Friday, March 18, 2016

(Alto) Saxophone Reed Case Roundup Review



Saxophone Reed Case Roundup Review group Shot


Today, I'll be reviewing and comparing 12 different reed cases for alto saxophone, from a variety of companies.


Who


The cases included in this review are as follows (in alphabetical order):

D'Addario Reed Guard
D'Addario Multi-Instrument Reed Storage Case
Robert Dilutis Reed Case
Kenkase Custom
ReedJuvinate
Reeds'n'Stuff
Vandoren VRC620
Vandoren HRC10
Vientos Bambú
Theo Wanne
Jakob Winter
Howard Wiseman

You may want to skip the introduction below by clicking HERE. If you'd rather learn about my experience and preferences regarding reed storage, learn why you need a reed case and what the main types of storage available to saxophonists are, please read on.



Where I'm Coming From


After much trial and error, I've settled for a simple DIY reed storage system, consisting of Rico/LaVoz Reed Gard IV stored in a Rubbermaid 1.9 cup Freezer Container. This particular container is rather expensive, but I've been using it for more than a year and it shows no sign of deterioration. Cheaper alternatives, especially those not specifically made for freezer use, tend to fail quite fast, either because the lid cracks, or the container itself becomes brittle.

This system keeps my reeds at a relatively stable humidity level, and I've been getting weeks of use out of them. There are a few significant disadvantages to this system though.

First, keeping reeds humid, as opposed to letting them dry, means that without careful sanitizing and cleaning, mold will develop relatively fast, even with the most careful hygiene habits. This is easily overcome but requires a hands-on approach. Here's the process:

  1. Every other day, or more depending on the weather, I let my reeds and Reed Gards sit in a mixture of 15% H2O2, 10% Isopropyl Alcohol and water for a few minutes, in the Rubbermaid container.
  2. I then rinse the reeds under the tap, and gently rub them to remove any potential saliva deposit. I also rinse the Reed Gards and container.
  3. Finally I lay down the reeds on a paper towel that I fold over to remove excess water, wipe the Reed Gards and container, and put everything back inside.

This may sound laborious but only requires a few minutes of my time every few days.

The other con to this storage solution is that the container is really bulky and won't fit in any case. What I do is use a small Ziploc bag to transport the few reeds I picked to go out with. I'm sure there's a better solution (a smaller version of the container for example), but the problem of having to transfer my reeds between containers would remain.

Finally this brings me to the last problem with this system of mine. When you're on the road, you have to bring the H202 and alcohol along with you, or procure some at your destination(s), which is a small annoyance that's easily overcome if you purchase H2O2 and isopropyl alcohol in small bottles, or use refillable travel size plastic containers.



Why Do You Need a Reed Case?


Saxophones, necks, and mouthpieces seem to be the most popular subjects of conversation among saxophonists, and where we spend a lot of our money. This is made obvious by the mind-boggling number of mouthpieces, horns and necks available on the market today. Reed choice is another popular subject of discussion; reed cut, reed strength, brands have all been extensively covered and discussed ad nauseum. Yet, it seems that there's much less information when it comes to working on, maintaining and storing reeds.

The reed is arguably one of the most important part of the equation when it comes to achieving a good tone, reliably and easily. Yet, it is one of the most unstable variable in that equation. Not only reeds are made of cane (Arundo Donax to be exact), the organic nature of the product preventing absolute control over the finished product, but reeds will change in nature as you play them, and depending on how you store them.

Maintaining an acceptable and consistent level of performance for the longest possible time, not only ensures that you don't have to worry about fiddling with reeds constantly, that you know you can count on a few good reeds performing reasonably similarly over time, but also that you won't be wasting reeds just because you're using improper storage conditions, and saving money as a result.

The plastic or paper sleeves reeds are packaged with are not appropriate ways to store them once they've been used. They're just too flexible to maintain a reed's integrity throughout its life.



Storage System Types


There are 3 main ways of storing reeds, each with their pros and cons. Let's take a quick look at each of them, which are "open air", "humidification" and "submersion". I'll try to be as objective as possible when describing each, and it's not my goal to start a debate here, so feel free to disagree with these observations.

1. Open Air

This describes the process of letting reeds dry after you've placed them in a case that allows air circulation. It is undoubtedly the most hassle-free solution. After you're done playing, just put your reeds away and forget about them. This storage solution will prevent mold from developing, as bacteria require constant humidity to strive, but as reed dry, they may deform. This is especially true for the tip, which can get wavy, but reeds warping is not unusual. Making sure the reed dries slowly, in a uniform manner will, however, help alleviate this problem.

2. Humidification

This describes the process of keeping reeds inside an airtight case, and controlling humidity levels inside. Reeds stored this way will not go through a repeated drying and humidification process, which will result in more consistent performance, and will keep them ready to play, without the need to wet them before performing. However, without proper care, mold will develop quite fast, as the bacteria in your mouth will strive in this constantly humid environment.

3. Submersion

This describes the process of keeping your reeds in some type of liquid when you're not playing them. This could simply be water, but a more popular alternative seems to be using some type of liquor (rum, vodka, gin, whiskey), or mouth wash, or a mix of water and any of the former, with varying degrees of concentration. This solves the cons of both open air and humidification storage solutions, however, reeds constantly submerged can get "waterlogged". Cane that is too saturated with liquid can feel sluggish in response, and darker in tone.



Making a choice of which method to use is highly personal, and you will have to experiment in order to decide what works best for you, depending on climate, personal habits and how you like your reeds to behave. There's no one-size-fits-all solution for reed storage, and this is a big part of why I wanted to write this reed case roundup review, and offer a detailed look at what each has to offer.

With all of this in mind, let's take a closer look at each of the reed cases included in this roundup review.




D'Addario Reed Guard


Some musicians prefer to create their own humidification control solutions, and therefore, prefer using a non-enclosed reed holder, and we felt that they deserved to have a more modern, attractive option. Our existing reed guard has been a fairly standard reed storage option for a very long time, but we felt that it deserved a revamp.

We also wanted the woodwind community to take comfort in knowing that we maintained the functional aspect of the guard. We did not want to alter the grooved tray feature that is standard in reed storage solutions. The tray component, made from standard polished plastic, assists the table of the reed to dry evenly while remaining flat.

The part of the product we refer to as the “cover” (the soft, multi-color portion of the guard made from 90 durameter elastomer) afforded us the opportunity to be a bit more creative. We wanted to provide a softer, more rubbery feel, while also ensuring a secure resistance so that the tip of the reed was not particularly easy to push through the guard (exposing the tip of the reed), all while avoiding placing undue pressure on the vamp of the reed. The other must-have in this option was a nice assortment of eye-catching, beautiful color options.

This was a really fun product development project to work on and launch. The tenor/baritone version will launch in Q2, 2016. These new Reed Guards are a wonderful example of the value that D’Addario places in innovation, as well as their commitment to constant evolution and thought leadership.


The experience I had evaluating these revamped reed guards aligned closely with what I'm used to, described under "Where I'm Coming From". After all, the D'Addario Reed Guards are based on the prior popular design, with a few significant upgrades.


D'Addario Reed Guard Review Color Spiral


These are slightly longer than their predecessors (1/4 inch) but the same width. Thickness is about the same, but these reed guards are straight when you look at them from the sides. The previous design was flat in the center and angled upright on each side, which made them rock if you laid them on a flat surface. This will not happen with the D'Addario Reed Guards.

The reed tray features wide grooves to provide uniform drying. Each end of the trays, on the reed butt's side, features a curved cutout to make it easier to grab the reeds. This is a very welcomed improvement over the prior design.


D'Addario Reed Guard Review Color Spiral


The striking and major difference is of course the colorful rubber covers. There are only advantages to this wonderful addition. The rubber will not mark reeds, like the hard plastic of their predecessors used to, while providing much better grip. This means that you won't have to push reeds as deep in order to secure them.

