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If you love your horn, go for the hard case. If you love your tech, go for the soft one.
 

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If you love your horn, go for the hard case. If you love your tech, go for the soft one.
Definitely true. Tenor player in our Big Band had a beautiful Custom-Z in a beautiful leather gig bag. Now he has a Custom-Z with a crease in the bell and a new hard case.

However, when looking at hard cases, check the weight. Some are a lot lighter than others.
 

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I had a friend at Berklee who was very proud of and very happy with the soft leather gig bag he had bought for his practically brand new Mark VI tenor...until about two weeks later when his saxophone got CRUSHED when a heavy door with an auto-closing hinge closed faster than he expected. The gig bag came through without a scratch. The Mark VI inside was toast. (Heavy door + extremely strong hinge spring = flattened bell, bent rods, broken posts, etc...)

My favorite case was a hard-shell "SAX-PAK" gig bag with shoulder strap. I added a little extra foam padding to keep my alto from jostling around inside, but the exterior of the case was sturdy enough to handle a great deal of abuse without risking damage to the horn. The door that crushed my friend's horn wouldn't have phased it.
 

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^^Ouch. I hurt for that guy!^^

Without a doubt, get a hard case. Just because you get a hard case, doesn't mean you look less cool. One of my buddies wanted a new RB bag just because of the coolness factor. Leather only makes you look cool if you're sitting on a Harley or otherwise awesomely loud chopper, IMO. In addition, you don't have to sacrifice size - many modern hard cases are getting much tighter and still provide great protection!

I'm sure I'll open the door for a lot of dispute and haters for this, but I am extremely pleased with my Manning Customs tenor double case. I had it fitted for my horns and I absolutely love it! But I travel with my horns literally every week. Planes, trains, automobiles, on foot, in the hands of inconsiderate baggage handlers- I don't worry about it! The cases are guaranteed and so is the safety of your instruments. Plus, Kevin and Mike are great about fixing any damage that may come to the case for life! I plan on having them make my bari case as well! BUT- I will make the disclaimer that these are very pricey! Though they are great for anyone to use, you'll drop some serious coin (in contrast with SKB, Gator, ProTec, some Hiscox, etc.) to have one made!

Other cases I've had good experiences with have been some by SKB (I know!) and my ProTec alto/ soprano double (the newer PT styles) is very nice for stuff around town. The SKB contoured case was very nice while it lasted for me! The biggest reason I made the switch was due to the aforementioned list of people and situations that antagonize my daily life!

I totally would not recommend a bag, though. They open the door to so many unforseen issues. I bent key guards just using one to and from my rehersals in college. My repair guy gave me a flight case for that horn and told me if he ever saw my gig bag again he'd be having a bonfire out back of the shop.
 

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I got soft case in high school when I wanted something light to carry around. I pretty quickly realized it was a mistake and switched to a hard gig bag in my freshman year of college. I honestly don't think there's any good reason to own, buy or make a soft case. I still have the Reunion Blues soft case because I wouldn't feel right selling it to someone.
 

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SOFT CASE:
Pros: If you're looking to destroy your horn as quickly as possible, this is your best best
Cons: Looks like a man-purse

HARD CASE:
Pros: You can still drop kick the hard case if you want to destroy your horn (and your foot)
Cons: Will most likely prevent you from destroying your horn

OK, OK, but seriously, hard case all the way.
 

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I carried my Super 20 around in a Reunion Blues softcase for years. Never had a problem.
That said, when it wore out I bought a hard case. (Winter)
 

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Dropping my alto in a soft gig bag from waist-high left me with a repair bill well over the cost of a NICE flight case. Haven't used one since.

These days, my horns all live in Walt Johnson cases, except for my backup tenor, which is in an SKB. My WJ bari case kept my bari intact once when I dropped it upside-down and HARD. The SKB case also did its job when my tenor was tossed into an equipment van (don't ask), leaving the horn without a scratch.

