Wood Shell Viola Cases
A traditional wooden case is the strongest, most protective, and most durable home for your viola. Wooden cases are solid and crush resistant. They have good humidity control and come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different needs. And, they are relatively inexpensive, compared to high-end composite.
A Curated Selection
The only way to truly determine the quality of a viola case is experience. After all, a quality zipper looks pretty much like a cheap one. At J.S. Fisher Violins, we've been selling viola cases for over 15 years, and offer a curated selection that have stood the test of time. Cases that have issues, complaints, or frequent warranty claims, we remove. What's left is a selection of the best built, most reliable, and highest-quality cases on the market. If you need help finding just the right one for your needs, please don't hesitate to contact us, for advice. That's why we're here!
For the player who wants a more colorful, stand-out case, Bobelock's fiberglass shells are wonderful. Weight and overall level of protection are comparable to Bobelock's wooden cases. All come with a protective scratch cover that can easily be removed and slipped back on when needed. Available in a dizzying array of colors.
Composite Viola Cases
If you need a highly-protective case for you high-end instrument, but you also need the case to be lightweight, then a composite case is for you. Composite shell cases are more difficult and expensive to make than wood. Be cautious and avoid cheap knock-off cases. This is an area where you don't want to stint on quality, as these cases are difficult to make well, and cheap generic composite cases tend to fall apart quickly. Although there are many composite cases on the market, the only line we currently endorse is from Bam France. Bam makes consistently high-quality, well-constructed cases, for professionals.
- Plywood & Wood Laminate Cases - Very strong, but heavier than composite. If you plan to run over your case with your car, or to drop it off the top bleacher at the football game, this is the kind of case you want. Wooden cases also maintain more consistent humidity levels than any other kind of case. See: Bobelock Wooden Viola Cases.
- Fiberglass Cases - Attractive and colorful glossy exteriors. The kids love these. About the same weight as wood. Very protective and resistant to crushing, but the fiberglass will scratch and crack if banged about, so they tend not to be as durable as wood. See: Bobelock Fiberglass Viola Cases
- Composite Cases - Composite shells are popular because they are lightweight. A good quality composite will offer excellent protection, especially if combined with a layer of injected polyurethane for shock absorption and thermal insulation. Composite cases are not as strong as wood, and require a reasonable level of care. And, they tend to be costly, as they are difficult to make well. But, if you seek professional quality protection in a lightweight, streamlined case, then consider a composite case. See: Bam Hightech Violin Cases.
- Polystyrene Foam Cases - These cases, often called featherlite, featherweight, ultralight, etc., are inexpensive and lightweight, but offer limited protection. They are appropriate for student instruments. See: Bobelock Featherlite Viola Cases
Selecting a case with a strong shell is important to avoid the instrument being crushed if the case is dropped, and to prevent anything from penetrating the shell and damaging the viola. A good multi-layer plywood shell is best, but fiberglass and composite shells can also be very protective.
No matter how strong the shell may be, if the viola is not well secured and padded within the shell, it could come loose and get knocked around within the case. A case with full suspension will have foam pieces separating the back of the viola from the shell. This also helps prevent shocks to the outside of the case from vibrating through the hard shell to damage the instrument. The padding above and around the instrument is also important and must prevent the viola from hitting the lid and sides of the case. A velcro or string tie is usually provided to secure the neck. Be sure any accessories are secured and that there is a secure place to stow your shoulder rest, if you use one. A blanket or instrument bag is also recommended to protect the viola from a falling bow, should a bow holder fail, and to prevent rosin from falling from the bows onto the viola.
Generally, better quality cases will provide better quality latches and zippers (ensuring the case stays closed), bow holders/spinners (ensuring the bow doesn't fall and damage the viola), and thicker and better quality suspension and padding. However, take note that better quality doesn't always mean higher prices. See Curated Selection, at the top of the page.
Be particularly cautious about quality when selecting a composite case. Wood is pretty much wood, and the industry standard is a sturdy 5-layer plywood. But, there are many different types of composites with widely varying strengths and other characteristics. And, if done poorly, a composite case can be little better than a foam case.
Finding a good fit for your viola is important. Many cases are now manufactured with some way of adjusting the lower bout supports and suspension for the length of your viola. Some have the lower bout support velcro in place. This is effective, though it makes some players nervous. Once the case is closed, a velcro support system isn't going anywhere, so not to worry. Bobelock uses a more solid hardware adjustment system. Either way, you should check to make sure that the case can adjust to the length of your instument before purchasing. And, if purchasing a non-adjustable case, you may want to call and discuss with the dealer before shipping. For packages of this size, the return shipping cost is not small.
Next to protectiveness, durability of a case is usually next on the shopper's list. A good case is not an insignificant investment, and you want to ensure that the case you're buying will last. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how durable a case will be just by looking at it. And, the price is not always a good indicator. (Over the years, we've seen some very high-end cases fall apart in short-order.) We carry only high-quality cases that are build to last. For the greatest durability, we recommend wooden cases.