There is plenty of space provided to prevent the tip of the reed touching the end of the rubber cover, which surrounds the reed guard entirely, except for a couple of rectangular cutouts allowing air circulation in an otherwise enclosed space.


D'Addario Reed Guard Review inside


I had to sacrifice a D'Addario Reed Guard, take a razor blade to cut and detach the rubber cover from the plastic tray, in order to take the shot below. In addition to the grooves in the tray, you will notice that the inside area of the rubber cover features inner "tongues" to grip onto the reeds. These are slightly shorter on the entry side than towards the end in order to make inserting reeds easier. 


D'Addario Reed Guard Review Cut open


It's worth noting that the D'Addario Reed Guards will allow implementing a quick and easy reed classification system if you're so inclined, thanks to the great number of different colored rubber covers (black, red, green, yellow, blue and purple), as well as each slot being numbered from 1 to 4.


D'Addario Reed Guard Review Reeds In


The performance of these new D'Addario Reed Guards is similar to the prior design as far as how reeds behave with them (even if they're miles better in terms of functionality). Being an open design, reeds will tend to dry quite fast, unless you store them inside an airtight container, and the tips will have a tendency to get slightly wavy because of the quick drying process.

The USA made D'Addario Reed Guards are definitely a superb upgrade that makes the prior alternative much less attractive, even considering their slightly lower price. I see no reason not to upgrade and I would be glad to switch to these; they are better in every way.




~ D'Addario Reed Guards are available through a wide variety of retailers for around $10. For more information, check out the product page or use the web form to contact customer service. ~




D'Addario Multi-Instrument Reed Case


This is unsurprisingly one of D'Addario's most popular reed cases, considering its great functionality, versatility and affordable price.


D'Addario Multi Instrument Reed Case rvcase04 Review Closeup


It is made entirely of plastic and rubber, which is a less premium construction than some of the other cases in this review, but that does not detract from the case's great performance and convenience, while keeping the price down.

The exterior of the case is made of a slightly grippier, textured rubber material, which makes using the case easier, even with wet hands - a situation you may find yourself in when dealing with reeds. On top of the case, near the clasp, is a depression that makes it easier to grab, in order to open the case. There are also a couple of tabs, one on each side of the top of the case, which also provide a secure grip when opening and closing the case. The attention paid to ergonomic details doesn't stop here.


D'Addario Multi Instrument Reed Case rvcase04 Review Front


Inside, the reed holding system moves on its own hinge which means you can move it independently of the case's lid and base. It is a two-sided holder, with a numbering system for quick and easy reed sorting solution.

Reeds lay on a grooved surface which is described as a way to allow more even air circulation and to avoid reed warpage. Reeds are held securely thanks to a rubber band. The way it sits allows ample space to slide reeds under while gripping firmly onto them. This rubber band goes all around the reed support tray, and is removable, so it would be fairly easy to replace were it to break.

The double sided nature of the reed holding tray means that more reeds can fit in a thinner space, which is always welcomed considering the limited storage many saxophone cases provide us with.


D'Addario Multi Instrument Reed Case rvcase04 Review open


The D'Addario Multi-Instrument Reed Case will accommodate any size clarinet or saxophone reeds, from Eb clarinet through baritone saxophone. This is a doubler's dream come true! You no longer need to carry one case for each saxophone you bring to the gig (well, except double reed instruments of course). However, this also means there's a lot of wasted space when using the case exclusively with smaller reeds, like clarinet and alto reeds (see photo below).


D'Addario Multi Instrument Reed Case rvcase04 Review open reeds


All around the case's interior is an airtight gasket which makes the case a true humidification system.

The heart of the humidification system with the D'Addario Multi-instrument Reed Case is the Reed Vitalizer packs (one of these is provided with the case). This is a two way humidification system that will maintain a relative humidity level of 72%. After humidity reaches this level, the D'Addario Vitalizer pack will start absorbing moisture. If humidity goes below 72%, the pack will release moisture instead.

There is a slot for a humidity pack at the bottom of the case (see first photo in this review. Note: the case is upside down in the shot).


D'Addario Multi Instrument Reed Revitalizer pack


Overall, the case worked really well. The Reed Vitalizer did its job flawlessly. I especially appreciated how little time I had to spend on reed care. Just like any humidification system, mold will develop over time, even with great buccal hygiene, and if you avoid eating or drinking sugary drinks or liquor while playing. It would be smart to sanitize your reeds once in a while to avoid ending up with nasty reeds, which I did, approximately every 3 days, when testing the D'Addario Multi-Instrument Reed Case.

Reed Vitalizer pack costs about $7, and should last between 45 and 60 days. Considering how it makes reed storage and humidification relatively hassle free, it would be fair to consider these a good investment. With minimal care, your reeds will last longer as they remain in a stable environment, and will be ready to play (with minimal wetting) as soon as you take them out of the case. But of course, these packs are a recurring fee.



~ D'Addario Multi-Instrument Reed Cases are available through a wide variety of retailers for around $20. For more information, check out the product page or use the web form to contact customer service. ~




Robert Dilutis Hygrocase

The ultimate in style and design , the Robert Dilutis case, created in 2004, keeps reeds perfectly humidified, preventing warping and helping reeds last longer. The case is made of Mahogany and is stained red or black, then clear coated to provide some protection to the finish. All the parts are custom made in the US and China then assembled by Robert Dilutis himself, in Maryland. This was the first humidified reed case with both hygrometer and humidifier. Because the case is made of mahogany, the same wood cigar humidors are made from, the wood is stable and breathes. This prevents mold and warping of the reed.


The Robert Dilutis reed case is a premium reed storage solution, with an advanced humidification and monitoring system that will allow you to get the best of your reeds, on a consistent basis.


Robert Dilutis Reed Case Review Closeup


The black mahogany case (also available in brown) comes in a velvet pouch, and a bag of humidity regulating crystals are provided with it (more on these later). A brass label, engraved with the brand and "TheReedMachine.net" website address, is affixed to the top of the case, while a heavy brass latch assembly connects its top and bottom. Just push the latch button to the left to unlock the case, and lift the top to reveal the inside.


Robert Dilutis Reed Case Review Top


The hygrometer and humidification regulating receiver are of course what instantly catches your eyes. They're both made of a gold colored plastic and sit in the middle of the case. On each sides of this center section are the reed beds, which hold three reeds each, for a total of 6 reeds.

These reed trays are made of a firm rubber material and feature grooves to allow air circulation under the reeds. The material is also textured, which will not only allow additional air circulation, but more importantly will make it easier to position the reeds inside the case, as well as prevent them from sliding when the case is open. The reed beds are slightly angled down towards the back of the case to accommodate the thicker side of the reed (the vamp).


Robert Dilutis Reed Case Review open


The hygrometer and humidification would be useless if the Robert Dilutis case wasn't airtight, and this is why the top section of the case features a rubber gasket which will seal the case as soon as you close it. This gasket feels soft enough to do its job - a material that is too hard would not conform to the surface it's meeting - but not so much that it gives the impression of a lower quality material that would deteriorate easily.

Inside the top panel are also a couple additional rubber pieces which apply pressure onto the reeds when the case is closed. These seem to be made of rubber foam material, covered with a slightly textured nylon layer. Contrary to the more traditional velvet padding, these minimal holders will be easy to clean and sanitize if needed.

The hinges, on the back of the case, are fairly simple, but definitely heavy duty. I was really impressed with the spring latch assembly. Closing the case feels very satisfying, both through the required pressure needed to close it, and because of the deep clicking sound it makes. This is the sort of detail that enhances the user experience, much like how using a Zippo lighter feels compared to the disposable plastic alternative. The latch on the Robert Dilutis reed case feels extremely secure and I couldn't imagine it opening accidentally for any reason, and this is exactly what one would want for an airtight reed case.


