How To Pick the Best Case for Your Trumpet

Part 1

What are the different kinds of trumpet cases?

Most trumpets are purchased with accompanying cases and to the average person, this is adequate. Your instrument is expensive and deserves the best protection possible. But is the case that came with your instrument up to the task? If you search on line or at local music stores, the vast number and features of new cases can be confusing. One manufacturer advertises that theirs is the strongest and another manufacturer states that theirs is the lightest and still others say theirs is the strongest and the lightest. So what can be done to weed out the good from the bad and the ugly? To evaluate every case on the market today would be impossible and for that reason I will divide the several types of cases for you and your final decision will have to be made by careful investigation on your own.

The stock case which most of us have for our trumpet is usually made of wood panels covered with leather or other waterproof materials. These cases do a good job and in many ways do a better job of protecting your horn than most after market cases. So why would anyone want to exchange a good case for something of less quality. Some are purchased to lessen the weight, some are purchased to hold more than one horn and some are bought just because they are cool and everybody owns one. I have a storeroom of unused cases and most have been retired because they were poorly designed in the first place. One such case is a Bach double trumpet case. This is undoubtedly one of the worst cases ever to hold two trumpets. It is a very impressive looking case but does not hold two trumpets well. A much better designed double trumpet case is made by the Schilke Company. The newest trend is the soft sided cases which are much easier to carry around and in many ways protect your trumpet as well as a hard case.

I asked one of my good friends and excellent trumpet player, Ken Watson to share his experience and preferences in trumpet cases and this is what he told me.

“We all use them. Each is selected according to criteria we each lay out. Each of us has a different set of priorities in the case or cases we choose. Generally, we all use the same set of preferences, although in different orders of priority. We make our choices based on the type, function, price, appearance, and availability. Many of us have several that we use, based on the type of gig we are playing.

My choice is generally a hard case, for the basic fact that it offers better protection from external hazards. Not all cases are created equal; there are some that do a better overall job of protecting our investments. For years I carried my Bach Strad in the Bach case that came with it. It did a good job of protecting the trumpet from outside hazards, but the one time I was less than careful with it, it got knocked down a flight of stairs. Outwardly all appeared fine, until I got home and discovered that the bell had been severely twisted. Fortunately the local music store was able to straighten the bell, but I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. Now I use cases which hold the instrument snugly to keep it from bouncing around inside the case. Currently my hard case of choice is the Torpedo Classic. It holds the instrument very snug in the interior and has a very sturdy exterior; it has good looks, was affordable, and is versatile for carrying.

There are also the soft cases, which will offer less protection from exterior impacts, but offer more ease in transporting. Among these will be cases such as Wolfpak and the Marcus Bonna cases. The tops and bottoms are of a soft form, but the sides and the dividers are stiff, giving them some strength and support for the instrument inside. Also in the soft case category are the gig bags. These are really nice because they are compact, light weight and easy to carry to gigs; of course their drawback is the limited amount of protection. When choosing a gig bag, I look for one that offers a high amount of padding and securely holds the instrument in their slots.”

Now that you have some ideas as to what is available, your next step is to decide which style of case you might want to use. I have divided the available trumpet cases into six categories-

  • Conventional Single horn Hard Cases
  • Hard Double Cases (carries two trumpets)
  • Gig Bags
  • Single Soft Side Cases
  • Combined Trumpet and Flugelhorn Cases
  • Airline Proof Cases

Due to the limited space we have on each blog, I will continue on my next posting by describing and evaluating each of these six categories and share my recommendation in each area.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.