Modern Gretsch Guitars

gig bags and travelling with your gretsch

1

was curious about how you guys did it. i know its hard enough to get a regular plank on a plane, but how about a gretsch?

and are there any good, trustworthy, road worth gig bag solutions out there? my 6118 kind of had one, but it seemed a little haphazard and ill-fitting (though it was a gretsch labelled bag).

was thinking of possibly taking my big ass g400 synchromatic for a spin. it isn't the most svelte or mobile of creatures, so i figured i'd ask. would i have to get something custom made for it? can i then sneak it on a plane or train with ease?

3

Duane uses Reunion Blues bags.

4

I have worked for several airlines (in their maintenance departments) over the last few decades, and the only good thing I have to say about gig bags is that they tend to contain the debris of the destroyed guitar quite nicely. The only way I would fly with a guitar in a gig bag is if I wanted to spend the next few months fighting a damage claim with an airline.

The amendment to the regulation which Olivia Anne references is all well and good, but you have to read between the lines: If carried in the passenger cabin, the instrument must fit in the overhead compartment, under the passenger seat, be stowed in a coat closet, or you must buy a seat for it. Besides, arguing regulations with an airline is a waste of time - even the FAA doesn't do that any more.

The current trend in cabin design is to replace the larger, connected, overhead bins with smaller, sectional overhead bins which each have a length of less than 36 inches, so the guitar will not fit in the overhead bins of aircraft with newer interiors. Even on those with older, longer overhead bins, the need for other passengers to use that bin for their luggage is going to send your guitar into the lower baggage compartment. In the end the airline will have to determine whether it's preferable to have one angry, guitar playing, passenger or several angry passengers.

Given the current design of passenger seats, which must meet some surprising design specifications, the odds of getting even a small, traveler-style guitar under the seat in front of you are very low. Even if you did, do you really want your seat-mates kicking your guitar for the whole flight?

For the last decade or two, airlines have been removing coat closets from the aircraft in a bid to save weight and maximize seating space. The airline I work for went from three closets on a Boeing 737 down to one, the bottom of which is reserved for stowage of the cabin crew's luggage and the top of which is reserved for, of course, coats. Don't count on being able to use a coat closet for guitar storage, even on the largest aircraft.

Even buying a seat for the guitar is problematic, as the requirements to restrain the instrument will mean much more than simply using the seat belt.

When I fly with a guitar, I put it into the toughest case I can afford and carry it to the gate rather than checking it in the terminal. This way, when the gate agent tells me that there's no way that's fitting in the cabin, I can 'gate check' it. Luggage that is 'gate checked' is loaded last and unloaded first and you can specify that you want it brought up to you on arrival. This generally keeps the guitar off of and out of the 'bag belts' and luggage carts that are the main sources of their destruction.

5

Hard shell cases, hands down. Mine survived tons of miles in the back of C-130s. It'll likely go into a cargo hold, no matter what case it's in, so, get the strongest one you can find. I don't trust plastic cases any more than gig bags.

6

Two words; Flight Case.

7

thanks to tim and olivia for that. it was illuminating, interesting and horrifying.

my idea was to remain light and mobile. i can't really carry a hard shell or flight case around while roaming from town to town. and i can't take it in a hard case and switch to a gig bag upon arrival and vice versa. and i'd rather invest the money in a case of some kind rather than ship it.

mono and reunion blues seem to be the most popular options. pricey but not super overly so, and claim to be strong enough. but i don't really understand how they protect the face of a guitar yet, especially an archtop. some of the fancier bags like levys and probag just seem like leather bags with no real protection, but i'm probably wrong.

something like a karura case would probably be best, but that isn't super mobile and costs more than i paid for the guitar.

8

It's just a big gamble any more. Gate checking is the best bet unless you are able to get on the plane first and plead with the crew for their help. It's completely up to them, regardless of any FFA ruling, sorry to say. And, as timthom says, there is no longer much room in the overhead or under your seat, and the one closet is holding the crew's gear.

Flying used to be fun.

9

Really the sagest advice I can offer is buy a telecaster. You can unbolt the neck and put all the bits in a sturdy box or case that doesn't fall afoul of length restrictions, and put it back together when you arrive if you can't fit it in the overhead. Short of that, I have found that buying the best hardshell case you can't afford works pretty well. I usually tape a paper note to the top that says I am putting my life in your hands, thanks in advance for taking care of me.

