All You Should About a Guitar Case: Specs & Details
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Top 3 Types of Guitar Cases & Their Features
You might believe that a guitar case’s only function is to shield your instrument from harm or the elements. Sure, they serve to protect you, but they also serve to simplify your life. Even an inexpensive gig bag will make transporting a guitar simpler because they may be cumbersome to carry about. If you like, you can strap the guitar to your back and ride it around town on your bike.
Three main types of guitar cases are available:
- “Gig bags” or soft cases
- Hard cases
- Hybrid cases
Of fact, there are many variations within each of these three major categories, including wide ranges in each product’s cost, weight, durability, and degree of guitar protection. What you want to accomplish with the guitar ultimately determines the type of guitar case you require.
Are you constantly loading it into a trailer and driving it to live performances, or are you just lugging it around within your home? You can really want more than one kind of case, depending on how active you are as a musician.
1 – Soft Guitar Cases (Gig Bags)
The outside of gig bags is often composed of leather, nylon, or a mix of those materials. They often come with at least one additional shoulder strap in addition to the conventional carrying handles. Many even include straps that resemble backpacks so you can wear the gig bag on your back comfortably and free up your hands to do other things, like ride a bicycle. For sheet music, cords, straps, and other accessories, most gig bags have at least one sizable exterior accessory pocket. Some upscale gig bags also have outside rubberized reinforcing.
Gig bags used to be considered solely as inexpensive, basic protection, suited for cheap guitars that weren’t going to undergo arduous travel/transport. Not to safeguard the guitar, but to make transporting it simpler, you purchased a gig bag. But gig bags have advanced significantly, and while inexpensive, light-duty gig bags are still readily accessible, companies like Mono, Fusion, and GruvGear now make premium gig bags that offer excellent impact protection.
Gig bags can cost as little as $10 to as much as $300, with the majority of decent-quality gig bags ranging between $75 and $150. When carrying the guitar around town, the stronger gig bags provide enough protection. Gig bags can be useful for transporting your guitar to and from gigs, but only if you want to carry it by hand or have it with you almost constantly.
If you need to load your guitar into an equipment trailer or otherwise anticipate it being jostled around a lot, gig bags are not ideal. Never use a gig bag in an area where it could fall or where something else might run into, bump against, or stack on top of it.
- Cordoba Classic Guitar Case
- World Tour Gig Bag
2 – Hard Guitar Cases
The exterior shell of a guitar hard case can be constructed from a variety of hard materials, including wood, plastic, fiberglass, metal, and even pricey specialized materials like carbon fiber. They are coated on the inside with a plush material that won’t damage the surface of the guitar and is soft, cushioned, and will protect it from serious hits. They frequently include one or more inside compartments for more compact equipment. Hard cases often come with a single primary handle for carrying and an additional shoulder strap as an option. Some even have wheels like those on baggage.
Hard cases can be subdivided into the following:
- Chipboard (Cardboard) Guitar Cases
- Hardshell (Wooden) Guitar Cases
- Molded Guitar Cases
- Road Cases
Chipboard (Cardboard) Guitar Cases
They are a hybrid between a soft case and a hard case since they are made of chipboard, a thick cardboard-like material. They have hardware that is exceedingly flimsy and prone to breaking. They don’t have any interior cushioning or soft material to grip the instrument firmly or protect it.
Really, chipboard casings are only offered for acoustic guitars. Be extremely cautious when getting an acoustic guitar case online since you won’t always find “chipboard” listed in the product title. If you find what appears to be a robust acoustic guitar box for about $50, it may be one of these chipboard junks (but not always).
The fact that online vendors almost never promote chipboard cases with the lid open is a clear giveaway. They won’t reveal the inside since most consumers would be turned off by the absence of a nice, fluffy interior—and understandably so.
As you might have imagined, chipboard guitar cases provide very little security, and some might even be harmful due to the lack of padding within. Even worse, the carrying handle, hinges, or latches might malfunction or come loose—typically when you least expect it. Simply avoiding these situations is our recommendation because better alternatives are available for roughly the same cost.
Hardshell (Wooden) Guitar Cases
This is the tried-and-true guitar case that has become synonymous with new guitars for many years. It is the only hard case available in this design. Although they are still widely used, more and more guitar manufacturers are switching to different materials in place of these wooden boxes.
Hardshell guitar cases are typically constructed from 14″ or 3/8″ plywood and are mainly coated with tweed or tolex (the same stuff most guitar amps are covered with). A guitar’s factory OEM hard case may have molded interiors that perfectly fit the instrument, which can provide exceptional (but not guaranteed) protection from damaging impacts.