Robert Dilutis Reed Case Review open reeds


I tested the Robert Dilutis case for a few weeks, and I'm glad to say it worked impressively great. The hygrometer gives instant feedback to what's going on inside the case; you can then make an informed decision and modify a few parameters if needed. For instance, after a few consecutive rainy days, the gauge indicated an increasing humidity level inside the case, well past a sensible 75%. By simply leaving the case open for a few minutes and making sure I was quickly wiping the reeds before storing them in the case, humidity levels came back to normal.

Although the mahogany is advertised as preventing mold through its breathability, some started developing after being deliberately careless about my reeds (which took a lot of restraint on my part), but it took about a week, rather than the average 2 to 3 days. This isn't unexpected considering constant humidity is the perfect environment for bacteria, but I definitely appreciated that it delayed mold growth compared to a more basic humidity based reed storage solution. This means that sanitizing reeds would be much less frequent as a result.

The case will too big to fit in most saxophone cases - save "tray-pack" styles cases, and those with a front pocket - but it may fit in the inside pocket of a coat or jacket. It is also slightly bigger than I would have liked for the limited number of reeds you can store in it. However, you have to account for the space the hygrometer and humidifier take inside the case, and considering how much value this brings to the Robert Dilutis reed case, it is an easy trade-off to make.

I didn't have to refill crystals while I was using the case for the review, but still tested adding a few inside the humidifier. Plenty are provided with the case, inside a small Ziploc bag. I found it slightly awkward to remove the humidifier from its slot inside the case as it was pushed in as far as it would go. Once it came out though, and as long as I didn't push the humidifier unit too far in, it was easy to grab and remove. Refilling it was also a slightly delicate process; the bottom part of the humidifier, a black plastic cap with a hole in it to allow air to circulate, has no obvious lip to grab onto in order to pop it out. Unless you have long fingernails, you will need a tool to open the humidifier.

Despite these few shortcomings, the feature provided by the humidifier is well worth it, especially considering that you will only need to refill it if the crystals dry up or fall out of the case.


Robert Dilutis Reed Case Review crystals


The Robert Dilutis reed case offers complete control and monitoring over your reeds, in a well-made and easy to use storage solution.




~ The Robert Dilutis Reed Case is available directly on Mr. Diluti's website for $100. For more information, check out the product page, product manual, use the web form or direct email to contact Mr.Dilutis. ~




Kenkase Custom Reed Case

My name is Dave Kennedy and I am the owner of KenKase Music. We have been in business since 2005 primarily as a manufacturer of fine exotic wood reed cases. We make clarinet, saxophone, oboe and bassoon reed cases, as well as a few other odds and ends. When I first started my business, I was simply an avid woodworker. I never dreamed that the business would be so successful and that it would lead to selling my products worldwide.

The business began simply enough. After taking my daughter to a local music store and doling out $80.00 for a vinyl covered pressboard reed case, I realized that I could make a beautiful wood case for the same amount of money (maybe even less). That first case was a 10 alto sax reed case made of walnut, which is still in use today. When she kept coming home from performances and asking if I would be willing to build a cases for fellow musicians, I began to think it could be a viable business. Things took off from there and I now sell most of my cases to professional musicians, but to students as well.

I personally build each case by hand, using the finest hardwoods sourced from around the world. Because each case is built from scratch by hand, it usually takes 4 – 6 weeks to complete an order from start to finish. There are a handful of other fine wood case manufacturers out there, but what sets us apart is the selection of wood and level of customization we offer, at a price comparable to more “basic” cases.

My product is offered through a few retailers, but around 90% are sold directly from my website, www.kenkasemusic.com. I personally communicate with clients in an effort to meet expectations and then measure success by exceeding those expectations EVERY time. Often, a client will ask me for certain features when they are getting ready to order a case and this can be quite tricky, as I want every case to reflect the musician’s personality, not mine.

Over the years, I have been approached by several horn manufacturers inquiring about whether I would be interested in supplying a custom or private label line of cases for them. The first couple of times I was approached, it was by elite horn manufacturers and I was both floored and flattered that such big-name companies were interested in my products. I ultimately came to the realization that I started the business not as a way to get rich, but for my love of woodworking and the satisfaction of creating something original that people can’t find anywhere else. I’m just not into mass production and the demands that come with it. Instead, I want to create custom pieces that reflect the musicians who own them.

Kenkase reed cases take inspiration from the classic design of the past, while providing an impressive range of custom options, and outstanding craftsmanship.


Kenkase Reed Case Review Closeup


Kenkase custom reed cases use an age-old design: the classic hinged wooden box, with a decorative latch, the inclined glass bed and velvet padding are all reminiscent of how reed cases have traditionally been made. All cases coming out of the shop are made to order, and the case featured in this review is no different. Therefore, while it showcases Dave Kennedy's amazing craftsmanship, it only represents a limited sample of the hundreds of custom options available. An assortment of 17 types of wood, 50 different shades and colors of velvet, countless options for stone and wood inlay as well as lettering, offer just about anything anyone could imagine.


Kenkase Reed Case Review open Reeds


The quality of construction and skills displayed on this Kenkase reed case are really splendid. Not only is the frame of the case, and various parts that come together, of the kind of quality you would expect from a custom wooden case, but the skills demonstrated with the wood inlay on this particular case are simply outstanding. Worth mentioning is the substantial weight of the case. It is clear that there were no cutting corners when selecting materials.

The case is coated with several layers of polyurethane to ensure that moisture will not penetrate the wood, and that the case will be protected from scuffs and scratches (it also makes it easier to wipe off any smudge or blemish off the exterior of the case). You can see the polyurethane was applied manually, from a few brush strokes on the back and sides of the case, as well as from a few air bubbles here and there. This is nothing out of the ordinary, and overall the finish is incredibly even, and its reflective shine enhances an already beautiful wood grain.

The varnish emits a strong odor though, which you may not mind, but it is something to consider when ordering your case. I'm sure that if you preferred a rawer appearance, or a matte finish, or are particularly sensitive to smells like I am, Dave would be more than happy to accommodate any (reasonable) request. 


Kenkase Reed Case Review Top


The two hinges at the back of the case are, again, typical of the classic wooden case design, and the decorative latch adds quite a refined touch to this Kenkase custom case. These aren't by any stretch of the imagination innovative or wild features, but they just work, and contribute to the classic aesthetics of the case.


Kenkase Reed Case Review hinge


Inside, the glass bed is slightly angled down towards the back of the case, in order to accommodate the reeds' vamp, which is true to the classic implementation again. The edge of the glass bed could have used a little bit more polishing to smooth out a few small nicks from the cutting process, but it's otherwise well fitted, and the edge has been finished to ensure you won't cut your fingers on it.

The velvet padding provides a cushion to hold the reed in place when the case is closed. Although the glass bed will be very easy to clean, the velvet will be more delicate. Dave recommends using a cloth damped with only water in order to avoid damaging the fabric.


Kenkase Reed Case Review open


If there were only one thing I would change, it is how visible the glue used to attach the glass bed to the frame of the case is. Using a tinted glass material, or a less opaque glue, would solve this slightly problematic detail.


Kenkase Reed Case Review closeup glue


In use, the Kenkase custom case couldn't be simpler. Just open the case, place the reeds onto the glass bed and close it. As you don't have to slide the reeds inside a reed holder, there is virtually no danger of nicking the reeds tips.

The hinges have enough resistance that the lid will stay upright, at a 90 degree angle from the glass bed. This is very handy when placing reeds inside the case as if you fully open the case, the weight of the lid will have a tendency to make the case tip over.

The Kenkase Custom Reed Case isn't airtight  - it would need a proper gasket for that - but the fit is so expertly adjusted between the top and bottom of the case that reeds will stay humid for a few days. In addition, the non-porous, flat surface of the glass bed supports the table of reeds, which means there's little chance of them deforming as they dry.

