Do You Really Need a Guitar Case?

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Guitars are rather fragile objects, meaning they must be protected from impacts. There are several options, such as a guitar case or a gig bag. However, guitar cases are not cheap, which leads to some questioning if a guitar case is really needed. Do you really need a guitar case?

You may need a guitar case if you have an expensive guitar to protect or if you frequently take your guitars to travel. This is because it provides the best protection for your guitar. A gig bag may do if you only intend to keep your guitar at home for practice or you do not mind your guitar picking up dents and scratches. 

This article discusses if you really need a guitar case. We also consider the advantages and disadvantages of guitar cases. We also compare guitar cases with gig bags and which one may be better for you.

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Do You Really Need a Guitar Case?


What Is A Guitar Case?

A guitar case is a hard shell used to store and protect a guitar during transport. Guitar cases are usually hard and durable on the outside but soft on the inside to cradle and guitar and prevent it from scratching. Padded layers are usually foam to absorb outside impacts between the hard and soft layers.

A guitar case is a storage container used to store and transport guitars. Guitar cases usually have a hard outer shell made of wood, plastic, fiberglass, metal, or even carbon fiber. 

However, on the inside, they are soft and padded and give a soft, plush surface to ensure the guitar will not be scratched. These may be synthetic furs, foam, or velvet. Between the hard shell and the soft lining, there are usually thick layers of padding to absurd impacts that may damage the guitar. These are likely made of foams. 

Guitar cases are usually operated by opening their top half, similar to a suitcase. You place your guitar inside before closing the lid and securing it with a suitcase clip. You may see several clips along the case.

You may also see several compartments inside a guitar case intended for you to store smaller accessories, such as picks, capos, metronomes, tuners, and more. These compartments usually have a lid to close them to prevent the items from falling out and scratching the guitar. 

Guitar cases usually have one main handle to carry by hand, similar to a suitcase. Some guitar cases may also come with optional shoulder straps. Some even come with luggage-style wheels built in to make transport easier. 

What Are The Types Of Guitar Cases?

There are four major types of guitar cases, chipboard (cardboard), hardshell (wooden), molded, and road cases. Each guitar case has a unique construction and may have subtle differences in material, construction, protection, flexibility, and price. 

On the surface, guitar cases are simple hard cases on the outside, softer paddings in the middle, and soft lining on the inside to protect the guitar. However, you may encounter different guitar cases, which may be confusing for you to choose from.

In general, you may see four types of guitar cases, each with its own way of construction, materials, and flexibility. These cases may also differ in price and protection level.

Chipboard Guitar Cases

Chipboard guitar cases may just be the worst you can get for yourself, as it is made of chipboard. Chipboards are a thick cardboard-like material. As a result, you cannot exactly call it a hard case, nor is it a good soft case like a gig bag. 

Chipboard guitar cases usually either come with a half-hearted lining inside that is not very soft or no paddings. It also tends to come with cheap clips and latches and may be prone to fail. 

As a result, chipboard guitar cases tend to be sold cheaply or be given as a bundle with cheaper acoustic guitars. If you are ordering online and see a guitar case as part of the guitar bundle, check if they are chipboard cases first.

Molded Guitar Cases

Molded guitar cases are a more recent and modern rethinking of how a guitar case should be. It uses molded plastics such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PE (polyethylene) to make the case. 

Molded guitar cases are hard, durable, and can withstand temperature and water exposure. At the same time, it retains a degree of flex, allowing it to be impact resistant. More expensive models also may be airtight and watertight and are TSA compliant, meaning they can be checked into flights. 

These molded guitar cases are also usually offered as standard, original ones, as the area may be molded to fit one specific guitar model. This means molded guitar cases may not be able to fit all guitars. 

Road Cases

Road cases promise the ultimate protection for your guitar, and rightly so. Road cases have outer shells made of a quarter-inch of ⅜ inch plywood. These plywoods have additional materials sandwiches in between, such as PVC and HDPE plastics for additional toughness. 

All the edges are then secured with aluminum plating, with rivets as fasteners. The corners are then reinforced with thick steel end caps. All latches or clips are made of heavy-duty steel or brass.

As a result, road cases are extremely tough. This explains why professional musicians trust nothing by road cases to keep their gear safe when touring. These cases store not just guitars but amps, speakers, cables, mixers, and many more. 

With such protection, you get issues such as price and weight. Road cases are expensive, with you having to fork out $400 or more for one. They are also heavy to lug around. 

Hardshell Guitar Cases

Hardshell guitar cases are what many people have in mind when they think about a guitar case. These cases are usually made with a quarter inch of ⅜ inch of plywood, then covered primarily in tweed and Tolex. This gives the case good rigidity and protection, while the waterproof Tolex helps to keep the case dry. 

The insides are usually made of velvet or with synthetic fur lining. You get paddings, mostly made of foams, between the outer and inner case. The interior may sometimes come molded, meaning it will only fit an exact guitar model. This provides even better protection for your guitar but limits its flexibility. 

Hardshell cases may be the best case a regular hobbyist guitarist can get as it is affordable, light, and offers adequate protection. Some hardshell guitar cases are also very well made and are a beautiful accompaniment to your guitar.

What Are The Advantages Of A Guitar Case?

A guitar case can give you excellent protection against impact, drops, or vibration. It is easier to check in and fly with a guitar case, plus it will handle baggage handlers well. A guitar case usually helps the guitar retain its tuning and performance better. It is good for buskers as it can double as a display stand and a tip jar.

