Even though the violin hasn’t changed much in the past few hundred years, violin cases have definitely gone through some pretty cool innovations.
Ever wondered what kind of violin case Paganini used? It looks like it belongs in a museum… and it actually does belong in a museum.
But can you imagine lugging that case around? Or carrying it on your back?
With 2020 right around the corner, violin cases have been getting pretty advanced. And with every new case brand out there, that means more competition to manufacture the best violin cases for your beloved instrument.
With more competition, there also comes more choices. A LOT more choices.
Which is why our team has decided to put together a buyer’s guide for violin cases.
Our goal is to make the buying process a little easier. How are we going to do this you ask?
First, by helping you understand what to look for in a violin case.
Next, we’ll share some of the differences in violin cases. Such as features, shapes, and materials.
Then we’ll go over some things to keep in mind when picking a violin case that’s right for you.
By the end of the article, you’ll have a good idea of the type of violin case that’s right for you.
What To Look For In A Violin Case
Violin cases come in all shapes, sizes, models, and styles.
And in this section, we’ll go over some of the most important features of a violin case that may or may not suit your needs.
In our years of selling cases, we have never met a musician who wanted a heavy case!
What is lightweight? Generally any violin case under 5 lb.
Weight is a huge factor when it comes to deciding if a case is right for you. However, as a rule of thumb, the lighter the case, the more expensive it is.
Now you will find lightweight violin cases under $100. But these cases may be sacrificing protection for weight.
Meaning that case could be made of styrofoam. Your violin case would break simply by sitting on it.
A lightweight violin case that is also protective and durable is a good investment. Especially for violinists that carry their violins everyday.
Studies have shown that violinists develop bad postures over time if they’re constantly hunching their backs to read their sheet music on a shorter music stand.
Adding a heavy case to that equation definitely doesn’t help!
A decent lightweight violin case is definitely still more affordable than several sessions with a chiropractor in the future!
A protective violin case is a must. And what we mean by protective is that the violin will not crack if you drop the case (this is called suspension, which we will go over in a bit).
Some cases are so protective, such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Hightech cases, that you can drive a car over it!
Now the chances of your violin case being run over by a car is quite slim. But the type of protection you need really depends on the value of your instrument.
For violins that are worth 5 to 6 figures, you definitely do not want to be taking any chances, no matter how slim those chances may be.
In addition, violinists may be using their cases for decades. We believe it’s always better to get a decent case that’ll last decades, rather than cheaper cases that need to be replaced every few years.
A violin case is only as durable as its components. This includes the hinges, zippers, locks, etc.
These components are what really requires a case to be replaced.
As we mentioned before, cases generally do not get run over by cars. So they’re generally never replaced because the shells cracked.
What we often see though, is a case being replaced because the zippers broke. And the case can no longer be closed.
So how do we know if it’s a durable case?
By the brand! Reputable brands are reputable for a reason. They put in the extra time and effort to ensure the quality of their cases.
Every musician obviously wants a light, durable, and protective case. But functionality really comes down to personal preference.
Some violinists may want a case with combination locks, some prefer key locks.
Some may want ample space in the accessories pocket for a large shoulder rest, some violinists may not even use a shoulder rest.
Some violinists also want comfortable backpack straps for carrying the case on their backs, while others may prefer to hold the case in their hands like a briefcase.
In a later section of this guide, we will go over the functionalities of the case. But this is the part where you really get options that allow you to choose a violin case based on your needs.
Has A Suspension System
You may have come across this term in your search for violin cases. But what is suspension, and what is its purpose?
Simply put, the suspension system “suspends” your instrument within the case.
This means if you dropped your case, a good suspension system will prevent your instrument from knocking against the case.
Some cases may have extremely tough hard shells to protect the violin. But if there’s not a good suspension system in place, that violin can damage itself by knocking against that hard shell case.
Most modern hard shell cases will feature suspension systems. But some cheaper wooden cases may not. Which means it's simply a wooden box with light interior padding.
The Bam violin cases feature foam core interiors that serve as a suspension system.
Think of it as a tempur-pedic foam mattress. The foam “suspends” the instrument, so that it doesn’t make any contact with the exterior of the case.
Every musician is unique, why not get a case that is just as unique? Often times, you can tell what kind of music an instrumentalist plays just by the case he or she uses.
Musicians are artists. And fashion is art. So choose a case that fits your style of music!
What Features A Violin Case Can Have
As mentioned before, there’s a lot of similar aspects we all look for in a violin case. We obviously want cases that are lightweight, durable, and protective.
But the features and functionalities of a case is what makes it unique (and of course how stylish it is).
Let’s take a look at some different features a case can have.
Combination Lock / Key Lock
Most standard cases come with key locks.
A lot of the newer, more modern violin cases feature combination locks. Which means you can lock your case without having to worry about losing your keys.
