Building the Case for Cases
Many Suppliers Offering Many Options – But You Can’t Sell Them if You Don’t Carry Them
Frank Grund recently took his vintage amp out to play with friends, and recalls while “going out the door, I banged it into the door and nicked it.”
Grund’s day job? President of Grundorf, an Iowa-based company that makes amplifiers and cases. So he knows all too well that “whether the musician is full time, part time, or just any time, if the instrument or amp isn’t properly protected, it can and likely will get damaged.”
That a fella who makes cases had to learn the necessity of his own products the hard way is telling. An instrument case’s importance is as indisputable as it’s profitability – yet the case for cases needs to be made to everyone.
The options are wide and deep, and players have scores of choices. “We are finding that our recently introduced Pro bag is selling much better than we expected,” says Harvey Levy of Levy Leathers. Long known for their straps, they recently jumped in with a line of higher-end guitar and bass gig bags. Extra pockets for mini-recorders and laptops have made it especially attractive to the modern musician. “After so many years in a rush for the cheapest, I was pleasantly surprised to see the acceptance of this higher priced bag.”
There’s plenty of advice on how to cash in.
“Assembling multiple products or services to sell in a package not only increases your overall sales but it also gives you the ability to sell slow moving merchandise,” says David Saghian of Marathon Professional. “Then, it automatically up-sells your customers without having to ask for it. Packaging, or bundling your products and service can be a powerful marketing technique to move more products and services and add more value.”
One thing everyone agrees on: you can’t sell ‘em if ya don’t have ‘em.
“Bags and cases are necessary accessories that every music products dealer should stock,” says Access Bags and Cases’ Marty Harrison.
An Overview of the Market
“It’s slow right now because of the economy,” says Mary Fletcher of Jones Fletcher. “I’ve been in the business since 1981, and only recently have we seen a bit of a downturn.”
John Maher of Kaces points out that the majority of cases and bags are sold with instruments, so if instruments are selling less, cases are selling less. “That said, we are finding that dealers are looking for more accessory sales to help make up the difference, so our business is growing.”
“The case business is down, as many industries are at this time, but this causes us to be a bit more aggressive,” says Joe Calzone of Calzone Cases. “Since we’ve been around longer than any other case companies, we have a tremendous history, and thus a strong dealer and customer base in all markets. Therefore our business is not down as much as the industry trend.”
Steve Simons of Colorado Case agrees that this segment is not immune to the economic situation, though of late they’ve been getting more calls and inquiries. “We’re really in a protected niche, though, supplying high-end product to touring, professional musicians, and those people are still buying.”
“Despite the economic downturn, Access is still growing,” says Harrison. “We had a watershed year in 2008 and we were up almost 20 percent for the first quarter of 2009.”
“All our lines are doing well,” says Irwin Berg of Humes & Berg. “We just finished up an upbeat Frankfurt [Music Messe] show that tells us that the industry is still looking for quality. The accessory business in general holds up well in a recession because people can fix up their instrument and upgrade to a new bag or case easier than spending $4,000 on a new saxophone… of course, it’s the opposite in good times! We’ll be the last one to come online with the recovery because people will be buying new instruments,” he adds with a laugh.
Vijay Talwar of Talwar Brothers, which makes Gard Cases, says their business is up 10 percent. “My guess is that the customer is looking for more value for their money, and we are priced 30 percent to 50 percent lower than the competition.”
Grund notes that there has been an uptake in the church market business for cases. “Churches are actually very mobile, and they are constantly expanding,” he says. “Our Combo Case is especially hot with them. They can put their mixer on it, up to a 32 channel one, and below they can house amps and processors. It all rolls out easily after their service, as there is likely a basketball game there the next day!”
What Customers Want, What Dealers Want
“I see a disparity here, where the trend does not necessarily reflect customer desires,” says Mono Case’s Daniel Kushner. “The overarching trend in this category has been to drive prices down to rock bottom commodity levels. Yet customers are increasingly looking for products that outperform and inspire. Cases make the first impression and the last impression, so aesthetics play a major role in the customer’s decision. Ultimately, musicians want to streamline and move between cities with an air of grace, professionalism, and style.”
Gard targets professional musicians, and the first issue is safety of the instrument, Talwar says. “The second issue is convenience – will the musician arrive at the gig all tired and worn out from carrying his or her equipment? Beyond these issues, we style our cases in an ultraconservative timeless design.”
