By JazzBariSax.com curator, Andrew Hadro (August 21st, 2019)

No one likes this case.

The most asked question I receive about the baritone saxophone is usually “What case do you recommend?” I don’t think there is a perfect option especially given everyone’s different needs and budgets, but here you will find some advice on cases as well as the best comparison as I could collect to hopefully make the decision easier. Contact us if you have another option you’d like to recommend, or comment below to let us know which one you use (include your horn’s make/model!)

Choosing A Case

The first step in choosing a case should be deciding whether you need a hard case or soft. This is a personal choice – obviously soft cases are much lighter and easier to carry but don’t provide nearly as much protection. 

The second step is usually deciding how you want to travel with the case. If you plan to walk and carry the case I would suggest making sure it has back pack straps, or perhaps a shoulder strap. If not, you’ll probably need a case with wheels – but keep in mind you’ll still probably need to navigate stairs at some point, so good handles or alternate straps are a must.

To Wheel or not to Wheel

Baritones are heavy and not everyone can carry them everywhere. Wheels seem like a good solution, but keep in mind that when you wheel a case, especially a hard case, every bump and vibration gets transmitted to the horn. You are basically vibrating your horn down the street as you walk. The pad cups on a baritone, especially the low end are heavy, they will be flapping open and closed and the rods between the posts will be constantly vibrated and jiggled. This will lead to leaks and possible permanent damage as the parts wear from friction.

I prefer not to use wheels to avoid this, and I use a soft case that is carry-able. But for those that need or want wheels I would strongly recommend clamping shut at least the lower notes of the horn – A (if present), Bb, B and C. Some repairmen recommend clamping all the keys whenever the horn is is in the case. I have mixed feelings about this as non rolled tone holes can easily bite into pads more quickly when clamped, especially if the clamps aren’t put on just right, or are set up too tight. I prefer to simply lightly wedge the lowest and largest keys shut. You can cut a wine cork so that it sits between the key and the key guard – firm enough to keep the key closed and stay in place but not so firm as to mash the key into the tone hole.

Case maintenance

Cases don’t require as much maintenance as horns, but they should be looked after. You should frequently check the latches and/or zipper and do not use the case if they are in danger of breaking soon. On nicer cases latches or zippers are almost always repairable or replaceable! Everyone knows a saxophonist that has picked up their horn without properly zipping or closing the latches – the horn goes flying and an expensive visit is paid to the repairman. This seems less likely to happen with a zipper than latches for what its worth. If you are very worried about forgetting the latches or having them come open get into the habit of locking them shut – assuming the case offers a lockable latch.

BAM straps

BAM straps with plastic sleeve on carabiner and steel security cable as back up.

Additional spots to routinely check for damage or wear are the shoulder straps, backpack straps, and handles. Make sure they are not loose or worn down. All hardware that is weight bearing should be metal not plastic. Keep an eye out though, even metal hardware will wear down and at some point break causing a nasty fall. BAM case straps put a plastic sleeve over their carabiner to prevent the friction and erosion. I also always add a zip tie or steel security cable as a back up to any connection (see picture). Should the clip/hook break, this can hold just long enough to get the horn on the ground without falling.

Leather is an amazingly resilient material and surprising strong and long lasting, A leather case can last decades if taken care of. The leather should be conditioned at least yearly (this is different than polish or leather cleaner). Also, any high end luggage or leather worker can often do amazing repairs and improvements on quality leather cases. Zipper’s replaced, holes mended, straps replaced etc. On my leather case I’ve had for 15 years, I’ve had the zippers replaced and all velcro replaced with nice brass snaps over the years, case is still going strong.

You should keep in mind that purchasing more expensive cases from reputable brands like BAM, Wiseman, or custom made cases means that the cases often come with warranties and are usually very repairable, thereby somewhat justifying a higher price.

Make sure the horn fits well

You obviously want to make sure that your horn can fit into your case. But what not everyone takes into account is that every horn may be slightly different and therefore leave small gaps in a case. Your horn should fit absolutely snugly in the case, no movement at all. Not so tight as to cause damage, but no wiggle room. You can always buy extra foam padding and add as needed to areas of the case that don’t exactly conform to your horn. Older cases too can often ‘loosen up’ and should be shored up to maintain a snug fit.

Flying with a baritone

The hardest part of flying with a baritone is getting it onto the plane. On most large airplanes all but the largest baritone cases will fit in an overhead or a closet. I always see people take pictures of themselves with their case in the overhead, and its never a small gig-bag, usually a large hard case. The hardest part is getting it to the inside of the plane – through security, the gate agent, and onto the flight attendants. 

