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Discussion Starter #1
So, when I bought my TH&C alto it came with an original case. Not in the best of shape, and it's about the smallest case that could physically fit the horn as possible, so there's very little in the way of padding and protection. Unfortunately there's not a lot of options out there for my horn because of its enlarged bell, so I went with a ProTec XL. It works, but honestly I don't much care for it. IMO all the nylon and plastic is pretty fugly, and it likes to tip over if the outside pouch has anything in it when I open the case.

I also recently picked up a soprano, which is ALSO likely in need of a new case (it, too, came with an original case, and while it's in much better condition, there's little more padding, and even worse: no where to put ANYTHING other than the horn). Which means I now have an awful lot to lug around, and that's without adding on the clarinet...

Anyway, there's multi-horn cases out there which I think would be a great idea. The problem, however, is that I don't think any of them will fit the enlarged bell of my alto. Also, expensive, and I'm not fond of the exterior (seriously, there's something that just LOOKS good about the vintage cases).

I'd thought for a while about having a custom case made, the problem is that there's not a lot of options out there. And what IS out there isn't going to be cheap. They may require shipping the horns for fitting, as well, and besides the safety I'd also be left without while they're fitting the case. I've found one place local to me who does flight cases and could do the interior, but the only exterior options they offer are those heavy industrial-looking jobs.

I was thinking today, however, that I might have a better option than having a whole case made from scratch.

In order to fit both the alto and soprano, AND with enough padding to adequately protect both horns, I'll need a case that's longer and taller than a regular alto case. I'd also want it a bit deeper to provide enough padding in that direction, as well (I'm not kidding about my old case; it's LITERALLY just deep enough, and there's no more room for extra padding). Ideally, I'd like enough extra room to make a tripack case out of it to fit the clarinet, as well.

So here's my thought: What if I found an old tenor sax case for cheap, gutted out the interior, and had it redone to fit my horns. Tenor cases appear to be large enough to suit my purposes, and this would likely be cheaper than trying to find a new case, or have one custom made from scratch.
 

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It's not a bad idea if you're sure they will all fit. You could buy some of the harder foam and carve out the exact space for your horns. Be aware, the balance of weight inside the case will change and thus the handle may not be in the optimum location for carrying.

I have tended to go the opposite direction. It is easier for me to hand-carry the tenor or alto in a small protec type case and use a shoulder bag for the smaller stuff like: flute, clarinet, soprano and assorted stands. You might even want to use two smaller shoulder bags. You could use a small gig bag for the soprano and place it inside the shoulder bag. Yamaha used to make an extremely small hard case for clarinet. I seek these out as there is nothing smaller and they're well designed. Like this one: https://reverb.com/item/194874-yamaha-250-bb-clarinet-w-case-vandoren-b45-mouthpiece-ycl-250
 

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Do you move the horns frequently, like going to gigs, etc.? If so, you're saying you would play alto and soprano on every gig/performance? Do you plan on flying with this case?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's not a bad idea if you're sure they will all fit. You could buy some of the harder foam and carve out the exact space for your horns. Be aware, the balance of weight inside the case will change and thus the handle may not be in the optimum location for carrying.

I have tended to go the opposite direction. It is easier for me to hand-carry the tenor or alto in a small protec type case and use a shoulder bag for the smaller stuff like: flute, clarinet, soprano and assorted stands. You might even want to use two smaller shoulder bags. You could use a small gig bag for the soprano and place it inside the shoulder bag. Yamaha used to make an extremely small hard case for clarinet. I seek these out as there is nothing smaller and they're well designed. Like this one: https://reverb.com/item/194874-yamaha-250-bb-clarinet-w-case-vandoren-b45-mouthpiece-ycl-250
Like I said, the big problem I have with finding a case in general is the alto. Most cases won't fit the bell, so I'm extremely limited in the options I have. I've checked the measurements on a few tenor cases, and while I'd need to study the layout, I'm sure the dimensions will work. It's long enough for the soprano, and I compared it against my alto case and it should be tall enough to fit them both. I think for balance I'd put the soprano closest to the handle. The clarinet could fin in the space formed by the body of the alto above the bell. It's even long enough that I should be able to fit an accessory compartment in the end.

I'd probably have the exterior refinished and new hardware mounted and more secure draw latches, so I could adjust the placement of the handle as needed. I also want to grab the brass Buescher plaque off the old case and move it onto the new one.

