Gig Bag vs Hard Case: Selecting The Right Guitar Case

gig bag vs hard case

Gig Bag vs. Hard Case, which case is best for you? Both guitar case offers protection for your guitar more or less, but which one to choose depends on usage, lifestyle and your preference. Whatever you opt for, make sure it suits you. 

When selecting a case, you have to think about what you will be going with it the most. Are you going to travel by air? Perform local gigs? Or are you just a casual user? If you plan to do cross-country travels, hard cases will give you the best protection. But for local performance, gig bags may be fine for you. 

This article will help you better understand the differences between hard cases and gig bags and give you a clear idea of which type of case is better for you. 

guitarist with gig bag

Gig Bag 

Gig bags are padded, soft-sided guitar bags that are usually made of nylon, polyester, and leather. These bags usually come with a carry handle and straps to wear on your shoulder (similar to a backpack). Gig bags may not be the ideal choice for optimal protection but are capable of handling dust, scratches, or minor bumps. The major plus points of these bags are that they are lightweight, very easy to carry, and offer more space to store others such as sheet music, cables, guitar picks, and other smaller accessories. 

When to choose a Gig Bag? 

Gig Performer: 

For local gigs and rehearsals, getting a gig bag would be a much better choice. You can easily take in and out the guitar from the case without any hassle. As gig bags offer room for storing accessories, you don’t need to carry an extra bag with you.  

City Dwellers: 

If you find yourself walking frequently or need to travel short distances by bus or train, you will want to carry a gig bag. These bags are lightweight and take up less space than hard cases. You can carry it on your back, leaving your hands free for doing other things. 

hard guitar cases

Hard Cases 

While hard cases may be limited in storage capacity, they offer maximum protection against drops, bumps, and constant temperature changes. Because of the protection capabilities, hard cases are often the preferred choice for both professionals and amateurs alike. The outer shell is made of either wood, plastic, fiberglass, metal, or a combination of other hard materials. Some brands even offer higher-end cases made of carbon fiber. The inner side of the case remains soft and cushioned, and composed of materials that will refrain the guitar from getting scratches. 

When to choose a Hard Case? 

Flying with a guitar:  

If you are flying with your guitar, using a hard case will be the most appropriate choice. The airline crew might not be very well suited for handling fragile instruments like guitars. If you have checked in your guitar, then storing it in a hard case will give the optimal protection. Hard cases will also protect the guitar from pressure changes in the airplane. 

Storing for a long time: 

If the guitar is going to be stored for a long time without use, you should store it in a hard case. Everything from humidity, temperature changes, and impact resistance – hard cases can handle it with ease. If something is pressed against the case, it will not impact the guitar sitting inside. You can easily store it in a closet or somewhere safe for a long time storage. 

Difference between a Hard Case and a Gig Bag 

Both hard cases and gig bags have some notable differences. To help you understand better, we have prepared a table noting the differences between them. 

Gig Bag Hard Case
Offers protection against minor bumps, and scratches Offers the best protection against strong impact and weather changes 
The outer shell is soft and bendable  The outer shell is made from solid substances and is not bendable
Has more space for storing accessories like cables, sheet music  Has limited space for storing additional accessories
Compact design, thus, easy to store  Takes up more storage space  
Suitable for short-distance travel  Suitable for air travels 
Prices are usually very cheap  Hard cases are more expensive than gig bags 
man carrying guitar in a soft case

Need a complete guitar case guide? 

Refer to our guitar case buying guide if you want to know more about the topic. There you will find a description of the types of cases available, their pros & cons, what they are suitable for, pro tips, how much you should spend, as well as various other useful information you need to know.

Final Thoughts 

Hard Cases and Gig Bags are both commonly used by musicians. Some people prefer to use hard cases, while others might prefer gig bags for all occasions. Some even use both for different events. Overall, before buying a guitar case, think about what you will be doing with it and what your budget is. You can also refer to our buying guide for more context.

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