As guitar models and design styles have multiplied since the dawn of the butterscotch blonde Fender Telecaster in the early '50s, so have guitar cases. That is a good thing. If there were limited options for cases, it would be hard to find protective homes for the different styles of guitars that exist.
Softshell cases are made of malleable, squishy materials. They tend to be cheaper and more economical to store when you're not using them, but they offer less protection.
Mono M8 (Acoustic)
The Mono M8 Acoustic and Classical Guitar Case (meaning it can house either a steel-string or a classical nylon-string acoustic) is one of the best softshells on the market. Technically, it's considered a hybrid shell because it mixes soft and hard materials in innovative ways, but it is typically categorized as softshell in stores. Some of its best features include:
- High density foam bumpers that divert vertical impact
- Patented headlock design, in which the headlock is suspended inside the case, providing extraordinary protection and snugness
- Smartly located storage pocket and smaller gusset pockets
- Surprisingly lightweight, very easy to pick up and carry
It costs about $230, and every online store that sells it shows impressively high customer ratings. It always seems to be among the top-rated cases. For example, on Amazon, it has a near perfect rating with over 100 customer reviews.
Gator G-PG ProGo Ultimate Gig Bag
If you need a softshell case for your electric guitar, this Gator Gig Bag is another highly rated, high quality case. It has the following features:
- Ultra thick sidewalls
- Micro-fleece interior with an internal shock absorber
- Protective rain cover
- Pockets for a tablet, cable management, and sheet music
- Padded nylon handle
- Removable backpack straps
It costs about $125 and has excellent ratings on Musician's Friend.
Hardshell cases are not just hard exteriors as the name suggests. The top layer of material, which is a tough, sturdy hard material, has other protective layers beneath that cradle your guitar. This makes the hardshell a fantastic choice for passionate musicians who want to spend more but don't want to go to the most expensive, professional option of flight cases.
Gator Deluxe ABS Molded Case
Gator is one of the most well known guitar case brands, and for good reason: they consistently make superb cases. One of their most popular is their hardshell ABS molded case for acoustic guitars.
- Deluxe ABS plastic exterior
- Heavy duty aluminum valance
- Padded neck cradle
- Deep plush lining
- EPS foam protective interior
- Locking latches
- Through-bolted handle for extra strength
- Accessory compartment
They make this style case for just about every style of acoustic there is, from classical to dreadnought, from jumbo to brand-specific such as Taylor guitars. The cost is about $120 depending on the kind of acoustic guitar you'll be housing with it. Customer reviews on Sweetwater are overwhelmingly positive with over a four-star average rating.
Crossrock Fiberglass Dreadnought
The Crossrock Fiberglass hard-shell case, a luxury-styled case designed for steel-string acoustic guitars, is among the best. Pedal Rock Star featured the brand in its Ultimate Guide to the Best Hard Cases. The Crossrock has the following stellar features:
- 100 percent pure fiberglass arch-top shell, which can withstand tremendous amounts of weight
- Hygrometer that measures moisture content in the case so that you can monitor the conditions affecting your guitar
- Comes in multiple colors
- Velvet cover combined with tightly fitted sponge filler for the interior
- High-end hardware fitting
- Water-resistant rubber strip case seal
- Ergonomic, stress-relieving shoulder strap
It typically costs over $200 and has top customer ratings everywhere it is sold.
SKB Shaped Electric Hardshell
The SKB hardshell guitar case is rated among the top cases of 2017 by Heavy. It's not hard to see why when you skim through its many features:
- Molded, waterproof plastic exterior
- Heavy duty TSA-approved trigger release locking latches
- Interior mold of EPS foam
- Different molds for different guitar shapes available
- Neck support runs long, from the molded body compartment to the headstock, for extra stability
The price runs from about $120 to $360 depending on which guitar shape and style you want. On Sweetwater, every version of this case is rated at least 4 out of 5 stars by customers.
Flight cases are for the serious touring musician, typically the professional gigging guitarist who frequently travels by air. There are also times when you are moving a long distance, and if you have an extremely valuable guitar (or one that means a lot to you), a flight case will render your instrument virtually indestructible.
Road Cases USA
Road Cases USA is a household name among touring musicians. It is one of the most iconic features you'll see when you go to concerts. As you arrive before the show starts and see the familiar shape of large black cases with silver metal plating and locks with the band's name stamped on them, you are most likely looking at Road Cases USA. The brand has been used by such artists as KISS, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Fleet Foxes, and many others. Their guitar cases range from about $180 to nearly $400.
Anvil/Calzone Flight Cases
Premier Guitar described Anvil/Calzone as a top flight case brand. It's not shocking, considering that Anvil/Calzone also makes cases for highly sensitive military transport and the medical and aerospace industries. If anyone knows how to make your guitar secure, it's them. The company describes their cases as being 30 percent lighter than other cases. A guitar case retails close to $500.
Buying the Best Guitar Case
Before you can choose the right case for your guitar, you have to perform some self-assessment by asking the right questions.
- Do you need a case for an acoustic or electric guitar?
- Are you concerned about cost? If so, look for the cheaper options, but ones that still offer quality padding and protection for your instrument.
- Is money not an issue or are you aiming to spend big to protect a prized instrument? Don't hesitate to invest in a high quality softshell or hardshell case even if the sticker price is high.
- Do you need a heavy duty case that can take serious punishment? If you'll be touring or doing many local gigs and rehearsals that require transportation, then the answer is likely a big yes. You will likely need to consider the more serious options such as the hardshell cases or the road cases.
Consider your answers to those questions as you explore the available options.
Protecting Your Six-Stringed Sidekick
Many guitarists become so familiar and fond of their guitars that they name their instruments. They often feel a bond to their guitars that's not unlike Luke Skywalker and his droid sidekick R2-D2. If you plan to conquer the music world with your six-stringed sidekick, you'll need a great guitar case for the journey.