For regular ground transportation, including lugging the guitar about town or on road vacations, wooden hardshell cases provide great all-around protection. They are not indestructible, but they can take some fairly severe beatings. Do not neglect to check your hardshell case for any indications of severe structural or hardware (latches, hinges, and handle) damage if you often travel.
Molded Guitar Cases
Several guitar makers are presently moving from plywood to molded polymers like ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PE for their “factory OEM” cases (polyethylene). This style of debate has been more prevalent over the past twenty years or more, and for good cause.
These polymers are particularly impact resistant since they are rigid and robust while remaining flexible. At the very high end, companies like Hoffee, Karura, and Calton provide additional options like Thinsulate thermal insulating barriers and employ materials like carbon fiber or fiberglass. Since they are both airtight and waterproof, certain molded guitar cases provide excellent protection against the elements, dust, and even an unexpected dip in the ocean.
Depending on the sort of molded case you wind up purchasing, this case category is quite adaptable. Cheaper ABS plastic covers offer good protection for carrying your guitar about town, on the road, etc. on a regular basis. They typically employ hardware of ordinary grade and can sustain some reasonable blows, but they are not impervious to harm (similar to wooden cases). Basically, the same warnings that apply to hardwood hard shell casings also apply here: be careful and routinely check the case and hardware for damage.
The powerful “road case” is the last division of hard cases that we’ll look at. These are the ones that professionals use to protect their equipment when traveling. They have faith that these boxes will safeguard their guitars and other stage equipment while being transported by bus, truck, or airplane (or all 3). Any touring band you go to will almost certainly have roadies present, sometimes even on stage.
Road cases, like wooden hardshell cases, feature plywood walls that are either 1/4″ or 3/8″ thick. However, road cases go one step further in terms of protection by encasing the plywood in layers of robust, thick PVC, HDPE, or a material like it (varies by manufacturer). This increases the plywood’s inherent strength and lowers the possibility of it breaking or splintering.
Aluminum plating is used to cover all edges, and hefty rivets are used to secure it. The stiffness and strength of the casing are further aided by this metal edge. All locks and hinges are constructed of a strong, heavy-duty metal, and the corners are reinforced with thick steel end-caps.
Road cases are best used by professional traveling musicians who have a road crew because they are expensive and hefty. Road cases are still rather hefty, despite some manufacturers’ efforts to make them lighter. A high-quality guitar travel case typically weighs between 25 and 35 pounds when it is empty. You can imagine how exhausting it would be to try to carry one of these yourself after you factor in the weight of your instrument.
ATA Certified Cases
To get ATA approved, a case must pass a battery of tests, including being dropped from a height of three feet, having the latches and handle put under a lot of stress, and being subjected to various kinds of vibration.
With this certification, it is guaranteed that the case will “survive” at least 100 flights. As you can see, ATA approved cases are made to withstand the harshest environments and abuse, so don’t simply think about using them for flying.
- Gator GTSA Series
- Thon Case
- SKB Injection
- Gator GTSA Series
- Gator Deluxe ABS （More GATOR products）
- Harley Benton
- Thon Single Cut
- Thon Double Cut
3 – Hybrid Guitar Cases
In essence, hybrid guitar cases have the gig bag-like soft outside components but the rigid-foam form and plush, padded inside of a hard case.
Hybrid cases include a sturdy zipper that opens and closes them, much like gig bags do. The plush handle, shoulder strap, backpack-style straps, and a sizable exterior pocket are additional features that are comparable to gig bags. Similar to hard cases, they will include inside accessory compartments, plush-lined firm foam interiors, and occasionally a hard carrying handle.
For those who require the portability of a gig bag but need a little bit more impact protection than the majority of gig bags offer, hybrid cases are fantastic. A hardwood or molded hardshell case still provides more protection than hybrid cases, though.
This implies that they are suitable for normal city transportation, including getting to and from performances, but only if you intend to carry your guitar around with you most of the time. If you intend to place a hybrid case in circumstances where it could topple over or where other objects might fall on top of it or be stacked on top of it, avoid doing so.
- SKB Hybrid Case
- Gator Pro Go
- ProTec Case
The reasons why you might (or might not) require a guitar case were recently discussed, and the three main types of guitar cases—soft cases (gig bags), hard cases, and hybrid cases—were then described. There are many different types of guitar cases available, including ones that are specifically formed, uniquely painted, constructed of exotic materials, or embellished with priceless diamonds. 99% of the time, a guitar case falls into one of the categories we’ve covered here, no matter how unusual it may be.
Make a sensible choice and be aware that having many types of cases for various travel circumstances is totally common.
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