Best Gig Bags and Electric Guitar Bags 2020: Hard Case vs. Soft Shell - Rolling Stone
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Gig Bags 101: Which Guitar Bag is Best For You?

The best electric guitar bags these days offer plenty of storage and security features in stylish, lightweight packages

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Your electric guitar is more than just an instrument – it’s an investment you’ve made in your music and perhaps in your career. If you want to keep it in good shape, you’ll need to tune it regularly of course, but you’ll also want to keep it protected at all costs. That’s where a good guitar bag comes in.

An electric guitar bag or “gig bag” as it’s commonly known, is a soft, padded case that lets you store your guitar easily and securely. Zip it up and keep your guitar protected from dust and debris when not in use. Pick it up by the carrying straps or sling it over your shoulders like a backpack to easily transport your guitar on the go.

What You Need to Know About Electric Guitar Bags

Guitar Bag vs. Guitar Case: Unlike guitar cases, which are hard-shelled and often made from wood, plastic or aluminum, the best electric guitar bags are “soft-shelled” and made from a flexible yet durable nylon material. A hard-shell guitar case is best if you have to travel and don’t want the guitar to be sliding or bumping around in your trunk or airplane cargo hold. If you’re not checking your guitar in, or keeping it closeby, a gig bag is more lightweight and easier to carry.

Storage: Both guitar cases and gig bags offer plenty of storage options. A hard case often has built-in interior compartments sized for things like your tuner, extra strings, etc. The best guitar bags on our list all come with interior and exterior pockets, though they’re more generally-sized, letting you use them for whatever fits (think anything from cables to a laptop). A guitar case will be more rigid; a gig bag lets you stretch the material out to pack more inside (similar to the difference between hard-shell luggage and a duffel bag).

Padding: A hard shell case is lined with felt to prevent scratches, but generally, there isn’t any interior padding, since the external material is already so thick and tough. The best gig bags, however, all have some degree of padding. The options on our list have padding from 10-15mm thick to protect your guitar from any accidental bumps or bruises.

Carrying Style: A final difference: guitar cases are held by handles along the side; the best gig bags, however, offer a variety of carrying options, from top handles, to side handles, to backpack-style straps. In short, an electric guitar bag is more practical and versatile than a hard-shell case.

Whether you’re heading out on tour or just heading to your friend’s place, we’ve found some of the best electric guitar bags you can buy online. These picks are all manufactured with rugged, durable construction, and have plenty of storage, safety features and thoughtful details that will make it easy to keep your electric guitar in tip-top shape.

1. Ibanez Powerpad Electric Guitar Gig Bag

This gig bag is part of Ibanez’s “Powerpad” series, which merge the looks and practicality of a backpack with the functionality of a guitar case.

This IGB541 model comes in five different colors and is made from a durable nylon material and felted suede. Carry the bag using a top handle, or wear it over your shoulder with the backpack straps. Four exterior pockets get you room for everything from your tablet and headphones, to your pedals and extra set of strings. The largest pocket also fits up to a 13-inch laptop.

Inside, find plush padding (15mm) on both the bottom and sides of the bag to protect your gear. Adjustable straps also help to keep your guitar secure.

Interior measurements are 41.5 x 15.9 x 22 inches. This gig bag weighs just under 2.5 pounds.

PROS: Modern, sporty design, with contrast-color styling and a ton of pockets for storage.

CONS: Large exterior pockets make this gig bag slightly bulkier than other picks on our list.

best guitar bag gig

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2. Gator Cases Gig Bag

If you want a lightweight, reliable guitar bag, you can’t go wrong with this one from Gator Cases, known for their two decades of experience in manufacturing gear and accessories for a variety of instruments.

This gig bag is made from a durable nylon material, with reinforced seams at the headstock (to protect the guitar neck) and by the bridge. Carry the bag like a suitcase with two side handles, or strap it over your shoulders like a backpack.

The inside has light padding (10mm) to protect against scratches, while a snug fit prevents your axe from shifting. There’s one external pocket, which is best for sheet music and extra strings.

This guitar bag measures 41.3 x 15.7 x 1.2 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds.

PROS: Slim, streamlined look; the lightest bag on our list.

CONS: Light padding isn’t as thick as other models on our list. Only one storage pocket and it can only fit a few small items.

gator-cases-guitar-bag

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3. ChromaCast CC-EPB-BAG Electric Guitar Padded Gig Bag

This gig bag is the most practical pick on our list, keeping your electric guitar protected while offering up a ton of storage and carrying options.

Great for a traveling musician, the bag is constructed from a super durable nylon that won’t tear or scratch easily. Rubber “bumpers” along the edges add extra protection. Inside, get 10mm of padding plus a velcro neck strap to keep your axe in place.

On the outside, find three different zippered pockets. The long top pocket is roomy enough for a folding stand, cables and chargers, while two front pouches are great for chargers, tuners and even a laptop.

Multiple reinforced handles make it easy to grab and go, whether from the top, the side, or worn over the shoulders.

This gig bag measures 39.5 x 14.5 x 2.5 inches, and weighs just under two pounds.

PROS: Lightweight and durable, this bag can really take a beating, making it great for the road. Padded, adjustable shoulder straps allow for more comfortable carry.

CONS: Smallest size on our list. Will fit classic guitars easily but you may want to size up to a different bag if you have a larger instrument.

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