Best Case Scenario

The Best Case Scenario for Your Instrument

As an instrument repairer, the most common reason I see instruments coming across my bench needing work is because they are in an incorrectly fitting case – this is not the Best Case Scenario.

You don’t even need to drop your instrument (even inside your case) to bend keywork and cause a misalignment of the mechanics of the instrument. A case that does not fit your instrument correctly can cause damage and bending to your treasured instrument just in regular use.

A poorly fitting case can be a problem in two ways:


1 – Too loose – this allows your instrument to move around inside it,


2 – Too tight – this applies undue pressure on the instrument in places that aren’t good for it.

There is a quick and easy way to tell if your case is too loose. Close the case and gently (very, very gently) shake it. If you can hear or feel the instrument moving inside, this case is NOT the right one. When you transport your instrument normally in this type of case, your instrument moves around; just as it did when you shook it. Not just the instrument, but the other contents of the case move around also, these can dent or scratch things (including destroying your favourite mouthpiece – if it is not in a good pouch).

All this can result in bent keys and posts (and sometimes even a mildly banana shaped body); a very expensive problem to fix.

Suzuki Concertino model trumpet
Make sure you close the case first!
If the case doesn’t rattle at all, you should also check where the instrument is resting inside the case and on which parts of the instrument pressure is being applied.
As a general rule, if the instrument is resting primarily on any of the “sticking out” keys (eg. Low Bb/C#/B/G# table or palm keys on a sax) it is an incorrect fit. Plus, if there is pressure on the top half of the body that pushes it sideways this is likely to cause the mechanism to bend.
Believe it or not, even the original manufacturer’s case may not be the best or most suited case for your instrument. And don’t forget that cases can also wear. The mouldings might compress or become damaged over time thus reducing their effectiveness.
Never underestimate the value of a good case in transporting your instrument as well, combined with key clamps where applicable, travelling with your instrument in a high-quality, correct fitting case can mean the difference between your instrument arriving in perfect condition or barely playing. In fact, if you are travelling long distances, or on a plane or bus, it is advisable to speak with your technician to discuss the best way to pack your instrument.

The Bam Cabine is made for travelling on planes.

Bam Cabine

After all, investing in the right case could save you HUNDREDS of dollars in the mid-term. This is your instrument’s best case scenario.
If you are at all unsure about the suitability of your case it is best to ask a technician to have a quick look for you. Remember, when buying a new case, take your horn along and check!

– Cal Barry

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