Do You Need a Fancy Reed Case?

After over 20 years of using the “El Cheapo” LaVoz/Rico Reedgard which retails for $4.49 for the tenor version, I decided it was time to store my reeds like a big boy. So I went out to my friendly local music store, Baxter Northup and picked up a shiny new Rico Multi-Instrument Reed Vitalizer Case which retails at $19.99.

The Fancy One

The Rico Multi-Instrument Reed Vitalizer Case was pretty to look at and came with a nifty Reed Vitalizer Pack. The Reed Vitalizer Pack is a small packet resembling a handy wipe packet that you’d get at a barbecue restaurant and its purpose is to provide the proper level of humidity to best preserve the quality of your reeds.

Inside the Reed Case
Notice the reed fasterns and how easy it would be to bump the tip of your reed into these things.

Right off the bat, the Rico Multi-Instrument Reed Vitalizer Case poses a challenge, as it’s very easy to damage your reeds by accidentally bumping the tip of your reed on the plastic string that fastens the reed inside the case, so you definitely have to be careful when putting your reeds back in the case. I’ve actually damaged a few reeds this way.

On top of that, once you get the reeds past that pesky plastic string fastener, it’s easy for the reeds to slide to the either side of the track and get smushed up into the railing as you’re sliding the reed back in the case. I’ve made this mistake before as well – which leads me to believe that this is a reed case with a bit of a learning curve.

Worst of all, I found that despite its humidifying technology, reeds stored in this case tend to warp more frequently than those in my El Cheapo Reedgard. This may be due to the fact that the reeds in the Reed Vitalizer case sit on a ridged surface instead of a flat one as in the Reed Guard. In fact, I just now tried taking two severly warped reeds and placing one in the Reed Vitalizer Case and the other in the Reed Guard. After 5 minutes, the winner was clearly the Reed Guard, as that reed was much flatter than its counterpart in the Reed Vitalizer Case. I’ve had the same general result over the past few months as well, so it looks like I’ll be retiring my fancy case for the time-being.

The Verdict

As for me, I’d much rather spend $20 on four Reedgards that work great than spend the same amount of money on a single Reed Vitalizer Case which does a not-so-great job. For once, the El Cheapo triumphs over the fancy!

Check out both for yourself:

So please do chime in, as I’d love to know what you guys’ experiences have been with reed storage
(sounds so sexy when I put it that way, no?)