If you are a musician who has been moving along working at your career playing music, there are times when moving up to the next level means making changes in how you handle your gear. For some musicians, who have not made the jump yet into joining a giging band, a cheap rack case is just a box to put the rack gear in to organize things, and clean up the wiring mess in the practice room a little.
It's after you finally moved up to the next level, by joining a working band, that your mind goes to what is involved in packing and unpacking your gear to go to the gigs. So you figure the rack case, the gig bag that came with your guitar, and your padded amp cover with your amp will do the job nicely.
These items really offer very little protection against the hazards that can happen to a working musician when least expected. I can not tell you how many broken headstocks I have had to repair on Gibson guitars and basses due to the fact that the instrument was residing in a gig bag at the time of the untimely accident. Gig bags offer really very little protection for your instrument. The hard shell cases offered by the instrument manufacturers are a lot more protection than a gig bag can be.
One customer years ago called to bring in his P-Bass for me to check out to see if it were OK. What walked in was a pile of splinters held together by some glue and black tolex covering. You see one of the guys didn't close the rear doors of the van properly when they left the gig. It was somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike, the door opened and the bass went out the open back door. Except for a few nicks and chips, the bass checked out OK. Imagine that.
Like the gig bag is for the instrument, the soft padded amp cover is very little protection for your amplifier. Imagine your amplifier falling off the stage, or out of the back of that van traveling down the New Jersey Turnpike. Having some kind of hard shell road case would be a whole lot better than having an amplifier gig bag.
Yet, even having the minimum in entry level hard shell cases for instruments, amplifiers, and rack gear may not be enough. These light duty road cases are just that, LIGHT DUTY. You know, these are the kind you see in the big music store chains that look like the cases the real pro's use. But are they really the next level up. Are they what the pro's really use for the "Best Protection" money can buy for their instruments and gear.
For example, here is something you are more likely to see used by the professionals on the big national tours.
Even on the professional level, not all road cases are created equal. One thing they most always have in common, is that they are all very strong on the outside. This road case has a mesa power amp in it and a lot of midi effects gear. Most do not have internal shock protection. With this road case, the support rails are hard mounted to the outer shell of the case.
Here you see one of my road cases that has been out on some major touring. Now, I have some of my shop test gear in it. The difference to be noticed is that it is actually one box built inside another box. There is heavy duty shock absorbing foam in between both the inner box with the supporting rack rails, and the outer protective box.
Here you have a custom made road case for an Ampeg SVT that was supplied by Time Electronics, for one of our long time customers who jumped up to the touring level.
The amplifier never leaves the road case while on the road. Just pop off the front and rear covers, hook up the power, the speakers, the bass, and play. That simple.
Here you can see all the protective shock absorbing foam that was used for this SVT. After all the years this amp has been on the road, because of the design of this road case, this SVT is still in brand new condition .
Road cases for instruments will also make use of foam in different configurations. Some times the instrument is form fit in the foam. Sometimes there are spaces for it to float. Foam of different degrees of firmness is used depending on the type of instrument.
Good roadcase construction and design are very important factors for protecting your equipment; however, we have learned from our touring experience not to forget the important little things that should have been designed into a roadcase that would make life a little easier for your road crew.
One example is: An ideal roadcase would have Specially-designed storage
spaces for cables, accessories, repair tools, and spare parts to keep everything
the crew would need at hand. This makes things convenient to find and reduces
the time taken to setup and tear down your gear.
© Copyright R.K.Koerner 1997 All Rights Reserved.