Soft cases? You might as well skip the case and just carry your horn on your back like the dude from St. Elmo's Fire.
 

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I only have one soft case that I use and thats for my curved soprano which doesn't get to be brought out much anyway. The reason is that I couldn't find a hard case for it otherwise I would have preferred one. Mind, not all cases were created equal either! Some of the older types are, in order to accommodate different types of horns less than perfect because sturdy thought they might be , they allow too much movement inside. Also some other hard cases are sturdy but very heavy too! This is not a problem for me if I have to carry the horn form the car to the place where I am playing (via bus from the parking sometimes) but you definitely want to consider weight and bulk (or the possibility to carry the case on your back) if you have to cycle or walk longer distances. In my view, all in all, the best allround cases are protecs . Hiscox might be the sturdiest one but it is definitely not the most practical to carry around and on your back.
 

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I only have one soft case that I use and thats for my curved soprano which doesn't get to be brought out much anyway. The reason is that I couldn't find a hard case for it otherwise I would have preferred one. Mind, not all cases were created equal either! Some of the older types are, in order to accommodate different types of horns less than perfect because sturdy thought they might be , they allow too much movement inside. Also some other hard cases are sturdy but very heavy too! This is not a problem for me if I have to carry the horn form the car to the place where I am playing (via bus from the parking sometimes) but you definitely want to consider weight and bulk (or the possibility to carry the case on your back) if you have to cycle or walk longer distances. In my view, all in all, the best allround cases are protecs . Hiscox might be the sturdiest one but it is definitely not the most practical to carry around and on your back.
I have my alto in a Protec shaped case. It only cost about $125. It's light. I carry it over my shoulder. The shoulder strap broke once and it crashed to the concrete floor. No damage to the horn. They come in 3 or 4 colors, not just black.
 

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Hard case is the only option for me. I prefer a plastic flight case like an SKB because they are light weight and strong.

A gig bag would work most of the time, but for those rare, unexpected moments, a flight case is cheap insurance for your beloved horn.

Notes ♫
 

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I love the weight and dimensions of skb but the horns don't really fit very snugly and rattle too much in it, the latches (only two) are also not very secure
 

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I also use hard cases. I do have one exception. I have a soft case that is a backpack style for my MKVI alto. I only use it occasionally when I have to double on a gig (soprano is my usual double). It is well padded and the straps are also nicely padded. However, this only facilitates a "single lift" from the car. I never set it down in this case and leave it and it travels with me in the vehicle without anything else near it and tied down with a strap. I set it up first and put it away last. If I am just playing alto, I go with a hard case for sure. It is a gamble for sure and so far I've been lucky.
 

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I recommend PROTEC cases (inside they have a wooden hardshell while outside is " soft") great backpack carrying cases
 

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I love the weight and dimensions of skb but the horns don't really fit very snugly and rattle too much in it, the latches (only two) are also not very secure
My SML alto fits really well in my SKB440 - not a significant amount of rattle for me. But the two latches do bother me. They definitely aren't the most secure.

When travelling I clip on either one of those climbers safety harnesses (with the snap-on latch) or a TSA padlock through the latch eyelet. That way if I accidentally bump the latch it won't just flip open mid-stride :shock:

I'm a belt 'n braces kinda guy though :mrgreen:
 

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As Milandro (and others) said, pay attention to how the (hard) case is built. I prefer Protec over SKB110 (entry model) b/c the padding inside is soft. The hard padding of the cheaper SKB transmitted the momentum of the force to my alto when my 2-year old made the case fall from upright to horizontal, with a trip to the tech (the 2-year old is 11 now, and does other kind of mischief). I'd think that foam is better than styrofoam (that's why road cases are lined with soft foam, not styrofoam). I also have an SKB440 which offers a thicker layer (of hard styrofoam) inside and offers more protection. In short, I wouldn't recommend the SKB110 and I never ever let a horn in a contoured case rest in an upright position.
 
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