Especially nowadays with everything going mobile. You can open garages, front doors, and car doors with your phone.
We wouldn’t be surprised if one day you can open your violin case with just your iPhone.
Sheet Music Pouch
Many cases also feature zippered compartments for sheet music.
Almost all traditional wooden violin cases or standard oblong cases will have full-length zippered sheet music pouches on the tops.
Almost all contoured violin cases will not have space for sheet music. That is because the width of these contoured cases are slimmer than sheet music.
There are some exceptions, such as the Super Light contoured violin cases that have extendable sheet music pouches. Making the pouches deeper, thus allowing space for A4-size sheet music.
Many of the hardshell oblong violin cases now feature smaller sheet music pouches on the backsides for standard A4-size sheet music as well.
Accessory Compartment / Removable Accessory Pouch
With some of the more modern hardshell violin oblong cases, removable accessory pouches have been growing a lot in popularity.
These pouches are generally secured to the case by velcro. Which means you can remove them from the case.
This is a great feature for orchestral musicians who can bring their pouches with them to their music stands, instead of their entire case.
The traditional wooden cases generally feature accessory compartments with lids. You’ll generally find these in the more luxurious violin cases as well. Such as the Negri cases.
Hygrometers are the measurement tools used in a violin case that lets you know the humidity within your case.
Over the years, case makers have not been using beautiful round hygrometers in their cases because...well, they’re pretty inaccurate. Some would even say useless.
And for professional violinists, their violins are outside the cases as much as they are inside the cases.
Now we’re not saying you do not need a hygrometer. But don’t pass on a case you really like simply because it doesn’t have a hygrometer.
There are many options nowadays for digital hygrometers that are more accurate than the dial-type hygrometers. And they can be easily installed in any case.
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the features a violin case can have, let’s take a look at some of the different shapes of a violin case, and how the shape can impact the case’s features.
Different Violin Case Shapes
The shape of a violin case you would want is also based on personal preference. One shape is not better than the other. They each have their pros and cons.
Oblong Violin Cases
Probably the most standard and popular violin cases you will see. Almost all the traditional wooden violin cases are oblong cases.
Oblong violin cases are spacious. They have enough space for shoulder rests of different sizes. They generally also feature sheet music pouches on the outside of the cases.
However, with the extra space, there also comes extra weight. Standard oblong cases generally weigh between 5.6 lb. to 9 lb. Some of the lightest oblong violin cases include the Gewa Air 2.1 oblong violin cases that weigh 4.4 lb.
Shaped Violin Cases
Shaped, or contoured violin cases are very popular for their compact shapes.
They can usually hold 2 bows. And there’s usually space next to the scroll of the instrument for a Kun style shoulder rest. Or Wolf Forte shoulder rest.
The accessory pouch is usually quite small. There’s only enough space for rosin and a cleaning cloth.
However, some contoured cases have spacious pockets under the instrument, such as the Tonareli cello-shaped violin cases. These pockets can fit shoulder rests, pencils, rosins, and other accessories.
Contoured violin cases also do not have space for sheet music. The width of the contoured case is actually slimmer than sheet music.
Shaped violin cases are great for travel. They’re generally lighter. And they can fit into airline overhead cabins easier.
Plus they just attract less attention than the spacious oblong cases at airports. So flight attendants are less likely to ask you to check-in your case.
Always double check ahead of time though. Some budget airlines have been getting very strict with their carry-on regulations. To learn more, checkout our article on the Top violin cases for travel.
Half-Moon Violin Cases
Half moon violin cases are somewhere between oblong and shaped cases. They’re more spacious than contoured violin cases.
They also have more spacious accessory pockets. Sometimes as spacious as the oblong cases. Such as the popular Bobelock fiberglass half-moon violin cases.
Not all half-moon violin cases are as spacious as they seem though. Such as the Bam slim violin cases.
These popular cases do not have enough space for shoulder rests. As you can see in this Youtube video description.
However, if you don’t mind the lack of space for a shoulder rest, these cases are some of the most uniquely designed and protective violin cases out there.
Cabin Violin Cases
Cabin violin cases are designed by Bam. These are the smallest and lightest violin cases you will find.
They’re specifically designed for air travel. So their total length does not exceed airline carry-on regulations.
These cases have been growing in popularity due to the strict carry-on regulations of budget airlines.
The case itself can only fit a violin. A bow tube is included with the case. And the bow tube can be secured to the case with 2 elastic straps.
The idea here is that violinists can check-in their bows. Since they aren’t as prone to the dangers of being tossed around by baggage handlers and experiencing rapid temperature changes under the plane.
And the case itself can be placed safely in the overhead cabins.
A great case for traveling musicians. But for day-to-day rehearsals, it may take a little getting used to. You don’t want to forget your bow!