Manning case in the overhead

A Manning Custom Woodwinds case in an overhead

For that reason I don’t think any one case is necessarily better or worse for flying in terms of carrying on. If you have a soft case you force yourself to carry it on the plane or to have to get off the plane. If you have a hard case it probably will fit into standard plane sized overheads but you are at the mercy of the flight crew. No case will prevent all damage, every time, from being dropped or tossed if checked – though some will work better than others.

If you absolutely cannot get the horn onto the plane as a carry-on you may be forced to check it. ALWAYS gate check (at the plane) instead of at the ticket counter – far fewer people will handle it and have a chance to damage it. Always make sure the case is snug and clamp as many keys as possible when gate checking.

When I say Gate check I mean leaving your horn just before entering the plane and retreiving it immediately at the end of the flight just outside the airplane. Keep in mind however, that some airlines and airports don’t offer “valet” gate checking – your horn will end up in the standard baggage carousel (Southwest Airlines, and the Minneapolis airport  for example). This is what is techinally meant by ‘Gate Checking’. Receiving a gate checked bag directly upon exiting the air craft is can be referred to as ‘Valet Gate Check’, ‘Stair Check’, or ‘Planeside Check’. Airline personnel may sometimes interchange the terms so its best to confirm exactly what they are referring to.

If you plan to check a baritone at the ticket counter to avoid the drama, I’d recommend a serious flight case that will probably require over-size fees (something like Battle Cases). These cases have many inches of padding are usually rectangular and weigh a ton. Some are even ‘anvil’ style cases – meaning you put your entire regular case inside them.

Torpedo bags has some excellent guidelines for flying with instrument cases. Check it out here.


Case Comparisons – Hard Cases

The cases below are in no particular order, other than hard cases first, soft cases next. I have not included cases that aren’t purchasable, or that come with horns (like a Rampone) or the standard big wood box (aka coffin case).

Prices are approximate based on internet searches as of  August 2019. Local music stores will often meet or beat these prices. You should when possible, shop local! All specifications and measurements taken directly from manufacturer’s website when possible. 

BAM Hightech Saxophone Case

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Tripleply structure (ABS, Airex foam, another type of ABS)
Lockable: Yes (Latches)
Weight: 14.3 lbs (6.5kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 44.09 in (112 cm) Width 16.55 in(42 cm) Depth 10.63 in (27 cm)
Price: $1035
 
Pros:
Fits most horns
Has backpack straps
Has wheels
Protective
Cons:
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
Wheels/handles have fallen off for people?
Very expensive
 
Notes: Molded on Selmer Series II Saxophone. Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. This makes the overall case size and profile larger.
Bottom Line: This is a very common case. Its expensive and big. Some people love it some people hate it. Not for me, due to its weight, size and reported breakages in the handle and wheels, but others swear by it. BAM is a highly respected company and you can take advantage of their warranty.

Manning Custom Woodwind Saxophone Case – California

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both (Generally custom fit to your horn, but outside shape is for both)
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Fiberglass or Carbon Fiber 
Lockable: No? (Latches)
Weight: Varies
Exterior dimensions: ?
Price: Exact price coming soon (fairly expensive)
 
Pros:
Custom fit to your horn means great protection
Ergonomic
Very protective hard shell
Carbon Fiber is the lightest possible option
Cons: 
Very expensive, especially the carbon fiber option
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
Must be custom fit to your horn, so you will need to be in California, or send your horn there for fitting
 
Notes: The outer shape of this case is based on the old Berkeley cases made in England. The cases are custom made by Manning Custom Woodwinds in California. Because the cases are custom fit to each horn your horn will be needed in person to complete the case. As far as I know Manning was the first to offer a carbon fiber case, which is incredibly strong yet very lightweight – but very pricey. While the inside is fit to your horn the shell is designed to accommodate both Low B and A – Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. This makes the overall case size and profile larger.
Bottom Line: Mike Manning was the first to really do custom baritone saxophone cases. If you want the absolute top of the line, lightest and most custom case and are willing to get your horn to California and pay for it, this is perhaps the best possible option.
 

Wiseman Carbon Fiber Case

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Carbon Fiber
Lockable: No (Latches)
Weight: 9lbs (4 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 43.5 in (110.49 cm) | Width 14 in (35.56 cm) | Depth 11 in (27.94 cm)
Price: $2,422
 
Pros
Extremely protective
Fits most horns
Carbon fiber is the lightest option
Has wheels
Offers several lining color options and finishes for the outside (shiny vs matte)
Cons:
Extremely expensive
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
Might be a wait-time to receive the case
 
Notes: Wiseman is a highly respected case maker from England. Specializing in unique and high quality cases, they now offer a carbon fiber baritone saxophone option. 
Bottom Line: I haven’t seen this case in person, but all the Wiseman cases I have ever seen have been phenomenal. This might be the most expensive case here, but such a protective well made case at this weight is going to be pricey.