Saghian says style follows function. “Usually music enthusiasts want something durable, but most of the time, the cases that are always in demand are our Flight Ready cases. Style-wise, it also looks tough, and that is an ongoing trend too. Our cases have the chrome ball corners, laminated plywood, low-profile wheels … they look as trustworthy as they are.”
Martin Ritter, of England-based Creative Bag, says, “unique looks are a great plus. Our Madarozzo offers a minimalist retro look, and the retro look is enjoying a rival with many retro-inspired products coming out of the fashion industry.” He adds that their global customers overall still gravitate toward the black-on-black look, though they offer colored panels and more flashy colors. Otherwise, it’s good roomy pockets, good zippers, and “back pack straps are a must.”
Guarantees are important to consumers. “Most of our hard cases carry an unconditional ‘Million-Mile’ warranty,” says Carl Massano, SKB Cases director of marketing. “In today’s economic climate the importance of this feature is magnified exponentially. Expensive equipment is harder and harder to replace. Saving a dollar on vastly inferior transport gear is simply a bad decision given the challenges of travel schedules and the replacement cost of the cargo.”
There are also different thoughts on what dealers want.
“Dealers have the toughest job,” says Kushner. “Some are driven by their immediate need to maximize throughout and present low-cost options that can be tacked on to a purchase as an afterthought. They are the ‘Conveyers.’ Other dealers are driven by a more latent need to differentiate, diversify, and delight with compelling products that speak to customers on an emotional level. They are the ‘Curators,’ and the Mono brand tends to resonate strongly with [the latter].”
Steve Patrino of the Music Link, which produces Guardian cases, says that they’ve “had their ear to the ground” and have been listening to dealers. “As a case manufacturer, it definitely helps that we can give dealers enough variety that they can accommodate all their customers. Guardian offers over 150 different case shapes and styles to fit every unique instrument shape, from round back-style acoustic guitars, to cellos, trumpets, and concertinas.”
Additionally, they have been providing added-value incentives, like free freight on quantities of 20 or more cases. “Our shipping policy is to get those cases to stores in three days or less. Our dealers want options, they want quality, and they want those two things delivered as quickly and affordably as possible.”
“Our dealers want quality, service, inventory availability, and most of all, profit,” Harrison adds. “We serve independent dealers exclusively and directly. By eliminating the extra layer of wholesale distribution we offer higher quality products to our dealers for less. The big payoff is higher profits, and dealers aren’t competing with ‘big box’ competitors for Access sales.”
“TKL’s extensive product offering takes care of the dealers’ and musicians’ needs, while offering long-term peace of mind by backing all of our products with a lifetime warranty,” Tom Dougherty of TKL says. “It is also important to know that you are dealing with a strong, stable company, which has a long history, and the proven ability, to endure and prosper, during tough times. Dealers need to know that you’ll be there to service theirs and their customers’ needs, long after the sale is made.”
Soft Vs. Hard
“If you are a local musician who just travels around town, or a beginning musician that has entry level gear, then a soft bag is okay,” says Agatha Gerutto, marketing director of Road Ready (Cipex). “That’s why we designed our GigSkinz line of bags. If, however, you have expensive gear or do more extensive traveling, then nothing beats the protection of an ATA-style hard case. We hear from a lot of people who damage their gear because they choose to go the more cost effective route with an inferior case or bag; then their gear gets damaged and they regret it.”
For Humes & Berg, their soft cases and hard cases are selling equally well. “The tendency is hard cases go with student model instruments as they get brought on the school bus and banged up, whereas professionals want a padded bag that’s lighter and easier to carry,” says Berg.
Mary Fletcher of Jones Fletcher says, “Hardshells are the biggest sellers for us – they are more expensive, but they do a better job protecting the instruments and people know that.”
“Gig bags are way more convenient if you take public transit or ride a bicycle or motorcycle,” says Levy. “It is also easier to get a gig bag out of a car and there is no way it will damage a car seat. They are lightweight and the best ones, like our CPS Series, provide exceptional protection for the neck, headstock, and strap pin at the lower bout. Padding at the base of our bag is such that when dropped on the base, the strap pin will not bottom out.”
