Recommend a decent hard shell cello case within our budget?
November 24, 2015 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Need to get a full size hard shell cello case for a nice cello without busting our $300-to-$500 budget, and could use some recommendations.

Our daughter, 11, is a student cellist. She's learning the instrument and making steady progress with it. She has recently been given her grandfather's full size cello, which is 60+ years old and seems to be a very nice instrument. (NB: our daughter is tall for her age and her cello teacher feels the full size cello fits her well, so no worries there.) I don't know the maker of this cello off the top of my head, but an insurance appraisal my in-laws did a few years ago says it's a $4k-to-$8k instrument. Her grandfather's family bought a nice instrument years ago, and it's gone up in value since, so we know we need to protect it. We just had the instrument repaired -- it had a few issues -- and it now plays and sounds great. We'd like to find her a sturdy case that isn't too heavy for her to manage on her own, something she can use at least through high school. We can look for an even better case down the road if her playing or passion for the instrument takes her there.

The cello currently has a ~10 year old foam and fabric case that was cheap-but-adequate when it was new. Unfortunately, the handle mounts have torn away from the case's body, so you have to carry it in a hug using two hands, and our daughter has a tough time managing it on her own. It's also quite bulky and barely fits in the back of my wife's car. Rather than have it repaired we'd like to replace it with something better, sturdier, and more compact. She's not going on tour any time soon, so this just needs to get it from our home to lessons and school performances, etc. as safely as possible.

I've looked around and see a huge range of hard shell cello cases, priced from $150 to $1200+; our budget for a new hard shell case is $300 to $500, and we'd like to find the best case in that general price range. I wouldn't mind staying near to the lower end of that range if possible, but it's a very nice cello that's turning into a family heirloom, and the bottom line is we want to protect it for years to come.

Does anyone know of any hard shell cello cases they can personally recommend? The Jim Laab Music hard acrylic cases caught my eye, as they appear to be affordable, sturdy, and decently padded, but I can't find any reviews of them. The shop that repaired the instrument carries/recommends the Eastman "classic" fiberglass cello cases for around $510, which seems to be the standard street price for these cases, and while we may ultimately go that route, there are many, many choices out there. I'm not cheap, but with so many choices I'm still hopeful we can find something as good for $100 to $200 less than the Eastman.

Thanks for any info you can share.
posted by mosk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
Hi - I'm a baritone saxophonist, we have similar issues finding hard cases. Re: the instrument, have you had it evaluated by a dedicated music shop that knows string instruments?

If it were just your daughter's current basic use (which could well get heavier in time, mind!), then a vinyl case might be okay.

But. You do say you want to protect it and keep it around for years. A fiberglass case is THE way to go. I spent hundreds on a Walt Johnson fiberglass case for my bari 22 years ago and still have it. It has some dings, but that's it. This thing has flown around the world, moved between three countries and seven cities, gigged hundreds of times through twenty-odd US states, been manhandled like you wouldn't believe, and the worst that's happened to the bari inside (a Selmer Super Action 80 Série II with a "good" serial number – its worth is in the low 5 figures) is a slightly dented bell, easily repaired. The bell is at the most vulnerable part of the case, and this was after flying Eugene - Seattle - London - Paris, so.

I had friends who played cello. Vinyl cases cut it for short distances (we're talking same building), but as soon as you set foot outside, it is amazing how easily a ding or dent can happen, and that is where vinyl shows its weaknesses. It is a plastic, it's rigid in an unforgiving way, and plastic also degrades more quickly than we realize. (Degrades with regards to utility; unfortunately not so much with regards to the environment.) Fiberglass has the advantage of being both rigid and forgiving – it will bend just enough that it won't break, while still protecting the instrument inside. You would likely have to replace a vinyl case in 5 years. A fiberglass case, on the other hand – you'll have it for a good long while. Like I said, going on 22 years with mine.
posted by MarionnetteFilleDeChaussette at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2015

My daughter's ~$7k cello rides around quite unperturbed in a Bobelock fiberglass case, roughly $435 dollars on Amazon. I didn't have to suffer hard case sticker shock directly because it was included in the purchase price of her instrument.
posted by DawnSimulator at 11:33 AM on November 24, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, I appreciate both the general sentiment to get a god fiberglass case and the specific recommendation of the Bobelock @ $435.

Just to be clear: this is an instrument we want to protect and keep in the family for years to come. I definitely want to get a good case for it, and I hope that came through in my OP. I think we can do that within our budget, there are just many choices in that price range, and some are much better than others. Trying to narrow our range to the good ones so we can make a better choice.
posted by mosk at 12:13 PM on November 24, 2015

Heh - I'm a bari sax player too. Good cases can sometimes be very expensive. As a woodwind player I don't even own any instrument worth $7-8K, and I've got some nice gear. Def. go for the nice case.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2015

Bass Clarinet player here. I have been through several cases. For the best options and pricing go to Woodwind & Brasswind at Just a quick search for cello cases show many different options for hard shell cello cases. Some below your price point, some at it, and some way above it. I have never been disappointed with anything I have ordered from them. They also have a cosmetic blemish seconds for different cases that can save you some additional money.
posted by Nackt at 4:17 AM on November 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I came in to recommend as well, and I have a Bobelok for my violin and it's been great.
posted by cabingirl at 9:06 AM on November 25, 2015

Response by poster: Resolution: At the recommendation of several cellists from my wife's community orchestra, we took advantage of a Black Friday deal on a Bam case, which while not one of the specific recommendations above, is as good as or better than what I was previously considering.

Thanks, everyone, for steering me away towards a better solution.
posted by mosk at 6:18 PM on November 27, 2015

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