A FEW WORDS ABOUT GIG BAGS FROM GLENN
CRONKHITE . . .
Bottom line! As musicians, our well-being and our livelihood depend in part on our
instrument being exactly the same when we pull it out of the case at the gig as it
was when we put it in after the last one.
Gig bags have been getting a bad rep lately, and after visiting NAMM 2005, I can
see why. I don't think the people who design some of these things have the health
of a musical instrument at heart. Over 30 years ago, when I made the first soft cases
that actually protected an instrument, mine were the only ones available. Now, however,
gig bags have become so commonplace that it's hard to know just what to look for.
Why, and under what circumstances, they work well. I think we need some straight
talk at this point, and what I'd like to focus on is not price point-it's point of
First of all, a gig bag is not for everyone. If you have other people handle your
instrument or you tend to stack stuff on top of it in the van, forget it! On the
other hand, if you like to keep it close to you, and you handle it with care, a good
gig bag can make your life a lot easier, and can be the cheapest insurance you ever
buy. However, all gig bags are not created equal, so be careful when looking for
the right one. I believe these things are a safe alternative to a hard case only
when made by someone who knows what he's doing.
There are many reasons why cheaply made gig bags don't protect the instrument.
MATERIALS: Foam padding is usually too soft,
thread is too thin, outside is too easily damaged.
CRAFTSMANSHIP: Let's face it, the last thing
you need is for your case to fall apart on you in the middle of a tour.
DESIGN: A case is not a purse, nor is it
The contents of a gig bag are easily damaged, extremely
expensive, and hard to replace. It's nice if it looks hip, but its design must honor
its function. Also, I don't like all the extra pockets, laces, chains, etc. I see
on some of these things, all of which can get hung up on anything, or anyone, you
happen to pass. If you can't move easily through a crowd without bumping into things,
you're in trouble with a gig bag. I know, it's great to have everything you use in
one bag, but all that extra weight and bulk just make your case a bigger target.
If you lug a lot of stuff around, put some of it in a separate bag. Your instrument
will thank you.
Another issue is FIT: If your case is not properly balanced, or the instrument
moves around inside, look out! Beware the company that has a limited number of generic
sizes and tells you they fit everything. What these companies do is make a case that
fits the largest instrument in each category and the smaller ones end up dancing
around inside the case. Not good! This is why, if you have an instrument that has
an unusual shape, I will custom fit your case. At times, it may require your participation
(some measurements or a tracing), but considering the case may be with you for the
life of the instrument, it's time well spent.
During my lifetime as a musician and as a craftsman, I have been fortunate to have
known a lot of people who did something extremely well. Most of them shared something
in common. They had a philosophy about what they did-an internal statement of intent
which they used to evaluate and direct their work. In the beginning of my work, when
I was trying to decide if a gig bag was something the music world needed, I had my
own statement of intent. It has not changed. Build a Ferrari, lightweight and streamlined.
Build it tough, to take a beating. Build it to fit and protect what's inside. And
make it look as elegant as possible. Otherwise, don't bother!
Back to the
To contact Glenn
1719 Ninth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
Telephone (510) 527-4490 | FAX (510) 525-4674