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What Are the Different Types of Viola Cases?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several different options of viola cases for protecting the instrument depending on its size and the spending budget. Violas are stringed instruments that are similar to violins but often larger and with lower strings. They come in acoustic and electric forms. While traditional violas are hollow-bodied wood instruments, some electric models are made of heavy-duty plastic. Viola cases should always be purchased to accompany the instrument.

Viola cases come in two basic shapes: long rectangles and sculptured models. While rectangle models have more storage space, sculptured models fit around the shape of the viola and are slightly more portable and easily stored. Both are viable options for protecting the viola.

The cheapest option for a viola case is a firm, softshell model made from a lightweight foam frame and a polyester cover. It has a plush lining, accessory zipper pockets, and a shoulder strap, and it usually weighs less than six pounds and even down to four — as such it is the lightest option for a viola case. These cases run about $40 to $50 US Dollars (USD) new and violists can purchased them in major music retail stores and a multitude of online outlets.

Violists should expect to pay around $25 to $40 for used models of softshell cases. These cases almost always fit 16- to 16.5-inch (41- to 42-cm) violas in length, but smaller models for 14-inch (36-cm) violas are also available. Online trade sites are the cheapest way to buy and trade used options for viola cases. The most beneficial part of soft-bodied cases is their water-resistant nylon lining.

Hard-shell cases are a more effective option for protecting the viola. Though they are more expensive, higher-end models commonly feature more space for storing strings, bows, shoulder rests, and other added accessories. The lid of the case sometimes has space for two bows. A velvet interior is commonplace for the lining of the case to keep the instrument scratch free.

The cost for a larger, hard-shell, higher-end model is between $100 and $160 USD. Larger models have the ability to case violas up to 18 inches (46 cm) in length and weigh about seven to eight pounds (three to four kilograms). Musicians that gig regularly often opt for this option. For musicians playing electric violas, more storage space may be needed for cables and effects pedals, so a larger model may be the best option. Separate cases dedicated solely to accessories are also available.

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