Best guitar cases and gigbags 2023: from budget to ultimate, acoustic to electric

Acoustic guitar case sat on top of colourful wooden platform
(Image credit: Getty/Jack Halford/EyeEm)

We spend so much time, effort and money selecting and perfecting our guitars, but we give a lot less thought when it comes to keeping them safe in transit. It seems like an inevitability that your beloved guitar will take a knock at some point – a risk that's far greater if you decide to take your guitar out on the road. No matter how carefully you handle your guitar, those cunning bedfellows destiny and gravity will catch you out eventually, resulting in a mishap that leaves your instrument bruised and your ego battered. So, with that said, it makes sense to invest in some protection. The best guitar cases and gigbags are designed to give you peace of mind whether you're travelling on public transport to a jam session with friends or you’ve put your guitar in the back of a van for a tour – and, thankfully, they don't have to cost the earth.

Guitar cases and gigbags aren't just for travelling, either. For every guitarist who likes to display their prized possession on a wall hanger, there's another who prefers to lock their instrument safely away in its case after use. Which is right? It depends on your needs, but we'll come to that in our buying advice section further down the page. 

For now, let's look at a few of our favorite options to safeguard your guitar.

Best guitar cases and gigbags: Guitar World's choice

Picking one case or bag over another isn’t straightforward, because many are specific to a certain type of guitar (such as an acoustic dreadnought) or model (such as a Fender Strat). It’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges, so the best we can do is weed out the lemons and recommend models that showcase exceptional product design. Even if these cases aren’t suitable for your guitar, we’re confident that you’ll be able to find a solution with a similar feature set. 

Fender’s product design team must’ve had two Weetabix for breakfast the day they came up with the concept for the Deluxe Molded Case (opens in new tab). It isn’t as pretty as a tweed case, but it is a superbly well-thought-out, tough ABS unit that will protect your Fender from almost any threat that’s ever likely to cross its path. Beautifully made and exceptionally supportive, it features neat touches such as rubberized feet, a TSA lock, and little indents in the lid that safely secure it from slipping when stacked.

Choosing a gigbag isn’t an open-and-shut case. At the cheaper end of the market, there are padded sleeves that’ll do a fair job of protecting your guitar, while at the top end you can purchase semi-rigid bags that offer similar protection to a hard case. We’re going upmarket with the MONO Classic Acoustic/Dreadnought Guitar Case (opens in new tab), purely because it provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate just how good a gigbag can be.

This feature-rich, intelligently thought-out bag has been developed to protect your back as well as your guitar. Though it’s incredibly lightweight – MONO claims that it weighs about 75% less than a comparable hard case – it’s built with tough components that’ll survive years of abuse, including accidental drops. Strategically placed foam bumpers and ABS panels are designed to deflect impact away from particularly vulnerable areas of your guitar, while a patented Headlock system reduces stress on the neck. 

There’s a substantial price to pay for such protection, but even if your guitar isn’t worth it, perhaps your back is?

Best guitar cases and gigbags: Product guide

1. Fender Deluxe Molded Case

No more Fender benders

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Fender Strat/Tele/Jazzmaster/Jaguar/bass guitars
Features: ABS plastic case, large storage compartment, TSA-accepted lock, ergo-grip injection molded handle, rubberised feet, stackable

Reasons to buy

+
Tough ABS plastic shell
+
Plush, custom-fit interior
+
TSA lock

Reasons to avoid

-
Modern vibe won’t suit everyone

Fender introduced this case a few years ago for its upper-mid-range guitars (such as the Professional series), and boy, is it a big improvement on its rather lackluster predecessor. Built from military-grade ABS plastic, it feels reassuringly solid as soon as you pick it up.

Flip the latches and you’ll discover acres of plush polyester fur in which to nestle your guitar. There’s a large storage compartment, with plenty of room in which to tuck strings, cables and even a strap, together with a custom-fit cut-out specific to your Fender model.