Protec Low A & Bb Saxophone Contoured PRO PAC Case (Bullet Case)

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Shoulder Strap (Backpack straps available separately)
Wheels: No
Shell Material: Nylon (on top of wood frame)
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight: 13.8 lbs (6.15 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 44.8 in (108.59 cm) | Width 16.5 in (34.3 cm) | Depth 11.5 in (14.6 cm)
Price: $364

Pros
2 external pouches for storage
Fits most horns
Cons
Wood frame somewhat heavy and prone to damage
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns

Notes: Includes pouch for storing mouthpiece and neck in bell. Protec’s newest cases are far superior to their older cases. 10 years ago I would have strongly recommended against protec, now they are a viable option. Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. This makes the overall case size and profile larger. Additional padding to make sure horn has no wiggle room or movement suggested.

Bottom Line: Protecs are very common and have gotten much better recently. This may not be the best or lightest case, but its price is very reasonable for the quality and its widely available. Biggest concern with this case is making sure there is no wiggle room inside and the horn is snug.

 

Protec Low A & Bb Saxophone Contoured ZIP Case

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: ABS Plastic 
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight: 13.8 lbs (6.26 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 
Price: $350

Pros
Fairly protective
Has wheels
More affordable than some other hard cases
Cons
May require additional padding to perfectly fit your horn (Modular fit blocks sold separately)
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns

Notes: Also sometimes called “Bullet contoured case”. Includes pouch for storing mouthpiece and neck in bell. Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. This makes the overall case size and profile larger. Additional padding to make sure horn has no wiggle room or movement suggested.

Bottom Line: A true hard case without a wood shell from Protec. This case looks great and while it may not be as amazing as some of the other hard cases, the price is excellent for a hard shelled case with wheels. Not as widely available as other Protecs, although I believe Virtuosity Music in Boston has them.

SKB Contoured Pro Saxophone Case

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Shoulder strap can be attached separately
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: ABS vacuum formed plastic
Lockable: Yes (Latches)
Weight: 16 lbs (7.28 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 43.50 in (110.49 cm) | Width 17.00 in (43.18 cm) | Depth 11.00 in (27.94 cm)
Price: $400
 
Pros:
Fits most horns
Has wheels
Protective
Affordable
Cons:
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
Slightly heavy
No strap included (can be added)
 
Notes: This is a pretty straight forward middle of the road case. Very protective but not overly easy to handle or carry. Mid-range price wise as well. Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. This makes the overall case size and profile larger.
Bottom Line: SKB has also been around a while, this is another budget friendly hard case option. The main concern here is the lack of straps for carrying.

Jacob Winter Cases

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Low A only
Strap types: None
Wheels: On some models
Shell Material: ABS Plastic or Greenline (renewable natural fibers)
Lockable: Yes (Latches)
Weight:  9.7 lbs (4.4 kgs)  – 12.1 lbs (5.5 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 42.12 in (107 cm) | Width 16.15 in (41 cm) | Height 9.84 in (25 cm)
Price: $386 and up
 
Pros
A greenline type case first to consider environmental impact
Affordable
Cons:
No straps, wheels only on some models, single handle
Only offered for Low A horns
 
Bottom Line: These cases don’t seem to be as prevelant or available in the US. There seem to be different models and types but its hard to discern. The price on these seems good but I’d look for a model with wheels since they only seem to offer a single handle and no straps.
 

Bags Case Evolution

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Backpack straps
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Fiber Glass
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight: 13.07 lbs (5.93 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 44.09 in (112 cm) | Width 16.14 in (41 cm) | Depth 9.06 in (23 cm)
Price: $?
 
Pros
Has wheels
Fits most horns
Comes in lots of color options
Cons:
Harder to find for sale
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
 
Notes: Made in Spain. Nice modern design.
Bottom Line: This looks like another lighter weight hard case option. Unfortunately they seem to be hard to come by especially in the US. Could not find a current price for this one.
 

Selmer (Paris) Baritone Saxophone “Flight” Case

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Low A only
Strap types: Shoulder Strap
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: ABS Plastic
Lockable: Yes (Latches)
Weight:  ?
Exterior dimensions: ?
Price: $895
 
Pros
Has wheels
Will fit Selmer (Paris) horns very well
Cons:
May not fit non-Selmer horns
Only a shoulder strap, no backpack straps
 
Notes: Exact specifications not found for weight or size. Despite the “flight” case title I would not recommend checking this unless forced to.
Bottom Line: This case seems great if you have a Selmer (Paris) horn, and maybe you can get it with your new Selmer baritone. Without exact weight and dimensions its hard to recommend purchasing this pricey case on its own over some of the other hard case options.
 

