7 Qualities to Look for in a Case — Guitar Care 101 (ft. Garrett Lee) [2 of 7]
In his second installment of Guitar Care 101, luthier Gary Lee discusses cases and things to consider when purchasing a new one. 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
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 our second 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 tune in for our next post where Gary discusses ways of cleaning your greasy fingerboard! In the meantime, check out https://tonebase.co for more classical guitar educational content.
About Garret Lee — https://www.garrettleeguitars.com/
Garrett Lee has enjoyed playing guitar since the age of nine. In 1999, his fascination and curiosity with guitar design, coupled with his love for woodcraft, drew him to begin building classical guitars. Trained as a research scientist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, he enjoyed a successful career in academic research and later, in biotechnology. He was compelled by the challenge and intrigue of lutherie to transition to full-time building in 2006.
Gary’s research background inspires creativity, thoughtful design, and exacting execution. His handcrafted classical guitars incorporate traditional and contemporary design. Midway through his development, Gary received mentorship from celebrated American luthier John Gilbert.
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