Mandolin Cases: Why Bother With Protection

The care and storage of any musical instrument is incomplete without an understanding of why cases, covers and bags form an important part of a musician's kit. Whether you're just taking it down the street, storing it in your attic, taking it to a gig, or putting it in the cargo hold in an international flight, an appropriate scabbard for your sword can mean all the difference between a well-crafted instrument and a pile of firewood attached with strings.

Mandolin Cases: The Right One

Choosing a mandolin case can as simple as checking the fit and using your checking account or it can be an exacting task. The right case for the right instrument is not so much about whether it's big enough for your mandolin as much as whether it's appropriate for the kind of intended use. For example, a hard-case may be a bit much if you're a homebody that only ever plays it in the living room for guests who don't mind being imposed on. On the flip side, a non-padded cotton DIY carry bag isn't the best choice for overseas travel in the luggage compartment.

Branded Mandolin Cases

Branded mandolin cases and covers are the obvious choice if you want an exact fit for your model of mandolin. However, you may have a tough time if your mandolin is an older model or has been modified in any way. Most manufacturers will also make custom cases for instruments that they themselves have customized, but they will cost more.

Generic Brands Of Mandolin Cases

Generic brands are also a good option, but online purchases are not recommended for these, as you will need to physically match it with your instrument to see if the fit is tight. A Featherweight or Travelite case could be just what you're looking for. They're relatively inexpensive and a good hard case should be available for about $60 to $70. There's also a hard-shell case from Musician's Gear that fits most standard A-style mandolins, for $35.99.

Tailor Made Mandolin Cases

Soft mandolin cases can also be made by a tailor, although you will have to give specific instructions about padding, and accessory compartments. This is usually a last option because tailors are not usually known to clothe anything other than humans – and maybe some pets. In fact, some might even be offended at the very idea of asking a mandolin to stand still for a fitting.

Components Of Mandolin Cases

Here are some other factors to consider while shopping for the right mandolin case. Insulation is crucial if you live in a hot climate. Mandolins are sensitive 'creatures of the woods' and, as such, are susceptible to warping, bending and bowing. Prolonged sunlight can also spoil the finish, so transparent cases are definitely out. Padding is another key consideration and comes in different forms and foams. 20 mm foam is usually standard for a good case, and it needs to be the scratch-saver kind or it will make its mark on your finish. Often, an additional soft lining will be given to ensure that any rough foam used for protection will not come into contact with the instrument. Hard-shell models usually have a felt or velvet lining to provide the cushioning that is needed for a tight fit for the instrument. Accessory compartments are another thing to think about; space for spare strings, strap pouches, sheet music sections, and places for picks.

The Follow-Through: Using Your Mandolin Case Regularly

When you're happy with your choice and you have made a purchase, remember one last thing – you've spent a lot of time and money picking the right mandolin case, and your mandolin is just dying to be put in, so when you're finished playing your gig, don't forget to use it each time and every time. There's nothing worse than a mandolin and a case that only meet occasionally on holidays when your bratty nephews come to visit.