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The best guitar cases and gig bags for protecting your gear

The best guitar cases and gig bags for protecting your gear
(Image credit: Future)

A good guitar case, or gig bag, could be the only thing between you and an expensive repair bill. We don’t say that lightly. So, it’s important when looking for some protection for your beloved instrument that you know what to look for. The fact is, there are a number of reasons why you might need one of the best guitar cases or gig bags on this list.

You may be a weekend warrior traveling from club to club playing your tunes, and need something to help you get your guitar, guitar cables and other accessories there in one piece. Or you may have a guitar collection so large, you simply don't have room to keep everything out on display. If that’s you, well done. We’re jealous. Whatever your reason, here’s a look at some of the best guitar cases and gig bags around.

What are the best guitar cases and gig bags right now?

Different players will have different needs when it comes to cases. For that reason, it’s hard to recommend one specific model from our list as our ‘best buy’. We were impressed by the levels of quality on offer throughout. Gone are the days of guitar gig bags being little more than a shred of material and a broken zip. Any of the choices listed below will happily serve a purpose for you. Your job is deciding exactly what that purpose will be, and what sort of risks you’re looking to mitigate. 

For us, it’s hard to look beyond a Gator case as a best all-rounder. Gator is the industry specialist and has the track record to back that up. As a hard-shell case with something extra, the Gator GC-Electric-LED is pretty faultless. It has all the features you’d expect from a decent-quality hard case, and the built-in LED is a nice (and genuinely useful) touch. 

Best guitar cases and gig bags: buying advice

In an ideal world, you’d never have to take your guitar anywhere other than its home, whether that be the studio or your living room. A guitar that doesn’t leave the building is a guitar that doesn’t risk getting damaged. Of course, life isn’t like that. We’ve all got places to go, people to see, gigs to play, songs to record, etc, and there will come a time when your precious axe has to travel out in the real world. When that day comes, you’re going to want to be certain it’s protected from falls, bangs, smashes and any number of potentially awful situations.

Protection will come either in the form of a hard case or a gig bag. Hard cases offer the ultimate in security, safely storing your guitar in a custom-fit tough plastic unit, with a soft interior to save it from being scratched. They’re also durable, making them perfect for touring.

Gig bags, on the other hand, are a more temporary solution. These usually take the form of padded bags, often with carry handles or a strap to wear them, as you would a rucksack. While they don’t offer as much in the way of protection, they are lighter and easier to manage. 

At the higher end of the price spectrum, a hard case may provide wheels for easier transportation, and may be constructed from harder-wearing materials or offer better security with stronger locks and latches. Traveling abroad with your instrument would definitely warrant investing in proper casing for your guitar. Jumping on the train to visit your friend’s house, however, may warrant only a trusty gig bag to get the job done.

Many manufacturers offer official, branded cases and gig bags specifically for the shape of the instrument that's going inside it. However exotic your guitar, there will be an option for you. 

The best way to view a case is to think of it as an insurance policy for your instrument. You’d hope to never find yourself in a situation where it could be damaged, but accidents do happen. And, as with certain other musical purchases, once you’ve got a good one, you’re never going to regret buying it.

The best guitar cases and gig bags available right now

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Gator Cases GC-Electric-LED

(Image credit: Gator Cases)

1. Gator Cases GC-Electric-LED

Let there be light!

Launch price: $149.99/£165/€195
Type: Hard case
For: Electrics – guitar and bass (various)
Features: ABS plastic exterior, foam and plush lining, interior LED lighting, storage
Reasons to buy
+Useful in dark environments+Trusted brand
Reasons to avoid
-Not available for certain spiky guitars

Gator is one of, if not the, biggest specialist case brands, and its expertise is evident with the GC-Electric-LED. What you get is a tough-as-nails plastic exterior, with aluminium skirting for extra durability. Inside, your guitar is safely ensconced inside a foam and plush material lining. 

What we really liked about this case, however, is the nifty LED interior lighting. Perhaps you’ve been on a dark stage somewhere, waiting to go on, and you can’t find your favourite pick or your tuner. It’s a small detail but one we found genuinely useful. 

