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Thread: High End mandolin cases... and theft

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default High End mandolin cases... and theft

    I'm wondering how many people worry about their 'high end' instrument case?

    A few years ago I owned a Collings MT. It came with an ordinary looking black case.

    Then I bought a custom MT2 Collings mandolin and it had a case with a nice leather handle as well as a brass plate that had the Collings name and logo. I observed the nameplate and felt a little uncomfortable about telling the world that there is an expensive mandolin inside. I kept that notion to myself and instead made an effort at humor. I said, I guess I now belong to the 'Micky Mouse Club'. The shop owner looked a little surprised and said that I now belong to an 'elite club' and offered me a cheaper case without the name plate. I declined, thinking that I may sell the instrument one day and that nameplate is part of the 'package'.

    Another situation involved my wife's red fiberglass case. We were playing at a big event at the Minneapolis Convention Center with a huge combined orchestra. In the warm up room I noticed there were probably 100 or more instrument cases. All black except for my wife's red case and a yellow case at the other end of the room. I buried the case under a few ordinary black cases before we went on stage.

    I don't mind having a 'conversation piece' or the high status of an association with professional players. However I do worry more nowadays about loosing our instruments to some envious thief when I'm not watching.

    I know you have to be vigilant all the time, but I'm not sure I want to attract attention. It's enough stress to keep an eye on things as it is.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    A red case “walking away” is easily spotted in a sea of black cases. There are two sides to every coin. If we stop having nice things because someone may take them we lose out on enjoying life.

    While I rarely leave my case or instruments unattended, a bright colored case is easier to spot than a black case.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Theft is a sad part of the human condition. Dawg played a show in BigSky Montana, about 15yrs ago, and someone stole his mandola off the stage after the show! No case!
    I can't recall all the details, but it was anonymously returned quite a while later.

    Additionally, as a young man I worked in a nice bike shop...a guy bought a very expensive carbon fiber bike, painted it a drab color with spray paint, and put Huffy (very budget brand) stickers on it.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    A thief may prefer to grab a black case because it will be way easier to blend into a crowd with just another black case. I did ponder this when ordering a Calton recently for my JP Whitechapel tenor banjo - didn't want to go with black because it seemed a shame to opt for that with so many color options from Calton, but didn't want to go for anything super bling-y (sparkle/paint splatter/custom color) because it would just draw too much attention to the case. Ended up choosing maroon.
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    +1 for a bright colored case being a theft-deterrent, especially if it's an unusual color.

    The other thing you can do is add some stickers. My cream-colored Pegasus case has a bunch of large stickers plastered on it. More than in the photo I posted in the other thread, that was when it was new.

    If someone walked off with it, I would have a very distinct ID for the call to the police, and for posting on forums where it might be spotted. My S.O.'s fiddle case (might be a Bobelok?) is medium green color, also plastered with some stickers. Both these cases are impossible to miss in a pile of nondescript black cases at a session, workshop, or gig.

    It wouldn't be the end of the world even if someone ran off with my case, because there is just about zero chance that it would have my mandolin inside. At sessions or gigs I either have the case in hand (with mandolin), or if the case is stashed on the floor somewhere, the mandolin is in my hands. Or on a stand with someone watching it, while I'm off ordering a beer or visiting the restroom. The case can fend for itself.

    Yeah, it's a "high end" case, but it's so personalized (some might say "uglified") with stickers, plus some scratches in the gelcoat here and there, that I don't think it's an attractive theft target.

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    I have a black Calton for my Randy Wood and painted a gold script BLUEGRASS on the top, plus some stickers. No one has a case like this one.

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Yes, "walking away" is what I'm worried about.

    A small group, no problem, we look out for each other. In a big place, anyone can see a red case and think it is special.

    If it were an ordinary black case the instrument inside may be considered ordinary and not worth the risk. Who would put a $200 mandolin in a Calton case?

    BTW I'm just talking about the stress involved. Would it be LESS if it were a simple black case?
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    BTW I'm just talking about the stress involved. Would it be LESS if it were a simple black case?
    I don't think anyone else can answer that for you. You'll have to decide.