However, just like any case that limits air circulation, there's a danger of mold growth with the Kenkase Custom case, but this is easily overcome with sanitizing reeds every few days, or making sure reeds aren't too wet before placing storing them in the case, depending on what you prefer. I opted for solution #1 when testing the case as it is a method with which I'm very familiar, and had success with in the past. Proceeding this way, I had no problem with mold at all, but again your mileage may vary.


Kenkase Reed Case Review Wood Inlay Closeup


Kenkase offers the choice of a truly custom reed case, made in the classic design, with quality materials and expert craftsmanship.



~ Kenkase Custom Reed Cases are available directly on www.kenkasemusic.com. Prices vary depending on size, materials and options, but the base price for the size reviewed here is around $70. For more information, check out the saxophone reed case webpage or use the web form, or direct email to contact Dave Kennedy (which is highly recommended in order to get exactly what you want). ~




The ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System

The ReedJuvinate company is a small business founded by John Mackey, and operates out of his garage in Edmonton, Canada. John is a biomedical researcher at the University of Alberta, and also a saxophonist and clarinetist in a semi-professional big band called the River City Big Band (in Edmonton, Canada). John teamed up with Jim Wan, a pharmacist and computing scientist as business partner.

Frustrated with the inconsistency and short lifespan of cane reeds, Mr. Mackey did a thorough literature search with the aid of the university librarian. Unfortunately, there was very little published on the topic, so he decided to take the problem to his laboratory and worked on it after hours.

The testing revealed that the wet-dry cycle contributed to the loss of fiber strength, as shown by serial deformation testing of single reeds. They also revealed that deformation changed markedly and somewhat unpredictably with the increase in reed humidity (as determined by reed weight).

So that led to various attempts to keep the reeds humidified at a stable level equivalent to a reed played for approximately 30 minutes. The reeds played well, but soon broke down and many became moldy.

This triggered some microbiology studies looking at the colonization of reeds handled in a dry - saliva wet - play test - let dry cycle, as well as reeds kept in a water humidification system between playing. A major problem with fungal and bacterial contamination was identified: these microbes produce an enzyme called cellulase that can rapidly break down the cellulose fibers. Unlike these microbes, human saliva does not have cellulase, and humans can't digest cellulose (it is the dietary fiber that passes through us unchanged).

The next series of tests, looked at finding a system that would achieve stable humidification without water logging the reeds, as well as suppress microbial contamination. The ReedJuvinate / original (yellow) Listerine vapor design was settled on, after trying a variety of other systems that did not perform as well.

The scientific study has shown that reed deformation under strain is maintained far longer with the ReedJuvinate system, than reeds handled in a standard dry-stored fashion. More importantly, the difference was strikingly obvious to John and his beta-testing colleagues.

The ReedJuvinate system, launched in November of 2013, is a compact but reliably airtight case, a Listerine evaporation system that was separated from direct physical contact with the reeds, a reed clip system that holds any size of reed from soprano to baritone sax, and a magnet system to allow you to keep the case conveniently at hand.

The DoubleReedJuvinate system was recently added to the line-up (after many months of beta-testing with my double reed playing friends).


The ReedJuvinate, while relatively simple in construction, delivers on the promise of making reeds last longer, in a straight-forward approach to reed storage.


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Closeup


The ReedJuvinate is a plastic cylinder, with a screw-on cap, and rubber gasket at the base of the threaded receiver. The top of the cap has a slot where you can attach a lanyard (included with the purchase), while on the opposite side of the logo, a strong neodymium magnet is glued onto the case. While fairly simple in design, you have to appreciate how the small details make a big difference: the lanyard and magnets make it very easy to handle the ReedJuvinate during rehearsals and concerts. If there's a music, or microphone stand, a chair with legs made out of metal, simply attach the ReedJuvinate to it, or use the lanyard, which, if desired, can be used to carry the case around as well.


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Front


Unscrewing the ReedJuvinate's cap reveals the reed clip holder system (the "AnyReedClip™" insert), with a cellulose sponge securely tucked inside of it. Again, it's a fairly straight forward design but it works as intended. Each clip holder is color coded for your sorting needs. The clip holder system is a tight fit inside the main container which means it won't fall off if you accidentally tip the Reedjuvinate on its side, or even upside down. It also lets you pull out a reed without having to worry about the clip holder system coming off at the same time. I actually tried to shake an open ReedJuvinate, to try and force the reed holder system out of it, but it didn't move at all!


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Open


The holders are designed to accommodate various size reeds (soprano, alto, tenor, bari sax; Bb soprano, A, alto clarinet, and bass clarinet), so if you're using the ReedJuvinate with alto saxophone reeds, you should be careful not to push the reeds in too  much or they'll be hard to remove. The ReedJuvinate manual advises leaving 1 cm of the base of the reed exposed so it can easily be pulled out.


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Reed holder


Reeds slide in easily, with enough resistance to hold the reed in place, but I wish inserting them was slightly less of a precision move. If you're not careful, you could very well ruin the tip or rails of the reed by missing the small opening, or striking them against the side of the clip holders. This won't be a problem for someone familiar with handling reeds, as it is no harder than using a ligature (which can also damage reeds if misused), but it's a slightly less ergonomic implementation than a more traditional case.


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Reed Closeup


As explained in the introductory quote, the ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation system is backed up by a major scientific effort, and thorough testing. If you would like to read more, I would recommend checking out the very informative Power Point document put together by the ReedJuvinate team: click HERE. 

While the extensive testing is impressive, I was not surprised by the results, especially the fact that the wet-dry cycle is detrimental to reeds. This is the reason why my preferred method of storing reeds is in an airtight container, with a relative constant humidity level.

The ReedJuvinate manual offers two options to store your reed: "Humidify" and "Soak Humidity". The methods are slightly different but both of them rely on the same principle: keeping reeds at a constant level of humidity, while Original (yellow) Listerine, the recommended alcoholic agent, kills bacteria and prevents mold growth.

With the "Humidify" method, you only soak the triangular sponge with Listerine, while the "Soak Humidify" method consists of filling the whole ReedJuvinate with it, and letting reeds soak for 10 minutes. The directions for both methods end with pouring any excess Listerine. 

I tested the first method mainly, and although I did wipe the reeds before storing them, I refrained from actually cleaning them like I usually do (resisting the urge was tough). I used the ReedJuvinate with Listerine for a few days, which seemed to work very well; my reeds were mold free, and played great. However, as I'm not a fan of reeds tasting and smelling of Listerine, I was curious to try the more neutral water and isopropyl alcohol mixture that I regularly use to clean my reeds with. I couldn't tell you the exact proportions in the mixture I used with the ReedJuvinate, but I did use very little alcohol as I wanted my reeds to taste as neutral as possible. And it worked great! I got similar results to using Listerine. It would then be reasonable to conclude that, as long as there's an agent with a strong alcohol content, you would be free to match what you use with your personal preference.

Reeds behaved and responded very similarly compared to the method I've been using for a while (see introduction). They were ready to play as soon as I removed them from the ReedJuvinate, and did not feel slow and heavy like submerged reeds can. The big advantage with this case, compared to my DIY method, is that there is no need for constant sanitizing, and that it will be easy to carry around.


ReedJuvinate Reed Preservation System Review Parts


The ReedJuvinate reed storage system, is a no-nonsense reed storage solution that's convenient, very affordable, and will make your reeds last longer.

Note: a new, updated version of the ReedJuvinate came out while doing this review, which took 4 months to complete. While the packaging and price remain the same, the updated ReedJuvinate comes with three ClarinetClip reed plates to accommodate three additional soprano sax / clarinet reeds, and the magnet is now internal rather than glued to the outside of the ReedJuvinate for a more streamlined appearance.



