One of the most important tools you can take to any gig is one that doesn't improve your tone at all—the gig bag. To some, any gig bag will do. That is, until they pull out their favorite axe at the blues jam and find a crack in the headstock due to some bumps and dings on the way to the local pub. It's an even bigger consideration when you are a professional musician who spends mos¬t of their waking hours going in-between buses, vans, airports, hotel rooms, and cramped green rooms.
There is no shortage of different styles, sizes, and shapes of gig bags for nearly every instrument you can imagine and they offer a few distinct advantages over a hardshell case. First, how great is it to have your guitar—or guitars—on your back, combo amp in one hand and pedalboard in the other? Any time you can cut down how many trips back and forth to load in, the better. Also, let's be honest, although hardshell cases offer pretty rock-solid protection, they can get pretty heavy. The other big advantage is that you are many times able to carry much more just a guitar in the bag. In the spirit of finding the best guitar transport money can buy, PG rounded up five different gig bags that fall on the high-end of the spectrum in quality and price and put them through the paces.
Inside padding consists of 30mm of high-density lightweight foam
Made of waterproof rip-stop polyester
Incorporates Fuse-On system for attaching laptop and accessory bags
Fusion Bags create a wide variety of bags for everything from iPads and laptops to cellos and ukuleles. We tested out the F1, which is at the top end of their line of guitar gig bags and it comes in four different sizes: Acoustic, Bass, Classical, and Electric. The F1 is a sleek-looking bag that boasts a slim profile. From the first time you pick it up you can tell that this is a rugged gig bag that can take all the bumps you can throw at it.
The outside of the bag consists of water-resistant polyester with reflective panels for those city dwellers that need to be seen while walking home from the gig. There are four spacious pockets on the lower bout that can hold all the gig or session essentials you might need. The headstock pocket is large enough even to hold a few small pedals. If you are looking for even more storage, Fusion makes a few different accessory bags that can be connected to the F1 with their Fuse-On system.
To test it out, I packed it with a Gibson SG and headed out to the gig. It handled the angled headstock pretty well and was extremely comfortable thanks to the well-padded straps and the Flow-System, which allows for air to circulate between your back and the bag. Overall, the F1 is good choice for anyone who needs a sturdy gig bag with all the bells and whistles without breaking the bank.
Mono M80 Dual Electric
Waterproof Sharkskin outer shell
Zig-Zag design that can be used to hold one or two guitars
Specialized pockets with built-in cable management
Answering the call from their customers for a dual gig bag, Mono expanded on their M80 line to create the M80 Dual Electric Case. When designing this gig bag, they did simply more than just strap two M80s together. They created a system where both guitars are completely protected and threw in some specialized features as well.
Now, even though you might be able to carry your two all-mahogany Les Pauls into the gig in one trip, a dual gig bag isn't going to make them any lighter. The M80 Dual comes in at around 7 pounds empty and once I loaded it up with a Strat and an SG it weighed in close to 23 pounds. Not a dealbreaker, but something to keep in mind if you have any back issues or live in an urban area and need to hike it to the gig. Considering it holds two electrics, it surprisingly isn't much bigger than a standard acoustic gig bag, but it would be a tight fit to squeeze it into an overhead compartment of an airplane.
Neck stability is usually the factor in any kind of horror story involving a less-than-adequate gig bag. Mono uses the Headlock system, which secures the neck to a supportive piece of foam and even has a small pouch for your emergency stash…of picks. Another possible breaking point is the strap button on the end of the guitar, which can sometimes become damaged by the lack of padding on the bottom of the gig bag. In the M80, the foam is recessed so that the strap button never hits the ground. Nice idea. Like Ford, the M80 is built tough but you will need to sacrifice some of the storage space in order to fit in another axe.