Harrison of Access says that customers seem to be willing to pay a little more for higher quality products. “Our Stage One bags, with 30mm of foam padding, are clearly a step above the average low-end bag and our dealers and their customers recognize the value. The tight economy and environmental concerns are chipping away at the demand for ‘deposable’ price-driven products. On the other hand, seasoned guitar players are investing in upgraded accessories for their instruments and sales figures for Stage Three bags and cases seem to confirm this trend.”
But all spoken to agree that making sure the case fits the instrument is a critical component. Harrison says that a guitar that fits loosely in a case it will move around in transit and be much more susceptible to damage. Likewise, a guitar that fits too tightly in a case will push out the sidewalls and will prevent the lid from closing properly.
Maher also agrees that fit is very important. “However, with so many size and shape variables, especially with guitars, it’s impossible to assure every bag fit every instrument perfectly. That’s why it’s also important to make sure the instrument is secure, with proper neck support.
“We have this great video of our new RB Continental bag being thrown off the tallest building in town – twice. The ‘splat’ down in the parking lot makes you heart skip a beat. The instrument inside is still perfect after this test, partially because the fit is just so perfect. It also boils down to the level of love the customers have for their instrument.”
At Calzone, the right-fitting case is “pretty much what we built our business on,” he says. “The templates, whether for a guitar, bass guitar, lighting, keyboards, et cetera, ensure the interior is properly fitted. There are various options to make a case more generic. Someone may want multiple pieces of equipment to fit into the same case, but for the most part, when the customer comes to us they want the case to fit perfectly, and that’s our job.”
Gerutto says it’s a simple issue. “Fit is important, that is why most of our cases come with extra strips of foam so the fit can be adjusted and customized depending on the gear. We fit each model of case and bag with the actual product before it goes into production – it takes an extra step, but we want to make sure the fit is right before releasing the case or bag into the market.”
Advancements & Breakthroughs
“Everyone has travel anxieties these days,” Massano points out. “It is increasingly important to create means of air shipping and carrying expensive instruments. [Cases] have become a form of insurance, and our job is to design cases that comply with airline rules and regulations and still provide ultimate protection and mobility. SKB has even introduced an exclusive locking latch system accepted by TSA inspectors. This feature has revolutionized the travel experience.”
Patrino tells of having great success with Guardian Professional Fiberglass Cases, which are able to “provide excellent protection at a price that is extremely appealing to dealers and consumers. We’ve always seen a demand in the market for high-quality, durable protective cases, but now more than ever, it seems customers, both dealers and consumers, are seeking an element of increased value for their dollar.”
Grund reports that there continue to be new glues and laments that allow them to produce lighter-weight cases. And technology is such that they are able to design and build case-specific hardware that was impossible to do 25 years ago.
And in some cases, more is more. Talwar says the professionals need to take multiple instruments to the gig, and they offer cases that hold up to four trumpets that also have room for accessories. “The new thing for brass instruments is our mid-bag suspensions system, which keeps the instrument suspended in mid air in the geographic center of the case,” he says.
At Calzone, their recently introduced XLT15 series, is a lighter weight 3/8-inch thick polypropylene material that weighs half that of plywood. “It has been helpful with amplifiers, rack cases, shock mounts – especially in shipping costs.” Another new product they’ve introduced is the iSeries, a limited group of products released primarily for band and orchestra cases, from single cases as small as a flute up to a combination case for two trumpets and a flugelhorn, and many combinations of saxes.
“Drummers seem to be most interested in Drummer utility trunks that can fit all their stands and accessories,” says Gerutto. “We have several options to fit their needs.”
Many retailers aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity that they can offer their customers a custom case, some say.
“Custom cases are what we’ve built our reputation on, and as such it’s still important to be able to offer a custom product with a two to three week lead time, which is impressive in any industry,” says Calzone. “Anyone enjoys getting a larger order, but those types of orders are not what you can depend upon. You have to be able to deliver one case, or a dozen cases to the customer, on time, at the highest quality, at the best price available.”
“Custom work is our bread and butter,” says Simmons. “We cater to those who want latches on the left instead of the right, a different color, a left hand case, et cetera. And for high-end dealers out there selling the nicer Taylors and Martins, it’s a good opportunity to let the customer know they can have their own special case for their new instrument.”
