When you purchase a clarinet, you need to be sure you will be able to protect it, which usually means purchasing a case for it as well. But there are nearly as many types of cases available as there are clarinets. How do you choose one?
For a beginner student, likely purchasing a plastic instrument, the very small plastic case that accompanies the clarinet is a good option. It’s easily portable and made of durable material that will protect the instrument if it is dropped, accidentally stepped on, etc. These cases can slip inside a backpack, provided it isn’t already stuffed with books. There are also case covers available (or case bags) like this that will easily carry both the clarinet case and relevant accessories (reeds and reed case, mouthpiece cap, swab, pencil, tuner, etc.), and will help keep the case—and instrument—dry in inclement weather. Some case covers are even fleece-lined for extra warmth in the winter months.
Another option is a case that has an exterior pocket or pouch for accessories, like this one, and still has a sturdy frame to protect the instrument. Many of these cases or covers also come with shoulder straps for easy transport and are fairly inexpensive. Popular cases are made by brands such as Protec, Gator, Buffet Crampon, Altieri, and DEG, all of which have multiple options available at various price points and can be found online or in brick-and-mortar music stores.
For students or performers who are playing a lot, have invested in a quality instrument, and are looking for a sturdier case or double case, the briefcase-like options like the Buffet cases are well made. They have the added feature of locking metal latches, giving an extra layer of security. These cases will hold instruments and basic accessories, but can be tiresome to carry without any kind of shoulder strap. There are, however, bags or case covers available that add a layer of protection and padding and will have a strap. There are also many backpack-case options, like the BAM cases, that are well loved by those who own them. These options are more expensive, but are an investment to protect the expensive piece(s) of equipment inside, and they last 10 years or longer. These cases are especially good for university students, as they make it simple to carry instruments, accessories, and music as needed.
Many professionals also use bags and cases similar to those listed above. There are some additional options that, while expensive, make carrying multiple instruments and accessories much easier. Reed and Squeak, for example, makes cases for clarinet, saxophone, and various combinations, and they are designed to be much lighter than more traditional case options. While based in the UK, the company ships internationally. Another UK-based company is Wiseman, which makes high-end instrument cases that constitute the top end of the market, but they are very popular among professional instrumentalists for their durability, instrument protection, and portability.
When looking at bass clarinet cases, the same information applies—it’s just that everything is bigger for the larger instrument, and the cases are therefore more expensive. Most bass clarinet players prefer cases with backpack straps since they are relatively heavy and can be tiresome to carry by hand. A great example is the one produced by BAM, which does a fantastic job of protecting the instrument and providing space for all the necessary accessories, and there are several other brands that make similar cases. If you are buying a Buffet Crampon bass clarinet, for example, they come with a hard case that is quite sturdy; many other instrument companies provide similar cases when you purchase a bass clarinet.
The most important factor in choosing a case is determining how you (or your clarinet-playing child) will use the instrument, and therefore, the case. The second most important factor is price. When just starting out, a small plastic case and simple case cover is likely a good investment while you or your student begin to learn the instrument. When you decide to invest in a higher-quality instrument, that is a good time to reevaluate your case as well. Generally, instrument purchases come with a case of some kind, so you must also decide if that case is sufficient or if something else will serve your needs better. This is the perfect time to think about how often you carry the case to school or rehearsals, how much time you walk while carrying the case, and how much the case weighs.
There are many clarinet case and case cover options available to suit every clarinet player’s needs. The best thing to do is to decide what you will need in a case, and then research the options that are available online and in music stores in your area. Music store staff can also answer questions and offer advice about case options, and Lisa’s Clarinet Shop is the best place for information about anything clarinet-related!