Different Violin Case Materials
Back in the day, all violin cases were made out of wood. And to this day, some of the best violin cases are still made out of wood.
But with 2020 right around the corner, the world of instrument protection has been getting pretty advanced.
Newer materials have been developed and used for different purposes.
Some case makers may choose materials that allow them to build the lightest and most protective cases.
Others may want the most protective cases at an affordable price.
Some cases are built with climate protection in mind.
Also keep in mind, the case maker is as important as the materials used.
If you gave Gordon Ramsay and Homer Simpson the same exact cooking ingredients for a meal, the finished masterpiece can be completely different.
That means finding a great brand is probably more important than finding a case made of great materials.
So in this section, we’ll be going over some of the most popular materials used for violin cases, and the benefits of each.
Wooden Violin Cases
The classic material used for violin cases. Wood is a protective and durable material.
It’s also the best material you can find when it comes to protecting your instrument from inclement weather.
Wood itself is a hygroscopic material. It’s like a sponge. It’ll absorb and lose moisture based on the surrounding conditions.
Not to get too scientific, but that’s good for your violin. It’ll keep the humidity level within the case more stable.
Plus its heat conductivity is very low. Think of a hot sun shining on a wooden bench and a carbon fiber bench. Which one would you prefer to sit on?
That being said, it does NOT mean all wooden cases are amazing. Wooden violin cases can range between $50 to $3000.
A cheap $50 wooden violin case can still crack if you drop it, due to low-quality workmanship.
Fiberglass Violin Cases
Fiberglass violin cases are extremely popular among student violinists. They come in all sorts of colors and patterns.
Some fiberglass cases such as the Bobelock cases have been popular among professional violinists as well for their durability, protection, and workmanship at an affordable price.
Fiberglass does have higher heat conductivity compared to wood. What does this mean? Don’t leave your fiberglass case in the trunk of a car on a hot summer’s day!
Some case makers have created insulated covers for their cases as well.
Fiberglass cases are also generally slightly heavier than other cases.
If you find a fiberglass case under $150 and under 5 lb., it’s probably not real fiberglass. Or if it is, it’s probably paper-thin. You can probably dent it just by dropping it.
Carbon Fiber Violin Cases
Carbon fiber cases were quite the rage for some time!
They’re very sleek looking. And probably the lightest material you can find.
Carbon fiber is often used for high-end bicycles. That’s because cyclists need the lightest and strongest bicycles for their long treks.
However, carbon fiber cases are becoming harder and harder to find because of one problem, they heat up very quickly.
This may not be a problem for cyclists going 15 mph, allowing the wind to cool down their bicycles.
But for a valuable and fragile wooden instrument, heat is a big problem.
There are definitely ways to work around this. Such as getting an insulated cover for your carbon fiber violin case.
However, you’ll want a cover that was specifically designed for that carbon fiber violin case. Or else the holes in the cover for straps, handles, etc. may be in the wrong places.
Although carbon fiber is very strong and can withstand a lot of damage and pressure, the chances of your case heating up on a hot summer’s day is a lot higher than your case being run over by a car.
Some cases may feature a carbon fiber “look”, such as the Bam Hightech violin cases. These are not carbon fiber cases.
They simply look like carbon fiber cases on the outside, but they have great insulation properties of their interior foam cores on the inside. More on these Hightech cases later.
If you live in a place with decent weather, and you don’t travel too much with your violin case, then carbon fiber may still be a great option for you.
Thermoplastic Violin Cases
When we first saw these cases, we thought to ourselves...plastic? Really?
Who would want a plastic case?
Again, with 2020 right around the corner, engineers have been getting pretty creative with plastic.
Polycarbonate is also plastic, and that’s used to create shatterproof glass on buildings.
Thermoplastic is often used in mechanical parts for their strength, and their incredibly high resistance to heat.
The most famous thermoplastic violin cases are the Gewa Air violin cases.
These German-engineered cases were designed in response to the issues of carbon fiber cases.
Gewa wanted to build a professional violin case that was durable, protective, light, and more affordable than carbon fiber. It also had to be heat-resistant.
Thermoplastic shells definitely met their strict demands in creating these professional cases.
Hightech Violin Cases
With Bam being one of the most popular brands in the world, the word Hightech, has been seen as a type of material used for instrument protection.
Hightech is Bam’s own signature protection. It is formed of a triple-ply structure made of ABS, Airex foam, and another type of ABS.
Again, plastics come in all forms. ABS is also a type of plastic. But through Bam’s manufacturing process, they are able to turn that triple-ply structure into some of the toughest cases in the world.
These Hightech cases are also more heat-resistant compared to carbon fiber. The interior foam protects your instrument from temperature changes.
