Gator Guitar Cases Comparison

Gator guitar casesGator guitar cases are popular among guitarists, largely because of their price and the level of protection you get for your money.  I own a hard-shell case and it has proven to be a good buy for me.  They make a variety of cases, from gig bags to soft cases to a wide range of hard cases, including TSA approved flight cases.  In this post, I go over the line of Gator guitar hard cases, as well as Gator banjo hard cases, Gator mandolin hard cases, and Gator ukulele hard cases.  My focus is to provide you enough information to make an informed choice of which case might be suitable for your needs.  In another post, I’ll tackle their gig bags.

Product Lines

Gator produces several lines of hard cases, with the primary difference being the type of material used for the exterior.  In one line, it seems appearance is also a major issue.  (I admit, those cases really are eye catching.)  They all have some form of plush lining in the interior to help provide support for the instrument and reduce the possibility of scratching while in the case.  Also, all the product lines include at least one accessory pocket for holding picks, capos, and such.

TSA Guitar Series

Gator guitar cases
These cases are made of molded polyethylene for the outer shell with a thick plush interior.  They include TSA approved latches.  These cases are designed for air travel.  Note that they do not include wheels.

Journeyman Series

Gator guitar cases
The Journeyman Series cases are plywood cases covered in a pebble weave burlap on the outside and crushed velvet lining.  They include standard latches.  Outfitted with antique-looking hardware and brown trim, these cases really have the retro look going.  And they are attractive.

Deluxe Wood Series

Gator guitar cases
The Deluxe Wood Series cases incorporate heavy-duty plywood covered with black Tolex PVC for the exterior with a plush lined interior.  They include standard latches.

GWE Series

Gator guitar cases
The GWE Series uses plywood coated in black Tolex PVC as the exterior, with a thick plush-lined interior.  They include standard latches.

GC Series

Gator guitar cases
These cases feature an outer shell made of impact-resistant ABS plastic, and a plush-lined interior.  They include standard latches.

GL Series

Gator guitar cases
The cases in this line feature a 600-denier nylon exterior covering a dense EPS foam core.  The foam interior is covered with a plush lining.  They include zippers for closing the case.  An added feature is an exterior pocket for storing accessories.  These cases come equipped with shoulder straps.  These are really hybrid cases between gig bags and hard shell cases.  And they are quite a bit lighter in weight than the above hard cases.

Models

Below are the models included in the above product lines.  To aid you in determining which case is right for you, I’ve included measurements for the instruments that will fit inside.  Please remember, these are maximum values, and all are in inches.  I’ve also included an approximate price, to help with your decision.

Classical Guitars

GTSA-GTRCLASS

Gator guitar cases
Series:  TSA Guitar
Body Length:  21.25 inches
Body Height:  4.50
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  10.50
Upper Bout Width:  11.50
Total Length:  40.00
Approx. Price:  $150 at Amazon

GW-CLASSIC

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Deluxe Wood
Body Length:  23.25 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  11.50
Upper Bout Width:  12.00
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $100 at Amazon

GWE-CLASSIC

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  23.50 inches
Body Height:  4.50
Lower Bout Width:  14.50
Middle Bout Width:  10.50
Upper Bout Width:  11.50
Total Length:  40.75
Approx. Price: $80 at Amazon

GC-CLASSIC

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  20.50 inches
Body Height:  4.50
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  10.00
Upper Bout Width:  11.50
Total Length:  40.25
Approx. Price: $110 at Amazon

GL-CLASSIC

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  20.50 inches
Body Height:  4.50
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  10.25
Upper Bout Width:  11.75
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $90 at Amazon

Dreadnought Guitars

GTSA-GTRDREAD

Gator guitar cases
Series:  TSA Guitar
Body Length:  22.50 inches
Body Height:  4.75
Lower Bout Width:  16.50
Middle Bout Width:  12.75
Upper Bout Width:  13.75
Total Length:  41.50
Approx. Price: $150 at Amazon

GW-JM DREAD

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  22.25 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  16.50
Middle Bout Width:  11.75
Upper Bout Width:  12.00
Total Length:  43.00
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

GW-DREAD

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Deluxe Wood
Body Length:  22.25 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  16.50
Middle Bout Width:  11.75
Upper Bout Width:  12.00
Total Length:  43.00
Approx. Price: $93 at Amazon

