Monday, May 2, 2011

A Classy Case For Clarinets: Giardinelli Makes An Enduring Winner!

The Good: Durable, Looks good, Reasonably priced (comparatively)
The Bad: Still seems pricey to me
The Basics: A seemingly invincible clarinet case, the Giardinelli B-Flat Clarinet Case is exceptionally strong and durable, yet comparably priced to lesser plastic cases!

Last year, when I did an event requiring me to write a review of a musical instrument, I was pleased for the first time in many, many years that my father compelled me to play the clarinet in middle and high school. I looked at the case for my clarinet and I was unsurprised to discover that my clarinet's case was available online! This should not have surprised me on one level; despite my clarinet being very old, the case is a little newer and given the specificity of clarinet cases and the enduring nature of them, it made sense to me that Giardinelli's B-flat Clarinet Case would both still be manufactured and sold!

Intended for a serious musical instrument enthusiast or player, the Giardinelli Clarinet Case is surprisingly priced at about the same price as plastic, less impressive, clarinet cases. The Giardinelli Clarinet Case for b-flat clarinets has an heirloom quality to it as it is comprised of wood and vinyl and looks a little more ornate than the standard hard-shell plastic clarinet cases most modern clarinets come in. Granted, the clarinet I was playing on was an old wooden clarinet as opposed to a plastic (? Fiberglass? I don't even know what material the non-wooden clarinets that were prevalent when I was in band were actually made of) one, so having a heavier wood case actually completed the ensemble.

The Giardinelli B-flat Clarinet Case is a standard suitcase design clarinet case. It is sixteen inches long, eight inches wide (when laying flat) and four inches tall when it is closed. The case is made of wood which is then encased in black vinyl. There is a trim with thick white stitching around the edges of the top and bottom and this is an exceptionally durable clarinet case. The front (when the case is laid down facing the user) has a single vinyl handle which swivels like the handle on a briefcase. There are also two steel latches that are pointlessly plated with nickel which seal the clarinet case closed. The Giardinelli B-flat Clarinet Case does not feature any form of locking mechanism, but the metal latches are so securely attached to the metal and vinyl case that they are virtually indestructible.

How do I know this? Experience. When I was in middle and high schools, I cycled everywhere. When I write “everywhere,” I mean it quite literally. I was a runner and I'd cycle for transportation to and from school and later work and whenever I wanted to go shopping (my father was very busy after his divorce and I became responsible for my own motility). The thing is, while I had a backpack and a rack over my back tire for attaching things to my bicycle, there was something of a learning curve for me. Several times, my clarinet, safely ensconced in the Giardinelli Clarinet Case slid off the bike rack. Eventually, I started carrying the case on my handlebar and while it was dropped occasionally (and run over once in an incident that hurt me and my cycle more than the case!) it proved itself exceptionally durable.

In my seven years of active use with the Giardinelli Clarinet Case, it never once broke, fell open or showed any wear that would make one think the clarinet inside was at any risk (and believe me, I hated that poor clarinet, so it's not like I didn't want the thing destroyed!). The thing is, the case came to me having been in the family for over ten years prior. In its entire history, the hinge remains good, true and perfectly attached to the case and the latches and handle are entirely secure. The only element that has degraded at all is the plating on the latches. The latches have become scratched and they have lost their luster (and presumably some, if not all, of the nickel plating). The thing is, they have not rusted (yes, I was known to cycle in rain and snow, so this case got wet on many, many occasions) and the clarinet inside has been perfectly protected through all these things.

The corners of the Giardinelli Clarinet Case have metal plates which protect those and they have also not rusted or weathered, save scratches and dents which are appropriate given this was used by at least two teenagers.

By this point, one might be wondering, “What makes the Giardinelli Clarinet Case a clarinet case, much less a B-flat clarinet case?” To that, the response is simple: the inside. When one opens the Giardinelli Clarinet Case, they will find a plush interior which is molded around a tray (I've no idea what the tray beneath is composed of). The tray has five compartments which are molded to the shapes of pieces of a B-flat clarinet. Every manufacturer of clarinets I know of makes clarinets so they may be disassembled and the parts are standardized (with a few minor differences, depending on the age of the musical instrument) so each of the five pieces has only one place it will fit in the case, the bell being the most obvious.

There is also a compartment in the Giardinelli Clarinet Case for reeds, cork wax and/or an additional mouthpiece. This compartment is handy and can fit over twenty reeds in addition to a mouthpiece, which makes it convenient and practical for professional musicians as well as bad clarinet players who frequently break reeds. The plush interior of the clarinet case has gotten matted down over the years, but because the lid presses the instrument pieces gently against the plus, there is no play for the disassembled instrument inside. As a result, my clarinet has never received any sort of damage or wear while inside the Giardinelli Clarinet Case, no matter what I threw at it.

If one is looking for a durable, strong and enduring clarinet case, it is hard to imagine a better one than the Giardinelli Clarinet Case for B-flat clarinets.


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© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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