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.
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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.
With Black Friday on the horizon, it could be worth holding off on picking up a new guitar case until the Black Friday guitar deals and Black Friday music deals start emerging. We'll be reporting on the best offers right through to Black Friday itself.
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.
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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.
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're a regular traveler, you'll appreciate the included TSA-approved locking center latch.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.