~ The ReedJuvinate is available through a few retailers but sells directly on the company's website for $22.50. For more information, check out www.reedjuvinate.com and the wealth of information posted on it (under the "ReedJuvinate" navigation button), read the scientific details behind the design or use the web form to contact customer service. ~




Reeds'n'Stuff

The Reeds'n'Stuff reed cases are made in Germany in the beautiful mountain region of “Erzgebirge” (which means "Ore Mountains"). This province has had a tradition of fine wood working for generations, and this tradition runs strong in the family business where these cases come from; father, son and wife are working together to produce these beautiful and practical products.

We set some very simple goals when designing these: durability with elegance, and a long lasting "Made in Germany" quality. The maple or mahogany these cases are carved from, come from sustainable forest management. The hinges are made in Germany, and the reed bed is made of real glass. Only the best materials would satisfy our expectations. This translates in a premium case, made from premium materials.

I earned my living on the stage of an opera house as musician for almost 2 decades, and this is from this experience, from the demand a musician has, that I set goals for this case. 


The Reeds'n'Stuff saxophone reed case is indubitably a beautifully crafted and modern reed case, that uses the best materials and a careful design to provide top performance.


Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Case Review Closeup


Although it is made by hand from organic materials, the finishing on this case displays close to no imperfection. Every line is even, every angle and joint perfectly fitted. The edge of the glass plate that is exposed is expertly beveled and buffed smooth. There's virtually no mark left from the hand finishing, and everything is assembled flawlessly. The maple wood seems to be protected by a very light satin finish, outside and inside, which gives the case an understated, yet classy appearance. This is a stunning level of wood crafting mastery.


Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Case Review TOp


The Reeds'n'Stuff reed case features a unique double sided glass bed construction and magnet system to keep the case shut. The center piece, with the glass sheet, is mounted with two heavy duty hinges, to which are attached both sides of the case. The hinges span 2/3 across the back of the case, in order to distribute the weight of the sides and will guarantee decades of use out of these.

A couple of magnets are mounted to each side of the case, while the center piece features their metal counterparts. Each side being independently articulated, and having its own magnetic closure system, means that you can use one side of the case at a time, or open both sides of the case at the same time if desired.

Open cell foam strips are glued onto the interior of each interior side of Reeds'n'Stuff reed case, and serve as padding to keep the reed in place when the case is closed. These work incredibly well and, unlike the more traditional velvet padding, will be less likely to gather bacteria over time.


Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Case Review Side


When you open one side of the Reeds'n'Stuff reed case, it stays stable and won't tip over.
Placing reeds on the glass plate is incredibly easy. There's virtually no risk of damaging reeds, which can happen when using a design where you need to slide reeds under a system to hold them.

The Reeds'n'Stuff reed case holds 10 reeds, the biggest number in this review (similar only to the Vientos Bambú case) yet it is far from the biggest in size. The double sided holding system allows the case to remain compact, and although it will only fit in cases with a front pocket or large accessory compartment, a smaller sized case is always easier to deal with.



Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Case Review Open Front


The Reeds'n'Stuff reed case uses a semi-open design. Moisture will naturally evaporate from the front of the case, to allow reed drying and prevent mold from ruining your favorite reeds. In my testing this happened over a day and a half / two days. The glass bed did, however, keep all of my reeds flat, and will mitigate the risk of reed warping, or waving at the tip, thanks to the combination of table support and slow drying process. This seems to be a great compromise between open air and humidification concepts of reed storage without any of the cons. 


Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Case Review Open Front Reeds


The Reeds'n'Stuff reed case is a gorgeous modern storage solution, made of only the highest quality materials and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.



~ Reeds'n'Stuff Reed Cases are available directly through the company's website for €59,80 (US customers may want to order from RDG Woodwinds for $80). For more information, use the web form or direct email to contact customer service. ~




Vandoren VRC620


Made in France, this elegant blue case is designed to hold 8 reeds. The numbered compartments keep reeds organized, while the grooved support provides air circulation. The case is conveniently sized to fit in a pocket or cases, even those with limited storage space.


The Vandoren VRC620 is an elegant and compact reed case that delivers a great compromise between several reed storage philosophies.



Vandoren VRC620 Reed Case Review Closeup


The Vandoren VRC620 is entirely made of rigid plastic. The glossy exterior sports the "Vandoren Paris" logo, and the contoured shape of an alto saxophone, in subtle raised prints. The wide slot in the front, between the lid and bottom of the case makes it very easy to open.


Vandoren VRC620 Reed Case Review Front


Inside the Vandoren VRC620, a double sided reed holding tray is mounted on a separate set of hinges. With the lid open, the reed tray can move independently, making it easier to slide the reeds in their compartments. The front of the reed tray has a short tab to facilitate handling.

Each reed tray is numbered, which will allow reed sorting, and a quick way to select the appropriate reeds depending on context, or simply keep track of how long you've been playing certain reeds. I found that I had to push the reeds in quite far for them to "grab" onto the upper part of the reed holders. However, once pushed in far enough, the reeds felt securely engaged.


Vandoren VRC620 Reed Case Review Side Open


One of the biggest advantages of the Vandoren VRC620 is its size. Although it will hold 6 alto saxophone, or alto clarinet reeds, it is one of the smallest case in this review. It's about the same length as the D'Addario Reed Guard, and only 1/3 wider and thicker. It will, as a consequence, comfotably fit in most saxophone cases, even those with limited room for accessories.


Vandoren VRC620 Reed Case Review Side Open Reeds



The Vandoren VRC620 isn't airtight, so reeds will dry out over time. However, there aren't large areas for moisture to escape and this will prevent reeds from drying out too quickly. The grooved reed trays will contribute to an even drying process. During my testing, reeds kept their shape and still felt slightly humid after a couple of days, but I live in an area with a humid climate.

If you live in a particularly dry climate, it's worth mentioning that there is enough room between the reed tray system and lid, or bottom of the case, that you would be able to implement some kind of humidity and sanitizing system, by simply using a humidity pack (like one of many options made by the leader in the industry, Boveda), or even a more DIY solution of a thin sponge soaked with Listerine, or a mix of water and alcohol. Of course, without a proper way to hold it, you'd have to be careful when opening the case that it doesn't fall off.

The Vandoren VRC620 reed case is a simple and affordable storage solution, which size will allow to be easily carried around.





~ Vandoren VRC620 reed cases are available through a wide variety of retailers for around $30 . For more information, check out the product datasheet or use the web form to contact customer service. ~




Vandoren Hygro Reed Case (HRC10)


Made in France, this reed case is designed to maintain your reeds in optimal humidity conditions to avoid any deterioration. It is based on: a regulated humidification by air circulation, and hygrometric level controlled by a humidity indicator disc. The open air design allows for maximum airflow within the case, to ensure a uniform humidity.

We, at Vandoren, are always seeking feedback from musicians to be sure that we provide the best performing tools to musicians all over the world. This reed case is certainly a product of that attention.


The Vandoren HRC10 is a pocket-sized reed case with a radical design and approach to reed storage, including a built-in humidification system.


Vandoren HRC10 Reed Case Review Closeup


The Vandoren Hygro Case uses an interesting design insofar as it entirely comes apart. The transparent plastic outer shell is comprised of two pieces, the cap and the body. A plastic reed tray securely sits within the body part, but also smoothly comes out. The base of the Vandoren Hygro Case features a slot where a humidity indicator disc is, again, securely mounted. The bottom of this base also has a cavity that holds a cosmetic sponge.


Vandoren HRC10 Reed Case Review Parts


I really like the fact that this case is transparent. It gives an instant view of how your reeds are behaving, which isn't possible with most cases. You'll also notice that the transparent cap is textured on both sides to make it easier to open and close. The plastic used in the construction of Vandoren Hygro Case feels high quality, and is rather thick, which is a good indication that it won't break easily.

