On the Case (and/or in the Bag…)

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Survey
• Created: April 3, 2017

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Cases & bags tend to be a pretty steady segment in the market. If a customer purchases an instrument of any value whatsoever and plans to do anything other than practice in his or her home, it’s a fairly easy add-on/upsell item.

With nearly 73 percent of participants in this month’s survey (sent out to over 200 MI retailers) reporting that sales of these products are either up or level, it seems reasonable to say that, generally speaking, cases & bags are doing robust business.

As for current trends, many noted an uptick in consumer preference for well constructed bags over cases these days, with quite a few sharing the sentiment of David St. John of Gard’s Music, LLC in Glendora, California, who observes: “Quality on lower-priced bags for guitar and bass has improved over the past two years.” As Full Score Music’s (Toledo, Ohio) sums it up, “Players are moving away from clunky hard-shell cases and embracing a good bag for the local gig!”

Adapting to changing airline and FAA guidelines and resulting challenges are also changing the purchasing habits of many traveling musicians: “The tolex case sales have dropped for the ATA durable baggage handler-proof case and the carry bag that allows for stowage in an overhead bin during air travel,” says Dave Lynch of Guitar Workshop in Sacramento, California.

Read on for more about what’s hot (and not) in terms of price points, materials and construction, and specific brands in 2017.

 With respect to cases & bags, what price points are doing best for your store?

“I hate dealing with cases. Customers seem to think they should either come free with a purchase or cost less than that. Freight is almost more than an instrument. Hell’s-bells, I can pick something up on Craigslist and make more in profit.”

John Diffley

Diffley Guitar Studio

Stewartville, Minnesota


“Typical guitar and bass bags usually sell from $30 to $100. Band instrument replacement cases range from $60 to $300.”

David St. John

Gard’s Music, LLC

Glendora, California


“$40 for a good, thick padded case does best in sales and is in a price zone customers are comfortable with.”

Dionne Hauke

Ziggie’s Music

Phoenix, Arizona


“MBT black and red ones just kill it – can’t keep them in stock”

Paul Lewis

Lewis Music Store

Kissimmee, Florida


“Our trend is customers want nicer padded bags rather than hard shell cases. Access and Reunion Blues are our go to companies.”

Wesley Edwards

Draisden Edwards Music

Anderson, South Carolina


“A good padded bag is sometimes preferred to a case because it is less expensive and still gives considerable protection.”

Karl Markl

South County Vintage Instruments

St. Louis, Missouri


“We’re in Nashville, and we sell Calton-Hoffee and SKB cases to many touring musicians. We’re really loving the new Collings vintage series, and TKL has really stepped up their game lately.”

Christie Carter

Carter Vintage Guitars

Nashville, Tennessee


“People seem to want soft cases with at least 20mm foam. Despite the protection a hard case gives, people often complain about the weight, bulky size, and weak hinges.”

Karen Janiszewski

Music Room

Buffalo, New York


“The majority of our clients are looking for the most protection for the least amount of money which, of course, is the most difficult combination to provide. Most of the time we end up meeting somewhere in the middle and everyone is happy and satisfied.”

Tim Paul

Piano Trends Music and Band Company

Crystal Lake, Illinois


“Higher-quality bags are more popular than hard cases.”

Shane Kinney

Drum Center of Portsmouth

Portsmouth, New Hampshire


“Currently, we are selling more bags than cases. As the quality of bags increase, they are becoming more appealing. Players are moving away from clunky hardshell cases and

embracing a good bag for the local gig!”

Steve Patterson

Full Score Music

Toledo, Ohio


“Cases, for the most part, are an upsell item. Remind the customer if they’re spending good money on an item or instrument, shouldn’t it justify protecting it with a case?”

Randy Conley

Southern Music Company

Cordele, Georgia


“We have been selling a lot of high-end cases by Calton and Hoffee. A customer who buys a $4,000 to $8,000 guitar, mandolin, or banjo doesn’t mind making the investment in a high-end case to protect their expensive investment. To a lot of people these case prices might seem exorbitant…but the owners of such high-end instruments ‘get it’.”

Tim Bascom

Morgan Music

Lebanon, Missouri


“Simply put, we’re selling more gig bags.”

Brian Douglas

Cream City Music

Brookfield, Wisconsin


“People want info about fiberglass flight cases but are either put off by the high price of the good ones or the less than stellar quality of the popular priced choices.”

Mike Halloran

PPW/Halloran Music

Sunnyvale, California


“If a drummer is gigging and moving their gear, they bag the instruments, and if they have a truck and crew even on a local level, they are casing in ATA style or roto-mold. Many drummers are bagging drums and hard casing the hardware.”

John Haga

Bongo’s & Bud’s Music Center

Hopkins, Minnesota

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