Best guitar cases and gig bags: MONO Stealth Electric

(Image credit: MONO)

2. MONO Stealth electric guitar case

This high-quality, weather-resistant bag goes under the radar

Launch price: $199.99/£169/€200
Type: Gig bag
For: Electrics
Features: Neck suspension, water-resistant exterior, chest strap buckle, storage, shoulder straps
Reasons to buy
+Built for any weather+Top-loading design reduces hassle
Reasons to avoid

The MONO Stealth electric guitar case lives up to its name. This unassuming, yet extremely well made gig bag does away with fancy colours or flourishes, instead delivering a number of nice features designed to make actually using the thing as simple as possible. 

The MONO Stealth Electric has various different modes of carrying, and the top-loading entry/exit point is a nice feature that makes a positive difference to the slog of transporting your guitar.

Read the MONO Stealth electric guitar case review

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Reunion Blues Continental Voyager

(Image credit: Reunion Blues)

3. Reunion Blues Continental Voyager electric guitar case

A hard-working, hard-wearing gig bag to take on the road

Launch price: $199.95/£189/€223
Type: Gig bag
For: Electric
Features: Shock-absorbing and impact-resistant 'Flexoskeleton', reinforced interior bracing system, laptop/tablet pocket, double-stitched and reinforced at stress points
Reasons to buy
+Premium protection for your guitar+Top shock absorption+Built to last
Reasons to avoid
-Pricer than most

Between the shock-absorbing, impact resistant Flexoskeleton, the internal bracing system, the reinforced locking neck block and the endpin protector pads, the bulletproof design of the Continental Voyager should foil even the most negligent baggage handler.

Just as important, the hard-wearing Quadraweave exterior looks ice-cool, while there’s a Zero G handle that distributes the weight of your heftiest solid body electric.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Fender Deluxe Molded Case for Stratocaster and Telecaster

(Image credit: Fender)

4. Fender Deluxe Molded Case for Strat/Tele

The one for Fender owners

Launch price: $199.99/£169/€200
Type: Hard case
For: Electrics
Features: ATA molded military-grade polyethylene outer shell, TSA-approved locking center latch, Custom-fit EPS foam interior
Reasons to buy
+Slick look+Superb build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Only for Strat/Tele-shaped axes

If you own a Strat or Tele this Deluxe case from Fender makes the ideal choice. A rock solid ATA molded military-grade polyethylene outer shell does a sterling job of keeping your guitar out of harm's way, whether your pride and joy is going in and out of car trunks every weekend or being stored long-term.

Inside, a custom-fit EPS foam interior makes a snug cradle for your Strat or Telecaster and there's ample space in the interior storage area for accessories such as picks and a strap.

If you're a regular traveler, you'll appreciate the included TSA-approved locking center latch.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Gator Economy Gig Bag

(Image credit: Gator)

5. Gator Economy Gig Bag

Basic protection for basic needs

Launch price: $39.99/£25/€30
Type: Gig bag
For: Electric, acoustic
Features: Shoulder strap, 10mm padding, exterior zipped pocket
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for storage+Better made than most basic bags
Reasons to avoid
-Minimal protection

At the entry-level end of the line-up, we have the Gator Economy Gig Bag. The model pictured is for a dreadnought acoustic, but there are similar versions for most standard guitar sizes in both acoustic and electric models. 

At this price, it isn’t reasonable to expect the highest levels of protection - we certainly wouldn’t let this out of our sight if we were traveling any sort of distance - but as a means of storing your guitar while you jump in and out of a bus or train, it does the job.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: SKB 3i-4214-OP

(Image credit: SKB)

6. SKB 3i-4214-OP

This tank-proof case takes no prisoners

Launch price: $279.99/£255/€302
Type: Hard case
For: Electrics
Features: Molded plastic case, waterproof, pressure equalization valve
Reasons to buy
+They don’t come tougher than this+Ultimate peace of mind
Reasons to avoid

We had to choose one monster, right? The SKB 3i-4214-OP (catchy name, right?) is just that; this huge, hard-as-nails case will take your precious guitar and protect against pretty much anything. The military-grade plastics and waterproof sealing ensure that it can - the manufacturers claim - survive an actual flood, while the various locks and latches mean thieves are probably going to pass on attempting to crack this particular nut.

