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Thread: Case Weights

  1. #1
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Case Weights

    I didn't want to hijack other ongoing threads with this, but may I make a suggestion or a request?

    This subject of case weight comes up a lot. Yet nobody seems to actually use numbers as a basis for comparison. It's hard to recommend a case based on weight if nobody knows what cases actually weigh. We can all tell when something is heavier or lighter than something else in person, but on the internet we need usable figures.

    Oddly enough, violin case makers advertise the weights of their cases, and the weight (or lack thereof) is a big selling point in terms of quality/protection versus comfort to carry. With violins being small, lightweight instruments, it would seem like case weight would be a non-issue for carrying around when compared with larger/heavier instruments. But it is a major factor with violin cases, while other instrument players tend not to make it such an issue, even though we know it is.

    Uh, at any rate, since the manufacturers tend not to advertise their mandolin case weights, let's start a database right here on the Cafe. Anybody with a bathroom scale or even a kitchen scale that can read high enough - can you weigh your cases (empty of course) and post them here? Estimate to the nearest tenth of a pound, if possible, and post a complete description of the case brand, model, type of mandolin (A-style, F-style, short neck/long neck, bowlback, etc.).

    Let's start just with mandolin cases, and then perhaps expand to other mandolin-family instruments.

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  3. #2
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Just weighed my Pegasus fiberglass case, and it came to 8.5 lbs. That's on a postal scale that's accurate to 1/4 lb, so should be reasonably close.

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    Registered User BlueMt.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Eastman fiberglass (Phoenix) = 5.3 lbs.
    Eric

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Might add that if you use a bathroom scale they are not accurate in that low register. I would recommend weighing yourself first then again holding the case and subtract, it will be more accurate.
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    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    This is a great idea. Here are my weights.

    Gator case- These canvas-over-foam cases are well made, comfortable to carry (backpack straps included) and with the new, smaller logo, kind of classy-looking (IMHO). I sure wouldn't check it in luggage but for hand-carrying, it's a great choice. It holds A, F or two-points and mine weighs in at 1,955 grams (4.3 pounds).

    Hiscox Pro-flite 2- This is an amazing case. While it is rather bulky, it is also cavernous. Plenty of room for anything I'd want to carry, including lunch (well, maybe not quite that much room). It is rock solid and I'd rely on it as checked luggage in a pinch. It securly holds A, F or two-points and weighs in at 3,725 grams (8.2 pounds).

    That's what I have.

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    I've posted these before -

    TKL rectangular case (including blanket) weight - 3.915 Kg
    2008 Standard UK Calton case weight - 3.855 Kg
    Old UK Calton case (circa 198?) - 3.460 Kg
    Shuster - 2.920 Kg

    Must weigh my Ameritage so I can add it to the list.

  10. #7
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    OK my Pava is in what I think is a TKL prestige arch-top case. It has no label except a "made in Canada" tag inside. It weighs 4.4 lbs.

    My Ellis came in a Superior arch-top F5 case, and it weighs 5.3 lbs.

    Both measured on a digital kitchen scale.

    Edited to add: my original Geib case for my teens F4 weighs 3.9 lbs.
    Last edited by Tobin; Feb-13-2016 at 3:09pm.

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    OK, here on some numbers for some higher-end flight cases, obtained using a digital bathroom scale. The scale reads weights to +/- 0.1 lb, but the accuracy is likely to be several times that value. Protocol: I weighed myself both with and without the empty case, and computed the difference weight each time. I did this three times for every case, and took an average. The estimated uncertainty for any given case is +/- 0.2 lb.

    Hoffee carbon fiber case, with Thinsulite lining option, and with shoulder strap: 9.4 lb (4.3 kg).
    Calton fiberglass case (Canadian model), with shoulder strap: 9.4 lb (4.3 kg).
    Golden Gate (Saga) fiberglass case, with shoulder strap: 6.8 lb (3.1 kg).