The handle is robust, comfortable and well-balanced, even for heavier bass guitars. Rubberized feet make it ultra-stable, while indents on the top make it possible to stack multiple cases securely. If your Fender didn’t come with a case, or you have the previous plastic case, then this is a fabulous buy.

2. MONO Classic Acoustic/Dreadnought Guitar Case

Featherweight fortress

Specifications

Type: Gigbag
Suitable for: Acoustic dreadnoughts
Features: Semi-rigid gigbag with water-resistant ‘Sharkskin’ outer and plush inner lining, Headlock suspension, numerous storage compartments

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Very robust
+
Clever suspension system
+
Water-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

Why on earth would you spend this much on a gigbag when you could buy a decent hard case for less? The answer is: weight. If you spend a lot of time lugging your dread from practice session to gig to practice session, then your arms, back and shoulders will appreciate a bag that’s light and maneuverable.

MONO has a reputation for building featherweight bags that rival hard cases in every respect. They boast ‘military-spec’ fabrics, and while we’re not exactly sure what that means, we do know that they’re built like tanks. High-grade webbing, bar-tack stitching, steel rivet reinforcements, a hard-wearing Hypalon sole, and a water- and abrasion-resistant ‘Sharkskin’ outer are tell-tale signs that this bag has been developed to survive some serious abuse.

Inside, ABS panels are there to absorb and deflect hard knocks, while high-density foam bumpers will divert vertical impacts out and around the lower bout of your guitar to protect the vulnerable strap pin area. The patented Headlock feature will suspend the headstock, saving the guitar from potential side and rear impacts that could snap the neck. 

MONO is confident that these protective features make the bag effectively ‘drop-proof’, making it a worthy alternative to the hard case.

3. Gretsch G6238FT Case

Electromatic case study

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Gretsch Electromatic solid-body guitars
Features: Robust plywood construction, covered in black Tolex, plush grey interior with storage compartment

Reasons to buy

+
Robust plywood construction
+
Storage compartment
+
Gretsch branding
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Somewhat ordinary

The Gretsch Electromatic series is universally praised for offering outstanding value for money. The build quality is spot-on, and these wonderful guitars have that signature Gretsch tone in spades. How does Gretsch do it for the money?

To keep retail prices low, the manufacturer doesn’t bundle said guitars with a case or gigbag. It has such a following, and the guitars are so unique, that this won’t concern most potential buyers, who’ll just budget for a case anyway.

First choice for solid bodies has to be the reasonably priced G6238FT. The spec is fairly modest – plywood construction with a smart, black Tolex wrap – but the plush grey interior will make a lovely home for your Gretsch.

4. Fender Classic Series Wood Case

What could be more classic than tweed?

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Fender Strat/Tele/Jazzmaster/Jaguar/Mustang/Duo Sonic/P Bass/Jazz Bass
Features: Tweed-wrapped, 3-ply wood shell; soft, crushed acrylic lining in red; large storage compartment

Reasons to buy

+
Tweed looks so right for Fenders
+
Plush interior in gorgeous red
+
Pricey, but not crazy money

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as durable as ABS plastic

Fender’s modern ABS plastic case may offer superb protection, but this ’50s-vibe tweed case just looks so good. It’s very similar to the cases that Teles and Strats shipped with back when Ritchie Valens was performing La Bamba.

Its 3-ply wood construction, which uses 8mm on the sides and 5mm on the top and bottom, is plenty strong enough for most players, while the vinyl-wrapped steel core carry handle is comfy for long-distance treks from one venue to the next. If tweed is a bit too flamboyant for you, then you could always go for the black vinyl version.

5. G&G Deluxe Hardshell Case

Making the case for authenticity

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Fender Strat/Tele/P Bass/Jazz Bass/Jaguar Bass/Mustang/Jag-Stang/Cyclone/Duo Sonic
Features: Handmade, tweed-wrapped 3-ply wood case with real leather appointments, ‘vintage red poodle’ interior

Reasons to buy

+
Authentic case for Fender guitars
+
Handmade using quality materials
+
Pricey, but your guitar’s worth it

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey – you could buy a good Squier for this money

G&G has been supplying Fender since the ’50s, and its cases are still bundled with top-end models and custom shop guitars. This case looks remarkably similar to Fender’s own Classic Series Wood Case, but this is the authentic one – the other is the, er, ‘tribute’.

