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Leather ‘Classic’ Bassoon Case Review
The 'Classic' leather bassoon case (Wiseman case) is the most compact and reliable cases on the market. The manufacturer, a bassoonist, became fed up of having a very heavy, large and impractical case for his instrument and thus began making these tubular bassoon cases. Nowadays these bassoon cases are used by principle bassoonists in a large number of major European orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic & Paris Opera. The case is made in the UK.
I had decided it was time to purchase one of these world class cases. The following review sums up all the advantages and disadvantages I have found with the case and will hopefully allow you to make a more informed decision when looking for a new bassoon case.
Disclaimer: Please note that I work at Crook and Staple as a Bassoon Specialist however, the opinions I have expressed below are my own
Bassoon Case Specs
The case is very small at only 70cm high and the oval section being 19.5cm x 17cm (about half the width of my previous BAM case, same thickness and slightly shorter). At 3.5kgs this bassoon case is lighter than most too.
The Bassoon case includes:
-> Attachable Leather Reed Making / Accessory Bag - (8in x 5.5in x 2in) Complete with four zipped pockets and two compartments fastened by poppers.
-> Small Leather Pouch - Holds all the essentials for playing bassoon i.e. handrest, pencil, etc. and fits in the bassoon case.
-> A3 Music Pouch - Fits most music in including really large pieces . The pouch has extendable popers that allow it to hold more / even larger music.
-> 2 bocal / crook double socks - firm but small crook socks that can hold 4 crooks, both normal & straight bend, in total
-> 2 Leather Backpack Straps with Thick Padded Shoulder Pads
Use of Space
This extremely compact case comfortably holds your bassoon in the most space efficient manner whilst also providing enough space for you to fit in any accessories. (see picture)
I can fit in everything I need to play professionally (reed case (10 reeds), neck strap, seat strap, swabs, metronome, handrest / bird, pencil, mute, pliers and a mandrel) without having the larger accessory pouch attached to the outside of the case.
The manufacturers happily say that their bassoon “cases do not compromise on the strength”. The case frame is made from aircraft plywood that is built up in layers to produce a lightweight but very strong and shock absorbing shell. Most of our cases are then covered in genuine leather, designed to last a lifetime, with padding underneath. The cases circular design also affords the case great strength when it is shut.
There is a velvet fabric interior which is has a generous amount of padding underneath it to protect the instrument. The bassoon itself is strapped in using heavy duty velcro fasteners. The crooks go into the crook / bocal socks which look a tad flimsy but are firmer than I expected. These then lay to the side of the long and wing joint in a well protected area.
Before you close the case two attached pieces of well padded velvet covered fabric must be laid across the instrument which then helps to secure the crooks in place. The bassoon case is kept shut first by a wide & long strip of velcro that covers the length of the case and both ends. After this there is a strong leather belts that is secured around the case to ensure your baboon cannot escape…
All in all, I think this is a very protective case. I know of several customers who have been in car accidents where all of their saxes have been crushed apart from the one soprano sax that was in one of these type of cases! (the soprano sax case is similar in build to the bassoon one).
Practicalities & Traveling
This bassoon case as you have read provides great protection for your bassoon and is amazingly compact but does that mean there has been a compromise in practicality of the design? I don’t think so!
When you put the case down it can rest on either end as both ends have very durable rubber feet to rest on. When getting the bassoon out of the case you have to rest the case on the leather so that the case can open. This is a bit of a shame as most of the time there is only a floor available to do this and I am slightly worried that I am going to damage the leather. However, I know other bassoonists with this case and they have not found it a problem.
This case is great at carrying music due to it’s massive A3 pouch . I often find that orchestral music is slightly larger than A4 or is A3 size and I can never fit it comfortably into any bag without damaging it, which is less than ideal. As the pouch wraps around the outside of the bassoon case the music does tend to end up a bit curved which might bother some people.
One aspect of cases that always worries me with cases is whether they are watertight or not, especially when they are fabric. But after extensive walking around in the rain, welcome to Wales…, I found that it completely keeps the rain out. The manufacturers state that the “cases are designed to cope with heavy rain. The high grade leather is rainproof and no maintenance is required at all.” Just what I require.
The cases narrow shape along with the curves means that when walking the sides of the case don’t stick out to either side of your body where it can get damaged. I have damaged many cases from being in a crowded area and being pushed against a wall, however this isn’t a problem for this bassoon case.
The strap included is made from very sturdy thick leather and is attached to the case using strong metal buckles. You can adjust the strap to whatever length you require. The strap has very padded and wide shoulder pads which make carrying the case a pleasure. The way the shoulder pads are designed make the case feel a lot lighter than it really is which is great when you have quite a heavy instrument like my Moosman 222 bassoon.
There is an optional hip belt which allows you to spread the weight of the case onto your hips, like a walking rucksack does which is great for anybody that has a bad back. I however decided I wouldn't need the belt.
Easily fits into any car boot or can be laid down on the back seats. I tried putting the bassoon in the back foot well but found after going round a few corners that it moved I believe due to the curved shape and its light weight.
Whilst having this case I have flied to Romania to play with Filharmonia Otelina. This case was a pleasure to take as hand luggage with Easyjet as it was well within the instrument size restrictions. What makes this case especially good for flights is that the attachable leather pouch can be added and can hold everything you’ll need for the flight. This means I don't have to pay for 2 pieces of hand luggage, which is always fantastic news! The curved shape enables the bassoon case to be pushed right to the back of aeroplane overhead luggage bins ensuring the instrument doesn’t move mid-flight.
Durability of the Bassoon Case
Most of the case is made from the very finest and most durable materials possible including heavy duty metal fittings, strong hinge along the length of the case and the velcro tabs that hold the instrument securely. The manufactures have a ‘Lifetime Guarantee’ on this bassoon case and so although I am a little weary of how long one or two of the tabs on the inside of the case will last I am greatly reassured by the manufactures guarantee and confidence in the case.
This is without a doubt the best case I have come across. It’s protecting, convenience and quality is unparalleled and I would gladly recommend this bassoon case to everybody - I know you'll be delighted to once you see it!
Have you had any experiences with this case, let us know in the comments below!
Bassoonist at Crook and Staple