September 07, 2012
A week after receiving and returning a Bam Classic 1001SW cello case I now have a Bobelock 2000XL cello case. Which you can tell is better since 2000 is greater than 1001, and XL is larger than SW.
After my disappointment with the Bam Classic case, reviewed here, I decided to get a Bobelock case. My wife had recently purchased a Bobelock Half Moon case for her viola and we both felt it was an excellent case. Shar Music, where I'd gotten the Bam case doesn't carry Bobelock. Johnson String Instrument does, but after the whole backorder episode I was reluctant to try them again. Some searching for Bobelock cases led me to String Emporium who not only had the Bobelock case in stock, they had it in a beautiful purple color, and for nearly $100 less then Johnson Strings.
The Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend I called the String Emporium 800-number and it was immediately answered in person. When I explained what I wanted the man suggested that I should talk to his wife as she was the case expert. After a brief conversation with her we decided that I need the XL case as my instrument measures 17 3/4" at the lower bout, and the regular sized case claims to be only 17" across. The XL case measures 18". Since it was the start of a holiday weekend I had to wait until Tuesday to see if their warehouse had the purple color that was my first choice. On Tuesday I got an email confirming my color choice and shipment of the case from Alabama. After a few days of acting like a kid the week before Christmas, I was rewarded with a visit from the UPS man this evening.
(Part of the packing material around the case inside the box were several pages of the Philippine Daily Inquier, an English language newspaper. Somehow this was a very pleasant surprise.)
The Bobelock 2000 case is made from fiberclass as opposed to the Bam's ABS plastic construction. The case is 3.4 pounds heavier but I think that extra weight makes for a much more solid case. The bottom or back of the case has two longitudinal ribs that add considerable torsional rigidity to the case. The lid or front of the case has a pronounced hump to protect the bridge and fingerboard of the cello. The eggshell curve of this feature is very strong and should do a great job of protecting the instrument from damage.
The bottom of the case, when standing, is nicely broad and flat, with four rubber feet, allowing it to stand upright even on a rug. On hardwood or tile floors the case is very stable. With my cello strapped into the case it will stand up and remains surprisingly stable. With the lid open to the extend of its velour cloth strap you have to tilt the case about 25º before it wants to tip over. With the lid partially closed the case is even more stable, requiring 30º or more tipping before it starts to fall. The back of the case also has four rubber feet so the case can be laid flat as well.
The inside of the lid has two bow holders, each with a velour pocket for the tip and a velcro-closed velour strap to hold the frog end of the bow. There is also a small pouch sewn into the head of the lid, large enough for 4 spare strings in their envelopes, a tuner, and a cake of rosin.
The cello itself is held in place by an inch wide velcro strap which secures the neck of the cello against a nicely large velour covered foam block. There is an elastic loop at the top of the case to hold the scroll. The purpose of this loop becomes apparent when you go to insert or remove the cello. With the case upright you place the cello on the two foam supports in the bottom of the case and hook the loop around the scroll; this holds the cello upright while you fasten the velcro neck strap - something that is easier with two hands. Unlike the Bam case there is no strap to secure the endpin, however, as it is easier to get the neck strap nicely snug with velcro than with the Bam's plastic snap clasp I don't think an extra strap at the endpin is necessary.
The entire perimeter of the case seals with a nicely deep weather strip. And the case is held closed by 8 (eight!) u-bolt style clasps: three on the head, two on the neck, and three for the lower bout. As with the Bam case, once the Bobelock is closed and all the latches fastened it is very secure. I think this case would absorb a tremendous amount of energy before the instrument inside was damaged. There are three handles: the main carry handle, and two smaller handles on the top of the upper bout. The case also has a recessed pull handle in the back of the head. The main carry handle and its two smaller brothers are nicely thick and seem to be in convenient locations. The pull handle is located closer to the top of the case than it was on the Bam case, improving the pulling geometry. I can grip the pull handle over or underhanded and not have the case against my forearm.
The case came with a single strap, but there are attachment points for two straps if you wanted to carry the case backpack style. The included strap has spring loaded clips for attaching it to the case. There is a thin plastic pad for contact with your shoulder. The wheels are reasonably sized and roll smoothly. When the case is standing upright the feet are tall enough that the wheels are not in contact with the ground, something I like as I think it adds to the case's stability. (I don't remember if the Bam's wheels were similarly mounted or not.)
Fit and finish: 9 out of 10
Carrying handles: 9 out of 10
Shoulder straps: 7 out of 10
Bow holders: 8 out of 10
Ease of use: 9 out of 10
After trying out my cello in the case several times this evening I was a little concerned that the extra wide case was too wide. Measuring the width of the case's lower bout at the case opening resulted in a 20" measurement. Measuring the width at the padded ribs inside the case gave the advertised 18". With my cello resting inside the case the widest part of the lower bout just kisses the padding on either side. As the case is slightly wider at the opening (where the two halves meet) the illusion is one of lots of extra space around the cello. Perhaps too much extra space. Looking at one of the few pictures I took of my cello in the Bam case I can see where there was almost no extra room in that case. I'll probably get some nicely dense foam padding and cover it with velour to make a wedge or two to help hold the cello in place. It is tempting (if not for the expense and hassle) to order a standard width Bobelock 2000 to see how my cello fits in that.
Here is my cello in the Bam Classic case followed by my cello in the much roomier Bobelock 2000XL case.
Tomorrow will be the acid test as I have orchestra rehearsal in the morning. Not only will I get to maneuver the case through several doorways, but also into and out of the car. And there will be a 5 minute walk from the car to the rehearsal room.
The Bam case included a music pocket that carried music behind the cello. This pocked had an oval foam pad on it to protect the cello. The Bobelock doesn't have a music pocket, but I think I can slip my music into a soft cloth bag and tuck it behind the cello.
The folks at String Emporium were good to work with an they delivered a wonderful case to me in just 4 days for less money that I would have spent elsewhere. Best of all it's a beautiful object, one that I am looking forward to using for years to come.