Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Tuff-Lite Bass Case from the String Emporium

Over the last 2 years, I've had to ship a bass three times. Most recently to go to Stanford and New York. In the past I had used David Gage bass trunks, older model borrowed from friends. However, last year, with two trips planned and another three slowly materializing, I opted to purchase a trunk of my own.

I did some research comparing prices and features (the primary being weight) and opted for the Tuff-Lite trunk from the String Emporium. I opted for the standard model, thinking that the hard part was getting it on the plane, not the actual weight of the thing. It cost $1,50, weighs just over 60 lbs.

As a quick aside, my experience has been that there is a flat fee (about $175) for traveling with something of this size. I've never had anybody weigh the case. My tips for traveling with a bass are here.

Relative to the gage trunk, I chose the Tuff-Lite for a couple of reasons. First was the price. I don't travel so much that I can rationalize paying almost an additional $1,000. (This is also in part why I opted for the standard Tuff-Lite.) Secondly, I was never a fan of the clasps system on the Gage trunk. In every situation where I've traveled with my bass, I've had to open up the trunk. The Tuff-Lite closes with a series of bungee cables which makes opening and closing the case relatively easy. Moreover, since it can't be locked anyway due to airline security regulations, its easy for others to open it if need be. The video below shows the String Emporium's own Steve Koscica demonstrating the case.

I like this case and it's been great on the road. Some specifics:
  1. Inside the case, there are several straps which can be used to secure the bass in place. Also included are a couple of foam pads that you can place in order to protect the instrument. The straps are well-placed and I feel provide better support for the instrument than the airbags I have seen in other cases.
  2. The case has several handles on the exterior, each of which is pretty thoughtfully placed. I had a relatively easy time maneuvering the case through the airport and found myself using the various handles to make various turns and tips down corridors and into elevators.
  3. The casters (as with the handles) are mounted on the case exterior. I hadn't seen this in other cases and it makes replacing or altering the case easy. The last Gage case I used was an older model with a broken caster. Since the caster was molded into the trunk it coulomb be replaced. Here, if I breaks a wheel, I can easily unscrew the caster and replace it.
Overall, this is a great case, well worth the price. There is one thing I didn't like about the case: there are metal strips on the front and back of the case that, presumably, make it easier to slide for baggage handling. On my case at least, they are sharp at the ends and a jaggedly cut. I tore a shirt and cut a finger on one of these strips. To remedy the problem, I covered the ends of the strips with a couple pieces of duct tape to keep the ends covered.

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