Do you move the horns frequently, like going to gigs, etc.? If so, you're saying you would play alto and soprano on every gig/performance? Do you plan on flying with this case?
Part of the problem I have is that I can't practice in my apartment, so have to find somewhere else to play. The *BEEP* dowstairs threw a fit and won't give me any time at all during the day, no matter how reasonable the hour (and then she bought a yappy dog which I hear barking every day...). The only place I have to practice right now is the music store next door to where I work. Which means just to practice I have to lug my horn with me to work every day. I haven't even picked up the clarinet in months because it's just too much to be carrying around, especially now that I've added the soprano on as well. I also have a lesson on Wednesday nights with a jam session nearby afterwards. So yes, being able to reduce the amount of stuff I'm carrying would be a big help, especially so I can start working on the clarinet again.
 

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Kind of a tough situation - can you just take one horn at a time to practice and jam? What you're talking about creating is going to be big and heavy.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Kind of a tough situation - can you just take one horn at a time to practice and jam? What you're talking about creating is going to be big and heavy.
Well, assuming the standard tenor case would fit it all, it wouldn't be all that bigger than if I played tenor. And it wouldn't be all that heavier than if I were trying to carry all three horns to a gig or practice in the first place (if not lighter, since I wouldn't have three cases to manage).

I suppose I could just take one horn, but I hate losing a day with the alto to focus on something else.
 

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Before you embark on the tenor case project make sure to find someone that will be able to do it well. I once had plans to restore a vintage tenor case but could not find anyone with the right skill set interested in that job.
 

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Needs change. Times change. Multiple cases are probably better in the long run...I used to gig with three saxes but sometimes the stages are not big enough. Then I got a gig playing only tenor.
 

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Well, I don't know how much money you have available but I would put as the first priority, getting single horn cases that are protective. The multi-instrument case would be second priority in my opinion. Something could easily change and you would want to carry one of the instruments by itself all the time and not schlep the big multi case.

That said, I've done a lot of work on cases. It's not that hard to rip out the innards of a case and use foam rubber, cut to the right shape. I have just bought some velvet at the fabric store and wrapped it around the foam rubber and it works fine.

Personally I just have a selection of duffel bags and I put the relevant things in according to the gig or rehearsal. I've got a couple of long ones that can fit a soprano case. It would be easy to put a clarinet case and some music in too, then carry that in one hand and the alto case in the other. In my situations the instruments I need to take vary so much that in a given month I probably go to ten different gigs and rehearsals, and take different stuff for almost every one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Before you embark on the tenor case project make sure to find someone that will be able to do it well. I once had plans to restore a vintage tenor case but could not find anyone with the right skill set interested in that job.
Like I said, the local company that does the flight cases said they could handle the interior. For the exterior I could probably look at a company that does luggage repair and restoration.

Well, I don't know how much money you have available but I would put as the first priority, getting single horn cases that are protective. The multi-instrument case would be second priority in my opinion. Something could easily change and you would want to carry one of the instruments by itself all the time and not schlep the big multi case.

That said, I've done a lot of work on cases. It's not that hard to rip out the innards of a case and use foam rubber, cut to the right shape. I have just bought some velvet at the fabric store and wrapped it around the foam rubber and it works fine.

Personally I just have a selection of duffel bags and I put the relevant things in according to the gig or rehearsal. I've got a couple of long ones that can fit a soprano case. It would be easy to put a clarinet case and some music in too, then carry that in one hand and the alto case in the other. In my situations the instruments I need to take vary so much that in a given month I probably go to ten different gigs and rehearsals, and take different stuff for almost every one.
Oh, I'll still have the individual cases. But right now having a way to get everything to where I practice with a minimum of fuss is pretty important. So I'm really just looking for feedback on whether gutting and refinishing a tenor case will work.

I'm looking at one now that's 32.5" W x 13.5" H x 8" D. The length and depth is good, but the height is a bit of a concern. I THINK I can squeeze it all in even if I assume I'll be losing about 1/2" to 1" all around to allow for the shell, but it might be a little tight.
 

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Years ago, I had a custom case built for alto, straight soprano, and clarinet. Then I ended up schlepping it around the Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee one year and learned a painful lesson about weight. It almost stretched my arm to new lengths. If you do this, have wheels put on it - OR use a luggage cart. And, I learned about having a LARGE car trunk.

Bottom line - three separate case are easier to carry AND fit into car trunks.

I have a TH&C alto - I bought a new Cannonball big-bell case for it (similar to a ProTec) but I was later told that CB quit selling cases separately. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I did some measurements, and I don't believe that the case I'm currently looking at would be QUITE tall enough to fit the soprano if I allow for a full inch around the exterior (estimating 1/4" for the thickness of the shell, about 3/4" of padding) and a minimum of 1/2" interior padding between the horns. To make it work the soprano will need to be stored at an angle to put the end of the neck on the same plane as the widest part of the bell, and I think I'll need a case about 14" tall to do it (unfortunately I don't have access to the soprano to confirm since it's being serviced and I won't have it back for about 2-3 weeks).

