10 gut-wrenching photos of cruelty to cellos, brutality to basses, violence to viols and more…

Venture forth, if you dare, through The Strad’s Halloween Hall of Horrors! CW: contains graphic images of smashed instrument bodies and bows, plus plenty of airline-induced cruelty. Not for the faint of heart!


In August 2014 we published this photo of a violin badly damaged during a British Airways flight. The musician alleged that BA staff had forced her to check the violin into the baggage hold. Full story

Myrna herzog 5

The shocking photos accompanying Dr Myrna Herzog’s social media post in January 2018 of her destroyed viola da gamba sent her complaint globally viral. The process of putting the instrument back together will be featured in the December 2019 issue of The Strad in an article by luthier Shlomo Moyal.

Jonathan Dotson

Guitarist Jonathan Dotson posted in July 2019 about travelling from Madrid to the US on the same American Airlines flight as a young musician whose brand new hand-made guitar arrived in pieces after being checked in to the hold. Full story

Double bass neck badly damaged on Southwest Airlines flight

In April 2017, Philadelphia freelance bassist Dan Turkos shared photos of his c.1870 bass following a Southwest Airlines flight to San Francisco. Full story

Nicholas Gold cello

American musician Nicholas Gold made a video in May 2015 demonstrating just how strong his case was – and therefore how much force it would have been subjected to during the flight which caused his cello scroll and neck to crack. Full story

Giacomo Bellini - crop

A cellist carrying two bows packed in a cardboard tube as hand luggage had no intention of letting them out of his sight. Then they had to go through the x-ray machine at security. Full story

Hojoon Choi, Hill cello

A student at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music posted these photos of damage to his W.E. Hill cello discovered following a flight with Delta Airlines from the US to Korea in May 2019. Full story


Its fate was almost to be consigned to the murky depths of an Uruguayan river in 1963 but it continues to delight and inspire audiences of the present day. The 1711 ‘Mara’ Stradivari cello was restored by the Hill workshop. Full story

Arceci crop

Early music expert Andrew Arceci flew United Airlines in March 2018 and allowed his viol to be placed in the hold at the gate. ‘I often buy a seat for the instrument,’ he wrote. ‘I didn’t this time, but I’ve gate-checked with no problem/no damage for years.’ This was how the instrument emerged. Full story

Karl Fenner bass

A Colorado orchestral musician’s double bass was decapitated on the journey between Atlanta to Denver. The instrument was commissioned from Texas luthier Guy Cole. ‘I paid about $400/month for almost eight years to pay it off,’ the musician said at the time. The David Gage flight case alone was worth $3,000. Full story

…plus a bonus video