Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Case Study, Part 1

Having a bunch of 'ukuleles could only mean one thing: also having a lot of cases! I just took delivery of a custom ordered tenor Ameritage case (thank God the Koa Works fits in it) and thought I'd do a review of all the different types of cases I've accumulated so far. I mean, it seems to be a fun topic right? So without further ado, I'm going to jump right in to the various cases in my possession. (This is going to be quite a long post so I'm probably going to divide it into 2 or 3 parts)

Lanikai canvas covered foam case:

This is probably the most commonly used 'ukulele case around. It is made from hard foam that's covered with a black canvas type fabric. There are many reasons why these are popular. They are light, they have a lot of storage compartments inside and out, they have a spacious interior that fits most of the ukes in the marketplace, and they are inexpensive. It also comes with 2 straps that you can use to either carry the case on your shoulder or on your back.

There are really only a couple of negatives for this case. The first is that because its large interior, many ukes fit loosely in there. It does have a Velcro tie to secure the neck, but it's kind of a pain in the butt to fasten and unfasten each time you move your uke in and out of the case. The other negative is that the case has suspect longevity. I had one where the screw that secures the handle bar started to strip out and felt like it was only a matter time before the handle is pulled apart from the case.

This is a good travel case because it is light and does a pretty good job of protecting the uke. I took my Pineapple Sunday to Hawaii this past January in a concert sized Lanikai case and it worked out really well. This case usually sells for about $40-45 shipped, which isn't too bad. Below are some pictures of this type of case.

Outside of the Lanikai case. Note the large zippered compartment.

Inside of the concert Lanikai case with 'ukulele.

Inside compartment of the Lanikai case.

Note the "D" rings on the side and bottom for the straps.

It probably doesn't take a lot of force to strip out these screws, making the durability suspect.

Guardian canvas covered case:

The Guardian canvas covered case is pretty similar to the Lanikai case, but I think it is overall a little bit better designed. It is also a canvas covered foam case. The main difference is that the handles on this case are stitched on the outer cover instead of screwed into the foam inside. I think this design should be much more durable in the long run. It too has 2 straps and the case can be carried on the shoulder or backpack style, which can be pretty handy if you need more maneuverability for your arms while carrying this case.
This case is only available in soprano and baritone sizes as far as I know. In addition, the soprano case is way too big for a normal soprano and not quite big enough for a concert, making the soprano version kind of odd. The baritone case is well sized and fits my Bushman Cedartone perfectly. Another negative would be the zipper length. The zipper runs almost all the way around the outside of the case, meaning that it takes more time to zip and unzip. Yes, that's maybe 0.5 seconds longer, but it just seem kind of excessive.
I like the baritone version of this case better than the soprano version due to the size issue mentioned earlier. It is pretty well made and at $36 shipped, very inexpensive at Musician's Friend. It is a very good choice for a budget 'ukulele case.

Note the carrying handles are stitched onto the case.

With Bushman Cedertone baritone inside.

Interior of the Guardian case.

Note that it has some "feet" on the side to set down on.

No name generic case from ebay:

When I got my Kanile'a super soprano, it came with a Lanikai soprano case. That case had the aforementioned screw stripping issue mentioned previously, so I went looking for a case that would fit the super soprano. I came across a black soprano case on ebay that had enough interior room for the Kanile'a. It cost about $30 shipped so I picked it up. The Kanile'a indeed fits comfortably inside this case. It has some simulated leather exterior that covers what feels like chipboard. The chrome hardware are kind of cheap but does the job. It also has a decent amount of room inside for some humidifiers, strings, and hygrometer. It doesn't have the storage capacity that the Lanikai and Guardian cases have, but it's sufficient. While the chrome latches are kind of cheap, I much prefer them over the zippers of the canvas covered cases. It just opens and closes so much quicker.

For the money I paid for this case, I don't have too many complaints. I already mentioned the cheap hardware, but they work just fine. The case did have an industrial sort of stench that wasn't very good. But it seem to have subsided mostly and wasn't overpowering. I think the case probably won't be all that durable in the long run, since the exterior covering is kind of weak and soft feeling, but so far it has been perfectly fine, so I don't know for sure.

Overall, I like the case, especially for the Kanile'a super soprano.

Exterior view of the case. It only has 2 latches instead of the usual 3 latches.

The Kanile'a super soprano is a perfect fit inside.

Interior compartment is small, but there's room around the headstock area for various things.

It has "feet" on the side and back.

Well, that's quite a long post. I'll cover the rest of the cases in a few days. It'll probably take 2 more posts to cover everything. If you're interested in seeing the custom color Ameritage case, stay tuned!


julie said...

Darn it! I was planning a similar post on my site. You beat me to the punch!

GX9901 said...

Haha, sorry Julie, I did not know that. But even if you're talking about all the same cases, it's still good to have multiple opinions on them right?

julie said...

;o) I might still do it at some point. I haven't actually bought a bunch of different types like I was planning to do. BTW: My GString Sun concert arrived :o) Very pretty!!!!

Micah Moore said...

This is awesome man.
Please post the rest of them if you get a chance.
I totally value user opinions and research them before I buy.
(about to buy a hardcase for my new Bushman concert cutaway.
It sounds and looks perfect!

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: