Argentina’s Vientos Bambú has set out to turn the everyday, commonplace reed case into a hand-made, cherished work of art. With gorgeous color choices, multiple sizes, a unique magnetic closure system, and a surprisingly enticing price-point, these cases are sure to be a hit among students and professionals alike.
But is it too good to be true? Can such an endearing, beautiful product really prove to be a practical solution that stands up to the rigors of professional, day-to-day use, or is it just a decorative conversation piece? “Reed” on to find out!
Vientos Bambú Reed Case Overview
- High quality design, durable finish
- Each is a hand-made work of art
- Unique, magnetic closure system
- Capacities of 6-10 reeds
- Affordable price-point
- Limited availability
- “Click” can be bothersome during performance
- Not air-tight
- Lacks humidity control
About Vientos Bambú
In Argentina imported items face heavy taxes. This means that even the most basic items can become prohibitively expensive, which puts strain on local musicians and music programs. Vientos Bambú was born out of this need, and started out with the goal of creating locally-made, affordable, quality products for the Argentinian people.
However, the founders of Vientos Bambú also had a vision to improve the user experience and visual appeal of products. Why is it that music accessories always have to be black and boring, when musicians and the music they play is so exciting and vibrant? Shouldn’t musicians be free to express themselves visually along with their music?
Why is it that music accessories always have to be black and boring, when musicians and the music they play is so exciting and vibrant?
A Passion for Aesthetics
It is because of this passion for color and vibrancy that Vientos Bambú’s ligatures come in 12 eye-popping shades ranging from classic black and silver, to bright green and “clarineat” purple. Heck, there’s even a rainbow one available now if you can’t decide! This trend continues throughout their entire product line, and even their neck straps are available in four colors.
Because of the beauty and quality of their products, Vientos Bambú’s started getting noticed around the world. What began as a modest local venture to support Argentian musicians, has now grown into an international business venture. What a success story!
The Vientos Bambú product line now features, reed cases, swabs and cleaning kits, neck straps, cork grease, and, of course, their arguably famous multi-colored hand-woven ligature (which I’ll be reviewing soon!)
The Vientos Bambú reed case builds on the company philosophy of experience and expression through both design and appearance.
The case features a solid wood, hand-crafted exterior, a magnetic sliding “latch” system akin to that found on modern laptops, and a perfectly shaped plastic insert.
The plastic insert is grooved, which allows proper air circulation around the reeds and ironically ensures that they dry without warping. It has slightly malleable lips (for lack of a better term) that hold the reed in place with just the right amount of pressure. My reeds never moved around on me, never chipped, and dried evenly as advertised. I even tried using the case to store synthetic reeds without any issue.
At first I was concerned that the plastic insert might come loose over time, but I’m happy to report that after six months of use it remains as sturdy as on day one. It seems that it’s glued in, but this is hard to determine without trying to rip it out, so its exact method of manufacture will have to remain a mystery!
Look and Feel
These products look truly stunning. Each case is a tiny work of art and is hand made from top quality wood by a guitar luthier in Argentina. Because of this, quantities are limited, and no two are ever alike, but each seems as beautiful as the next. The wood grain runs seamlessly along the case and I couldn’t detect any filled holes or imperfections in the wood.
Each one is a tiny work of art.
There are currently four color variations available: dark wood, light wood, and then each with a contrasting “stripe” pattern. I’m personally drawn to the darker ones, but all of them are equally striking.
In fact, an interesting practical benefit of the numerous color options is that it makes rotating reeds a cinch. You can tell at a glance which reeds are in which case without having to even open the box or use any bizarre labeling scheme.
The product feels substantial in the hand, but not heavy. The outside is smooth and pleasing to the touch, with a slight curvature that fits the hand perfectly when opening and closing the case.
