Skip to content

Buying Guide: How To Choose A Guitar Case

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Every guitar player wants to keep their cherished instrument safe. It’s as important as the pursuit of the perfect sound.

When it comes to guitar protection, musicians often face a choice. Should one opt for a lightweight and convenient gig bag? Or a sturdy and resilient hard case? And how to choose a guitar case?

This decision is not just about preference. It’s also about evaluating the needs and risks. It’s also about transporting and preserving one’s instrument. Selecting the right case is essential music gear. It can be as important as the guitar itself.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consider the level of protection needed based on travel frequency and transportation method when choosing between a gig bag and a hard case.
  • Gig bags offer hands-free convenience and additional storage for accessories, ideal for city commutes and short distances.
  • Hard cases provide superior protection from significant impacts and climate variations, making them a preferred choice for long-term storage and air travel.
  • Ensuring a snug fit for the guitar within the case is critical; too much movement can lead to damage.
  • For air-traveling musicians, understanding the difference between ATA and TSA approved cases is vital for ensuring their guitar’s safety during flights.
  • Always measure your guitar’s dimensions to determine the correct size case, considering the unique shapes and sizes of different models.
  • If in doubt or needing specialized advice, contact a music professional or the guitar manufacturer for guidance on case selection.

Gig Bag or Hard Case

gig bag or hard case

When it comes to safeguarding your guitar, the dilemma between selecting a gig bag or a hard case is more than a matter of choice; it’s about assessing your specific needs and the circumstances under which your instrument will be transported and stored.

And as you can imagine – each option offers distinct benefits and limitations.

Pros and Cons of Gig Bags for Daily Transport

Gig bags are a popular option for musicians on the move, providing a lightweight and flexible means of carrying their instrument from place to place. Designed for daily guitar transport, here are some key points to consider:

  • Shoulder straps: Free up your hands, making it easier to carry additional equipment or navigate through crowded spaces.
  • Padding: Offers protection against minor mishaps that can occur during daily commutes.
  • Storage: Facilitates carrying extra strings, picks, and personal items with external pockets and compartments.

However, despite the convenience, gig bags have their drawbacks:

  • Protection: They may not provide adequate defense against significant impacts, such as drops or heavy blows.
  • Structural Integrity: Lack of rigidity means they cannot be stacked, posing challenges when traveling with other gear.

Advantages of Hard Cases for Ultimate Protection

Hard cases are synonymous with superior protection and are a favored choice for musicians who subject their guitars to rigorous conditions:

  • Durability: Unmatched in safeguarding against drops, bumps, and harsh environmental changes.
  • Storage: Though they may offer less pocket space, they can protect the guitar more reliably and can be stacked with other equipment.
  • Security: Many hard cases are designed with locks for added security during transport.
  • Travel: Preferred for air travel, with some designs being ATA- or TSA-approved for peace of mind.

Yet, these advantages come at a cost:

  • Weight: Hard cases are significantly heavier, potentially making transport more cumbersome without shoulder straps.
  • Convenience: May not always cater to the need for quick or frequent access to the guitar or accessories.

To visualize the differences between gig bags and hard cases, consider the following table which outlines the features and considerations of each:

FeatureGig BagHard Case
Protection LevelBasic protection for minor incidentsEnhanced protection for severe impacts
ConvenienceBackpack straps, external pocketsSecure locking, stackable design
Travel SuitabilitySuitable for short commutesATA/TSA approved for secure air travel
StorageAmple accessory compartmentsLimited accessory space; safe for clutter-free environments
CostGenerally more affordableTypically more expensive with higher protection value

When choosing the right case for your guitar, weigh these factors carefully against your usual travel routine and the overall need for protection and mobility.

For some, a gig bag offers ample protection with added convenience, whereas for others, the hard case is a non-negotiable safeguard for their cherished instrument, especially during less frequent but more hazardous trips.

Balancing these aspects will help you select a case that aligns with your lifestyle as a musician.

How To Choose A Guitar Case

how to choose a guitar case

When choosing a guitar case, you must find one that’s a perfect match for your instrument. The right protective gear for guitars is crucial for both transportation and storage.

Whether you’re a touring professional or a practicing student, you need it.

Let’s navigate through the details that help in buying guitar cases. They ensure the safety and longevity of your cherished instrument.

  • Measure Your Guitar: Start by measuring the guitar’s dimensions or consulting the manufacturer for specific case recommendations. A snug fit is essential to prevent movement inside the case that could potentially damage the guitar.
  • Analyze Your Needs: Consider the primary use of the case — will it be for light travel, heavy touring, or stationary storage? Your use case directly influences whether a gig bag or hard case is more suitable.
  • Material and Durability: The level of protection is greatly affected by the case’s construction material. Gig bags are often made from padded nylon for minor protection, while wood or ABS plastic hard cases offer greater defense against severe impacts.
  • Storage Capacity: Gig bags typically provide extra pockets for accessories, which hard cases might lack. Decide if convenience or protection is more crucial for your lifestyle.
  • Specific Features: Take note of additional features such as shoulder straps for gig bags or TSA/ATA approval for hard cases that might be necessary for your travel requirements.
  • Consult the Experts: If the choice seems daunting, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts or sales engineers who can offer personalized guidance based on the guitar model and usage scenario.