JL Woodwind Custom Saxophone Case – New York City – Coming Soon

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each (not yet confirmed)
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes (not yet confirmed)
Shell Material: Carbon fiber
Lockable: ?
Weight: ?
Exterior dimensions: ?
Price: ?
 
Pros
Custom fit to your horn
Carbon fiber is strong but very light
Ergonomic
Cons
Expensive
 
Notes:  Yet to be seen in person. Coming soon?
 

Walt Johnson Saxophone Case – No longer made

Case type: Hard Case
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: On some models
Shell Material: Fiber Glass
Lockable: No (Latches)
Weight: Varies (Generally heavy)
Exterior dimensions: Varies
Price: No longer manufactured, can be found used.
 
Pros
Extremely protective
Time tested
Cons:
No longer manufactured
Very heavy
 
Notes:  For a long time these were the industry standard for high protection cases. The design changed over the years and the most recent model did offer wheels. The Low Bb specific model was extremely large compared to the more sleek Low A model.
Bottom Line: Heavy and expensive but incredibly protective, and tried and true. If you can find a used one for a good price it shouldn’t be passed up.

 


Case Comparisons – Soft Cases

Gard Gig Bag Saxophone Case (American models)

Case type: Soft Case
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each
Strap types: Shoulder or Backpack
Wheels: No (Zipper)
Shell Material: Leather OR Synthetic with Leather Trim
Lockable: No
Weight
    Leather – Low A : 7.72 lbs (3.5 kgs) | Low Bb: Not Listed?
    Synthetic – Low A: 7.39 lbs (3.35 kgs) | Low Bb: 6.83 lbs ( 3.1 kgs)
Exterior dimensions
    LOW A: Length 41 in (104.14) | Width 13.5 in (34.29) | Depth 7 in (17.78)
    LOW Bb: Length 42.9 in (108.97 cm) | Width 15.4 in (39.12 cm) | Depth 7.3 in (18.54 cm)
Price: $150-$180
 
Pros:
Inner padding is configurable via Velcro to custom fit to a horn.
Very light case
Includes side pocket for additional storage.
Extremely affordable
Cons:
Soft cases are inherently not as protective
 
Notes: European and American models offered for these. American models seem to be slightly larger? Comes with Rain cape for water protection. Very affordable gig bag option. After receiving the case be sure to adjust all of the padding to fit exactly to your horn for maximum protection. Additional foam padding is even a good idea.
Bottom Line: This might be the most affordable Gig bag here. It offers almost no protection but is also incredibly cheap. With some extra padding added and delicate handling this could certainly cover the needs of an occasional baritonist.
 

Gard Wheelie Saxophone Case (American models)

Case type: Soft Case
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each
Strap types: Shoulder or Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Leather OR Synthetic with Leather Trim
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight: 
    Leather – Low A: 15.87 lbs (7.2 kgs) | Low Bb: 16.09 lbs (7.3 kgs)
    Synthetic – Low A: 14.44 lbs (6.55 kgs) | Low Bb: 14.22 lbs (6.45 kgs)
Exterior dimensions:
    LOW A: Length 46 in (116.84 cm) | Width 16 in (40.64 cm) | Depth 13 in (33.02 cm)
    LOW Bb: Length 46 in (116.84 cm) | Width 16 in (40.64 cm) | Depth 16 in (40.64 cm)
Price: $255-$425
 
Pros:
Inner padding is configurable via Velcro to custom fit to a horn.
Very light case
Includes side pocket for additional storage.
Includes a kick stand to allow it to stand upright securely
Very Affordable
Lots of storage pockets
Cons:
Soft cases are inherently not as protective
Somewhat bulky
 
Notes: European and American models offered for these. American models seem to be slightly larger? Comes with Rain cape for water protection. Includes telescoping handle for easy wheeled movement. Possibly the most affordable wheeled option. After receiving the case be sure to adjust all of the padding to fit exactly to your horn for maximum protection. Additional foam padding is even a good idea. Plan on wheeling this case, the back pack straps are awkwardly placed low enough that the baritone will be many inches above your head.
Bottom Line: One of the cheapest and lightest options to include wheels. Not much protection but the low cost and wheels make this attractive. The design isn’t flawless but the price is right. The kick stand is my favorite feature, but the backpack straps are next to useless.