Handmade by a small bunch of artisan types in Los Angeles, these cases feature the very best in materials, including real hide end caps, a bonded leather handle and a plush velvet ‘vintage red poodle’ lining that won’t mark the finish on your guitar. They’re hardly cheap, but then your guitar deserves the best.

6. Gator GC Electric Guitar Case – LED Edition

Got a light, mate?

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Various
Features: ABS shell, interior LED light, heavy-duty aluminium bumper, EPS foam molds to almost all guitar shapes, plush lining, padded neck cradle, storage compartments

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated LED light for dark stages
+
Tough, no-nonsense build
+
Fits almost any electric

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing really

Gator makes some of the best third-party cases around, so there’s no doubting this one’s pedigree. It has all the usual features: a tough, impact-resistant ABS shell, a heavy-duty aluminum bumper for added strength, a plush interior that molds to your guitar shape, a padded neck cradle and useful storage compartments.

What really sets it apart is the integrated LED panel that quite literally shines a spotlight on your beloved guitar and any stowed accessories. For bedroom players, this could be dismissed as a vanity light, but for touring musicians used to playing on dimly lit stages it’s a godsend. About to go on and still can’t find the right pick in the gloom? Or your guitar for that matter? No worries – flick the switch and your entire case will be bathed in light.

It sounds gimmicky but it’s actually genuinely useful. The one to get if you’re fed up with fumbling around in the dark.

7. SKB 1SKB-63 Explorer/Firebird hard shell guitar case

Keep your pointy guitar safe

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Explore/Firebird and other large X-shaped guitars
Features: Super-tough ABS shell, plush-lined interior, TSA-recognised locks

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent protection for vulnerable X-shaped instruments
+
Tough, road-ready catches
+
Secure locking

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s an expensive add-on

So, you’ve opted for an angular axe, and now it’s time to leave the house. SKB’s 63 case offers protection for your Explorer, Firebird, Warrior, Kelly or similarly sharp guitar, which is important given that these designs not only feature plenty of precarious peninsular’s, but they often protrude further than your average Strat or Tele. They tend to be longer too, so cramming it into a standard gigbag won’t work.

SKB’s 63 features a near-indestructible ABS shell, lined with plush foam and equipped with an accessory compartment. The locks are TSA-accepted, and the catches feature a fibreglass-reinforced, trigger-released latching system to ensure they’ll last for years. It’s not cheap, but if you want extreme protection for your extreme pride-and-joy, this is an extremely solid choice.

8. Epiphone Case for Les Paul

Wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Various flavours of Les Paul
Features: Strong plywood construction, quality plated hardware, plush grey interior, prominent Epiphone logo

Reasons to buy

+
Workaday case at a reasonable price
+
Almost as good as the ‘real thing’
+
Good buy for working musicians

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a Gibson case, but that may not be a bad thing

It goes without saying that we love Epiphones here at Guitar World (just check out our guide to the best Epiphone Les Pauls for proof). The quality is amazing, they play great, they can sound out of this world and the prices are affordable – what’s not to like? 

Well, some Epiphones don’t come bundled with a hard case (which is no great surprise considering the price points). It’s not a biggie, though – here we’ve highlighted Epiphone’s Les Paul case, but the manufacturer makes similar cases for the rest of its model range. We believe they should be right up there towards the top of your list when looking for a case to protect your new Epi. Tough, well-made and kinda classy in black with that bold gold logo, they’re a great addition to your set-up.

In fact, we’d recommend them for Gibson guitars, too. That may sound like sacrilege, but bear with us. A case takes the knocks so that your guitar doesn’t have to, which means that it’s eventually going to need replacing. Yes, a Gibson case is better quality, but there really isn’t that much in it. So if you’re a busy touring guitarist who gets through cases quite quickly, then save yourself some money and buy Epiphone versions instead.