“I am constantly surprised by the amount of thoughtful consideration that professional musicians put into their choice of bags and cases,” says Kushner of Mono. “I had this assumption starting out that the higher someone ascends into celebrity status, the less interested they’ll be in discussing a bag. We’ve seen almost the exact opposite. It’s like everyone’s been on some life-long bag quest. Some of our most enthusiastic customers have been artists who don’t even need to carry their own gear anymore.”
The Durability Issue
Simmons of Colorado Cases laughs and points out that the climate in Colorado has given him special insight into what makes a case durable – “We’ll have a 100 degree Saturday followed by a snowy Sunday!” Accordingly, Colorado Cases are engineered and designed to provide thermal protection. “We use R8 to R16 [level] installation, and rely on the best material you can buy. Our products are a little more expensive, but they come with a lifetime warranty and they are made in America. People like to buy American more than ever because it gets people working and starts the [economic] recovery.”
“Proper stitching is one of the most important keys,” states Maher. “Even a gig bag made out of bullet-proof fabric will fall apart if the stitching that holds it together is second-grade. We believe dealers will have happier customers if they ask their suppliers for bags with double stitching using high tensile thread with reinforced stress points.”
Harrison says that durable cases are the product of practical, proven design, quality raw materials and components, and skilled workmanship. “We make traditional wooden hard shell cases. We develop and source high quality proprietary materials and components to build cases that stand up to demands of pro players and boutique guitar builders.”
At the Music Link, the Guardian Vintage Hardshell Cases are made from seven-ply cross-grained wood for strength. Each Vintage Hardshell is lined with 20mm of high-density padding that both protects the instrument and supports the case shell. They also make a thermoplastic case line that can withstand 200 pounds of pressure. “Our newest series of professional quality fiberglass cases offer an even greater degree of protection, previously only found in cases that were two or three times as expensive,” Patrino adds. “Case durability is second only to the actual protection of the instrument inside.”
Recently, TKL introduced an upgraded, Concept Series of molded cases. “Made in our Virginia plant, the proven design and solid construction of our latest Concept 2.9 series has been further enhanced,” Dougherty says. “Now with the additional musician-friendly features such as our newly designed ergonomically-balanced, deluxe padded handle, along with structurally reinforced ‘D’ rings, these cases are sure to become the choice of musicians who need the ultimate in protection, ease of use, and the peace of mind. During the past few months, we also expanded our fretted instrument offering to include Dobro and Banjo cases.” They have also released a 25th Anniversary Series that features a recently developed super-rugged, deluxe durahyde covering, and other features.
“Adequate padding using quality foam, robust zippers, heavy duty stitching throughout, luggage grade scuff, and a water resistant exterior,” answers Ritter when asked what durability means to him. “You need internal end-pin, headstock and bridge protector in polyester, and quality nylon interior. We make sure that all those features are incorporated in our comprehensive range of Madarozzo bags.”
The Importance of Green
At Kases, they have found that green issues are becoming more important to everyone as time goes by. “Fortunately, our Reunion Blues brand is already known for going green, especially with our natural merino wool guitar straps,” Maher says. “Reunion Blues bags also last a lifetime so not having to replace worn out bags every two or three years is also a green concept for the case business.”
“Dealers are certainly conscientious of the ecological footprint created by manufacturing at all levels of the musical instrument market,” Patrino says. “All of our manufacturing techniques are particularly sensitive to environmental issues. Currently the European RoHS guidelines are in some ways even stricter than the U.S. guidelines. Everything we make is bound by both domestic and international guidelines.
“But what many people in today’s market seem to be the most concerned about, however, is price, and we are proud to be one of the companies that are able to pay close attention to environmental concerns while still maintaining low prices for our dealers.”
At Creative Bag, Ritter says they are environmentally conscious when buying raw materials but have to carefully consider which market segment requires which product. “Typically you will find that green products have a low availability and high prices. We have recently introduced our Madarozzo Signature Couture in cotton canvas and genuine leather and are working on a program to develop ‘greener’ bags in the coming years and hope musicians will consider the higher price worth the green benefits.”
Kushner sees ecological issues as an opportunity. “I believe that ecological constraints can be creatively transformed into desirability. For example, we decided one of the biggest ways we can affect the social and environmental impact of our cases is to make them without using any animal products. This was a difficult move in a category where leather is the primary material used to connote ‘premium’ in the mind of the consumer. But as a result, Mono has been able to create a new aesthetic language around the notion of performance, with hybrid cases that are lighter, more durable and more weather resistant than leather alternatives.