So there goes that idea, though as an alternative I could do a double case with just a space for the clarinet.
 

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I have a gard wheely for alto and tenor (+flute etc...) - but I don't use it much, even if I play exactly play these horns on a gig - because the last gig had different intruments and I find it too difficult to pack all my horns, mouthpieces, reeds and stuff from one case to another.
If you only have one combination all the time - protec makes nice doubler cases for alto/soprano and alto, clarinet and flute.
 

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What about a commercial alto/soprano double case, carrying the clarinet case in the other hand? Clarinet is small and light, and breaks down a lot further than the other two. That seems pretty doable.

I just checked and my soprano case (one piece soprano) is more than an inch shorter than my rectangular tenor case, so a soprano certainly ought to fit lengthwise in a tenor case. Don't forget, too, the you have some height to work with, and the tapers of the alto and soprano. So it seems, for example, that you could have the soprano actually on top of the main body of the alto (with a removable padded divider between, that would sit on some cleats attached to the walls of the case), with the bell of the soprano aimed toward the neck receiver end of the alto (and hanging out past it) and the neck end of the soprano over the fat end of the alto body. (I have not actually gotten horns out and looked at this.)

It will also depend on whether you have a modern soprano with palm keys and left hand table that stick out a mile, or an old one with the little close-in keys.
 

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Check out wheeled luggage, some of which is really quite inexpensive. The new light weight ones seem flimsy, but with a foamed interior I think they would be almost indestructible. If you intend to fly, make sure that it is under the FAA size limit or you will have to pay a surcharge. I looked into this option when travelling with a tenor and found luggage that would fit the horn with room to spare. Ultimately, I made a custom horn-only case that fits easily in the overhead. I found what I needed at Goodwill and spent under $20.00.

Mark
 

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When I got my alto in high school, it came without a case. I built one out of 3/4" pine and did the interior in rigid pink foam insulation (comes in 4x8' sheets) covered in fuzzy velvet (from fabric store- like for a child's stuffed animal). That case has lasted 26 years and been run over by a car twice, with no damage to the horn. I recommend rigid foam over the squishier gray stuff you normally find in cases because the horn can't move around inside, and that's what causes damage.
I went with a protech xl for my similarly caseless tenor, but lately I've been thinking of a combo case for both plus a future soprano. It will definitely have wheels and a folding handcart-style handle; when I get around to buying a sop it will be ON!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
What about a commercial alto/soprano double case, carrying the clarinet case in the other hand? Clarinet is small and light, and breaks down a lot further than the other two. That seems pretty doable.

I just checked and my soprano case (one piece soprano) is more than an inch shorter than my rectangular tenor case, so a soprano certainly ought to fit lengthwise in a tenor case. Don't forget, too, the you have some height to work with, and the tapers of the alto and soprano. So it seems, for example, that you could have the soprano actually on top of the main body of the alto (with a removable padded divider between, that would sit on some cleats attached to the walls of the case), with the bell of the soprano aimed toward the neck receiver end of the alto (and hanging out past it) and the neck end of the soprano over the fat end of the alto body. (I have not actually gotten horns out and looked at this.)

It will also depend on whether you have a modern soprano with palm keys and left hand table that stick out a mile, or an old one with the little close-in keys.
Soprano is a Buescher True Tone.

I'd thought of using the lid for the soprano (Protec's double case does this, I believe) but my concern would be the tenor case not being deep enough, and that it might make carrying more awkward because of how the weight is distributed.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
One thing I've noticed about all the professional cases, is that they put the alto on top, closest to the carry handle, with the soprano at the bottom nearest the hinge. Wouldn't that make the weight more awkward by putting the larger, heavier horn up top?
 

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One thing I've noticed about all the professional cases, is that they put the alto on top, closest to the carry handle, with the soprano at the bottom nearest the hinge. Wouldn't that make the weight more awkward by putting the larger, heavier horn up top?
I doubt that it makes any difference, the weight is still hanging below the handle.
 

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is there a multi-horn commercial case for tenor, straight sop and flute?...…. or has anyone fabbed one? I recently traded/bought a new Selmer tray pack...tenor, clar.,flute. Not sure why, but it is pretty. Rarely use clar. but always take other 3. and 75% time take separate alto. I think I read here that an alto/sop case is available....true? BTW...new to site....somewhat humbling but I can always use a little dose of humble. Peace
 
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