Friday, November 22, 2013

Case in Point

Most people who are required to travel via aeroplanes with their musical instruments have heard horror stories of what can happen to a a guitar or mandolin or fiddle that has to be checked. Mostly, these instruments will go into the overhead, if there is room, especially the smaller ones. You can get a violin under the seat in front of you, maybe a mandolin, but not a full-size acoustic guitar. On a crowded flight, sometimes your axe will get gate-checked, and if the instrument is worth anything, that flight is apt to be worrisome.

You sit in your seat, less afraid of crashing than of what is smacking into your unique instrument down there in the dark hold ...

A gate-check is just that. You get a tag, and they take your axe away and send it to luggage hell.

There are baggage handlers who apparently think rolling a fork lift over your prized guitar is no big deal, and you never, ever want to check a guitar in a gig bag.

For those of you who know not, a gig bag is a soft-side sack, nylon or leather, and offers minimal protection for the instrument it encases. In the overhead, if you are careful, sure. 

In the belly of the big metal bird? Bad. Bad. 

I've been lucky. The few times I've traveled with a guitar, I got to take it into the cabin with me, but there's no guarantee that will happen; the airlines are capricious about such things. Some will smile and wave you on, some will demand you check the critter.

A new law starting next year is supposed to mandate that you can take your instrument onboard, if there is room, and the Captain has the final say, so if you can convince him your baby should be onboard, you want to hope he's a musician in his spare time …

Um. Point of this is that if you travel a lot and have to stow your musical instrument, you want to get a sturdy case. One that will protect your axe, even at the expense of its own life.

There are some pretty good ones around, and they aren't cheap, but if you are one of those guys with a Lloyd Loar mandolin or a prime Martin from the 1940's that is worth more than your house, you would probably be served ponying up for a case that is as close to bulletproof as you can find. 

I dunno if this one is bulletproof, but I cringed and had to look away at some of what they did to it in this video, and when it was done, I was convinced. The thing got beat all to hell and gone, but it kept the guitar safe.

This is one tough case Mr. Hoffee makes, right here in America ...


Ed said...

Gee, what a Hardcase!
I am looking foreward to the next video....hopefully not of Mr. Hoffee getting run over.

The Daring Novelist said...

I travel with a friend who is handicapped. They are mandated to put the wheelchair in the cabin (usually the first class closet).

The airlines don't care. They won't do it. It would discommode the first class passengers.

We have, over the years, found ways to keep them from mangling the very expensive wheel chair at the gate. I have to break it down strap up the frame so they can't do too much damage, and take the back and seat on board with me, and then reassemble it at the gate (if they haven't tangled something into it or bent it so it can't be reassembled).

I can imagine how they treat a mere musical instrument.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to this parade, but I am reminded of the viral hit song "United Breaks Guitars" . The story behind it goes into more depth - the real nightmare started AFTER the guitar was broken by the baggage handlers, and the airline gave him a 9-month runaround that culminated in a "no" because reasons.