The foam also serves as a suspension system for your instrument. So if you dropped the case, the foam will make sure the violin doesn’t bounce around in the case.
Bam Hightech cases are also known as the most stylish violin cases. They use different exterior layers on top of the Hightech shells.
So if you see a metallic-looking Bam case, rest assured, it doesn’t heat up like most metallic cases do.
It’s just simply the stylish exterior layer. But underneath that layer is Bam’s proven Hightech protection.
Polycarbonate Violin Cases
Of all the innovations out there, polycarbonate is probably the newest when it comes to protection.
As mentioned before, polycarbonate is also used to make shatterproof glass.
Polycarbonate is incredibly heat-resistant as well. And it’s also more scratch-resistant than many weaker plastic cases out there.
Polycarbonate can come in different strengths as well. Which means different polycarbonate violin cases can vary in strength and protection.
Styrofoam Violin Cases
Nope! Avoid these.
Yes they’re cheap. And they’re incredibly light. Plus they’re incredibly heat resistant too!
But you can break this case simply by sitting on it.
Some marketing descriptions will talk about how light, heat-resistant, and affordable these cases can be.
But you can pretty much say the same about putting your violin in a ziplock bag!
Generally for hard cases under $75, they may be using thin plywood exterior layers and styrofoam padding. Definitely not the best in terms of protection and durability.
Environmentally Friendly Violin Cases
These violin cases have been growing in popularity through the Jakob Winter brand. As well as the Gewa Bio-S violin cases.
As the name suggests, these cases are made of environmentally friendly materials.
For example, the Gewa’s shell is made of flax fibers, which is a plant-based material.
In general, these cases aren’t the sturdiest cases out there. But they do feature some pretty unique designs.
Which is why they’ve been a popular option among students. These cases are generally more affordable. And they come in all sorts of patterns and exterior colors.
They can also be pretty light. For example, the Jakob Winter cases can weigh less than 4 lb.
However, we wouldn’t suggest these cases for violins over $4,000.
How To Choose A Violin Case
Now that we know the different shapes, features, and materials of a violin case, it’s time to choose a violin case that’s right for you!
We often get asked what the best violin cases are. And we always respond with - what is your budget?
You learn more through our article on the top 9 violin cases based on budget.
Probably the most important factor in the type of violin case you can get - your budget.
The higher your budget, the more options you will have, and the better the case you can get.
Generally if you have a budget of $600 - $800, it’s fairly easy to find a light, durable, and protective violin case in all shapes and styles.
As your budget decreases, there are certain aspects that may have to be sacrificed.
For example, with a budget of $400, you may find protective and durable violin cases. But they’re probably not going to be less than 5 lb.
Vice versa. You may find light and durable violin cases under $400, but they may not be as protective as some of the more expensive cases.
With a budget of $200 or lower, more aspects may have to be sacrificed.
You may find a light violin case under $200, but it may not be as protective, and can start showing wear and tear a lot sooner than the more expensive cases.
Now we’re not suggesting that everybody should get a $600 violin case!
But with a limited budget, you’ll have to start deciding which aspects of a violin case is more important to you.
What Are Your Needs
As mentioned before, with a limited budget, you may have more limited options.
However, you can find a great violin case for $400 that is extremely protective and durable.
It may be on the heavier side, but if you don’t mind the extra few pounds, it can definitely be a great option that fits within your budget.
Or maybe your simply getting a gift for a young violinist who’s still in high school. Maybe the violin itself isn’t that expensive, but you simply need a lightweight violin case.
The poor kid is already carrying a heavy school backpack everyday!
In this scenario, a $200 violin case with a fun design can be the perfect option. It may not be all that durable and protective. But why get an expensive case if the violin itself is not that expensive?
What Features Are You Looking For?
We mentioned the functionalities and features a violin case can have.
Which features are you looking for? Do you absolutely need a pocket for sheet music? Or do you already have a ton of sheet music that you place in a tote bag?
Do you use a large shoulder rest? Do you need a spacious compartment for your shoulder rest?
Do you like to lock up your case?
What Kind Of Violinist Are You?
We’re not asking if you’re a classic violinist or country music fiddler. But what is your lifestyle?
Do you travel a lot? Do you bring your violin with you when you travel?
Are you a young student at school? And you need something light on your shoulders since you’ve already got enough school books to carry?
What Kind Of Environment Do You Live In?
Are you in sunny-side San Diego where the weather is always a magnificent 75 degrees?
Or are you in New York where the weather can go from humid summers to snowy winters?
To sum it all up, choosing a violin case largely depends on your budget and your needs.
You don’t have to get the best violin case out there. You just have to get the best violin case FOR YOU.
And remember, just because you get one violin case, doesn’t mean you can’t get another.
We do have violinists who have a certain violin case for their day-to-day rehearsals. And another violin case for when they’re on the road.