    These cases are heavier than the others, but both fiberglass and carbon fiber tend to provide superior protection against crushing impacts.

    Despite what's been said by some others, I don't think case weight should be a big factor, given how light the mandolin is, case included. Travel weight starts to matter a WHOLE LOT more when you take a guitar -- or a cello!

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    The Rockbag by Warrick isn't really a case, it's more of a flexible, well padded backpack: 3.9 lbs
    -8 inches is probably the comfortable and acceptable fall height -though this is subjective.

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    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Thanks people , I always wondered. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    I have a Price Vulcan Slim Line F case. Its a tank at 11 pounds but I think you could drive a Mac truck over it with no damage.

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Northfield Airloom Fiberglass oblong case, thermal lining, no strap - 9.9lb

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Collings F (TKL) archtop, 2014 : 6.2 lbs
    Weber F , 2006 : 6.8 lbs
    ReunionBlues Vintage ballastic nylon F : 3.4 lbs
    Click image for larger version. 

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    ReunionBlues Vintage ballastic nylon A : 3.4 lbs
    Click image for larger version. 

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    this picture of the A style is all leather, these weigh 2lbs or more than the all nylon which is a thick tough feeling weave. i don't think they make the A style any longer in nylon.

  18. #14
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    I think what we learn from this little exercise is that a serious modern flight case, one made with epoxy-reinforced fiberglass or carbon fiber and sturdy hinges and latches, will weigh somewhere between 8.5 and 10 lbs. These types of cases include Calton, Hoffee, Pegasus, and perhaps the new Northfield Airloom. This weight range (1.5 lbs) is sufficiently small that it doesn't matter which one you pick, so choose your flight case based on other criteria besides the weight!

    Less serious and costly, but still reasonably durable hardshell cases, like Hiscox, TKL, Superior, Eastman, Golden Gate, Weber, will typically come in from 5.5 to 7.5 lbs.

    And hard foam cases, usually with zippers and canvas covering, like Travelite, Gator, etc., will be down closer to 3.0-4.5 lbs. And the same goes for heavy duty gig bags.

    Overall, the weights of mandolin cases range from as little a 3 lbs to as much as 10 lbs. That's not THAT wide a range, all considered -- just 7 lbs. I think people who worry about the weight of their mandolin case might be fixated on the wrong characteristics. Much more important, in my view, are the degrees of physical and temperature/moisture protection that the different types of cases afford. And their longevity/durability, of you use them for lots of travel.

  19. #15
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Overall, the weights of mandolin cases range from as little a 3 lbs to as much as 10 lbs. That's not THAT wide a range, all considered -- just 7 lbs. I think people who worry about the weight of their mandolin case might be fixated on the wrong characteristics. Much more important, in my view, are the degrees of physical and temperature/moisture protection that the different types of cases afford. And their longevity/durability, of you use them for lots of travel.
    That's exactly what I was thinking as I read through the posts. Sure, weight is a factor if you have to carry your instrument a long ways, like at a festival. But many of us need crush, drop and temperature protection as well.

    Of course price, value and durability also come into the equation. No one case is perfect for all situations.
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  20. #16
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Overall, the weights of mandolin cases range from as little a 3 lbs to as much as 10 lbs. That's not THAT wide a range, all considered -- just 7 lbs. I think people who worry about the weight of their mandolin case might be fixated on the wrong characteristics. Much more important, in my view, are the degrees of physical and temperature/moisture protection that the different types of cases afford. And their longevity/durability, of you use them for lots of travel.
    Well, that's the sort of thing I wanted to suss out with this thread. But I actually reach a different conclusion than you do, in terms of weight sensitivity. A range from 3 to 10 pounds is pretty huge. That's a 333% swing! And the weight, of course, doesn't include the mandolin itself or any of the goodies we stash inside our cases. Some folks are probably walking around with 15 pounds or more of total weight.