The magnetic closure system really is brilliant and I love it. The strength is calculated perfectly, and as if through magic the case opens and shuts with just the right amount of resistance, but never falls open by accident, even if shaken or dropped (more on this below). Each time the lid is closed you are met with a satisfying “click” that provides you with both tactile and auditory feedback.
This leads me to one of my favorite parts about using Vientos Bambú products: their attention to detail. Everything from the box design right down to the user experience and audience perception of their products is seems highly calculated.
In fact, they mentioned on Episode 22 of the Clarineat Podcast that they believe that when one enjoys using a product related to music that this can positively influence the performance of music . I don’t want to get too metaphysical here, but it’s pretty hard to disagree with this general concept.
Do the Reeds Stay Humidified?
The answer to this is somewhat complex and, as with many things in life, your mileage may vary.
The wood design allows for some of the moisture to be taken up by the case itself, and that if the reeds become too dry this moisture will return to the reeds. Kind of like a natural humidifier pack. To an extent, this does work surprisingly well, especially if the reeds are played daily.
However, the case itself is not air tight, and the natural wood “breathes.” This might work in some climates, but it’s so incredibly dry here in Calgary and the reeds do run the risk of drying out too much if you don’t pay attention. Unfortunately, the case does not have a compartment for a humidity control pack to be inserted, and even if it did it’s not air-tight so it wouldn’t matter all that much.
Of course, you could add this case inside of a Lomax case, or inside of another humidity control-type box, but at that point you might be better off considering another case that supports more exacting reed humidity control.
The Drop Test
I didn’t mean to incorporate this test. But accidents do happen!
After only a few days of using the case, I accidentally left the zipper on my clarinet case open and **WHACK!** the case fell out from about 5 feet from the top of my bag (which I was wearing like a backpack) onto hard concrete.
I was horrified and was sure that I’d turn around to find my brand new reed case in pieces on the pavement, and reeds would be strewn all over the street. How would I finish the review?!
Well, I held my breath, turned around, and was surprised to see the case just sitting on the ground, fully intact. Outside of some small scuffs, there was no structural damage detected, the lid remained on, and the reeds did not even shift perceptibly.
Over the 6 months of using this case since that time, it’s become evident that from a durability standpoint, these cases are much more rugged than they seem.
These cases are much more rugged than they seem.
This case has been in and out of my bag hundreds of times, and other than the scuff from dropping it, I can barely detect just one light scratch on the back side that is only visible from some angles under certain lighting conditions.
This is pretty impressive considering that the natural wood design is fighting with all the pencils, paper clips, and everything else also floating around in there.
What Could Be Improved
As much as I enjoyed using this product, there are a couple improvements that I believe could be rather easily implemented.
First of all, I really wish there was some kind of plastic seal to prevent too much air from leaking out of the case. Sure the wood is “breathable” in itself, but this seems to be accelerated by the fact that the two halves are held together only by magnets. It might also silence the click, though. Which might not be a bad thing if we consider my next thought.
Secondly, as much as I love the “click” that comes with the reed case, using it in performance can become anxiety inducing. An emergency reed change turns that satisfying sound into a sonic nightmare on stage. It’s not that loud, to be fair. But it is, by design, not as quiet as other cases on the market.
Lastly, I wish there was a way to externally determine the number of reeds in the case. It seems odd, but the 8 and 6-reed cases are exactly the same size because the 6 reed case can also support alto saxophone reeds (which are of course wider), and the 8 reed case is meant for clarinet or soprano sax only. Along the same lines, numbered reed compartments would be beneficial.
As a concept, and from a practicality standpoint, the Vientos Bambú reed case is an amazing product worthy of consideration. Even after months, I find myself admiring it every time I use it.
The magnetic sliding closure system is a brilliant design, and the satisfying “click” is there with every use.
But this click won’t be so endearing to all, and when combined with a lack of proper humidity controls this might be a deal-breaker for the most exacting players, especially those who live in dry climates.
Overall, a lot of people are going to really love these beautiful little reed cases, and I myself look forward to getting much use out of mine!