A guitar case does offer many advantages, as it is probably the best type of protection you can offer to your beloved guitar. It can also fulfill some functional purposes, especially if you need to double it as furniture of some sort.

Excellent Protection: Compared to other types of protection for a guitar, guitar cases are the best protection you can give to your guitar. It is hard and waterproof outside, which can easily handle impacts and drops. 

On the inside, the soft plush surfaces ensure your guitar does not scratch. The foam paddings behind the soft lining absorb impact to avoid shocking your guitar.

Easier To Fly: Some hard guitar cases are TSA compliant, meaning they can be used as check-in luggage to fly. This means you can easily take your guitar on a flight somewhere and not worry about it. 

TSA-compliant guitar cases can also handle the worst of baggage abusers, the baggage handlers. You no longer have to worry about how these guys would throw your guitar case, as the case can handle it well.

Retains tuning Better: Guitar cases are usually very protective of the guitar and reduce its exposure to things such as impact, vibration, humidity, high-temperature fluctuations, and dust. 

This may help the guitar to retain its tuning. This is because the guitar wood did not expand due to the temperature changes and the humidity. This means you do not have to tune your guitar again when you open it back up to play later.

Good For Buskers: Guitar cases are an excellent prop for a busker. This is because a busker does not need to carry anything extra to set up its performance station. The busker simply opens the case and uses it as a display stand and tip jar. 

The large compartment inside the guitar case can also keep a large amount of money, just in case the busker is making a good income that day.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Guitar Case?

The disadvantage of a guitar case is that it may be costly to purchase. It may also add unnecessary weight and bulk to your guitars, making them harder to move around. Guitar cases also usually need to be carried by hand instead of having backpack straps such as a guitar bag.

Guitar cases offer excellent protection to your guitar but at a cost. This may come from higher costs, excess weight, and bulk. 

This may make moving your guitars around a problem. The guitar case is bulky and cannot be carried around on your back, like guitar bags. 

Cost: Guitar cases are much more expensive when compared to other types of protection, such as guitar bags or soft padded cases. In fact, if you are looking for a standard hardshell guitar case, expect to pay from $100 upwards. 

This is much more expensive than if you just look for padded guitar bags, which may only cost around $25 or slightly more. Paying four times more to protect your guitar may not make sense, depending on your needs. 

Weight: A guitar case is usually much heavier than a guitar bag or padded one. This may make it harder for you to bring it around. Although most guitar cases come with a handle, some even with luggage-style wheels, they are still a bit heavy to move around. 

Most guitar cases come around 10 pounds without the guitar. If you add in the guitar, that may easily become 20 pounds. The additional weight may make it harder to lug around and consume your weight limit when you check in for your flights.

Bulk: Using a guitar case also increases the bulk of your guitar, as it occupies more space. This means storing and moving your guitar around may be a challenge. 

The bulk of the guitar case also made it rather inconvenient to wear like a backpack, making hand-carrying shoulder straps the only option. Carrying it around for a while should be fine, but your shoulder or hands may feel the strain if you lug it around for hours. 

Do You Really Need A Guitar Case?

You may need a guitar case if you have an expensive guitar to protect or if you frequently take your guitars to travel. This is because it provides the best protection for your guitar. A gig bag may do if you only intend to keep your guitar at home for practice or you do not mind your guitar picking up dents and scratches. 

In many cases, whether you really need a guitar case would depend on your relationship with your guitar, and what you intend to do with it. 

Some factors you need to consider include how much protection you want for your guitar and how expensive your guitar is. You also want to consider how much you travel with your guitar or if you are a busker.

How Much Protection Do You Want? If you want nothing but the best protection for your guitar, then you will definitely need a guitar case. This is because guitar cases protect your guitar very well compared to a padded or unpadded guitar bag. 

You may be fine with just a guitar bag if you need some protection for your guitar and do not see the need to go all out on it. 

Do You Like Well Made Cases? Some people love to purchase high-quality products, and perhaps you are one of them. In this case, guitar cases tend to be a nicer, more beautiful casing for your guitar, compared to if you are simply using a guitar bag. 

Some guitar cases are finished with wooden surfaces and are absolutely beautiful to look at. Some are given a leather-style outer finish, making them look luxurious.

How Expensive Is Your Guitar? Suppose you just bought for yourself a Fender Stratocaster from the 1960s or a limited Les Paul signed by Herman Li. In this case, you should purchase a guitar case to absolutely protect your guitar. 

These guitars are no longer mere instruments. They have probably become investable assets, which you can probably resell for a higher price in the future. 

If you just bought for yourself a common practice guitar you intend to use to shred and practice with, chances are you would not mind scratching or dinging it. In that case, you can do it with just a bag.

How Much Do You Travel With Your Guitar? If you frequently travel with your guitar, you want to have a hard guitar case to protect it. Guitars are exposed to not just impact while on travels but also things such as humidity, temperature changes, and dust. 

These may affect how your guitar sounds, as the wood may react to these factors. A hard case protects your guitar better and prevents you from having to tune your guitar again later. 
Are You A Busker? If you busk, consider a guitar case. This is because it can double as your prop. Simply open up the guitar case, leave a message, and then drop a few coins inside to show the passersby that they can tip you by putting the money inside the guitar case.

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