    It's not a big deal if you only carry your case from your house to your car and then from your car into a building. It could be different if you have to walk long distances with it, like at a festival or weekend music camp. I'm a hiker/backpacker, and weight is the number one issue that will determine one's long-term stamina on the trail. Backpackers tend to try to cut weight, even shaving off grams at a time where we can. Over long distances, every gram or ounce is a detriment that takes away from the fun. Obviously, mandolin players are generally not going to that extreme in terms of distance covered, but it's still generally true that the heavier the load, the quicker one is going to wear out. Especially when a person has to carry a case with one hand or with a strap over one shoulder. If you think it's no big deal, try taking a 15 lb dumbbell in one hand and go for a nice long walk with it. Heck, carry that dumbbell around all day long and see just how much heavier it seems to get throughout the day as your hand and arm start to wear out.

    And on that subject, the weight alone is only one part of the equation. Even the shape of the handle, the material used, the overall balance and heft of the case, or the availability of straps can make a big difference too. But that's a whole 'nother discussion.

    I do agree with you that there is an obvious trade-off between weight and protection. That is, of course, the only reason one would want a heavy case. Better crush protection, better internal padding, better insulation value, and more storage. But in making these evaluations, anybody who is a regular festival-goer or traveler will want to consider weight. So having firm numbers for comparison is a good thing.

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  22. #17
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote... A range from 3 to 10 pounds is pretty huge. That's a 333% swing!

    But it is still 7lbs. Scale that up to guitar size cases and it would make a huge difference. That's why not so much emphasis on weight for mando cases. People seem to care more about protection, pockets, size and cost.

  23. #18
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    I would think if one is looking for the lightest possible case, then a gig bag would be the way to go. I would be reluctant to trust it to protect the mandolin from much of anything other than dust, but it would be the lightest, and therefore easiest to carry.

    If you're looking for the best weight to protection ratio, then I would definitely consider the Travelite.
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  24. #19
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom C View Post
    But it is still 7lbs. Scale that up to guitar size cases and it would make a huge difference. That's why not so much emphasis on weight for mando cases. People seem to care more about protection, pockets, size and cost.
    Then why are people always asking about mandolin case weights? Obviously, while protection and storage pockets are important too, nobody wants to lug around anything heavier than they have to for the level of protection they think is necessary. I wouldn't have started this thread if it weren't a question that comes up regularly. There obviously is an interest in it, but manufacturers aren't advertising it like they do with violin cases.

    A 7 lb difference doesn't sound like much when it's just a stand-alone number. But let's look at it in perspective. A typical F5 mandolin, by itself, weighs about 2 lbs. So a mandolin in a light case would weigh around 5 lbs. A mandolin in a heavy case would weigh around 12 pounds. Still only a 7 lb difference, but it more than doubles the total carried weight. It's worth it to some folks for the protection, but others may want to evaluate the weight versus protection to give themselves a break. Having the numbers available gives them something to work with.

    But yeah, it's not going to be anything like a guitar or banjo. After lugging my banjo around, I don't give much thought to how much my mandolin weighs in its case.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I do agree with you that there is an obvious trade-off between weight and protection..
    I resolve that trade-off by using the heavy cases in the car and the lighter cases out of the car on the festival grounds.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    After lugging my banjo around, I don't give much thought to how much my mandolin weighs in its case.
    That is the truth.
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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I resolve that trade-off by using the heavy cases in the car and the lighter cases out of the car on the festival grounds.
    I agree with all of this. I might add that many women, especially my wife, being small folks, do not like a heavy case to throw into the car. I bought a really nice Bobelock violin case, which weighs about 8 lbs. and she never uses it. She uses the Travelite case.

    So I get to carry the mike stands, speakers, music stands, stand lights, mikes, speakers, sound board, 4 violins, mandolin, AND mandola to the car this Saturday.

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    Default Re: Case Weights

    When you get into CBOM territory, the weight can really be a factor; I had a bouzouki that resided in a modified Calton guitar case and it weighed about 20+ lbs. I'm with JeffD, a heavy protective case for travel and lighter case for walking around, but I guess that could be difficult if you're flying to your destination; maybe pack your clothes in the second case. :-)
    Eric

  30. #24
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I do agree with you that there is an obvious trade-off between weight and protection.
    I think it's actually more like a three-way trade-off between weight, protection, and the shape and size of the case.

