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Should You Buy A Hard Or Soft Guitar Case?

Updated on February 15, 2011

So, you've found a guitar that you like, but it doesn't come with a case, and you've decided to buy one to protect it. But should you buy a soft or hard guitar case? If you're not sure, then read on and we'll take a look at the pros and cons of each option, so you can make the best choice to your needs.

Soft Guitar Cases – Pros and Cons

Acoustic Guitar Gig Bag From WorldTour


Soft guitar cases are available for both acoustic and electric guitars. You can get very cheap and flimsy soft cases that are basically just a single layer of fabric with a handle zone on, but the better soft cases – or gig bags - are padded for extra protection, and these are the ones we’ll discuss here.

One advantage of soft guitar cases is that they’re relatively cheap, which is very helpful if you're on a budget. Whereas a hard case can cost hundreds of dollars or more, a soft case will cost just a fraction of this.

Another advantage of buying a soft guitar gig bag is that they’re very lightweight, which can be a huge bonus if you carry your guitar around a lot. Electric guitars in particular can be on the heavy side, so it is nice to have a case that doesn't add to the burden. Most cases also feature straps that enable you to carry your guitar on your back like a rucksack, as well as carrying it in your hand in the conventional manner, which makes it even easier to transport.

If you get a soft case for your guitar, you’ll usually find that you have a lot of extra storage space for spare strings, a guitar tuner and other accessories as well. Most gig bags contain various compartments these items, which makes them very convenient when you're on the move.

Soft guitar cases aren't always the best option however. The most obvious disadvantage of buying a soft case for your guitar is that they provide relatively little protection compared to hard cases. Even a well padded soft case won’t absorb much of the impact if your guitar comes into contact with something hard, so you’ll have to be especially careful to take care of your guitar when you're out and about.

Hard Guitar Cases – Pros and Cons

Those who are looking for the best possible protection for their guitar should opt for a hardshell guitar case. This is especially true if your guitar is valuable.

The most obvious advantage of hard cases is that they do provide more protection, and a good hard case is a must if you’re travelling a lot with your guitar, particularly if you're travelling by air. If your guitar will be going in the baggage hold, you should invest in a heavy duty flight case, although if you’ll be carrying it on as hand luggage, a regular hardshell case should be sufficient.

Hard cases are also a more secure option, provided you get one with decent locks. If you buy a cheap hard guitar case, the locks are likely to be easy to break into, so you’ll need to take extra steps to protect it from thieves.

Hard cases have their downsides too, however, and most obvious of these is that they’re much more expensive than their soft equivalents. This is especially true if you want to get a really high quality hard shell case for your guitar, as you do tend to get what you pay for in this area. However, the investment is certainly worth it if your guitar is valuable.

Hard shell guitar cases are also much heavier than soft cases, and when combined with the weight of a typical electric guitar, they can become rather cumbersome to carry.

If you have a non-standard or unusually shaped guitar, it may be difficult to find a universal hard case that fits it properly. In this instance, you should see if the manufacturer of your guitar makes a special case for it - and if not, there’s always the option of getting one custom made.

So as you can see, both hard and soft guitar cases have their advantages and disadvantages. If your guitar is very valuable, you should certainly opt for a hard case, but if not, and you don't do a lot of travelling, a soft case might do the job.


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