This is a new series of tuba soft cases from Protec Music. These are a major improvement over the Protec Deluxe Tuba Gig Bags, and an improvement over many other makes of tuba gig bags as well. This case comes in black, and will be available in several sizes. This review is based on inspecting a PL251 3/4 Smaller size case.
The outside material is a heavy ripstop nylon (ballistic 1680) that looks like it won't pill or wear out in our lifetime. There are three exterior handles. The bottom gusset and bell flare have plastic feet for protection from pavement. There are two exterior zipper pockets. One has organizer sub-pockets and is also large enough for an orchestra folder. A zipper panel on the back of the case allows access to a hidden pair of backpack straps with metal hardware. A separate shoulder strap is included.
The opening is unusual. A heavy zipper starts at one side of the bell flare and unzips all the way down around the bottom of the case and up the other side to the bell flare. It's reminiscent of opening a sardine can. The zipper is a giant U shape, and when opened, the big flap folds up and back beyond the bell end of the case. The flap is padded and has a protective patch in the center to protect from wear due to inappropriate finger button behavior. The flap has 2 locations where it creases to fold back on itself, accordion-style, for slightly more compact tuba retrieval. One of the two top handles is attached to this flap. It's an opportunity for zipper stress and wear to the main flap zipper. Time will tell how well this works.
The interior is a finely knitted fabric. It's smooth and thin and a little stretchy, and picks up fibers from use. It may pill over time. The foam around the perimeter of the case is very firm (20mm high-density). At first squeeze, it reminds us of the firm foam used in a Cronkhite case. This is good. On the bottom edge of the case is a Velcro flap that allows access to a stiffening board and some additional thin foam. The board is made of a fibrous product like Masonite. The access allows replacement of the board if damaged. The placement of the board is well thought out, so it should help disperse any impacts caused by placing the case down harshly on its bottom edge.
Inside the bell end of the case is a cloth and foam covered rigid fiber disk to help diffuse any impacts to the bell end of the case. This should protect from small impacts into door frames and the like, but it is not designed to withstand a hard impact from a bell flare kissing the ground.
There is a movable foam block in the floor of the case attached with Velcro. It's not useful. You wouldn't need it as placed on the floor of the case where it arrived, but it could be placed around the inside of the small end of the case to help stabilize a smaller tuba. Well, except that the foam of this block is completely thin and soft and does nothing to slow any inertia of a large heavy instrument like a tuba. Keep it because it feels good, but we don't think this block offers any protection.
This case is a very decent fit for a Cerveny 651 Harmony 3 F tuba we have here. The case should fit tubas 37" long and up to 18" wide at the mid point. Bells up to 18" will fit, 19" maybe, just barely. It should fit many smaller rotary F tubas, many piston F tubas, and smaller CC and BBb top bell tubas.
This new Protec Platinum Series Tuba Gig Bag is a well thought out effort that improves upon the nearly-universal terrible quality of tuba gig bags available on the market. The product tag includes a case serial number and the case is backed by a 5-year warranty. Repair service and parts can be had from Protec Music in Fullerton, California.
Expected to arrive May 2016.