Realistically, ‘flood safe’ probably isn’t high on your list when it comes to choosing a guitar case. If it is, or perhaps you play on the cruise ships, then this is undoubtedly the case for you.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Epiphone Premium electric gig bag

(Image credit: Epiphone)

7. Epiphone Premium electric gig bag

A great budget gig bag for most solidbody electrics

Launch price: $39.99/£34.99/€42
Type: Hard case
For: Electrics
Features: Finished in black with the Epiphone logo, zipped pockets for storage, hard-wearing ballistic nylon
Reasons to buy
+The perfect companion for your Epiphone+Ballistic nylon can handle some abuse+Gig-ready
Reasons to avoid
-Not for pricier guitars

Don’t expect pro-level protection at this price point, but for rehearsals, one-off gigs and short tours in orderly vans, Epiphone’s no-nonsense case should keep your electric safe.

The ballistic nylon outer feels road tough, the heavy-duty carry handle balances the load nicely, and there’s a decent wad of protective foam within. Meanwhile, the generous dimensions are ideal for most Epiphone solid-bodies – although you might want to fork out a little more if you have a Gibson.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Gator ATA Molded

(Image credit: Gator)

8. Gator ATA Molded guitar case

A simple but effective guitar case

Launch price: $164.99/£119/€235
Type: Hard case
For: Acoustic
Features: Locking centre latch, molded polyethylene shell, foam interior
Reasons to buy
+Very safe and secure+Built for serious travel
Reasons to avoid
-It's very large

Another entry from Gator, this time in the shape of a hard-shell acoustic guitar case. The Gator ATA Molded is built especially for dreadnought acoustics, although we found that it worked well with certain other, slightly smaller shapes (and Gator does offer cases for other shapes of acoustic and electric guitar). This case is designed with flight in mind, and has a number of nice features for that purpose, including TSA-approved locks and a seriously tough exterior shell. 

The nature of the beast dictates that hard-shell dreadnought cases are going to be large – and this is certainly that. But with it comes a certain degree of confidence that it can survive whatever the cargo-hold crew can throw at it. 

Best guitar cases and gig bags: Ibanez PowerPad Double

(Image credit: Ibanez)

9. Ibanez PowerPad Double gig bag

Best of both worlds

Launch price: $169.99 /£109/€118
Type: Gig Bag
For: Electric and Acoustic
Features: Protection for two guitars, zips into two single cases, exterior pockets
Reasons to buy
+Elegant solution to a common problem+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most rigid case you’ll ever see

There may be situations where you need to take two guitars to a show. Step forward the Ibanez PowerPad Double. This superb-value gig bag ensures that you can carry an electric and an acoustic guitar at the same time. Anyone who has struggled with two gig bags on a windy day, each seemingly with a mind of their own, will appreciate this bag. 

The bag itself isn’t built for hardcore protection, but it will get your guitars from A to B easily enough. We loved the way it can zip down into two single bags too, if required.

Best guitar cases and gig bags: ENKI AMG 2

(Image credit: ENKI)

10. ENKI AMG-2

Serious touring gear

Launch price: From $449/£499/€590
Type: Hard case
For: Electrics x 2
Features: Hard plastic shell, two-guitar EVA foam insert, wheels, front and top carry handles, padlock plate
Reasons to buy
+As safe as they come+Built for touring
Reasons to avoid
-Pro-level performance at a pro-level price

Continuing the multi-guitar case theme comes the heavyweight ENKI AMG-2, which delivers safe passage for two electric guitars within a single hard-shell case. 

The ENKI AMG-2 is built for the rigors of the road, and has a number of neat features to aid travel and transportation, such as wheels and multiple handles. We also like the way you can padlock it shut for extra security.