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My Wave case review
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My Wave case review - 04-22-2009, 04:22 AM

My Sterling Wave Case Review
Recently, I was fortunate to win a Sterling Wave case from John Barton in his generous contest. All that was asked in return was an honest review, so here it is. Iíve never owned a true custom case. They have all been production models, up to and including an Instroke, so consider my experience when you read my opinions. The model is the Black and Tan embossed style, which is designed for a 3x4 or 2x5 configuration.
Interior features: Iíll start here (and be a little wordy) because IMO that should be the buyerís primary concern when purchasing a case. The Wave uses a system of firm but flexible soft tubes. The dividers flex easily, but do not compress enough to allow components in adjacent tubes to come in contact. I decided to use a ďjoint-downĒ configuration to keep chalk out of the tubes. I use joint protectors 100%, and I made sure my j/pís had rounded edges so that no tube material would be snagged during insertion or removal. The underside of the lid is covered in the same vinyl material as the outside, so chalk residue from the tips is easily wiped clean. Because of the snug configuration, when fully loaded, you need to remove a butt first before removing a shaft when the joint-down configuration is used. I assume it would be the opposite if you stocked it joints-up. At anything less than a full capacity load, the tubes give enough that you can load or unload without regard to any sequence. Also, for those who stand up assembled cues in their case while playing, no problem, since space is only an issue when fully loaded. I donít consider using a loading/unloading routine to be a detriment at all. Actually, I feel more comfortable with the snug fit than having components bouncing around in a hard tube.
Unlike many other cases with a zipper lid, the zipper teeth are set lower than the case rim, so youíll never drag a shaft or butt over the teeth-definitely cool. The interior material is of a texture that is neither slippery nor clingy. If you accidentally pick up the case with the lid open, your shafts and butts wonít come flying out. The interior is equipped with an ďorganic reboundĒ system that provides some natural spring action inside the tubes. You can actually give the case a shake when opened, and all the components will rise up slightly. Iíve not found this necessary, as all components are easy to access and grip, even with a full 3x4 load. In that respect itís better than an Instroke 2x4, since the shafts sit considerably lower than the butts in the Instroke. All in all, the interior is the absolute best I have ever seen in any case, regardless of price. Cues are held snug but not tight in all directions, well padded, and the shell feels fairly stiff, especially for the empty weight of under 4 lbs, so Iím pretty confident of the Waveís level of protection, though I hope never to test it. Definitely an A+++ grade IMO for the interior.
Exterior features: Despite its large capacity, this case is slim, only 2 5/8Ē X 5 3/8Ē, not including pockets or handle. There is no top handle, but the trim size makes it easy to grab from the top. The side handle is a pre-formed soft material, balanced well, definitely the most comfortable handle on any case Iíve had. The Wave is equipped with two rear-mounted shoulder straps for backpack-type use, but I only use one. The shoulder pad is very wide and long, with a crescent shape, and a non-skid texture on the inside. The textured surface grips your shoulder well, even with only one strap. Feels like it would be quite comfortable for a long haul, but long-term carrying is not an issue for me. Itís usually just to and from the car, so the side handle gets the majority of use. Unlike many other cases, there are no rings of webbing around the case at the handle or straps, which I consider to be a glaring sign of a cheap-ass case. Hardware is all plastic, but seems substantial. Pockets are quite large, about 5X8Ē for the top, and 5X14Ē for the lower. The pockets are actually curved in profile to match the case body, so they appear slimmer than their actual size. Depth is only about 1 1/8Ē, not enough for those who carry their own CB, but more than enough room for my stuff. There is no separate provision for a jump butt, but plenty of room. I guess you canít have everything when youíre trying to keep costs reasonable. The pocket zippers encircle three sides, and are very smooth. Lid zipper is not so smooth, as it binds around the tighter curve of the case sides. A minor annoyance, but hopefully it will loosen up with more use. There are no feet on the bottom, but the material is the same non-slip texture as the inside of the strap.
Appearance: I left this section for last, since itís purely personal opinion rather than evaluation. The Wave is obviously designed in a modern, non-traditional style, with some attention-grabbing contrast in colors. Frankly itís a little wild for my AARP-age taste, but might be fine for yours. My black / tan model has a stamped embossed pattern throughout, which makes it look and feel cheaper IMO. A softer-texture, more leather-like vinyl would suit me just fine. The seam where the tan and black materials meet has some pronounced ridges rather than a flat, even seam. Hopefully, this was just an early production flaw that got through QC inspection. Color and material aside, the Wave has a sleek, trim appearance, much more appealing to my eyes than the boxy cases on the market. Itís definitely not your grandfatherís cue case.
Overall: If you made through this lengthy dissertation, youíre likely considering purchase of a Wave. IMO itís a simple decision. The only ďIfí in the deal is the looks. Find a color combination that suits your preferences, and it should be a done deal. With only minor exceptions, the features, protection qualities and ergonomics should put this case at the top of anyoneís shopping list. Itís that good. After only three months Iím spoiled. If I could build my own dream case, Iíd take my Wave; replace the exterior vinyl with buffalo-style leather and the plastic hardware with brass. I better start saving up $$ now. My next case is gonna be expensive.
PS. After some use, I uncovered a defect in the zippers. The "loop" on the zipper slides for the case is not closed, and allowed the zipper pull tab on the case cap to slip out, rendering the zipper inoperative. Fortunately, there are two zippers for the case cap, so the case was still useable. While John Barton graciously offered to replace the case, I elected to simply close the gap with a small drop of epoxy, which has resolved the issue so far.
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