One of the most important things you can do for your instrument is to store it in a protective, durable case. When transporting your instrument to and fro - whether it is by carrying it, driving, or even by plane - your case is ultimately what you rely on to insure that your instrument stays safe and sound. There is much to consider when purchasing a case. Does it meet your personal preferences and budget? Is it functional in the settings where it will be used? Thankfully in this day in age there are more quality options than ever before - and they are even stylish!
When choosing a case to buy, you should consider:
Which case will best protect your instrument?
What features and functions do you desire the case to have?
How heavy is the case and will you be able to store all of your accessories in it along with the instrument?
• Types of Cases: There are three basic shapes of cases; Oblong (shaped like a rectangle), Shaped (in the shape of the instrument), and Halfmoon (in the shape of a half oval). Differing shapes play a role in the weight and storage ability. The oblong case will give you the most internal storage, but will be the heaviest, while the half moon will be lighter in weight with not as much storage space. Some cases have an exterior covered in canvas fabric, while others have a hard shell exterior. Although the appearance of your case should not be your top priority, there are many choices and, like most functional items that we use, aesthetic appeal does not hurt! It is good to try out numerous cases and examine what your personal preferences are.
• Safety and weatherproofing: When deciding on a case it is vitally important to observe safety and weatherproofing. The safest and most lightweight cases are generally made of ABS plastic, fiberglass, foam, or sometimes plywood. An important component that should be observed is if the case has suspension. Suspension is foam that lifts the instrument off of the back of the case, giving space between the case and instrument so as to not crack instrument if bumped on the back side of the case.
Cases help keep your instrument weatherproof as well as keeping the climate as consistent as possible. Often, cases are weather sealed by using a tight-fitting rubber grommet to seal both halves of the case together. Another option is to use a zipper with a scratch resistant, nylon cover and rain flaps. Your instrument should be kept at a constant temperature of 60-70 degrees, and humidity level of 35%-50%. Some people choose to keep a hygrometer and humidifier in their case (digital is often more accurate than mechanical). It is not entirely necessary to keep a hygrometer in the case, though it is important to keep a humidifier and practice care in transporting and storing the instrument.
Make sure and check the condition of any handles, latches, zippers, and hinges that the case may have to ensure they all work and that nothing is loose, broken, or questionable. Bow spinners should click in place when turned. This is to keep the bow in place and, if they move, it is possible that your bow could become loose in the case and either damage the instrument or get caught by the hair on the bow spinners.
• Function and practicality: Each case offers slightly different features and practicalities. Consider what you will be storing in your case, what your day to day needs will be, and any plans you may have of acquiring more or different accessories in the near future. Cases range in storage space from enough room to store all of your accessories to the bare minimum amount of space needed to fit your instrument. They do often have storage compartments. Know ahead of time if you will store anything in it and what those items are. Make sure to bring your shoulder rest to ensure that it fits. Consider if you will need more than one bow slot - some cases have only one slot while others have multiple. Your case should come with a cloth to cover the top of your instrument, and some even come with a tube to store extra strings. Full size violins, although they generally look the same size, are not always exactly the same size. The correct size of the case is important to ensuring that your violin doesn’t have too much wiggle room. Make sure to have your instrument with you, so that you can try it out first.