by Stephen Page
The Wiseman company has been providing musicians the world over with high quality cases unique to the needs of the individual for many years. Most recently, their cases have become exceptionally popular among saxophonists, not only for the incredible quality of their construction, and thus their protective abilities, but also because of their ingenious designs allowing for many combinations of multiple instruments or voices in an extremely compact design.
Having tried many other double cases for soprano and alto saxophone over the years, I decided to invest in a Wiseman after a few too many questions from airline personnel about my case’s ability to fit in the overhead (which it always would). Since getting my Wiseman case, I have not had any further inquiries, and my case has since been viewed as an unassuming personal bag on flights.
Wiseman has designed these cases in quite a clever way, with each side of the case containing one or more instruments in such a way that when closed, the instruments are stacked, but do not touch. This secure suspension and efficient use of space allows for a much smaller design overall, without sacrificing the protection we depend on.
The particular Wiseman case for this article is a leather-wrapped Soprano/Alto combo, for a detachable-neck soprano. This is by far the most compact design, with the soprano being stored without a neck, and the case itself is smaller than a typical rectangular alto travel case. The leather found on the outside, standard black for this case, is exceptionally high quality, and even after five years of heavy use, it remains in great shape with no fading, cracking, or even scuffing. The case lids are held together by an integrated Velcro flap, with elastic corners, and similar to the leather, this shows next to zero wear and holds the case lids firmly together. The included backpack straps are easily adjusted, though since they are leather, they have a buckle system for adjustment, as opposed to a tension design more commonly found on nylon backpack straps. The bottom of the case has four feet, so the case can be stood on end, which I find to be useful. I do wish, however, that the leather wrapped case came with a grab handle on the opposite end, though this feature is available on the carbon fiber option.
Customers can choose a variety of colors for the crushed velvet interior. The case pictured here has the Blue/Red option, which looks purple in person. The high-density foam used to create the instrument cradle is a dark gray, and impeccably cut to order. Similarly, I have found that these parts have not worn with any significance, with the only pieces showing any sign of use being the end cap receiver, though it does not change the security with which the instrument is held.
With each case being custom made to order, clients must indicate which models of instruments will be used. Storage space within the case is significant, though the locations and size of the compartments seems to vary slightly from case to case. Pictured is the main compartment next to the alto side of the case, which snaps shut, suitable for mouthpieces, reed cases, swabs, and other medium-sized items. The opposing side of the case, fit for soprano saxophone, has three further compartments of leather and Velcro. One is of a substantial size, including adjustable partitions, perfect for a soprano neck, mouthpiece, and other accessories. The other two are slightly smaller, but well suited for swabs, flat reed cases, and spare boxes of reeds. Should one require further space, the included external pouch can be secured around the closed case, offering additional storage and also further security in keeping the case closed. Finally, the snap-on music folder is great for keeping scores in order. In all, the storage options are impressive given the small overall size, and indeed the company has gone to great lengths to most effectively utilize the space available internally.
When full, the case is a moderate weight, but not considerably more than other double cases on the market. Wiseman does, however, offer carbon-fiber cases. This attractive option does reduce the weight rather significantly, while maintaining the protection and durability of the wood and leather option. The carbon fiber options include matte, glossy, and now, colored glossy options.
In all, the case provides substantial protection, storage, and portability for instruments of all kinds. Naturally, the demand for such custom work is high, and delivery time can vary significantly. The customer service is exceptional, with email inquiries being answered quickly, and problem solving in the event of an issue being quick, courteous, and ending in positive results.
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