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Compared to other instruments, flutes are compact and lightweight. Available flute cases have little variation in color or size. The most common cases are black and measure around 2 feet (61 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide. When choosing the best flute case, consider the padding, latches, space for other additional flutes, and the ability to store flute accessories in the case you choose to purchase.
A good flute case will hold still the pieces of the flute while they are in the case. For a classic flute, cases predominantly have the same layout. The mouthpiece and the foot sit near each other at the front of the case while the body of the flute sits behind them. Quality flute cases will have heavy padding along the trenches holding the pieces and cushioning the keys that stick out, such as the B-flat key. When looking for the best flute cases, be sure the padding will hold up to wear and tear.
The type of latches on the case will make a difference in how often the case will open accidentally. For younger players who may be rough with their instrument case and for flautists who travel, hard metal latches are a good choice, because these latches are more difficult to unfasten. They also are less likely to open on their own, which can happen with some types of plastic latches.
Some flute cases allow for the easy addition of other members of the flute family, most often the piccolo. These cases are a bit wider to accommodate the slender instrument. When you buy a flute and piccolo together, the case often is designed to hold both instruments. If you think you may buy a piccolo later, then you should consider buying an elongated case to allow for the easy addition rather than needing to buy two separate cases.
Another option to consider when choosing the best flute cases is whether you will have flute accessories. These accessories range from items for the instrument itself, such as a cleaning cloth, to musical accessories, in general. Finding a place to put a tuner, metronome or mobile marching stand can be tough for flute players because of the small size of most cases. In these situations, the best bet may be to get a zippered case that actually covers the case holding the flute but also has space for these other items.
Look for a sturdy handle, too! I wanted a metal handle with metal finishings and fasteners. The handle and corners of a flute case take the most abuse, so I always liked corner covers, too.
I've seen the soft-sided flute cases, but I never felt comfortable using one. I always preferred a hard sided case with thick padding and a velvet lining. I always felt the hard sided cases didn't allow the flute to react as much to temperature changes, with the heavy padding and the velvet. Maybe that's just my imagination, though.
I guess the sling handles on the soft-sided bags make them easier for students to carry when they also have books and so forth, but I just like the extra security of a hard sided case.
Every flute case I've ever seen had a side compartment for maintenance items, like a weighted cleaning cloth, a pipe cleaner for the valves and a chamois cloth for the outside. I've also known players who carried cigarette papers for cleaning the pads under the valves. Some players carry a long cleaning rod with a cloth, but I always preferred a cloth with a string attached and a covered weight. I was always afraid I'd scratch the inside of the flute barrel.
The compartment should definitely have a latch or something so the items will not fall out. A digital metronome is not much bigger than a jogging pedometer, so it will usually fit inside the compartment, too, if the player needs a metronome.
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