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Master Hand Violin Shop

  • 546 S Main W Street
  • Broadway, VA 22815
  • 630/ 292-2641

    Store Hours

  • By Appointment Only
  • Owner

    Elizabeth Ecklund

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    Insurance for Your Instrument -- The Case for a Case

    By Diane Bruce

    We hear it all the time... You just spent a small fortune on an instrument and are beginning to wonder if you should *actually* let your child play on it, let alone take it anywhere. At Master Hand Violin Shop, we sympathize, as we see the results of un-cared for instruments. But as much as the occasional flattening is not good for instruments, use is critical for them, so we do recommend you let your child play the instrument you bought for him or her. As for letting your child take said instrument out of the house, if you do decide to let the instrument go, you can lessen the risk by choosing the right case.

    The first consideration when choosing a case is how much protection the instrument needs. Is your instrument going to ride the bus to school (please say no) or the subway? Or is it going to stay at home except for special trips to lessons and recitals? As cases come in styrofoam, wood, fiberglass or carbon fiber, protection levels can be highly variable. And as styrofoam is clearly smashable, fiberglass or carbon fiber are the obvious choices, right? Not necessarily. Styrofoam does actually provide some amount of protection, certainly enough for the occasional excursion to a lesson. Carbon fiber is light weight but typically very expensive (think $2000+ for a cello). And fiberglass is very heavy; it's only the best protection for your instrument if you can *actually* carry it around without dropping it.

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    The weight of a case can be mitigated or exacerbated by the style of the case you choose. If you want to cut down on the weight and bulk of the case, you can choose a shape of case other than oblong, such as a D-style or half-moon. In choosing a smaller case, you will sacrifice extra bows slots and pocket space for strings, rock stops, and old candy. Additionally, you can lessen the effective weight of the instrument if you choose a case that distributes the instrument's weight off your shoulder or hand. If you have a cello, you can choose a case with wheels so that the cello does not have to be carried. If you have a violin or viola, you can choose a backpack style case. However, if the case is for your child who has an actual backpack that needs to go to school, the backpack may not be a viable option.

    Another important consideration is whether or not you want your case to have air suspension. No, this is not a hovercraft feature. Air suspension, available for all instruments, allows your instrument to be surrounded entirely in a cushion of air and rest only on its end blocks. If the case is bumped, kicked, or whacked, the instrument is not banged. The major drawback to air suspension is that the additional material necessary for accommodating air suspension will make your case bigger and heavier. As a general rule, you probably want at least some amount of air suspension, even if it leads to a heavier or bulkier case.

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    Perhaps you are not worried about a case for your instrument; perhaps as the casual adult player, you don't plan on ever taking your violin out of the house. Grandpa's old violin case should work just fine if you ever need it, right? Umm... no. In addition to probably having a nice case of bow bugs, the case will probably not provide you with any protection. If you are going to always leave your instrument at home, you perhaps only need a cheap thermoplastic case, but you should still have a newer case.

    Once you have a rough idea which case styles you are interested in, we recommend you come in and try cases before making a final decision. This way you can try different brands to see if there is a model and weight that fits you or your child well. You can look at colors of case covers and interiors, as well as velvet and velour linings. If you play violin or viola, you can bring your shoulder rest along and determine which pocket layouts allow for easy shoulder rest packing. Choosing a case is much like choosing a purse; you should like the look and feel of it, but you have to be able to carry it around whenever you need to for it to be a good case.

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