10

yeah, i don't think my pretty face will get me many favors from the airlines out there. i do get plenty of personal, hands on attention when i'm going through security, though!

i'd hate to solve the problem by buying another guitar, but i have considered something planky in the past. with maybe a dyna or a filter in it to get it a little closer to where i'd like it. and maybe a thinline? sadly, i'm not a tech at all so i don't know how to reassemble them and set them up. and then i'd have to travel with guitar tools and a drill, no?

but i really wanted a acoustic. so i'm also considering my casino or something like a jim dandy as back up plans.

11

Unless you've got a shim in the neck, and really even then, all it takes is a screwdriver. There's just four screws that hold it together. Screw it back together, adjust the bridge if you have to but generally I don't, slap some strings on it and you're off and running.

12

I did the same thing with my Tele. The first couple of trips I had to adjust the bridge when I landed, but I started taping down the saddles before packing and that helped out a lot. Also keeping an eye on the string tree to make sure it didn't twist at all. I was on one trip where the tree twisted and all it did was snap my strings.

So some pre-packing thoughts like wrapping the neck in a towel to protect the frets, taping the saddles, and bringing a screwdriver and new set of strings and you'll be all set.

Really, it's not a big thing at all to put together a Tele.

13

the last thing i need is for you guys to talk me into buying another guitar, especially one that isn't a gretsch. i'm sure i can grab a cheapo or mod something, but i'd rather put that money toward something i actually want. or, you know... not spend it at all. and besides, its the new ibanez prestige talman offset tele thing i'm most curious about, so there. its not even a tele! :p but the neck does come off...

but to humor you guys, i did some sound checks last night, and sadly, a plank just won't cut it for what i need- your basic strum champion buskery. my casino didn't really do it for me in that regard, but i could pop a filtertron in the neck, and maybe that would do it. its already been decapitated once, so it has that going for it already. but i don't really want to mod it because i do like the guitar as is. the annie can get it done and the g400 can, too, both in different ways.

put i did find that i can fit the g400 into a hiscox case i have. so maybe that's something. but it doesn't have a strap or anything, so that isn't a perfect solution either. though it may actually survive the trip.

as a super duper last resort i can just go full on site procurement- grab whatever i can find when i arrive and try to sell it all before i leave. but i'd prefer not to leave it (entirely) to fate.

14

If you want to fly with a hollowbody and not lug around a gigantic rectangular flight case, get a Calton case. they can take the abuse, you can check them and have a guitar in one piece when you get it back. Shame about them is they cost about as much as a telecaster.

15

Calton is exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote " the best case you can't afford"

16

I did a fair amount of touring last summer with my Phoenix in a Hiscox case, usually gate-checking. It's not quite a Calton, but at a third of the cost I'm pretty happy with the Hiscox. It's a light case (lighter than the Gretsch case for the Phoenix), has tabs to take a strap. I usually pack some of my clothing in ziplock bags around the guitar in the case. On almost every US flight last summer the case had definitely been opened by the TSA.

17

although i'm dumb enough to pay more for a case than i did for the guitar it contains, i'm not sure if a calton is the answer for me. it looks like mobility would be compromised. it also costs a billion dollars. i never heard back from karura, and i guess that's about it for the ultra high end case market for guitars of this size.

i've done enough research to feel pretty confident that a hiscox case will be sufficient. to keep the guitar intact, if not surviving with it. by research, i mean reading testimonials and looking at pics and videos on their website, but what else can you do? it surely feels more durable than any other case i own, and i even did the stand on the case and gave it some tentative pressure thing and it seemed fine.

echoplex- which model of hiscox case did you use? how accommodating was it for the bigsby? the clothes thing is a neat idea to fill in some of that space and keep the guitar in place- there is still some wiggle room from top to bottom.

mine is an older version that didn't have tabs, so i reached out to them for ideas and they said they'd send me some with instructions. lets hope that works out. while the case is light by case standards, it isn't actually light, as in something i'm willing to lug around. is it like a backpack thing or a sling across the body sort of strap?

and if you have any tips for getting through airports and travelling with the guitar, i'd love to know. never tried it myself, but i just might...


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