Ultimately, the right case not only fits your guitar like a glove but also aligns with your daily needs, be it shoulder straps for free mobility or reinforced protection for the rigors of the road. With a harmonious balance between convenience and security, your chosen case will serve as a dependable companion to your guitar for years to come.

ATA Approved vs. TSA Approved Cases

ATA Approved vs TSA Approved Cases

For the globetrotting guitarist, understanding the regulations and requirements of air travel with guitars is a crucial factor in choosing the right travel case.

The distinction between ATA approved guitar cases and TSA approved travel cases can significantly influence a musician’s peace of mind while navigating the logistics of flights and airports.

This knowledge is not only integral for the musician’s travel gear arsenal but equally for safeguarding their valuable instrument against the rigors of air transport.

What Does ATA Approval Mean for Guitarists?

An ATA approved case embodies the resilience required for the frequent flyer musician. Subject to the standards set by the Air Transportation Association, ATA approved guitar cases must withstand the demands of shipping without compromising the safety of the contents.

The robust construction of an ATA certified case is designed to endure the bumps and bruises of cargo handling, offering guitarists the assurance that their instruments will arrive unscathed, ready for the next performance.

The Significance of TSA Approval for Traveling Musicians

Meanwhile, TSA approved travel cases tackle a different aspect of air travel with guitars – security. Featuring locks that can be opened by TSA agents, these cases alleviate the threat of forced entry should an inspection be necessary.

For musicians, this feature means less worry about potential damage from security checks and a smoother transit process.

TSA approval indicates a travel case that not only protects the guitar from physical harm but also ensures compliance with security regulations, streamlining the musician’s journey through airports worldwide.

ATA vs TSA Cases

Have a look on the table below – it explains everything thoroughly.

FeatureATA Approved CasesTSA Approved Cases
Main PurposeProtect against physical damageEnsure security compliance and prevent forced entry
StandardsAir Transportation Association standardsTSA (Transportation Security Administration) guidelines
ConstructionRobust to withstand cargo handlingFeatures locks that can be opened by TSA agents
ProtectionHigh resilience against bumps and bruisesProtects from physical harm and allows TSA inspections without damage
Ideal ForFrequent flyer musiciansMusicians concerned with security checks
Peace of MindAssurance of instrument safety during shippingSmoother transit process through security checks

If you want to explore other buying guides, check out the buying guide category.

brown guitar hardshell case


What factors should I consider when choosing between a gig bag and a hard case for my guitar?

Consider the frequency of travel, the level of protection required, the convenience of transport, and the fit for your specific guitar model. Gig bags are great for frequent local transport, while hard cases offer superior protection for longer journeys and air travel.

Why is investing in a suitable guitar case important?

A suitable guitar case is crucial for protecting your guitar against damage during transport and when in storage. Quality cases prevent wear and tear, shield your instrument from impacts, and maintain your guitar’s condition over time.

What are the benefits of using a gig bag for daily guitar transport?

Gig bags are lightweight, typically come equipped with shoulder straps for easy carrying, and often feature extra compartments for accessories. They are ideal for music educators, students, and performing musicians who need to transport their instrument on a regular basis.

How do hard cases provide ultimate protection for guitars?

Hard cases are built to withstand significant impacts and are usually crush-proof. They offer stable, secure housing for guitars and are ideal for long-distance travel, especially when flying, as many are ATA approved and can handle the rigors of airline handling.

How do I ensure the best fit when selecting a guitar case?

Measure your guitar or know its dimensions to find a case that fits snugly to mitigate the risk of damage. Manufacturers often provide cases tailored to their specific guitar models, which can simplify the selection process.

What is the significance of ATA approval for guitar cases?

ATA approval means that the case meets specific standards set by the Air Transportation Association for durability and shipping damage prevention. This is particularly important for touring musicians who frequently travel with their instruments and need assurance of their case’s resilience.

Why is TSA approval important for musicians traveling by air?

A TSA-approved case allows for a smoother security check-in process at airports. It ensures that the case can be securely locked but also conveniently inspected by Transportation Security Administration agents without damaging the case or the guitar inside.

Are gig bags suitable for air travel with guitars?

Generally, gig bags are not recommended for air travel due to their soft structure, which doesn’t offer the same level of protection as hard cases. Musicians traveling by air should opt for ATA-approved hard cases that are designed to withstand the rigors of airline baggage handling.