GC-DREAD

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  23.00 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  16.00
Middle Bout Width:  12.25
Upper Bout Width:  12.50
Total Length:  41.25
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

12 String Dreadnought

GWE-DREAD 12

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  22.50 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  16.875
Middle Bout Width:  13.125
Upper Bout Width:  13.625
Total Length:  43.50
Approx. Price: $90 at Amazon

GC-DREAD 12

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  23.00 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  16.00
Middle Bout Width:  12.25
Upper Bout Width:  12.50
Total Length:  43.00
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

GL-DREAD 12

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  21.50 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  16.00
Middle Bout Width:  12.50
Upper Bout Width:  13.00
Total Length:  43.00
Approx. Price: $100 at Amazon

Jumbo Guitars

GW-JUMBO

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Deluxe Wood
Body Length:  23.50 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  17.25
Middle Bout Width:  11.25
Upper Bout Width:  13.00
Total Length:  44.50
Approx. Price: $106 at Amazon

GC-JUMBO

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  21.00 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  17.25
Middle Bout Width:  11.00
Upper Bout Width:  12.50
Total Length:  44.00
Approx. Price: $130 at Amazon

GL-JUMBO

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  23.25 inches
Body Height:  5.50
Lower Bout Width:  17.625
Middle Bout Width:  11.375
Upper Bout Width:  13.00
Total Length:  44.625
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

Resonators

GW-JM RESO

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  23.25 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  10.00
Upper Bout Width:  10.50
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

Martin 000 Acoustic Guitar

GWE-000AC

Gator guitar cases
Series:  Deluxe Wood
Body Length:  20.00 inches
Body Height:  4.00
Lower Bout Width:  15.00
Middle Bout Width:  9.50
Upper Bout Width:  11.50
Total Length:  42.50
Approx. Price: $80 at Amazon

APX-style Guitars

GC-APX

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  19.50 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  13.50
Upper Bout Width:  11.50
Total Length:  40.50
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

GL-APX

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  20.50 inches
Body Height:  5.00
Lower Bout Width:  15.50
Middle Bout Width:  13.00
Upper Bout Width:  11.00
Total Length:  40.25
Approx. Price: $95 at Amazon

3/4 Sized Acoustic Guitars

GWE-ACOU-3/4

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  19.00 inches
Body Height:  4.75
Lower Bout Width:  13.75
Middle Bout Width:  9.75
Upper Bout Width:  10.25
Total Length:  38.00
Approx. Price: $70 at Amazon

Acoustic Basses

GL-AC-BASS

Gator guitar cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  25.00 inches
Body Height:  6.50
Lower Bout Width:  17.25
Middle Bout Width:  12.00
Upper Bout Width:  13.75
Total Length:  50.50
Approx. Price: $146 at Amazon

Banjos

GW-JM BANJO XL

Gator banjo cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  15.00 inches
Body Height:  5.25
Bout Width:  14.00
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $100 at Amazon

GC-BANJO-XL

Gator banjo cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  16.50 inches
Body Height:  3.75
Bout Width:  14.50
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $120 at Amazon

GL-BANJO XL

Gator banjo cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  16.50 inches
Body Height:  3.75
Bout Width:  14.00
Total Length:  41.00
Approx. Price: $100 at Amazon

Mandolins

GW-JM MANDOLIN

Gator mandolin cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  14.25 inches
Body Height:  3.25
Lower Bout Width:  10.25
Middle Bout Width:  10.50
Upper Bout Width:  6.75
Total Length:  28.00
Approx. Price: $90 at Amazon

GC-MANDOLIN

Gator mandolin cases
Series:  GC (plastic shell)
Body Length:  15.00 inches
Body Height:  2.50
Lower Bout Width:  10.00
Middle Bout Width:  10.50
Upper Bout Width:  7.00
Total Length:  27.75
Approx. Price: $90 at Amazon

GL-MANDOLIN

Gator mandolin cases
Series:  GL (soft case)
Body Length:  15.00 inches
Body Height:  2.50
Lower Bout Width:  10.00
Middle Bout Width:  10.50
Upper Bout Width:  7.00
Total Length:  27.75
Approx. Price: $74 at Amazon