    FWIW, I do see the argument for low-profile, under the radar cases in plywood with a grained black faux-leather covering: "I'm a cheap case with probably a cheap instrument. Don't bother with me, go grab the fancy Calton over there." You're basically relying on herd protection, hoping yours isn't the one that's selected.

    Me, I can't help it. I've always liked having things that are a bit out of the ordinary and personalized. Obviously mine and nobody else's. All of my musical instruments are a little off-kilter, like my Lebeda mandolin with a redwood top, stained chocolate brown. Now that's another item I'd have no trouble ID'ing for the police or local pawn shops/music stores if it was stolen. Unique mandolin, unique case for it.

    But that's me, not everyone thinks that way. Although I honestly do think that having it look so different is a theft-deterrent anyway. YMMV

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    If you are really worried, you can get one of those GPS trackers that they have for locating your dog. Hide it in the case when you are going into a situation where you think the instrument might be stolen. That said, it is my experience that in many instances, thieves leave the cases behind, which is why an instrument selling without a case, or brought into a music store, pawn shop, etc. without a case sends up a red flag.

    I remember when Dawg's Monte mandola was stolen. I don't think it took more than two weeks for someone to mail it to his management company, anonymously. I believe the word that was put out was that he just wanted it back, no questions asked. Besides, how do you sell an item like that? Who'd buy it?
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    A couple years ago, a tangerine Pegasus came up for sale on here through Morgan Brothers. Not only was it gorgeous, but it looked like a salmon lure. You couldn't sneak away with it even in the dark. It was sold within a half hour, before I called.

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    My wife ran a symphony organization who hired major symphony concertmasters as soloists. Symphonies such as the Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles usually have patrons who have bought Guarni, Strads, and other multimillion dollar violins that come with the concertmaster chair. They never leave the player's sight. Never get left in a hotel room, and spend time between the feet at restaurants. Now that would be a worry to live with.

    We used to think those plastic Martin cases just said "steal me." Many cheap black cases were sold for those. I say just insure them, take reasonable precautions, and enjoy using the things you like.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    I originally had my F5G in a bright red Eastman case with the thought that I'd see it leaving any venue I was in. When I decided to get my Calton I slapped a big old Mandolin Cafe sticker on it figuring I could identify it at a distance. Honestly, most people that steal instruments don't have a clue as to the value of the case or the instrument and the bright ones might make them more attractive. I'm not totally sure it matters. Most thefts like this are probably more crimes of opportunity. Try not to give them the opportunity.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Brick is right. I had a very expensive car stolen (today's market value $75k+) in 1996. While it was replaceable, I never really got to enjoy it as I was always concerned something would happen to it (and it did). So, if you've got 'em, enjoy 'em.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    This is why I keep my Loar in a Target shopping bag.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    But seriously ... we booked Mike Marshall for a gig and I drove him around Seattle, and he was carrying his Loar in a plain ol' Travelite case with a busted strap.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    I met a guy carrying a very valuable 50's Fender in a Squier bag. Nicely dressed guy, carrying nothing but this Squier bag, standing in line to board a plane. I asked him what he had in the bag, and he looked a little annoyed and asked why I cared. I told him I was flying home on the same flight as he was from the Guild of American Luthier's Convention, and he opened up and told me all about it, his gigs lined up, and why he carried his awesome guitar in a $29 gig bag.

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    FG Eastman carries like a backpack, & shoulder strap on Pegasus like a bike messenger bag

    Or, your seat belt diagonal across your chest.. coincidentally both are green..
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    When the young lady a few years ago had her 2 million dollar violin nabbed while she was on her cell in a cafe in England, I decided to tie a couple of jingle bells to my case handles so I’d hear it if someone grabbed one of them. Thought I was brilliant at the time, but all they did was annoy the heck out of me riding around in the car

