ProTec Pro Pac case with a Yamaha flugelhorn and Bach trumpet

ProTec BP301 VAX Combo Case Review

ProTec Pro Pac PB301VAX Combo case

My trumpet case is 50 years old and is not in the best shape. When I was young, it got partly run over by my mom’s car. The Bach Stradivarius was fine, but the case got a little beaten up. My Yamaha 635ST flugelhorn is only 35ish years old and the case is in excellent shape. But I find myself having trouble lugging both cases around. I was using a collapsible hand cart where I could carry my horns, mutes, music, music stand, etc. but it was cumbersome. I also needed to get on an airplane and found myself in a pickle (does anyone still say “pickle”?). How do I carry both on a plane because there’s no way I’m checking my horns as baggage. The solution? The ProTec Pro Pac case modelPB301VAX. I purchased one from Amazon (not sponsored) and here’s my review.

ProTec Pro Pac Case front view sitting on the Amazon box it came in.
Here’s the case and the Amazon box it came in. The case was wrapped securely in a heavy plastic bag (not shown).

Exterior and Interior

The case is surprisingly light, and sturdy. The sides and back are solid, I think there is wood in there to make it strong. The front seems equally as strong against hard objects damaging your horns. I found it to be solid behind the front pocket so nothing in the front could damage my horns. I pushed down on the top of it to see if it would collapse and it didn’t budge. It’s super solid. To really test it, I sat on it. No, my horns weren’t in it yet. But fear not, it was as solid as a chair. Granted, I only weigh 150 pounds. It easily supported my weight. It should easily protect my horns even when getting bounced around in the overhead bin of an airplane. Best of all, the dimensions are 9 x 12.5 x 22 inches which is well within most airlines carry on luggage size. Off to a great start.

Protec Case Tag Front
This is the tag that came attached to the case. It shows the flugelhorn facing the other way than the trumpet. I found my flugelhorn fit better facing the same way as my trumpet.
Protec Case Tag back view
Here’s the instructions on the back of the tag that attached to the case. It shows how to adjust the divider, how to fit a larger flugelhorn.
ProTec Pro Pac case front pocket and included shoulder strap
The front pocket was very roomy. It even had an organizer for 2 pens and pockets to put your valve oil, grease, etc. in. There are 2 zippered pockets to keep small things from getting lost. The case also comes with a shoulder strap and a nice luggage tag.
ProTec Pro Pac case back view showing the wheels and extendable handle
The back is strongly reinforced with feet bolted to the back so it lays flat. The extendable handle feels very solid.
ProTec Pro Pac open empty
Notice the handles are padded and there is a flap to cover the zippers to keep them safe. The inside is very soft with 2 removable triangle pads that attach with velcro. They can be moved to secure your flugelhorn which sits in the rear compartment. The inner pads are all movable which allows you to custom fit them to eliminate any movement. The trumpet slot has supports so the horn rests on the first and third slides and the bottom of the valve cluster. I only wished it had more than 2 mouthpiece holes.
ProTec Pro Pac case with a Yamaha flugelhorn and Bach trumpet
Here’s my Yamaha 635ST and Bach Stradivarius 180-37. Notice that I moved the triangle pad so it holds my flugelhorn securely. See the two velcro straps running side to side? That’s where the triangles stick. One nice feature is the strap that keeps the top from flopping all the way open. That’s key since I had a lot of weight in the front pocket.

ProTec Pro Pac Pros and Cons

ProTec PB301VAX with a Bach trumpet and Yamaha flugelhorn case side by side
This case is a lot lighter than the two it replaces and will take up a lot less room. And it has wheels !

Pros: All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this case. It’ll protect my horns when I take them out and when I’m on an airplane. My first cross country trip it did perfectly and my horns were safe and sound when I arrived. It’s very sturdy and you can feel the quality. It has a lot of nice features such as the organizer in the front pocket and adjustable padding. The extendable handle and wheels seem very strong and should last for a long time. The front pocket is pretty big, I was able to store a small mixer, microphone, XLR cables, and still had room for some music. There are spots for pens and pencils and a zipper case that I can put my valve oils, grease, and swabs. Best of all, this one case takes up a ton less room than the two cases it replaces.

Cons: it only has 2 mouthpiece holders. The front pocket would fit a mouthpiece case or two however. The other con is that there’s little to no room to carry mutes. I found I could cram a cup mup or my Yamaha Silent Brass mute in with the flugelhorn stored in a soft bag. I have a cup, straight, and Yamaha Silent brass mutes for both horns. I was able to put the Silent brass mute in my trumpet. It fits flush with the end of the bell. I was able to put the Yamaha Silent brass mute for my flugelhorn and my cup mute in bags and fit them where the flugelhorn rests. So I’m able to carry 3 of my four mutes which worked out well.

Protec 301 Case with my cup mute and Yamaha Silent Brass flugelhorn mute.
I was able to fit two mutes where my flugelhorn sits in this case. I removed the soft felt bags that protect my horn from the mutes so you can see where they fit. I used old shoe storage bags that were soft. I put the Yamaha Silent brass trumpet mute in the trumpet before I put it into the case, it fits great. I traveled cross country and everything arrived fine.

I had to play around with the position of the divider between the two horns to let the flugelhorn sit a little lower in the case. Further, the area where the bell rests is near the mouthpiece block and it’s not softly padded. So I put a soft cloth to protect the horn’s finish. The last con is more of a personal thing. The extendable handle isn’t as tall as a typical carry on suitcase so that proved a little odd when I took my first plane trip. Not a big deal, just want to make you aware of it. I had a heavy backpack so I could really feel the weight of it resting on the top of this case.

The last con is more my doing. I loaded the front pocket with a 2 channel mixer, cables, a 4 pack mouthpiece case, and a Shure microphone. All that weight in the front pocket made the case flip forward if I didn’t have my backpack resting on it to keep it steady. Going through airport security I took my backpack off the top of the case and it flipped forward almost hitting someone behind me with the handle. That would have been awkward. Just something to be aware of if you load the front pocket up with heavy stuff.

Lastly, the hardest thing about moving to this new case is giving up my old Bach trumpet one (it’s the one on the right in the picture above). It’s trashed and I often worry that the handle or hinges will fail at the wrong moment and my horn would get destroyed. But it’s been with me since middle school. I guess the best way to move on is to toss it in the trash. I haven’t done that yet, it’s still sitting in my closet. I know one day soon it’ll have to go. The Yamaha case is even harder to let go. It’s in near perfect shape. But I don’t have the emotional attachment to it should be no problem tossing that puppy. “So why are they both still in your closet ?” you may ask.

Uh…..let me get back to you on that.

ProTec Pro Pac Combo Case model PB301VAX

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