The reed tray looks rather unique to say the least. It is perforated throughout with large oval openings. Sliding reeds in and out of the slots is effortless - no risk of nicking the tip of a reed here - but once pushed far enough, they will not fall out. This reed tray can be inserted both ways into the main transparent body part, which is not an insignificant detail. First, if you have slightly obsessive tendencies, you won't have to wonder if you did insert it the right way, and if you're playing in dark rooms, you'll appreciate the fact that it just doesn't matter which way you insert it into the case.

The reed tray inside the Vandoren Hygro Case is also numbered, which will easily allow you to sort your reeds, and will hold 6 of any Bb, Eb or alto clarinet and soprano or alto sax reeds (a larger variant, the HRC20, is also available and holds 6 of any bass clarinet and tenor or baritone sax reeds).


Vandoren HRC10 Reed Case Review Front Closed


The base of the Vandoren Hygro Case houses both the humidity indicator, and humidity delivery system. The latter isn't an earth shattering concept - a sponge - but it has proven to work well for countless saxophonists over the years. Worth mentioning is that this is a cosmetic sponge which retains excess liquid better than the most common type.

The humidity indicator takes the form of a paper disc that will turn blue when the inside of the case has become too dry, and will otherwise remain slightly pink or white.

I wish the bottom of this base was flatter. The raised characters (reading "MADE IN FRANCE", "MARQUE DEPOSEE", and the "V for Vandoren" logo) create a slightly unstable surface for the case to stand on. It is actually more stable upside down. It isn't a deal breaker though as, considering how tall the case is, you would most probably want to lay it down anyways.


Vandoren HRC10 Reed Case Review Front Reeds


The concept that is the basis of the Vandoren Hygro Case design, is a hybrid of the "Open Air" and "Humidification" systems described in the intro of this roundup review. The working principle is to allow your reeds to slowly dry in order to avoid putting stress on them, while allowing a constant circulation of air to prevent mold growth.

Air is allowed to come into the case through a couple of holes situated at the bottom left side of the case's body, and escapes through three circular holes at the top of the cap. The very open design of the reed tray allows maximum airflow, and guarantees the entire surface of the reeds remain in an even state.

The cosmetic sponge at the bottom allows you to introduce additional moisture if desired, by simply pouring water on it (a few drops would be enough). Please look at this great schematic below, found in the owner's manual. It sums up the principle really well.




When I tested the Vandoren Hygro Case, reeds stored inside did not need any additional moisture to remain in a stable state. Again, I live in a high humidity climate, so your mileage may vary. However, Michael Fenoglio at Dansr/Vandoren shared that many saxophonists reported similar findings. It also seems to mirror David Gould's experience (see video below).

The constant circulation of air means that you will need to monitor your reeds if you don't want them to dry out, specially if you end up not playing for a few days in a row, but this is made easy by the transparent plastic construction.

For an additional demonstration of the Vandoren Hygro Case, take a few minutes to watch this great video where Vandoren artist and clarinetist David Gould presents the case and explains how it's helped him tremendously with his reeds.






The Vandoren Hygro Case is an affordable reed storage solution which lets you control and easily monitor humidity levels, as well as adapt its behavior depending on your needs, all in a compact package that you will be able to carry around in a saxophone case.




~ The Vandoren HRC10 Reed Case are available through a wide variety of retailers for around $30 . For more information, check out the product datasheet or use the web form to contact customer service. ~




Vientos Bambú


Bambú’s Wooden Reed Cases are 100% handmade with premium quality wood. They have been specially designed to guarantee optimum care of reeds. Their practical and original slide system with neodymium magnets ensures secure closure. Wood is a porous material and allows the essential air circulation in order to accumulate only the necessary amount of moisture, helping thus to extend the lifespan of reeds. Solid lumber which has been air-dried for at least two years is used for this purpose. The interiors are made of high-impact plastic injection and have been designed to store and protect reeds preventing any kind of physical alteration.

The wooden exteriors are manufactured by the artist Carlos Lebaggi: “It is my intention to work these reed cases in the same way as when a violin or a guitar is made. All the processes are done manually. The materials and tools used for their confection are the same as the ones used to make musical instruments."


I discovered Vientos Bambú, a company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through their Facebook page, and instantly thought one of their reed cases should be included in this review. Not only were they visually extremely appealing, but it seemed like they used a rather original design.


Vientos Bambù Reed Case Review Closeup


Unlike most reed cases, which are designed around a hinged lid, the Vientos Bambú reed cases consist of a base, made out of wood, in which a plastic reed storage system is securely attached, and a "cap" that you slide over the reeds. This cap is securely held by 4 very powerful neodymium magnets (2 in the cap and the remaining ones in the base). The magnets are so strong that the case will snap shut by itself. It also means there's no need for any additional system to secure the case, like a latch, which contributes to the beautifully minimalist design.




On the front of the case, in the bottom right corner, the logo and model are laser-engraved. Although the exterior seems to have a light satin protective coating that lets the beautiful wood grain come through, it is actually coated with six layers of polyurethane. This will provide high resistance against scratches, bumps or wear from normal use.


Vientos Bambù Reed Case Review Front


The case, made of lenga, walnut and cancharana woods, gives off a distinctive scent of fresh, green plant when you open it up. The Vientos Bambú reed case will hold 10 reeds, which is the largest amount in this review (along with the Reeds'n'Stuff case), but this results in a case that isn't very compact. However, the company also offers cases that hold 6 and 8 reeds if you'd rather use a smaller size case.

The reed holding system, made of plastic, features tight grooves to ensure proper and even air circulation under your reeds. Some of the reeds I tested were a tight fit in the provided slots. Depending on how you look at things, and how comfortable you are handling reeds, this could either be considered a pro or a con. Eliminating wasted space helps keep the size of the case under control, and the tight reed slots provide a very secure fit for your reeds. But it also means there's little room to accommodate sloppy handling of reeds.


Vientos Bambù Reed Case Review Front open


During my testing, I found that the Vientos Bambú reed case kept reeds humid for a while. They will eventually dry out, as I suppose the wood gradually absorbs moisture, but, depending on how wet reeds are when you store them inside, and how many you store inside the case, it may last for a few days, or more. This slow drying process prevents reed deformation, but it would still be advisable to monitor your reeds, especially if you do not want them to dry out completely, which was one of my goals when evaluating the case. Even when I forgot to check on the reeds inside the Vientos Bambú case for a few days (as I was testing several cases at the same time), I was delighted to find my reeds had no deformed or warped, although they felt rather dry to the touch, and in the mouth.

Depending on your location, you may want to either sanitize your reeds on a regular basis, or at the very least monitor reeds as mold development is always a possibility within a closed and humid environment .


Vientos Bambù Reed Case Review Front Reeds Inside


Vientos Bambú reed cases are a gorgeous storage solution that will leave your reeds humid for a long time and offers a unique format.




~ Vientos Bambú Reed Case are available through Cissus Winds for $70 ($62 for the plain model, without a stripe). For more information, check out the company's Facebook page or contact them directly through email.

If you would like to contact Vientos Bambú, and checkout the other woodwind products the company offers, you can do so through email, but their Facebook page would be the way to go, as the company's website currently under construction. ~




Theo Wanne Dark Paduak


In his search for a reed case that matched his company aesthetic, with the ability to fit nicely in a compact sax case and still carry enough reeds for a gig, Theo Wanne sourced these cases while on an excursion overseas. Made from beautiful hardwoods (either Paduak or Maple), and adorned with his H-OM logo, these met, and exceeded all of his requirements, and then some. The case will fit inside Theo's double mouthpiece pouch thanks to its minimal profile, allowing a player to transport his favorite reeds and mouthpieces together, in one package.

