Looking for a Hardshell Case on a Budget?

The phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to pretty much anything, especially in the wonderful world of music gear. With that said, a lot of people that play guitar as a hobby, with an occasional gig here and there, probably have a few guitars lying around the house that hardly ever leave. For most of my musical life, I only ever had a case for my acoustic guitar; everything else always travelled in bags. However, a few months ago, I was preparing to move across the country and I started thinking about how I was going to pack everything. I have a small sedan and had to fit myself, my friend, my dog (he’s big), and all of our stuff. My seats don’t fold down, so I was forced to by a roof rack a couple years ago if I was going to take my snowboard anywhere. Can you guess where my guitars spent their trip across the country?

I decided if the guitars were going on the roof then they were going to be in cases. I started looking online at both new and used cases; I was trying to save as much money as I could before the move, so going out and buying a couple $200 cases wasn’t going to happen. The major problem I faced was finding a cheap but sturdy case that would fit a Fender Jaguar. Their oddly shaped bodies just don’t fit into standard guitar cases. I did some research and came across a site called Rondo Music. There isn’t a single thing on that site that’s a brand you’ve probably ever heard of, but they had a massive selection of cases, so I decided to search Google for reviews. They had a fair amount of good reviews, which kind of blew my mind since the majority of their cases are in the $60 range. There were some bad reviews, but I also discovered that at some point along the way, they had changed their case design. I’m not completely sure about that, but I did see a couple reviews that had mentioned it, so I decided, what the hell, why not? I ordered one (it’s tweed, obviously, ’cause I’m a vintage junkie and I really wanted the gold plush interior), the case showed up, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I had read about the Musicians Gear cases that Guitar Center sells, and they had some good reviews, but there were some complaints about poor neck support. Apparently, they make the support with a low-quality foam material that gives way too easily, so you end up having a case that your guitar slides around in. The case from Rondo has a solid neck support that has not worn down at all so far. In fact, the padding holds the guitar in place really well, overall. The material on the inside is great — not quite as soft and plush as my SKB (which my dog quite often enjoys sleeping in), but it’s nice. The outside seems durable enough, not flimsy by any means, but definitely not the quality you get out of a real Fender case. The tweed is just a vinyl wrap — If they were selling real tweed cases for $60, I would have bought 12 of them. Lastly, the lock is useless, which is fine for me because I don’t see a point in the lock unless you are flying (don’t fly with this case). If someone wants to walk off with your guitar, I don’t think it being in a case is going to stop them.

At the end of the day, this case is going to do more than a gig bag in a lot of situations. I would not suggest this case to a touring musician, but if you’re someone that likes to keep their guitars in a case at home, or if you gig once and a while, I think these cases are plenty suitable. Should you throw this case around with your guitar in it? No, you shouldn’t throw any case around with your guitar in it. This case did the trick for me and I think it would work for a lot of people.