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Friday, 11 May 2012

Hiscox Instrument Hard Cases Review


Overview
  • Available for Electric Guitars and Basses
  • Available for Alto and Tenor Saxophones
  • Available as Standard and Pro II cases
  • High Impact Resistance
  • Lockable
  • Inner padding (on Pro II)
  • Lightweight

Construction

Hiscox cases are constructed of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) which basically is a very tough plastic, notable for its impact resistance. Innumerable items are made from ABS, including Bumper Bars, Protective Headgear, Golf Club heads, Whitewater Canoes etc etc, so clearly its strong. Its also lightweight - lighter than plywood and aluminuim, and so it's ideal for instrument cases. 

Hiscox bond the ABS to an inner foam moulding giving added rigidity and shock absorbtion. The case then has an aluminium edging which again adds to rigidity and helps keep the shape. The bonus with the aluminium is that it extends below the ABS and the fittings are riveted to it, giving a much stronger - much more durable than attaching them directly to the plasic. The catches are the typical metal lift up, spring-loaded catch and engage snugly with the lid, pulling it down firmly closed. The finish inside is a velvety material which is soft against the instrument and won't scratch it

Hiscox cases come in 2 main grades (although there is a third, extra plush, version for guitars not reviewed here). The difference (apart from price) in these two variants is that the Standard case is constructed of a slightly thinner ABS, with little or no additional padding inside, whereas the Pro II has the thicker plastic shell, with padding in strategic places inside offering a better protection.

Usability
The Hiscox Standard and Pro II cases are both great, strong cases and offer excellent protection. However, I have found the Standard cases' lack of internal padding to be irritating! The instrument tends to rattle about inside and although the movement is tiny, and not enough in ordinary usage to cause a problem, I still find it somewhat disconcerting. The Pro II does not suffer with this slight looseness at all. Both offer excellent protection, with the Standard case being advertised as withstanding 5 grown adults standing on, but I'm a bit twitchy about protecting my instruments, and I would say that the Pro II offers better protection for more expensive instruments or a tougher life, perhaps associated with a professional musician's lifestyle. 

These cases are nice and light so do not add substantially to the weight of the instrument, unlike some of the plywood box cases which seem to weigh as much or more than the instrument itself making it a major expedition carting it around and frankly unrealistic for smaller musicians! The balance is excellent when being carried and the sax cases benefit from a strong shoulder strap freeing your hands for other cases etc. The handle (this may sound trivial, but believe me it's not!) is very comfortable.

Due to the inherent strength of ABS, the cases take the knocks with ease and maintain their appearance for years. My tenor sax case is about 17 now. Still looks great and is in pretty much perfect condition having travelled abroad and, even worse, been used in many schools! 

Conclusion
Personally I would not recommend any other hard shell case. These cases are tough, lightweight, good-looking and last for years. They are used by many pro players, which speaks volumes. 

Should it be Standard or Pro II however? Well I use the Pro II cases, but then my instruments are in constant use and I want to give them the best protection I can. However, the Pro IIs are slightly more expensive, and if the case is going to be used less heavily - going to and from instrumental lessons for example - then I'd save the cash and go Standard. However, both are fantastic cases and will last and protect for years to come. 

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