed String Instruments You’ve Never Heard Of, The Romantic Period of Music, What is Considered a String Instrument, and A Guide to Musical Instruments of the Medieval Period for more helpful information.
Violin Case Buyer’s Guide – Final Thoughts
This was never going to be a quick and simple decision; there are too many variables involved. But it is all about the protection of your violin, so safety before style, but if you can get both, even better!
Until next time, let your music play.