If I were buying a new guitar case I would get the Gator Cases Deluxe ABS Plastic Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Case. After extensive research, this case offers the best combination of price, versatility, and durability. It’s one of the only cases of its kind that has five hinges/straps which adds extra support when opening and shutting the case. These are usually the first parts of the case to break (and it’s happened to me with older and more expensive cases). For any guitar case that you purchase, I’d suggest verifying the return policy (especially if you buy online). I’ve had my best luck buying through Amazon – prices are good and I can usually return the case if it doesn’t fit my guitar correctly (which has never happened).
Why you need a guitar case.
I used to be adamantly against guitar cases (as noted in my case against guitar cases here).
I still kind of am against them.
Guitar cases keep us from playing our instrument.
We shove the guitar in the case, then shove the case under the bed or in a closet and forget we own it.
This means we never practice.
This means we never play.
This means we never get better.
I think it’s even more true for kids: Having a guitar stashed away in a case makes us forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
And if we do remember that we need to practice, the chore of hauling the case out and unpacking the guitar often gets in the way.
I generally advise my students to use a guitar stand.
However, as someone who frequently (i.e. every day) travels with his guitars, I’ve learned the value of having a hard shell guitar case.
Obviously if you’re looking to keep your guitar intact while traveling (even if you’re just traveling down the street to your guitar lesson), you’ll need some sort of protective device.
Most people opt for soft guitar cases (or gig bags).
Gig bags are cheap, lightweight, and easy to use.
However, gig bags don’t offer much in the way of protection for your guitar.
You’re basically just stuffing your guitar into a guitar-shaped backpack.
Now, if you have a relatively inexpensive guitar maybe a gig bag is all you need.
If you’re going with a gig bag, I’d probably go with the Hola! Deluxe Padded Acoustic and Classical Guitar Gig Bag. It fits most acoustic guitars, and it’s reinforced (not just like a padded bag).
If you’re going to do any sort of serious travel, you’re going to need a guitar case… and a hard shelled one at that.
Why you need a hard shelled guitar case.
Let me tell you a story.
I give guitar lessons to my students in their homes.
This means on any given day, I’m going to anywhere between three and five different houses.
I’m hauling my guitar in and out of the car.
I don’t mind.
I used to use a gig bag to carry my guitar.
Until one day…
I grabbed the gig bag (with my guitar in it).
Threw the strap over my shoulder…. and the zipper gave way.
My guitar fell onto the street.
Now my guitar has a nice dent in the body.
It still plays ok (I was lucky).
But after that, I’ve only used a hard case for my acoustic guitar.
It’s simply not worth the risk.
What to look for in a guitar case.
If you’re in the market for a guitar case, here’s what to look for:
Durability. You want something that will (above everything else) stand up to abuse.
The Gator Cases Deluxe ABS Plastic Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Case is my top choice.
It has a heavy duty aluminum valance, bolted-through handle (which will be nearly impossible to pull off), and five hinges.
In all honesty – the extra hinges are what sold this case for me. I’ve had nylon hinges break on other guitar cases (most only have three or four).
Versatility. If your guitar came with a hard case it’s possible that it will only fit the guitar that it came with. For most people that’s ok.
For me – it’s not.
I need a guitar case that can fit different guitars. The Gator Case fits the dreadnaught guitars that I own (as well as some of the cut aways).
Lightweight. The Gator Case is not the lightest hard shelled guitar case that I looked at, but it’s not the heaviest either. It clocks in at 8.7 lbs.
If you’re looking for something lighter (but still durable), Gearlux makes a guitar case that weighs 8 lbs.
I couldn’t find anything lighter that I felt was durable enough.
Cost. The Gator Case is about average when it comes to cost. You can definitely get cheaper guitar cases, though I think that you sacrifice quality and durability.
Other features. Some guitar cases will include accessory compartments and/or locking buckles.
The Gator case includes both of these… though I don’t really use them that often (if ever).
What to spend on a guitar case.
Guitar cases can cost anywhere between $15 for a cheap gig bag and $1500 for a handcrafted case.
I’d suggest staying within the $100 range.
However, consider the cost/value of your guitar.
You probably don’t need to break the bank on a guitar case that’s worth more than your actual guitar.
On the other hand – I have very cheap guitars that I love with all my heart (and I have no problem housing them in a case that costs more than they’re worth).
What to avoid when shopping for a guitar case.
For the most part, when shopping for a guitar case – you get what you pay for.
The parts of the guitar case that tend to break most frequently are the parts that get the most use.
The parts that break on gig bags:
- Anywhere there is stitching on a handle or strap
Pay close attention to the stitching. Some areas are glued rather than stitched – these will come apart and break. You’ve been warned.
The parts that break on hard cases:
- Nylon straps (that hold the guitar case open)
Again, make sure all of the hardware is in good shape.
My guitar case recommendation.
As I mentioned above, my pick for the best hard shelled guitar case is the Gator Cases Deluxe ABS Plastic Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Case.
The extra straps/hinges make it worth it for me.
It’s not super heavy, yet it’s extremely durable.
I would trust this case for long term and/or frequent travel.
My only disclaimer: Make sure you measure your guitar correctly before purchasing a case (and check the retailer’s return policy in the event that your guitar doesn’t fit.
I’ve had instances where I forgot to account for the button at the base of the body of my guitar. Just that little piece prevented my guitar from fitting in some cases.
That’s it! Let me know what you think – or if you have any other suggestions – just leave a comment below!
(Jake Posko does Online Guitar Lessons and Coaching as well as in-home lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at email@example.com).
(Photo Credit: David Poe)