“Are the ecological aspects a selling point? I don’t believe they should be. Many people value our animal-free commitment, but the product needs to sell itself.”
SKB has just had a major upgrade to their facility in Orange, Calif., that features a massive new energy-saving hydraulic toggle injection Molding System, which launches a new era in manufacturing capabilities for SKB, says Massano. “The machine’s high efficiency, technological advantages and energy-saving capabilities; improved repeatability due to the servo motor closed loop operation; has quick response time; and a much lower noise level in low-speed applications which allows SKB to develop innovative and cost-effective new products for the market sectors in which they specialize.” In addition to that aspect, he adds that this major investment allows the company to expand into new market sectors with increased productivity and help insure the long-term growth of the company without sacrificing the attention to detail that SKB is historically know for over the past 30 years.
It is the future for SKB. “This device features high-efficiency electric servo pumps and is one of the most impressive machines of its kind currently in operation and one of the largest in the United States. The initial case production run will require a 27,000-pound mold. The unit offers 2.25 million pounds of clamping pressure and a twin cylinder balanced injection system operation. It features an eight-axis robot with a 44-pound payload rating and 175,000-pound capacity permanent electro-magnetic (neodymium rare-earth) clamping platens. Recently delivered and installed at our main factory, the new addition to SKB’s equipment family weighed in at 225,000 pounds.”
But does it come with a case?
Advice On Selling – and Profiting – From Cases
“It’s always easier to start any sale from the top down than it is to show the customer a low priced item first and then try to work up from there. The profit potential on a higher priced bag is usually better than the instrument it was designed to protect. Of course, you first have to stock the higher priced bags before you can apply this proven selling technique.”
John Maher, Kaces
“The case business is the icing on the cake. The easiest sale is to the customer who has already bought from you.”
Vijay Talwar, Gard Cases
“‘You get what you pay for. If you really want to protect your investment for your instrument, you need to spend a little extra to get better quality and protection.”
Martin Ritter, Creative Cases and Bags
“Dealers should sell their customers on the added value of increased protection and an investment in quality. How much is the customer’s guitar worth – both in terms of real and sentimental value? Make the case that’s it’s a better investment in the long run to purchase a higher quality bag or case in the first place.”
Marty Harrison, Access Cases and Bags
“The higher-quality case only needs to be purchased once. If you have to buy the case more than once, that means the piece of equipment it was suppose to protect did not quite make it through the first ordeal. It always pays to buy quality.”
Joe Calzone, Calzone Cases
“Your sales staff has to be knowledgeable and not just breathing air in the shop. The customer standing there can’t see the differences between a good case and a cheap one, but if the employee can discuss nylon thread versus cotton, etc., the sale can be made. Then you have a $700 [total] sale instead of a $500 one. But the sales people have to be plugged in.”
Steve Simmons, Colorado Case Company
“Every dealer knows that they need to qualify each customer as to what their specific needs are. For example, no one wants to put a 1930′s 12th-fret guitar in a case that won’t protect it. Likewise, most folks understand that a $100 guitar probably doesn’t need a $300 case. I think our dealers are generally pretty adept at taking the time to physically show customers our cases and highlight the features that set them apart. Most in the industry understand that cases and accessories are where dealers make their bread-and-butter, so offering cases that are great quality and have great margin is a win-win for both our dealers and their customers.”
Steve Patrino, The Music Link
“We have programs that gets cases into dealer’s stores, which is the first step to selling them. The case is an afterthought – you can’t take it home and play it. It’s hard to explain to people. But if people walk in and the cases are there, if they are in stock, they will buy the case. The program does sell more cases. If they go, ‘I’ll get it later,’ changes are they won’t, or they will get it from somewhere else other than you.”
Frank Grund, Grundorf
“I found out there’s more to understanding what the customer’s preference than selling them the case. There’s gratitude when you hit the spot of what the customer is really looking for even if they don’t know which is better with this or what works more efficiently with that. We should be able to give service and a reasonable amount of price because that’s what matters most (aside from quality). That is why I believe that our products are able to give that both — quality and reasonable pricing. That makes it a lot easier for our dealers to sell our products.”
