If you’re travelling with your beloved 6-string, whether that be very occasionally to a friend’s house, or as part of a regular touring schedule, transporting it in one of the best guitar cases is essential to ensure its safety.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just casually heading out now and again to local jam sessions, or you like to keep your prized possessions locked and protected, the best guitar cases can not only provide a safe haven for your pride and joy, but can be really practical too. Some cases are lightweight; some are heavy, some will offer loads of protection, some less so – some guitar cases might also have a bunch of pockets, giving you space for cables, capos, picks – even pedals in some cases (pun intended).
There is a massive range of guitar cases available, covering all budgets and all armed with various different features. We’ve included some buying advice below to help you find the best guitar case for you and your needs, but here is our list of the best ones on the market right now.
Best guitar cases and gig bags: Top picks
The best hard case of course depends on the guitar you’ve got and what sort of protection you need, but we really like the Gator GC-Electric case fitted with LEDs. There are different versions available for different body shapes, all offering loads of protection for your instrument, plus the LEDs make it much easier to see what you’re doing in dark situations.
It’s also hard to ignore the Mono Stealth gig bags. While they’re on the more expensive side, they offer nearly as much protection as a good hard case, but they’re lightweight and very easy to transport.
Best guitar cases and gig bags: Product guide
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.
Read the full MONO Stealth electric guitar case review
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.
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.
This is an incredibly well-designed protective gig bag that allows you to transport an electric and an acoustic guitar at the same time. The clever design creates essentially two separate cases for your guitars, keeping them both protected individually, but allowing you to travel with them at the same time.
Whilst it’s a gig bag, it offers a lot of protection. The outer shell of the case absorbs and deflects damage, keeping what’s inside protected, plus there is a ton of padding around the usual potential damage spots, like the strap pin – even if you drop it, you still get protection at the bottom. When you put your guitars in the case, you strap them in, which keeps the headstocks where they need to be to avoid damage, plus the neck is also supported. Once shut, both headstocks are suspended in the case which helps prevent damage coming from any direction.
It’s not cheap, but it does an amazing job of protecting your instruments, plus you can carry an electric and an acoustic to gigs but only bring one case – genius!
Fender style tweed is a classic look and now you can showcase that with your gig bag. It’s a fairly generic gig bag that lets you transport your Strat, Tele and many other electric guitars safely.
The 10mm padding inside offers a fair amount of protection. The outer material is also really sturdy and feels like it would be difficult to rip or tear, so we’d definitely trust this in the back of the car with a few other bits of gear – as long as it’s all in place properly and not sliding around. Inside, it’s got a really soft lining that will help protect the finish on your guitar.
As far as gig bags go, this offers a good amount of protection – not loads, but quite a bit more than your entry level options, plus it’s styled out in Fender tweed!
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.
Best guitar cases and gig bags: Buying advice
The first decision you’ll have to make when shopping for the best guitar case is whether to get a gig bag or a hard case. A gig bag is made of softer material and is more lightweight. Usually they’re made from some sort of cloth material, with padding inside – how much padding there is varies in different models which has a direct impact on how much protection they offer. They usually come with shoulder straps so can be worn on your back, making it easier to transport your guitar than with a hard case.
Why do I need a guitar case or gig bag?
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A hard case is exactly what it says; a guitar case with a hard exterior. Sometimes it’s some sort of ABS plastic, sometimes aluminium; again, it can vary. Inside a hard case is usually a plush lined interior, sometimes with a generic guitar shape to house various different models, sometimes with a specific guitar shape for a really snug fit.
In most instances, hard cases offer more protection than gig bags, though they’re usually heavier, bulkier and more expensive. That said, in recent years we’ve started seeing incredibly durable gig bags like those made by Mono that offer nearly as much protection as a good hard case, but are still lightweight and portable.
Should I choose a hard case or a gig bag?
If you’re nipping out of the house to play with friends occasionally, or to music lessons, and you’re carrying it or transporting it safely in your car, then a decent gig bag will probably do the job. If you just play in the house and want something to keep the dust off your guitar, then a thinner gig bag would be fine. However, if you’re gigging regularly and moving your guitar(s) around with other bits of gear in a car or van, then you’re going to find that the best guitar case for you is a good, sturdy hard case.
Some players like to store their instruments in hard cases at home – it protects them from everyday dings and scratches, plus there’s less chance of doing serious damage if it gets knocked over. Another good thing about hard cases is that the humidity inside of them is more consistent meaning your action is less likely to shift – this is even more pertinent to acoustic players as humidity can have quite a big effect.
Do they fit any type of guitar?
Another big factor when searching for the best guitar case is the body shape. That is, the shape of the guitar you’re looking to protect. Some cases are really generic and will fit a Strat, Tele, Les Paul, SG, PRS and so on. However, if you’re looking for a really good hard case for a Strat, it’s worth looking for one that’s got a shaped mould inside as it will fit more snugly. If you’ve got a big, spiky axe with a giant headstock, then you’re going to have to search a little more for something to fit more extreme shapes; but chances are, there’s something out there that will fit it.
Do they come with guitars?
Some manufacturers will include a gig bag or guitar case with an instrument, although this is usually only the case for more expensive, premium instruments.
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