What’s more – and we mean no offence to Epiphone players when we say this – the brand simply doesn’t have the reputation that Gibson does. Lock your expensive Gibson Les Paul in a case with a big, bold Epi logo printed on it, and it’ll immediately become less of a target for thieves.

Beware trying to shoehorn an Epiphone into a Gibson case, though, because you may find that the extended headstock won’t fit.

9. SKB iSeries Waterproof Acoustic Guitar Case

A case for worst-case scenarios

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Acoustic dreadnoughts, though other guitars are catered for, too
Features: Ultra-high-strength PPC resin shell with a gasket seal and automatic ambient pressure equalization valve; UV-, solvent-, corrosion- and fungus-resistant; TSA-accepted locks, wheels, cushioned grip handle

Reasons to buy

+
Almost indestructible
+
Gives piece of mind for travelling musos
+
Easy to wheel

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Pricey

If you’re looking for an almost nuke-proof solution to protect your acoustic guitar from armageddon-rated mishaps, then this is probably it. SKB iSeries cases (there are models for acoustics and electrics of all shapes and sizes) are made from seriously tough, corrosion-resistant materials, and feature extra-strong hinges plus a plethora of beefy latches.

The most significant selling point is that these cases are fully waterproof. A gasket will keep out everything from pure H2O to sticky soda, while an equalization valve will stop pressure from building up inside when temperatures rise. Acoustic guitars are very susceptible to water damage, so these iSeries cases provide much-needed reassurance for those living in, or traveling to, wetter climes.

The soft handle makes this case relatively comfortable to carry around, but it can also roll on its own integrated wheels. Good thing, too, because, at almost 27lbs/12kg, it’s not the lightest case around. 

Overkill? Not if you’re a frequent flyer or live in a city where heavy rain and snow seem to accompany your every move. 

10. Gator Pro-Go Series Electric Guitar Gigbag

Semi-rigid? Nothing to be embarrassed about…

Specifications

Type: Gigbag
Suitable for: Most solid-body electric guitars
Features: Semi-rigid gigbag with ultra-thick sidewalls, micro-fleece interior, padded neck cradle, backpack straps, rain cover

Reasons to buy

+
Semi-rigid construction
+
Feature-rich
+
Backpack straps
+
Rain cover

Reasons to avoid

-
A touch pricey in some markets

You can go out and buy an inexpensive gigbag for about $30/£22, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Essentially, you’ll end up with a padded, guitar-shaped sleeve that’ll fight off occasional dings and scratches. However, the Gator Pro-Go Series Electric Guitar Gigbag is a step above.

First off, it’s a semi-rigid design, meaning that the sidewalls are so thick, they add some rigidity to the bag. Second, you can still treat it like a gigbag. It’s squashable for storage and there are comfy backstraps so that you can handle it like a backpack.

This thing has pockets galore, including one for your iPad. The soft micro-fleece interior will ensure that your guitar is more cosseted than a rock star at Claridge’s, and the padded neck cradle will ensure that it remains straight enough to play gig after gig. There’s even a rain cover to stop the weather gods from raining on your parade.

11. SKB Acoustic Dreadnought Deluxe Guitar Case

Just in case…

Specifications

Type: Hard case
Suitable for: Acoustic dreadnoughts
Features: Molded polypropylene shell with EPS foam and plush green interior, aluminium bumper and fibreglass-reinforced nylon trigger-release latches, TSA-accepted lock

Reasons to buy

+
Solid build
+
Smooth, reliable latches
+
TSA lock

After gigs, Joe Strummer would allegedly just throw his Telecaster into the trunk of his Thunderbird before speeding off. The simple slab-like Tele is probably the hardiest guitar of all time, but it does make us wonder if the Clash man’s more lightly built acoustic guitars stood up well to similar treatment.

