Friday, February 8, 2013

Gear Review: Protec Slimline PRO PAC "Green Tea" Single Clarinet Case

A couple of weeks back, for the first time in many years, the time had come for me to purchase a new, single clarinet case. My vintage 1955 Selmer Centered-Tone case, cool as it looked, had a broken zipper and no storage compartment large enough for my 10-reed holder. I'd been keeping the CT in my old Selmer 10S case, but this was unsatisfactory on two levels: first, it meant the 10S was moved to a BAM double case, and the latches weren't particularly reliable.

I've owned a couple of BAM cases over the years--one for my tenor sax, and the double clarinet case mentioned above. They've served me well over the years, and I thought I'd get a single BAM for the CT, until doing some research. This time around, I was struck by how expensive a single clarinet case would be--especially when comparing BAM to the Protec Slimline PRO PAC cases, which seemed to be of similar quality, yet a quarter of the price.

Considering the return policy of WWBW, I figured it was worth checking out the Protec. It arrived about a week ago, and I'm very happy with it.

The biggest difference, and of considerable importance to players of unusually shaped clarinets (Yamaha CSGs or Wurlitzers come to mind, with their longer top joints and short barrels) is the interior foam. BAM cases are very pliable and can be molded to the shape of the horn--the Protec Slimline, by contrast, is harder and not particularly flexible. The good news for me is that the CT fits perfectly, and while the Rovner ligature and cap is a snug fit, if it is angled as above, it too fits ideally. There are two slots for barrels--the second slot might serve as a swab/cork grease compartment, but I've used it for a back up short barrel.

Protec Slimline Clarinet Case "Green Tea"
In terms of the exterior, the pouch is precisely what I'd been looking for--large enough for a 10 reed case, swabs, pencils, pens, cork grease, etc. The case is sturdy and light--it seems at least as well constructed as my BAM cases.

Finally, that most important of considerations: color. When buying a classical case, most musicians have a choice between various shades of black. You have your jet black, your Euro-black, and your techno-black. Each of these shades helps ensure the case will match your black turtleneck and scarf, which in turn will help you blend in at auditions (and as we know, blending is indispensable in the classical world). These rules aren't rigid: once you get a tenured position, you may be permitted by your conductor to branch out aesthetically and get yourself a leather case--and so long as it matches, for instance, the leather of a psychiatrist's couch, it won't clash with anything in your life.

This aside, jazzers are free to splash a little color--if it's done responsibly (always remember, as with your altissimo, that with great power comes great responsibility). Like so much in the jazz world, there is a symbolism to everything, and we have our own in-language. The "Green Tea" color, among jazz clarinetists, has a very specific reference: the cover of the 1965 LP release of Artie Shaw's "September Song" and Other Favorites. That's right, folks: this color proves your jazzer status every bit as much as saying "Daddy-O", calling Beethoven a "long hair", and saying "solid", knowingly, when you agree with someone. It's hep. And if hep ain't hip, then it's hip. It's also seven bucks cheaper than the black case.

So don't be a moldy fig, Daddy-O. Get hep to the case, gates. It's solid.


Anonymous said...

Contrary to your comments, black is a great color because it goes with everything, is stylish, and is well hidden on a stage or bandstand.

ES said...

Not contrary at all, Anonymous. But I think the turtleneck and scarf is the most important match. Having said that, it will also match a Model T and puritan colonial garb: both of which might be important on the gigging scene. (Sense of humor people, sense of humor...) ;)

Anonymous said...

That reminds me- I have a Puritan party coming up. What kind of tunes do you suggest?

ES said...

Sidney Bechet, "Blackstick"

Eddie Daniels, "Blackwood"

Omer Simeon "Black Bottom Stomp"

I'm told they're stylish and match anything. ;)

Alex Hertadi said...

Hi Eric,
Nice review here. I was wondering if your Selmer BT also fits perfectly into this case. I am needing a new case for my enhanced boehm Selmer Q Series CT (art. C#/G#) and I'm very tempted to buy this one you reviewed but I'm worried that the art. C#/G# would be a problem in fitting my clarinet into the case....

Eric Seddon said...

Sorry it took me so long to respond to this question, Alex!

I just checked to see if my enhanced Boehm CT or BT with articulated G# would fit in this...and sadly, it doesn't. The lower joint is too long. You could probably alter the case successfully if you're into that sort of DIY projects...there seems to be enough foam to do the job. But unaltered, it won't work.

Thanks for the question,


The Musician Archivist said...

Black cases don't draw attention to themselves, especially from thieves. I'd love a case that was perfect on the inside and looked really beat up and useless on the outside, like "pre-stressed" jeans.

I have and have loved the old BAM X Light "pod" case I bought back circa 2005, but they're no longer made, and mine is getting old.