MONO vs GRUVGEAR: The Great Guitar Case Shootout
When you travel with your guitars as a musician you know that protecting your investment is a huge deal. Over the past few years we have seen a variety of cases that are designed to be the best for the traveling guitarist. We wanted to narrow our choices down to find the perfect bag that functions in one well rounded way:
- It should protect our gear against the elements
- it should be airport-friendly
- it should have ease of carry
- is should be durable
- it should be practical
- looking sharp is a plus
We wanted to test cases for both electric and acoustic guitars. After our research and input from our readers – we narrowed our search down to two vendors:
MONO and GRUV GEAR.
Both companies have sleek looking cases for your stringed instruments – MONO carries a wide line of MONO cases while GRUV GEAR carries the GigBlade to fit all seasons of guitars.
Working with an electric and acoustic model from each manufacturer – we opted to do a side by side comparison.
First, let’s take a look at our models:
Our test guitars:
Acoustic: Gibson J-200 (it is a super-jumbo…so we are pushing the edges of size – admittedly so. If this joker will fit these cases…then most acoustics will travel safely.)
Electric: Partscaster strat. Standard size.
At first glance – both models look sleek. Both have an ultra-modern look to them with an eye-catching appeal. Both of them tend to be conversation starters at airports by musicians and non-musicians alike. Both of them have plenty of storage and give unique takes at how they go about functionality in storage. While the two perform the same essential function – they protect your prized possession – they have their own individual style and identity.
The MONO case.
The MONO case provides unique style and compartments with a large front zippered pouch that I find perfect to keep a pedal or two, a velcroed pouch to keep some extra sets of strings, and a loop that you can easily fasten a rolled 1/4 inch cable.
Still further inside the case is a Headlock™ system – more of a piece of material that is velcroed across the fretboard of your guitar near the headstock to secure the guitar in place. This “Headlock” also provides storage in its windowed compartment for things like business cards or picks.
The case itself is not heavy and wears itself like a backpack. It has two backpack-like straps as well as a handle on the side much like most guitar cases. While it is a bit freeing having use of my hands while the guitar is on my back – having the guitar hovering over my head is a bit weird when navigating doors and other obstacles. Still the value of not having to switch hands constantly out of fatigue seems to be a big win.
For airplane travel, the straps tuck in a back compartment so that they are partially out of the way. That’s good news since I, from time to time, fly out on smaller planes on some of the connecting flights and must “gate check” my guitar. Straps on a case can easily get hung on something or get damaged in flight. In addition, the MONO case interior foam padding allows for the strap pin to sit in between the foam so that the foam diverts any vertical impact out and away from the strap pin.
OVERALL: All in all – the MONO case is a well rounded case for both the electric and the acoustic. We loved the quality of the material and the style. The guitars felt “safe” in the cases.
GRUV GEAR GigBlade
While very similar to the MONO Case in function – it is entirely different once you take it for a trip through an airport or…well…anywhere. GRUV GEAR made its approach to carrying bags completely different. First of all – the manner in which the bag is carried is unique…and quite comfortable. The entire bag was designed to be carried in the most logical weight distribution. The unique shape of the bag counters to the body when being carried so that the weight is supported without discomfort. With my traditional case, I found myself constantly shifting from one hand to another to save from arm fatigue. The configuration of the GigBlade allowed me to easily forget that I was even carrying a guitar.
Should I want to change things up a bit, however, there are multiple ways that the strap can be configured for ease of carry as is demonstrated in the video below.
While one of the options shown includes a backpack-style configuration – true fans of the backpack experience can indulge themselves by the add-on of an additional strap for only $20 more at checkout.
The unique shape of the GigBlade which allows the bag to rest against your shoulder also allows for space to not be wasted. The space near the headstock has plenty of room to store strings, capos, batteries, pedals, chargers, and other items.
The interior holds the instrument like you would expect – safely and securely. Since guitars come in different shapes and sizes and contours, GRUV GEAR also sells different thickness foam inserts that come with provided velcro as add-on accessories. These foam bars come with velcro backing to allow you to evenly space them – allowing adequate space for your strap pin. This advantage makes the GigBlade a fully customizable gig bag – even for offset strap pins.
OVERALL: We were impressed by the comfort and versatility of the bag. The size of the acoustic bag was surprising as well – being able to easily accommodate a super-jumbo Gibson J-200 is not an easy feat for most bags without putting major strain on the zippers. The GigBlade did it with ease.
And the winner is…
While we think most guitarists would feel safe to travel with their gear in either of these cases – and look great while doing so…there was one distinct winner in our books. GRUV GEAR has made a lasting impression on us – not only with their product…but with their customer service and vision.
Jay Baldemor, President and Founder of GRUV GEAR, is also a worship guy himself. He and his staff are constantly developing gear that worship teams, portable churches, and traveling musicians love – and we think our readers will to.
In fact, we felt so good about GRUV GEAR’s GigBlade product that we decided to give it one of our “2015 Best of The Best: Editor’s Choice Awards”. We felt that the GigBlade was the most well-rounded bag for the money and by far the most comfortable when traversing connections at airports. We’ve now found a new favorite product for keeping our gear safe – and our shoulders sane. Thanks, GRUV GEAR!
Have you used one of the bags we mentioned in our review? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below.