If you fancy chucking your dreadnought into the back of a large American car, then we recommend you slip it into an SKB Acoustic Dreadnought Deluxe Guitar Case, just in case. It has a tough shell, complete with an aluminum bumper, that should see off the threat of damage from sudden acceleration, violent wallowing around corners and vague braking.

They may look a little clunky but we prefer the chunky latches on this case to fiddly, traditional hardware, as they’re so much smoother to operate and less likely to snag.

Best guitar cases and gigbags: GEWA Economy Flying V Gig Bag

(Image credit: GEWA)

12. GEWA Economy Flying V Gig Bag

Specifications

Type: padded gig bag
Suitable for: V-shaped guitars (other shapes are available)
Features: 12mm high-density foam padding, padded handles, shoulder straps, storage pocket

Reasons to buy

+
It’s good quality at a relatively low price
+
Sturdy padding
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
You might prefer the protection of a hardcase
-
Storage space for accessories is limited 

Just as an X-shaped guitar will require more than the spare gigbag you’ve got knocking about, so will a V-shape strummer. GEWA’s Economy range of cases aims to span the durability and protection of a hardcase, with the portability and comfort of a padded gig bag.

Here, the 212480 Flying V case (they make plenty of others too) comes with 12mm of high-density foam padding throughout, with additional protection added for the headstock and bridge areas, plus a thick-padded carrying handle and shoulder straps. There’s limited pocket space, but the front offers enough for an A4 book or two, perfect if you’re transporting your guitar for light journeys.

Best guitar cases and gigbags: Buying advice

Woman walks along the street holding a guitar case

(Image credit: Getty/Shestock)

Choosing the best guitar case for you

Why you can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

It's fair to say that all cases and gigbags are not made equal. While every case or gigbag will offer some level of protection against damage, that amount of protection really does depend on what type of case you purchase. 

Clearly, we want to maximize the protection with something that makes Fort Knox look as safe and secure as a soggy cardboard box, right? Well, yes, but there are a few things to consider before blowing all your spare cash on a pint-sized panic room for your guitar.

Firstly, let's deal with the tricky matter of value. How much is your guitar worth? Let us rephrase that – how much is your guitar worth to you? Now, what we mean by that is even a rather nice $200/£145 case may feel totally insufficient for an original '54 Strat, but could be deemed as overkill for a Squier Bullet Stratocaster – unless that Squier has gained family heirloom status. 

Another awkward question – just how pernickety are you? If you're not sure, just ask your partner or your friends – they'll be dying for an excuse to tell you. If you're an absolute perfectionist, who believes that relic'd guitars are the work of Satan, then we doubt you'd settle for anything less than a solid hard case. If you're not troubled by a lack of perfection, then a gigbag may well suffice.

How much protection does your guitar really need?

It’s pretty obvious that a case or bag is going to protect your pride and joy in transit, but what if you’re a home player who never takes your guitar anywhere? What if your entire collection is hanging on nifty wall hangers?

The fact is, one day you’ll need to take a guitar to the shop for servicing, upgrades or repairs. Wrapping it in a bin liner just isn’t cool, so do yourself a favor and at least buy a cheap gigbag. They’re really not that expensive.

While we’re on the subject of wall hangers, which is better – a hanger or a case? Provided your guitar isn’t hung on the inside of an external wall, where it can be subject to condensation, then wall hangers are great. 

Cases and bags do offer the additional advantage of protecting your guitar from sudden changes in temperature and humidity, though, so if that’s a problem where you live, then they’re probably a better bet. All that padding will not only cocoon your guitar from dings, it’ll insulate it too.

That said, a guitar on a stand or hanger is like an adorable puppy begging for a biscuit – it’s always pleading for your attention. A guitar in its case often stays in its case, which is why some players have their expensive guitars tucked away in their cases and a cheap ‘beater’ out on a stand ready for an impromptu jam. No matter if it gets knocked occasionally.

There’s only one type of guitar that doesn’t need a new case – the type that comes with a case from new. Top-end guitars will almost certainly ship with a hard case, and usually a pretty good one. Mid-range guitars, around the $1,000/£720 mark, may or may not, so remember to factor in the cost when choosing between brands. Entry-level guitars may come with a basic gigbag.

