Plush inner lining with 1" foam
Zippered accessory pouch
Leather string and bridge protectors
When it comes to high-quality leather products, few names are as well known (in both the music and hunting worlds) as Canada's Levy's Leathers. At first glance, the LM18 looks like a no-frills, well made gig bag perfect for those gigs when you don't need to bring a lot of extra stuff. The one we looked at was for a standard electric guitar, but they also make versions for basses, acoustic guitars, classical guitars, banjos, and three types of ukuleles.
The outside of the bag is covered in leather trim with two pockets–one on the headstock and the other on the lower bout. The zippered pouch is perfect for holding your cell phone and keys during the gig while the bottom pouch is held closed with two belt buckle-style straps. You can easily fit a few cables and maybe a pedal in the bottom pouch, but any more than that and you might need to bring an extra bag.
We have all had gig bags where the area inside near the tuning pegs and bridge gets torn up. Levy solved this by putting a leather patch over the suspect areas to keep the inside padding from fraying. The one downer about the LM18 is that the shoulder straps, although very durable, weren't padded. This was surprising considering the cost (street price is around $500) and the obvious commitment to quality Levy puts on materials and construction. For lighter guitars this might not be a huge deal, but if you need to bring a Les Paul to a gig, you might want to try it out first before shelling out the cash.
Cable management storage
Built-in rain cover
Ergonomic cushioned harness straps
If you have something that needs a case and Gator doesn't make it, then you probably don't need it. From amps and pedalboards to keyboards and recording gear, Gator seemingly makes a case for everything. Gator's Commander series of gig bags combines storage and durability with a few twists. Even if you aren't at the helm of the Millennium Falcon, the Commander boasts tons of storage for any situation you might run into.
The surprises start with the outside of the bag. As you look over all the pockets you notice there is one on the back of the bag right behind your head. I hadn't seen a pocket there before so I opened it up and out pops a poncho for your gig bag. How many times have you been packing up for a gig and noticed the weather has taken a turn for the worse? Now, thanks to this hideaway poncho, all your gear will be kept clean and dry. The pockets on the bottom can fit tons of stuff. The biggest one is large enough—and padded well enough—to fit my 15" Macbook plus a small recording interface.
Inside, the bag sports about an inch of foam along with an adjustable neck support to keep things in line. I threw in a Les Paul and the depth of the gig bag handled the angled headstock without any issues or concerns. The big bonus was how comfortable the backpack straps are. They are wide and very well padded which made the Les Paul much easier to carry. Also, it's great to stow them away in the zippered pouch when not in use. Overall, the Commander is a great gig bag with plenty of features for a good price.
Access Heritage HLLP68
Top grade cowhide
Adjustable neck support
Reinforced handle and shoulder straps
The HLLP68 is a cowhide-covered gig bag specifically designed to hold Les Paul-style guitars. The first thing I noticed about the bag was the thickness—it's almost the size of some acoustic gig bags. This is largely due to the fact that some thinner gig bags can be tough on Gibson's angled headstocks, so the extra girth is a welcome addition. I loaded up a Gibson Les Paul and found the extra room inside the bag perfect for a snug, yet protective fit. On the inside you can see a well padded plush interior with leather patches to cover the tuning pegs and bridge, which now seems to comes standard on most higher end gig bags. For neck support, Access has an adjustable foam insert that is nearly the length of the entire neck–another feature that is becoming more popular
The outside sports three front-side pockets. On the upper bout, the zippered pocket is just large enough to hold some picks, strings, and a capo. The large pocket on the bottom bout sports enough room for a few larger accessories, but not much else. It would be great to see an extra pocket or two, but considering the extra room given to protect the guitar, I think it's worth the trade off.
The build quality of the HLLP68 is extremely high. The tough leather outside looks like it could stand up to nearly any bump or ding you can throw at it. Even with that, the price is fairly high for what most people are willing to spend on a gig bag. If you need some style and dig the old-school cowhide look, the Access Harvest series of gig bags are worth a look.