    I do sticker up my cases, and I’ve been thinking about getting a Bobelock for my Kelley, but at the moment it resides in a black Travelite. I agree with Mike; most of these crimes are of opportunity and not terribly well thought out, so I just try to minimize the “opportunity.” I also don’t play out other than with friends or at church, so it’s not like I have to worry about leaving it on stage or having it handled by hands I don’t know. I remember taking Josh Pinkham and the Jeremy Kittleman band out after a gig here a few years ago. Josh kept his Red Diamond, housed in a white Calton, on his person at all times. He was exceedingly generous in letting people play it, and he let the guys in the house band that night check it out, but when they were done it was back in the case and in his hand or between his legs at all times. That was a great show, and probably the only time I’ll ever share a cold one with a Grammy winner (Jeremy has one), so a very fun night for me!
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    I painted some of my cases white to reduce heat absorption. Additional benefit was that they stood out like sore thumbs, but also looked scruffy enough with rattle-can white paint on them, to make prospective thieves think they weren't holding top-end instruments.

    Most of the time when I'm playing out, my instruments are in gig bags rather than their hardshells, which may or may not imply that they're not expensive. And some of my antique instruments are in chipboard cases -- the only ones I could find to fit them -- an even more obvious clue that they're not worth stealing. And, lowest on the list, are my few home-made cases, which look as if a dyslexic carpenter, with six drinks under his belt, made them. They hold an old Washburn mandola, a National Triolian mandolin, a Polk-A-Lay-Lee (don't ask!), and a bowed psaltery. Sturdy enough: the mandola and the psaltery made it to Phoenix and back in the baggage hold, happily. Not easy to find bowl-back mandola cases; built my own, for better or worse.

    Voting with the "distinctive cases are more a deterrent than in incentive to theft" group. And, knock wood, never had an instrument stolen in 50+ years of playing out.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    If you are really worried, you can get one of those GPS trackers that they have for locating your dog. Hide it in the case when you are going into a situation where you think the instrument might be stolen.
    Even better, hide the dog inside the case.
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Any thief knowledgeable enough to recognize a high-end mandolin case from a not so high-end mandolin case is sure as heck knowledgeable enough to avoid stealing an instrument whose case calls attention to itself.

    Another situation involved my wife's red fiberglass case. We were playing at a big event at the Minneapolis Convention Center with a huge combined orchestra. In the warm up room I noticed there were probably 100 or more instrument cases. All black except for my wife's red case and a yellow case at the other end of the room.

    Those would have been the last two cases a thief would want to grab.

  31. #22

    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Quote Originally Posted by jesserules View Post
    Any thief knowledgeable enough to recognize a high-end mandolin case from a not so high-end mandolin case is sure as heck knowledgeable enough to avoid stealing an instrument whose case calls attention to itself.
    Funny, there's a thread about that exact thing running right now over another forum I frequent, ThiefCafe.

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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Even better, hide the dog inside the case.
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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    When I used to travel to travel with a mandolin, I got an inexpensive triple tennis racket case, I think it was a Wilson. My nice shaped mandolin case fit right in there. I know it's possible to have expensive tennis rackets that someone might want to steal, but it seemed to attract a lot less attention than a mandolin case. It also kept the case from getting scuffed and offered some protection in the rain. It was much cheaper than a "case cover." You can get these cases with backpack straps, which can be handy. If the case has dividers for the rackets, you have to cut those out, but that's pretty simple.

    Another thing I got for festivals was a PacSafe net. It is a "cut proof" net that can go around a piece of luggage, that will secure to an "immovable" object, like a light pole, a tree, whatever, with a cable lock. The one I got goes completely around my case. I have since learned those cables can be defeated, but it takes a little time and it is obvious someone is stealing. So I usually lock it somewhere a lot of people would be watching. At least a thief can't just walk off with it.

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  36. #25
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: High End mandolin cases... and theft

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    I remember taking Josh Pinkham and the Jeremy Kittleman band out after a gig here a few years ago. Josh kept his Red Diamond, housed in a white Calton, on his person at all times. He was exceedingly generous in letting people play it, and he let the guys in the house band that night check it out, but when they were done it was back in the case and in his hand or between his legs at all times.
    I do the same thing with whatever case I happen to have that night.

    And it seems that instruments are stolen when no one is looking.

    Sometimes by people who really do know the value of the instruments... after all, who would be at the concert? Hired thieves? Dog trainers?
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