Just because your new guitar doesn’t need a new case or bag doesn’t mean you won’t want to buy one. Mid-range guitars are sometimes supplied with cases that are, quite frankly, a bit ‘budget’, so you may want to upgrade to something a little nicer with a bit more bling (or better protection). After all, the wrapping should hold promise for what’s inside, stoking excited anticipation at the prospect of flipping the catches and lifting the lid…

Hard case vs gigbag?

If it sounds like we believe the gigbag is a second-rate option, that’s really not – ahem – the case. Gigbags have significant advantages for some guitarists. 

Basically guitar-shaped padded fabric holdalls, gigbags are light, typically inexpensive, and pack down small. They’re perfect for occasional use, such as traveling to lessons or taking your guitar to the shop, and they can be easily stuffed in a wardrobe or under a bed when not in use. Somehow, in comparison, hard cases always seem to take up an inordinate amount of room.

They come in just a few different flavors – generally fat and capacious for acoustics, and thin and slender for electrics. Where most cases are model-specific, you can stuff almost any guitar into a gigbag. This is a good thing because it means you don’t have to keep shelling out on more and more cases or bags as your collection grows.

All come with carry handles, but many have rucksack-style straps too. This means you can throw them on your back to ease the burden, freeing up your hands to do more useful stuff like carrying your amp or cycling to your next gig. Word of warning – with an offset in your gigbag and your hands on the bar of a fixie, you’ll have the ultimate hipster ride. But don’t let that put you off.

A gigbag will stop the odd knock from ruining your guitar, but most won’t tolerate a proper kicking or a big drop. For these reasons, we don’t recommend shipping a guitar in a basic gigbag or entrusting it to airport baggage handlers.

Look out for other desirable features, such as pockets for picks and electric guitar strings, and a lockable zip or closure. A decent gigbag should shrug off a light shower, but for serious weather, you can buy a waterproof rain cover to fit over it.

It’s worth noting that not all gigbags are dirt-cheap, with some of the more fully-featured models easily rivalling hard cases in both performance and cost. At this pricier end of the market, you would really need to tally up the pros and cons of each, before making a buying decision based on your circumstances and personal preferences.

Man stands in front of a set of stairs with a guitar gigbag over his shoulder

(Image credit: Getty/Westend61)

A right proper hard case

A hard case offers the ultimate protection for your guitar. Hard on the outside, soft on the inside, they swaddle your instrument in a sea of plush, velvety loveliness. The advantages a case has over a gigbag are torsional strength and rigidity – it’s hard to fold a guitar in half in a hard case, though not impossible if you’re an aforementioned baggage handler.

Hard cases are designed to hold your guitar snugly so that it doesn’t rattle about too much or shed parts that really do look and sound better when left in place. In many cases (pun intended), specific versions are available for certain guitars or guitar types. Cases will often be marketed as suitable for, let’s say, S-type or T-type guitars, but occasionally you’ll need to precisely match your instrument with the right case to ensure the correct fit.

Guitar cases commonly come in two distinct shapes – an outline that looks like a chubby, featureless guitar (aka a contoured case, a thermometer case, etc) or a large rectangle. Rectangular cases tend to offer more space for additional pockets and cubbyholes, which are useful for storing picks, strings, straps, slides and the sunglasses you’ve been searching for since last summer.

Hard cases have few downsides, but size is definitely one. Anyone with a small studio or practice room will confirm that it doesn’t take long to get quite literally boxed in with cases. They make great trip hazards, too. Sometimes, the humble gigbag is a better option.

Plastic vs plywood

Two methods of hard case manufacture dominate, utilizing different materials. Old-school models are made from rugged plywood panels covered in Tolex or fabric, while more modern interpretations are molded in tough ABS plastic. Both will do a great job of protecting your guitar, but the plastic versions have the edge if you travel a lot.