 

Protec Low A & Bb Saxophone Bag – Platinum Series

Case type: Soft Case
Low A or Bb? Both
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: Yes
Shell Material: Nylon 
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight: 9 lbs (4.08 kgs)
Exterior dimensions: Length 43 in (109.22 cm) | Length 14 in (35.56 cm) | Depth 10 in (25.40 cm)
Price: $289
 
Pros
Very lightweight
Very affordable
Large side pocket for storage
Has wheels
Cons
Soft cases are not as protective
May require additional padding to perfectly fit your horn (Modular fit blocks sold separately)
Wasted space/larger footprint since it fits both Bb and A horns
 
Notes: Includes pouch for storing mouthpiece and neck in bell. Fitting Low Bb as well as Low A horns means either way you have wasted space to accommodate the unused bell type. Additional padding to make sure horn has no wiggle room or movement suggested.
Bottom Line: I haven’t seen this case in person, but Protec has offered basically a gig bag with wheels. Again, additional padding is a good idea and of course careful handling. The price here is perhaps the most attractive part of this case.

Glenn Cronkite Custom Saxophone Case

Case type: Soft
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each
Strap types: Backpack
Wheels: No
Shell Material: Cordura (synthetic) or Leather
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight
    Low A – Nylon: 4lbs (1.81 kgs) | Leather: 6 lbs (2.72 kgs) ?
    Low Bb – Nylon: 4lbs (1.81 kgs) | Leather: 6 lbs (2.72 kgs) ?
Exterior dimensions
    Low A: Length 45 in (114.3 cm) | Width 16 in (40.64 cm) | Depth 7 in (17.78 cm) ?
    Low Bb: Length 45 in (114.3 cm) | Width 16 in (40.64 cm) | Depth 7 in (17.78 cm) ?
Price: $640 for Leather, $424 for Cordura
 
Pros
Several materials offered for exterior, including different leather colors and different Cordura colors
Tried and true design for a gig bag
Very light weight and easier to carry
Cons
Offers very little protection, must be handled delicately
 
Notes: Glenn Cronkite is the original Reunion blues case maker. He sold the company Reunion Blues which no longer seems to even make baritone cases, then started making cases again under his own name. He then sold his company again recently and retired this time selling the designs and cases to the Torpedo Bags company, a very reputable brand and excellent case manufacturer who is now offering cases with Glenn’s designs and materials. Exact specifications (size and weight) on manufacturer’s website may be slightly inaccurate as they don’t list different things for Bb and A cases. Contact them for exact sizes.
Bottom Line: Many professionals over the years have trusted their horns in Glenn Cronkite’s designed bags. They are gig bags so you must be careful, but they are beautifully well made and can last years. I personally much prefer leather to Cordura, and with care it can last decades. Extra padding inside is recommended. Excellent option for the baritonist that has to walk a lot and doesn’t want wheels.

 

SOUNDWEAR Professional Baritone Saxophone Case

Case type: Soft (with a hard shell)
Low A or Bb? Separate models offered for each
Strap types: Backpack and shoulder
Wheels: No
Shell Material: Cordura (synthetic)
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight:  Not listed /  Approximate? 12.1 lbs (5.5 kgs)
Exterior dimensions:  Not listed
Price: $325
 
Pros
Soft case so its light, but has a semi rigid shell inside 
Has wheels
Slim design
Fairly affordable
Good sized external pouch (double pouch)
Offers shoulder strap and back pack straps
Cons
Offers less protection, must be handled delicately
 
Notes: The hard shell inside the soft case is an excellent idea, kind of a hybrid between soft and hard cases.
Bottom Line: Having a shell inside a soft case is a brilliant idea. Not too much weight, but some protections. The price here is excellent and everything else seems good. I don’t care for the aesthetics at all but this could get the job done for a reasonable price.
 

SOUNDWEAR Performer Baritone Saxophone Case

Case type: Soft
Low A or Bb? Low A
Strap types: Backpack and shoulder
Wheels: No
Shell Material: Cordura (synthetic)
Lockable: No (Zipper)
Weight:  Not listed /  Approximate? 12.1 lbs (5.5 kgs)
Exterior dimensions:  Not listed
Price: >$325 (prices listed for pro model, this one should be less?)
 
Pros
Slim design
Fairly affordable
Good sized external pouch (double pouch)
Offers shoulder strap and back pack straps
Cons
Offers little protection, must be handled delicately
 
Notes: Seems to be a less protective version of the professional case, with only Low A offered. Professional case looks like a better option, unless weight is a serious concern.
Bottom Line: Seems like if you’re looking into the Soundwear brand you’d be crazy not to just go with the Professional model. That one seems much easier to find and offers more protection for a reasonable price.