David Saghian, Marathon president
“This is like getting a puppy and saying you can’t afford to feed it. The challenge we face as makers of accessories is to become part of the wish list, not the afterthought. Dealers can play a role earlier in the decision process, encouraging customers to consider the right cases for the right instruments while they are still in the browsing stages. But more than anything, we see one common attribute among our top-selling dealers: confidence. They view our cases as an affordable insurance policy for expensive instruments, and they also see a great profit on our products. For them, closing the deal goes something like this: ‘Please don’t tell me you’re not going to get a Mono case for that.’ Done.”
Daniel Kushner, Mono
“You can only carry a guitar around in the cardboard box for so long, so I say a good gig bag is important. Especially our CPS Series bags is that it provides all of the protection of all but the most rugged fiberglass hard shell cases, without the weight. Of course you can’t sit on it, but perhaps you shouldn’t on many hard shell cases but you think you can. No one thinks they can sit on a gig bag.”
Harvey Levy, Levy’s Leathers
“If the dealer helps the musician understand the delicacy and value of the instrument, and the potential cost of downtime and repairs, the dealer will be providing a tremendous service by helping to justify the purchase of the best case or bag. No one wants to have to buy a replacement or upgraded item several months after making his or her original purchase. That usually leads to a negative dealer/customer experience, and one that doesn’t foster the lifelong, mutually satisfying association that we all strive to create. Educating your customers, to ensure they realize that their case or bag purchase should be viewed as investment will yield tremendous, enduring benefits.”
Tom Dougherty, TKL
“The problem with most dealers is they don’t realize that this add on sale can produce as much margin or more to selling the instrument. Most of our successful dealers keep inventory and have personnel on the floor who is trained and can suggestion options – and also say, ‘you’re not leaving without a new bag or case to protect this instrument.’ It should be sold at the time the instrument is sold and many times it’s not.”
Irwin Berg, Humes & Berg
The DJ Case Market: Changing, but Thriving
As for the DJ Market …
“In a word? Slammin” Mono’s Daniel Kushner says. “Musically, there is vast uncharted territory that DJs are starting to tap into. This has big implications on any company making gear for them, especially cases. Our newest product line, the EFX series, was created to address new needs we’re seeing emerge in the clubs.”
“DJs want solutions for their laptops and DJ controllers such as Vestax VCI300s and Numark NS7,” says Agatha Gerutto, marketing director of Road Ready. ” A lot of DJs want to carry their laptop/multiple laptops and or a laptop tray. To address this we have come out with several new laptop cases that carry single and or double laptops. DJs also want trays to organize all their gear and optimize space. To answer this need we designed our new Smart Stand Series to help organize DJs laptops, turntables, CD players, DVJs, DVJs, and EFXs… once and for all!”
“Lighting cases are selling very well, from the innocent PAR cans up to the most elaborate intelligent fixtures,” says Joe Calzone of Calzone Cases. “We’re doing cases for combinations of various fixtures, from multiple PARs up to singles and doubles for the moving lights. In addition to that, the control consoles are quite elaborate and expensive, and we’ve built many cases for those as well.”
Frank Grund, president of Grundorf, recounts the case market for DJs like this: in the 1990s they were focused on cases for professional touring acts when the DJ business exploded, and they dove in early with great success. But now that’s been erased to near zero narrowed by DJs moving from heavy hardware to being able to stow all their music on a lap told. “About 25 years ago, Grundoff came out with cases that held many CDs, and everybody at the time said, ‘who would need to carry that many CDs?’ but they were very popular.”
For David Saghian of Marathon Professional, the sheer continued proliferation of people wanting to be DJs has been good for business. “When you have a 15-year-old who has wanted to be a DJ all his life, is really passionate about it, he or she will do the research and buy the essential things like a good CD player, a mixer, a amp, etc. And then by being really passionate about it, he or she will invest in cases that will take good care of that gear. In short, gear can’t live without a case.”
Fishman’s Amp Covers & Carry Bag for Loudbox
Fishman Acoustic Amplification is now offering slip covers for its Loudbox 100 and Performer amplifiers, and a padded shoulder bag for the Loudbox 100. Custom designed for Fishman by Gator Cases, the Loudbox covers are made from durable 600 denier ballistic nylon. Each features an opening for the amp handle for easy carrying and a Velcro flap to keep dust out when not in use. Also included are an embroidered Fishman logo and piping around the seams for a more elegant appearance and added durability.