ABS plastic has a high-tensile strength and is very resistant to both physical impacts and chemical corrosion. If, however, you’re trying to cut back on your plastic purchases then a plywood version may suit you better. Just bear in mind that we have no way of knowing just how good or bad these really are for the environment. 

Look out for strong hinges and latches or clasps that have been attached squarely and securely. Plywood-based cases tend to have traditionally styled nickel or chrome-plated steel or brass hardware, with metal stud feet. Steel hardware, even when plated, can rust surprisingly quickly in damp conditions, so keep an eye out for the early signs. A neat trick is to combat corrosion with a coat of clear nail varnish (it’s not often we use the words combat and nail varnish in the same sentence here at Guitar World).

Plastic cases will often have plastic hinges and clasps, reinforced where needed with metal pins for strength. Because they’re more likely to be shoved in the hold of a plane, they may boast other niceties such as metal bumpers that run all the way around the lid lips, chunky feet for stability and TSA locks.

If you don’t do much traveling with your guitar, then choosing between the two styles will be down to little more than aesthetics. There's something special about pulling a Tele from a tweed case; an emotional response you just don’t get with plastic.

Large stack of Fender guitar cases

(Image credit: Future)

Weather and humidity

All hard cases should be more weatherproof than their gigbag cousins, so a touch of rain or snow shouldn’t trouble your guitar too much. However, standard models are far from waterproof, so if you live in a location where torrential downpours are the norm, or you busk from a canoe, then buy yourself a waterproof case. It’ll feature proper watertight seals and a relief valve to purge any unwanted build-up in pressure as climatic conditions change.

If humidity, or lack of it, is an issue in your home, then you can turn your case into an acoustic guitar humidor by adding a humidifier system from the likes of Planet Waves or D’Addario. Whether you need this sort of solution or not will largely depend on whether you live in a temperate region. But regardless of where you are, never leave your guitar in its case for extended periods of time. Open it up from time to time, and give both case and guitar a good airing. You could even play it.

Should you buy a flight case instead?

For touring musicians who spend almost all of their time on the road or in the air, the hard case has a beefier cousin – the flight case. Usually pictured being manhandled by a burly roadie, these are like hard cases on steroids. 

Metal-reinforced corners, sturdy aluminum bumpers running along every exposed edge, heavy-duty latches, custom foam interiors, swivel castors, and plenty of space for ‘fragile’ stickers and air carrier stamps, they’re the daddy of all guitar cases. Often, they’re made to house half a dozen or so guitars and will double up as the ultimate integrated guitar stand from which to show off your dazzling collection of hair metal axes.

They are, however – as your loved ones will no doubt remind you – overkill for the average three-bed family semi, and damn awkward to get up and down the stairs. For serious pros only.

Watch out for case bite

Finally, there’s a terrible condition associated with cases that has been known to make grown men cry. Case bite – the ultimate own goal.

Case bite usually occurs in that split second when your gorgeous guitar is not fully in the case and not fully out. It’s the midway, no-man’s land that strikes fear into the hearts of all guitarists who love their instruments a little more than is strictly healthy.

It goes something like this. As you lift the guitar up and out, over the bottom lip of the case, a freak vibration (most likely your forearm) causes the lid to waver, lose its already tentative grip on balance, and come crashing down on your guitar’s pristine top. At least one of the latches will punch a snakebite-like indentation in your guitar’s soft nitrocellulose finish. It’s not going to polish out. 

So, before removing or replacing your guitar, always steady the lid, or you risk damaging your beloved instrument with the very thing you bought to protect it. Case closed.

Simon Fellows

When Simon's childhood classical guitar teacher boasted he 'enjoyed a challenge', the poor man had no idea how much he'd underestimated the scale of the task ahead. Despite Simon's lack of talent, the experience did spark a lifelong passion for music. His classical guitar was discarded for an electric, then a room full of electrics before Simon discovered the joys of keys. Against all odds, Simon somehow managed to blag a career as a fashion journalist, but he's now more suitably employed writing for Guitar World and MusicRadar. When not writing or playing, he can be found terrifying himself on his mountain bike.

With contributions from