Hardshell vs. Gig Bags: Pros and Cons

Musical Instrument Insurance: Pros and Cons

If you use a gig bag to carry your instrument, you’ve probably been told “you should probably invest in a hard case” more than a few times.  And you should. When it comes to hardshell cases and gig bags, each has their own unique pros and cons, and each should be used in different situations. Which type of case you choose to transport your instrument in depends heavily on where your instrument is going and how it’s getting there. Obviously, the value and type of instrument should be considered, too. Here, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of gig bags and hard cases so you can make the choice that’s best for you and your situation.

The Benefits of Hard Cases

Throughout the years, hard cases have become the norm for most musicians. They come standard with many high-end instruments, and their biggest advantage is their rigid frame. Hardshell cases do a much better job at protecting the instrument than their soft counterparts, and are excellent at protecting from the elements, dust, and minor bumps and drops. Transporting or storing an instrument in a soft gig bag leaves it vulnerable to being crushed, especially when the instrument is being transported or stored in such a way where surrounding objects can shift and cause damage to the instrument. Even if you’re storing your instrument in a closet, a hard case is recommended for protecting it from surrounding items that may fall. If you’re a new musician, your music instructor will probably recommend a hard case. Since they offer the most protection, they’re almost always the better choice of the two.

The Benefits of Gig Bags

Although gig bags offer less protection, they are the better choice in some situations. Since they weigh less than hard cases and provide ample storage space for accessories, they’re a great choice for travel that’s short and carries less risk. For example, if you’re walking two blocks to a rehearsal, a gig bag is fine. But, if you’re traveling twenty miles by bus and train, a hard case is the better choice. Plus, traveling to and from lessons is easier if you’re using a gig bag. Wearing a gig bag on your back keeps your hands free to open doors and carry other things, and its lighter weight is better for your back in the long run. Ultimately, you need to evaluate how often you’ll be traveling with your instrument, where you’ll be traveling to, and how likely it is to accidentally be dropped or banged. If you’re still unsure, go with a hard case. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Traveling and Flying

If you’re going to be traveling more than a few blocks with your instrument, a hard shell case is recommended. Whether you’re flying across the country with your marching band or traveling to the next state with your gear in the back of a van, the rigid frame of a hard case is essential to protect your instrument from the possibility of other instruments and pieces of gear shifting and damaging your instrument during travel. A subset of the hard case that’s ideal for travel is the flight case. This type of case is built for touring bands, and are the most protective cases manufactured today. They are bulky and heavy, and should only be used by musicians who travel often by plane and don’t always have the time or energy to make sure their instrument is packed with care. Expensive cases made of plywood, vinyl, and aluminum, on the other hand, are great for touring but aren’t the right type of case to use when playing around town or storing your instrument at your house

If you’ve determined that a hard case is the right choice for you, but aren’t sure which type to choose, your music instructor or a helpful Music & Arts representative should be able to help you make a decision that’s right for you.

Buy Gig Bags & Hard Cases at Music & Arts

At Music & Arts, we’re dedicated to bringing you one of the largest offerings of marching band and orchestral instruments, products, and accessories in the world. As a one-stop shop for students, parents, and educators, you’ll find gig bags and hard cases from some of the top manufacturers, including Wolfpak and Giardinelli. Remember, when selecting hard cases and gig bags you should take your individual situation into consideration. Speak with your music instructor or a sales representative at your local Music & Arts store for help choosing the perfect case or bag.

For advice on how to choose a hard case for your specific instrument, check out our guides below:


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