If you missed Gary’s last post on Humidification, it’s one you’ll definitely want to check out here. Stay tuned for more posts on topics such as fingerboard maintenance, cleaning your tuning machines, and more!
Cases have changed considerably in the last 10 years.
The use of lighter, stronger materials, in addition to more user-friendly features means that the era of the heavy wooden case is coming to an end. Our instruments are safer and easier to carry than ever before.
In this post, I’ll discuss the most important factors to look for in a case and suggest a few brands that fulfill the criteria. The last four factors are the most obvious, so let me start with three that I feel are crucial, but often over-looked.
1. Vapor-resistant seal
In my last blog entry on humidification, I mentioned that a good seal on the case is crucial for storing your guitar at the proper humidity. Without a seal, an in-case humidifier will never do its job because the infinite volume of air outside the case will suck any moisture out. Therefore, a plastic or rubber gasket on both edges of the shell will ensure a vapor-resistant seal. The most economical case with a seal is the Crossrock CRF1000.
2. Head Support
Many players store strings and other paraphernalia in the open space below the head. While convenient, the empty space is a deadly accident waiting to happen.
Even a slight drop of the case can snap the guitar’s head off in a whip-lashing motion. The photo below shows one unfortunate guitar being repaired. Believe me, this happens a lot. BAM is one case brand that does provide head support.
Easily make your own head support now!
Prevent your guitar’s decapitation by cutting a piece of rigid foam with a serrated knife, making sure the bottom of your tuners slightly contact it when the guitar is in the case.
For the foam insert — shown in the photo below — I cut a slot in the side to hold a D’Addario humidifier pack. Alternatively, you can fold a cloth and use it like packing.
3. Configured backpack straps
Once you have backpack straps and two free hands, there’s no going back. Travel becomes a breeze. BAM, Crossrock, Hoffee and Visesnut cases all have this feature.
4. Impact-resistant shell
Hardness of the shell is very important, but it’s not the only factor. Diffusing the energy of impact counts for a lot, even if the shell gets a little deformed in the process. Your needs will vary depending on whether you’re traveling around town or around the world on airplanes. Two cases considered flight-worthy are by Hoffee and Visesnut.
5. Interior padding that floats the guitar off the shell
Hoffee and Visesnut cases are particularly good at this.
6. Weight of 9 pounds (4 kg) or less
There is a break-off point at about 9 pounds, above which a case feels too heavy to carry comfortably. All of the cases mentioned fall in this range, but BAM cases are especially light, weighing about 6 pounds.
You will ultimately choose a case based on price versus quality of the above features. Here are the approximate prices in USD, from lowest to highest:
- Crossrock CRF1000 ($240)
- Visesnut Active ($600)
- BAM Hightech ($800)
- Hoffee Air ($800)
- Visesnut Premier ($850)
That’s all for this installment of Guitar Care 101. We hope this post taught you a thing or two about cases and will help inform your next purchase. Make sure you check out our next post where Gary discusses ways of cleaning your greasy fingerboard!