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master violin and viola case maker


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A way to recover YOUR stolen Strad!





Dear Musicians,

As many of you might know, a precious 1696 Stradivari was recently stolen from a sandwich bar in London, constituting quite possibly the most costly snack stop of all time. At the time of this writing, it has not yet been recovered.

A few days later I was interviewed on the subject by The Strad magazine, as they know I have been researching the topic of security of precious instruments while in their cases, and they asked my opinion as to how a stolen violin can be most easily located and thus recovered. A GPS system built into the case perhaps, or maybe an EPIRB transmitter (Swiss watchmaker Breitling makes one built into one of their chronographs), or something else? 

The GPS idea is fascinating with all that space-age technology, but GPS doesn't work inside a building because the receiver cannot pick up the satellite signals from the sky through bricks and mortar. An EPIRB transmitter, or emergency beacon, requires first that someone activate it to start signaling, something a castaway on a desert island will probably do as soon as he finishes the last bottle of rum, but a gesture a Strad thief is likely to put off indefinitely. 

Accordingly, I hereby announce my modest contribution to this discussion, which may be the cheapest, simplest, most fool-proof solution so far suggested, and that any six-year-old can operate. As of January 2011, in fact, my cases will be offered with an optional hidden compartment built into the structure where a small, inexpensive cellphone (think Nokia Classic or similar) can be hidden away while switched on stand-by in silent mode.

If the violin is stolen, the cellphone hidden in the case will continue to remain in contact with the mobile phone network for days, signaling it's position. The case can thus be tracked by the police in real time (they do it already for missing persons, as everyone carries a cellphone these days) making the chances of recovering much higher (especially if a reward is offered). In fact, I don't think that the first thing a thief will do is take the violin out of the case to admire it: rather, he will try to distance himself as far as possible from the crime scene and get to a safe haven. And I would imagine that, knowing the value of the stolen Stradivari, he will try to protect it to make sure it doesn't get damaged. So, the violin will most likely stay in the case, at least until the thief reached his hideaway, at which point the police can close in.

The average cellphone has a battery life on stand-by of close to a week, which should be more than adequate time to recover the instrument even if the battery is partially discharged. A tri-band cellphone (900, 1800 and 1900 mHz) will work in most parts of the world, from Milwaukee to Beijing passing through Paris and Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.

In my new case option, the hidden compartment is made to be hard to notice and all of my cases are likewise designed to look inconspicuous on the outside, so as to not draw attention to themselves (or the contents), thus increasing the chances that the violin will not be put in a different case

The best solution of course remains to keep the Strad under your control at all times, but this isn't always possible and perhaps my suggestion can be useful.

As always, thank you for your attention, and feel free to comment!          

Dimitri Musafia, December 26, 2010


      If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins" - Benjamin Franklin



Read previous editorials:

What's a master violin case maker?

A better mousetrap?

On form and function

Unsung heroes with a vast following

The strange tale of a hair stylist, an auto mechanic, a lawyer and a violin case maker.

Everyone is talking about VALUE these days - OK, but what is it?

Change and the art of website re-design

Times are tough now. But can you really afford a cheap violin case?

We did it! A Musafia case that can support the weight of a car.

What exactly is a work of art?

Tribute to Mike Gordge

Be a part of progress!




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