The Loudbox 100 padded shoulder bag features thick protective foam sandwiched between rugged 600 denier ballistic nylon on the outside with a soft tricot padding inside. Easy access is provided via a Velcro lined top cover which also includes amp handle access and a dust flap. Seams are stitched with high-grade materials and reinforced with piping for added durability. Additional features include a large gear pocket on the rear with a heavy-duty zipper, solid rubber skids to protect the bottom of the case and an adjustable shoulder strap.
Guardian’s Fiberglass Banjo Case
Guardian’s Professional Fiberglass Banjo Case (CG-065-J-LGY) is impact-resistant and water-repellent with a fiberglass shell. The watertight valance allows safe traveling in all types of weather. Six separate latches and one lock help to keep the banjo secure, and the leather handle makes traveling comfortable. The case offers interior protection as well, with multiple padding thicknesses for safety. Dense foam cushions the sides of the resonator, and it is supported by medium density foam underneath. Extra soft foam helps to hold down the neck for protection. The list price is $399.99.
Gator’s G-Pro Rotationally Molded Polyethylene Rack Cases
Gator has unveiled a new line of rotationally molded, polyethylene rack cases with 19″ rack-able depth. These roto molded cases come complete with recessed Penn Elcom twist latches, front and rear removable lids, and molded-in ergonomic side carry handles. The G-Pro Series is engineered with interlocking tops and bottoms allowing secure stack-ability. All cases include heat treated 10/32 screws with protective washers and a free rack rail offer. Cases are available in a wide range of sizes such as 2U, 4U, 6U, 8U, 10U, and 12U.
Fusion Products Company Ltd. of the United Kingdom offers four ranges of soft cases, for guitar, keyboard, cello, brass, and woodwind instruments. What is immediately apparent is the quality of these soft cases and the choice that each range offers. Fusion’s Fuse-on system features a selection of five accessory bags, four of which can hold a laptop, and can be attached across the guitar, brass, and woodwind ranges. Smaller instrument cases can also be attached to larger cases. Design elements include lumber supports, practicable grab handles, numerous large pockets, and hidden compartments for straps. Fusion is now seeking a distributor to introduce the cases to the U.S. market.
New Cases from SKB
Since installing their new Hydraulic Toggle Injection Molding System SKB has introduced two new larger sizes to the 3I Series of Watertight Utility Cases, the 3I-2918-14B that was introduced in January and now the 3I-2317-14 Watertight Case. The inside dimensions of the 3I-2317-14B Watertight case are 23″ x 17″ x 14″ ( 2 1/2″ deep top over 11 1/2″ deep base) and the 3I-2918-14B case is 29″ x 18″ x 14″ (2 12″ deep top over 11 1/2″ deep base). The interiors of both cases are available empty or with cubed foam. Utilizing SKB’s new Custom Foam Shop individual specifications can customize empty cases.
These new Pro Audio Utility Cases are molded of polypropylene copolymer resin, feature a gasketed, water and dust tight, submersible design that is resistant to corrosion and impact damage, and an automatic ambient pressure equalization valve to assist with moisture control. There are three protected hinges with stainless steel pins to provide lid stability and five of SKB’s “trigger release” latches for added security. Any or all of the trigger release latches can be retrofitted with our TSA accepted key locking latches and the padlock holes now include stainless steel padlock protector clips. A 10″ wide two handed lift handle on the front of these cases help to balance a heavy load. Both cases include an industrial strength injection molded pull handle and four wide set in-line skate style wheels offer the solution to transport pro audio equipment, video equipment, cables, or hardware.
The new 1SKB-80A and 1SKB-80F Mandolin cases from SKB include patented fiberglass reinforced nylon trigger release latching system with the inclusion of a TSA recognized and accepted locking latch. The TSA lock enables users to lock their cases and still be inspected for airline security. The exterior is constructed from a molded ABS polymer that has been engineered to provide protection during transportation. Both cases also feature SKB’s injection molded cushioned rubber over-molded handle, injection molded feet, and bumper protected valance.
The interior of the 1SKB-80A and 1SKB-80F Mandolin cases feature plush lining to cover the molded EPS foam interior that cradles the contours of the arch top teardrop shape of the A style mandolin and the florentine shape of the F style mandolin. The molded interiors provide neck support and also have an accessory compartment for carrying extra strings, picks, or cables.