The H-om symbol is a heart and "om" intertwined as one. The heart represents love. The Om represents Peace. Together they are love and peace. The H-om is at the center of the Theo Wanne company, whose purpose is to bring more love and peace to the world through making products that inspire musicians around the world.  The outer design is based on the Sri Chakra which represents the world. 


The Theo Wanne Dark Paduak reed case is a stylish take on the classic reed case design of the past, with the unique look that's made Theo Wanne products famous.


Theo Wanne Dark Paduak Reed Case Review Closeup


The Theo Wanne Dark Paduak case isn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but comes through with its solid construction and classic aesthetics. The exotic design on the top of the case is tastefully implemented, and consistent with the Wanne brand image. The dark crimson hue of the paduak wood comes splendidly through the thin satin finish, and provides a sober, yet unique look to the case.

The hinges on the Theo Wanne Dark Paduak case are mounted inside the case, which only leaves the knuckles visible on the outside, contributing further to the minimal look. In the front, a tab is cut in the bottom to make it easier to grab the lid and open the case. On each sides, small semi-circle openings will allow air circulation.


Theo Wanne Dark Paduak Reed Case Review Front



The hinges allow the case to be opened all the way, the base and lid laying flat (at a 180 degree angle) if desired. This will make it extremely easy to drop reeds in the case without having to worry about it tipping over.

Embedded in the front part of the base and lid of Theo Wanne reed case are magnets which serve as the only mechanism keeping it shut. Unlike the more traditional design, which uses a latch of some type, the magnets will not wear or break over time.

Overall, I wish the finishing touches were slightly more detailed inside the case, especially since the outside is so uniformly and flawlessly executed. There are a few areas with visible brush strokes, and the embedded magnets are very visibly painted / coated over. I suppose, however, that the magnets need to be as close as possible to the surface in order to ensure a strong hold, making them harder to hide, but it seems the implementation on the case's light maple counterpart, where the magnets are clearly visible rather than hidden, just makes more sense.

The angled acrylic bed inside the Theo Wanne reed case is tinted black, which provides a tasteful appearance combined with the matching colored velvet. The latter is made from two parts, with a thicker section at the bottom of the case, in order to meet with the thinner portion of the reeds.

The velvet padding may be a health concern as it is not easily cleaned, and you may wish to be extra careful to not let mold develop (more on this below), or refrain from storing reeds in the case after you've played while sick.


Theo Wanne Dark Paduak Reed Case Review open



Using the Theo Wanne Dark Paduak reed case couldn't be easier: just position the reeds on the acrylic bed, and close the case; done! The velvet padding will keep your reeds from moving, while the strong magnetic closure will make sure the case remains closed.

I wish the case could accommodate more reeds; you will only be able to store 4 alto or tenor saxophone reeds. However, it keeps the size of the case on the smaller side, and it could be the perfect number of reeds if you'd rather not keep track of a countless number of reeds kept in rotation at all times.

Reeds stored inside the Theo Wanne Dark Paduak seem to remain humid for quite a while. Although the case isn't airtight, and the vents on the sides provide a way for air to circulate inside of it, reeds were still humid to the touch and in the mouth after a couple of days. The slow drying process, combined with the support the acrylic bed provides, will minimize the likeliness of reed deforming, as well as keep your reeds in a state closer to how you would want them for performing. However this also means that mold may be a concern, especially in humid climates, as is the case where I live. You will have to either sanitize, or at the very least, let your reeds dry before storing them inside the case, or even monitor them on a regular basis to prevent mold from growing. If you live in a dry climate and play regularly, I don't think it would be an issue though.


Theo Wanne Dark Paduak Reed Case Review open reeds


The Theo Wanne Dark Paduak reed case offers classic experience and performance, with the quality and aesthetics that have made the Theo Wanne company famous.


~ Theo Wanne Reed Cases are available directly on Theo's website for $55 (in paduak as reviewed, or maple if you prefer a lighter color). For more information, check out the product page, email customer service directly or call at: +1 360 392-8416. ~




Jakob Winter JW 7085/6 

For more than 120 years Jakob Winter, the leading European manufacturer of cases for musical instruments, combines the best traditional craftsmanship and skill in working with different materials  and with the latest production technology.

From handmade wooden cases to high-quality plastic cases to Greenline, our series of innovative cases made of natural fiber, we offer a unique variety to musicians.

Cases for musical instruments must meet the highest standards.This is because the value of the content usually exceeds the value of the case by several orders of magnitude.

For that reason, we produce in our German plants cases for musical instruments that fulfill the highest demands of professional musicians.

Therefore, thousands of musicians all over the world entrust their valuable instruments to the uncompromising quality of our cases, year after year.

No matter whether a case for a violin, cello, string bass, saxophone, clarinet, oboe, flute, cornet, trumpet, trombone, French horn, hunting horn, tenor horn, alto horn, sousaphone, tuba or guitar, we have the right case for your instrument.


The Jakob Winter company, founded in 1886, is a manufacturer of instrument and industrial cases based in Nauheim, Germany. Although we're reviewing reed cases today, I thought it would be worth mentioning just how many products the company offers. I received a product catalog along with the cases and was amazed to see such diversity.

The company also offers a unique line of instrument cases, made in Germany, of all natural fibers (the "GreenLine" series). The inside lining of these cases are made of 100% high quality cotton velvet which wraps a shaped polystyrene cushions, providing excellent protection for the instrument. All these components are form-fitted pressed together without adhesives creating a truly green instrument case.


Jakob Winter Reed Case Review Closeup


The Jakob Winter alto saxophone reed case is an interesting take on the classic wooden reed case design. The cherry wood exterior is coated in a reflective polyurethane varnish, in order to prevent moisture form entering the wood, and minimize the chance of nicks and scratches. There is no logo, print or anything on either side of the case. Very minimalist.

The bottom and lid of the case are drilled on opposite sides with semi-circles to allow air circulation, while the front of the case has a cavity to make it easier to grab the lid and open it. The lid is mounted on a spring hinge, which removes the need for further mechanisms to keep the case closed.


Jakob Winter Reed Case Review Tenor and Alto Group


The interior of the Jakob Winter case is fitted with acrylic reed beds, both in the bottom part of the case and lid. This allows the case to remain compact while holding a maximum of 6 alto saxophone reeds.

The acrylic reed beds are angled downward to make it easier to insert reeds into the case. A one piece felt backing, that goes over the hinge, provides an understated yet classy look.

Reeds are held in place by fabric elastic bands. The bands shed hairs for a few days, which is a minor annoyance, but worth mentioning, as you'll most likely have to remove hairs from your reed before playing them during these first few days. Thankfully, the issue disappeared as time went by. I found it somewhat tricky to slide reeds under the elastic bands. Although it is made easy because of how well they are fitted, and thanks to the acrylic being mounted at an angle inside the case, this design choice may be problematic if you end up using the case in dark rooms, or need to quickly swap reeds.


Jakob Winter Reed Case Review Open empty


The Jakob Winter uses a semi-open design. The holes on each side of the case will allow air circulation and reduce the chances of mold development, without letting your reeds dry too quickly. The acrylic bed also ensures your reed are firmly supported while drying to prevent reed deformation. Reeds dried out in about 24 to 36 hours during my testing, without any noticeable deformation, or waving at the tip.

If you play on a regular basis, and re-introduce humidity in the form of evaporation from the reeds, mold development isn't out of the question, so you should monitor or sanitize reeds as required. It was, however, not a problem while I tested the case.



Jakob Winter Reed Case Review Open reeds





~ Jakob Winter Reed Cases are available through a wide variety of retailers for around $50 (EU readers are encouraged to visit www.thomann.de). For more information, check out the product page or use the web form to or direct email contact customer service. ~




Wiseman

Everything that we make is built to last and to perform to the highest standards, and these reed cases are no different.