Concert Style Ukulele

GW-JM UKE-CON

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  13.00 inches
Body Height:  3.75
Lower Bout Width:  8.25
Middle Bout Width:  5.25
Upper Bout Width:  5.75
Total Length:  25.00
Approx. Price: $75 at Amazon

GWE-UKE-CON

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  13.00 inches
Body Height:  3.50
Lower Bout Width:  8.50
Middle Bout Width:  5.80
Upper Bout Width:  6.30
Total Length:  25.30
Approx. Price: $60 at Amazon

Soprano Style Ukulele

GW-JM UKE-SOP

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  11.00 inches
Body Height:  3.25
Lower Bout Width:  7.25
Middle Bout Width:  5.00
Upper Bout Width:  6.00
Total Length:  21.50
Approx. Price: $70 at Amazon

GWE-UKE-SOP

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  10.80 inches
Body Height:  3.00
Lower Bout Width:  7.30
Middle Bout Width:  5.50
Upper Bout Width:  6.00
Total Length:  21.30
Approx. Price: $60 at Amazon

Tenor Style Ukulele

GW-JM UKE-TEN

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  Journeyman
Body Length:  14.00 inches
Body Height:  3.75
Lower Bout Width:  8.75
Middle Bout Width:  5.75
Upper Bout Width:  7.00
Total Length:  27.50
Approx. Price: $80 at Amazon

GWE-UKE-TEN

Gator ukulele cases
Series:  GWE
Body Length:  14.80 inches
Body Height:  3.50
Lower Bout Width:  9.50
Middle Bout Width:  6.50
Upper Bout Width:  7.30
Total Length:  27.50
Approx. Price: $60 at Amazon

Problems

TSA Cases

The TSA cases are heavy, which is made worse by the lack of wheels.

Wood Cases (including the Journeyman)

All of the plywood cases covered in either PVC or burlap (Journeyman) are known to chip or scratch or slit somewhat easily.  While this will affect the appearance of the case, I’m not aware of it impacting the instrument inside.  (I’m sure it’s probably happened, but I’m not personally aware of it.)  And that is the point of a case, isn’t it – taking the blows but not allowing the contents to be damaged.

Journeyman

The Journeyman cases also have several other issues.  Some owners have reported the burlap cover bubbling up in places.  This is not universal; many owners are perfectly happy with the case.  Also, these cases should be treated with a stain or some other waterproofing material to keep it looking new longer.  I suspect this is made even more pronounced because of the off-white color of the cases.  (But aren’t they good looking!)

A few owners report failing latches and the case not closing exactly.  This applies to all the cases, except for the TSA cases, to my knowledge.

Soft Cases

The soft cases (GL Series), as you would expect, don’t hold up as well as the other cases.  Zippers give out, handles break, and the backpack straps are known to come off where they join the case.  Some owners report they last about a year under very heavy use.  Considering the price, that is too often for some owners.  However, I think these cases can last a great deal longer than that if not used real heavily.  If weight is an issue, these cases are something to consider, though.

Warranty

Gator warrants their cases with a lifetime warranty, limited to any manufacturing defects in material or workmanship.  It is limited to the original owner and requires proof of purchase.  They will repair the case or provide a replacement, either of the same product or a comparable product of similar value.  The warranty excludes damage due to “misuse, neglect, accidents, abrasion, exposure to extreme temperatures, solvents, acids, water, normal wear and tear or transport damage.”

Ratings

TSA Cases – 9.5 out of 10.0.  These are good cases, with few problems.  They are less expensive than some TSA approved cases made by other companies, but don’t include wheels.  This could be an issue with some people.

Wood Cases – 8.0 out of 10.0.  Many people have had good luck with these cases, and for use around town, they are great.  They do mar easily.  I do not recommend checking them for a flight.

GC Cases (plastic shell) – 8.5 out of 10.0.  I think these are a bit better than the wood cases.  They don’t mar easily and are a bit lighter.  Some people have tried to fly with them, but I would not recommend that.  I’ve seen too many baggage handlers in action…

Soft Cases – 5.5 out of 10.0.  For light use, and for a light case, these are good choices.  A bit expensive to be replacing every year or so, necessitating the caveat they are for light use.

 

If you have comments, please leave them below.  Keep making music.  Remember, music makes the world a better place.

Rock On!

Leave a Reply