    A large rectangular case will weigh more than a smaller form-fitted case if they both have the same shell thickness for protection. On the other hand, a smaller case like the Pegasus that weighs the same as a larger rectangular case, can have a thicker fiberglass layup for more protection. So it's important not just to compare the weight, but also think about what that means for the thickness of the layup that's contributing to that weight.

    A smaller case can also be stronger structurally, because the span across the mandolin body is smaller. I can stand on my Pegasus and I'm not a lightweight guy. I wouldn't try that on some of the larger, rectangular shaped cases. The trade-off is room for accessories, but I can carry everything I need in a small case like this.

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  32. #25
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Case Weights

    Tobin,

    Methinks thou doth protest too much! Sure, if you increase from 3 lbs to 10 lbs, you're talking about a "333%" increase (factor of 3.3) -- that's just simple math. But putting it that way is thoroughly misleading, though, because we're only talking about a weight increase of 7 pounds, overall, in going from the very lightest of cases or gig bags all the way up to the sturdiest hard-core flight cases currently made. That's NOT much difference at all, from a schlepping perspective! It's especially trivial when you compare the situation with a mandolin to one involving a guitar, or better yet, to a banjo (or a bass or cello, etc.), where the difference between lugging a gig bag and a hard flight case becomes truly significant: the increase in weight can be considerable (20 lbs and more), and strongly affects the ergonomics. But, ironically, the PERCENT increase in going from a gig bag up to fiberglass case with a banjo is often smaller.

    Look: we mandolinists have it easy, and should stop moaning about case weights! Try lugging something bigger.

    Your backpacking analogy is a rather poor one, I'd argue. We're not (most of us, anyway) going miles into the wilderness over hill and dale with our mandolins and concerned about every ounce. We typically use cases to protect our instruments in these three types of situation:

    1) Around the home, mainly just to store the instrument, so that it's protected and humidified, and doesn't get accidentally trampled by pets and kids, by ourselves, or damaged by falling objects, hit by vacuum cleaners, and so on. Or at local jams & performances, at friends' houses, etc. Same idea. We have immediate, personal control of the case most of the time, here.

    2) At festivals, where we might have to carry an instrument from a car or campsite for a mile or so to the place where we'll play. We have immediate, personal control of the case most of the time here, too. We also tend to control how the case gets packed in a car trunk, and whatever it's placed next to.

    3) While traveling on commercial carriers, including trains, planes, buses, etc.. We MAY NOT always have immediate, personal control of the case most of the time. Other people might handle it, despite our best intentions to the contrary. Other people might put stuff next to it, or on top of it. Big, heavy things might knock into it.

    For (1) and (2), just about any decent hardshell case will do! Hey, even a gigbag will often do (but not around the kids I know!). And if you're walking long distances across festivals a whole lot, a lightweight hard foam case (at 3 lbs) is pretty hard to beat, and provides adequate protection. There are no crushing loads to worry about.

    But if you are mainly concerned about possibility (3), and are traveling from city to city with your instrument (and not always in your personal car), then a bunch of other criteria should be more important to you than mere weight, as I've said before. Things like crush resistance, padding, strength, case integrity (latching, seals), temperature insulation, etc. are MUCH more important. For something a light as a mandolin case, SO WHAT if it weighs just 7 lbs more, if it prevents your instrument from being destroyed?! Money well spent, I'd argue. That's why so many (but not all; Mike Marshall is a rare exception) professionals use Calton, Hoffee, Pegasus, cases and their ilk.

    As always, the answer is "it depends." There is no such thing as the perfect all-around case. And I haven't even touched on other issues, like in-case storage volume, case form factor, case covers, etc.

    Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect, all-around mandolin, either!!

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