The box itself is made of maple, and is fitted with solid brass hinges. The swivel-catch cannot break over time, but can be easily tightened or loosened by the owner. The inside features a glass plate and the highest quality crushed velvet, as well as a high quality rubber surround to protect the glass from shock-damage.

The reeds needed to be supported on a flat, glass plate and properly held in place by gentle padding from above. The locks and hinges were to be very long-lasting and simple to maintain/adjust over time.

The construction of the reed box needs to allow for natural breathability so that the reeds can dry out, but slowly! The natural gaps around the wooden perimeter join/hinge areas allow for this without needing specific drilled holes for the job.

One of the goals we set for these reed cases was to find a light, cost effective way to manufacture them, so that the price could be kept as low as possible for the public to purchase. We managed to reach this goal by implementing an ingenuous use of scrap materials from our bigger, instrument case-making business.

All Wiseman reed cases are made in London, UK.


The Wiseman reed case takes inspiration from the classic design of the past, while adding a few significant upgrades, in an affordable and reliable reed storage solution.


Howard Wiseman Reed Case Review Closeup


The Wiseman alto saxophone reed case holds 6 alto or soprano saxophone reeds (or Bb clarinet). The maple wood lid is laser engraved with the Wiseman branding and logo. It is coated with a very light satin finish that almost looks like bare wood, inside and out.

The back of the case features a set of two heavy brass hinges that look like they will last a century, while the front uses a quality brass swivel catch. The tension of the latter is adjustable with a turn of the screw that it is mounted on. In addition to this, the case uses four magnets (two in the lid and two in the base) as an extra measure of safety and convenience. A recessed slot in the front of the case makes it straightforward to open.


Howard Wiseman Reed Case Review Front


The interior design of the Wiseman reed case will look familiar, with its tilted glass bed and crushed velvet padding, but introduces a few significant upgrade in the form of an anti-shock feature around and under the glass reed platform. All around the glass plate, a rubber surround will reduce the chances of it shattering, would you ever drop or knock the case against a hard surface. A wider piece of the same rubber supports the front of the glass sheet from underneath, while velvet supports the back of it. Although seemingly minor, this glass plate protection is a very significant upgrade from the classic design of the past.  The similarly green colored velvet found underneath the glass also provides a sense of uniformity and refinement to the case's interior, as a reflection of the padding in the lid.

The contours of the cuts made to accommodate the velvet and glass plate aren't totally even, but this is nothing too distracting, nor does it affect the cases' functionality in any way.


Howard Wiseman Reed Case Review open Empty


Placing reeds into the Wiseman case couldn't be easier. As the crushed velvet acts as padding and support for the reeds, there's no need to slide in reeds into a tight spot here. This significantly reduces the chances of damaging a reed. Worth noting is the fact that the rubber surround used around the glass bed also acts as a soft support for the back of the reeds.


Howard Wiseman Reed Case Review open reeds


Through testing the case over a few weeks, I've found that the mostly closed design kept reeds humid for a few days, and that the slow drying process, combined with the flat glass platform, prevented any deformation. Depending on your buccal flora, and whether you live in a humid or dry climate, reeds may develop mold, as the design of the case creates a humid environment long enough for bacteria to strive. This is easily however overcome by sanitizing reeds once in a while.

Just like the classic reed cases of the past, the velvet padding may pose health concerns as it is not easily cleaned, and you may wish to be extra careful to not let mold develop, or refrain from storing reeds you've played while sick. It is probably a bit of an alarmist point of view, so feel free to disregard it if your experience differs, or have no hypochondriatic tendencies.

The Wiseman alto saxophone reed case is an incredible value that delivers a classic experience while providing a few significant innovations that will no doubt make your life easier.



~ Wiseman Reed Cases are available directly through the company's website for around $55 (£30.50 + £9 shipping to the US). For more information, check out the product page or send an email to contact customer service. ~






Conclusion

This wraps up our review of these wonderful cases. Although these are all carefully crafted reed cases, they all differ in design and functionality. I have tried to describe them as accurately and objectively as possible, and I hope it will help you find the best match for your style.

Please don't hesitate to take any question to the comment section below.







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16 comments:

  1. And What do you think about New SELMER reeds cases?

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    1. Great question! If you're talking about the case that comes with the new Henri SELMER reeds, I actually debated including it here, but decided not to, considering it isn't a standalone case. I also already reviewed it.

      It would of course be a great reed storage solution, with no need for an additional case, if you prefer reeds that slowly dry over time, as it is not airtight. The case is well enough made that I don't believe reeds will warp while going through the drying process.

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  2. Wow, I am impressed with the thoroughness of your reviews. Thanks so much for sharing. This is my first visit to your site, and I'm just getting back into playing after many years. I'm learning that reed management is a thing I need to worry about now that I'm not splitting them regularly as I did in my youth.

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    1. Thank you for the nice words Kristine, glad to have you back among us! :) And yes indeed, reed care is an important aspect of playing the instrument. It can quickly become a headache without proper care.

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  3. Thank you for the awesome review. Very thorough. I am wondering what is your experience with reed response after being in a humidity controlled case? I have seen complaints of poor (sluggish) response after using "ReedJuvinate" or similar do-it-yourself reed storage solutions.

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    1. That's not been my experience. I've been using a DIY humidifying system for a long time, and sluggishness hasn't been a problem. I think the trick is to avoid storing reeds that are too saturated with water/liquid by wiping them before leaving them in a case, as well as making sure whatever you use to control humidity (a sponge for example) isn't dripping wet. But your mileage may vary of course. Reeds are a very personal matter.

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  4. Hi, im also impressed by your reviews. I would very much like to be able to use the Vandoren VRC620 case for my bass clarinet reeds. They are 8cm or 3.15" long, you think they would fit inside? Could you measure the inside length, that would be so kind of you. Thanks! /Chris

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    1. I don't think they will. The fit seems tailored to alto sax reeds with litte room left. Bass clarinet reeds also aren't listed as supported on the official listing (as opposed to the HRC20 for example). Still, if you want to make sure, you should contact Vandoren directly: http://www.vandoren-en.com/forms/CONTACT_f2.html

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  5. Amazing review! I also just reviewed the Vientos Bambu case on my site and love it. I look forward to trying out some of these others as well.

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  6. What is the best reed if you had unlimited money?

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    1. Do you mean reed brand / model? It's not really about the money but more about your preference, and how they pair with your mouthpiece. I use Rigotti Gold exclusively because I find them way more consistent than any other brand, and they provide a certain bite to my tone that I like, but you may not like them. The only way to know for sure is to experiment. There's no way around it.

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    2. I I meant to say case sorry, I was considering the bamboo case but you mentioned that it isn't that easy to put in the reeds and not as easy as a glass bottom like the rest of the cases you mentioned

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    3. Picking a case depends on what you value more: aesthetics, ease of use, size, etc. and whether you prefer a wet or dry storage system. All of these cases have pros and cons. The Bambú case stores a lot of reeds and keeps them rather stable due to the closed design. But indeed, the reed slots are a little narrow so you have to be careful when inserting reeds. The only other case in this review that can hold as many reeds as the Bambú is the Reeds'n'Stuff. But it's a more open design.

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  7. And you dont think there is a case that doesn't have any issue with mold growth?

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  8. So you would really say that the Robert Dilutes case is probably the best one on here, preventing mold growth for a week when not sanitized properly, proper sealment, but a bit big but I think my Cannonball Alto Saxophone case can fit it.

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    1. Mold growth really depends on weather (warm, cold, humid or dry) and bacteria in your mouth. Some people never have problem with mold. If you have had problems with it in the past, then in my experience the Dilutis case will delay that but not prevent it completely. The best thing to do, regardless of what case you use, is to dip your reeds in H2O2 + Isopropyl Alcohol + Water every 2 to 3 days, as well as wipe any saliva buildup when your store away reeds.

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