Soft bag vs hard case for your instrument

The challenge of transporting and storing instruments

So, you just bought yourself your first decent stage keyboard and want to start gigging as soon as possible. Or maybe, you recently were passed down a guitar from a family members’ garage (the one you have been eyeing since you were in high school) and can’t wait to start evening guitar classes. The challenge is; how do you transport and store your instrument so that it does not get damaged in the process?

For the most part, you have two options; a soft instrument bag or a hard instrument case. Regardless of which instrument you play (or want to learn to play), these are the two options you will encounter and need to make a choice between.

To help you make the best choice, here are a few things to consider first about each and then depending on your needs and expectations, you should be able to make an informed decision.

Soft bags

Soft instrument bags come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, material quality and extras and provide a decent amount of protection for your instrument depending on these various factors.

Below you will find the pro and cons of soft bags, our buying tip and some product suggestions available from our stores or online.


·         Much cheaper than the average hard case

·         Smaller in size and weigh far less than hard cases

·         Easier to carry and usually have convenient shoulder straps

·         Most will feature additional compartments or storage pockets

·         Available in different materials (like canvas or leather), different colours and design styles


·    Depending on the amount of padding and quality of materials used, bags don’t offer structural support for instruments like guitars, basses, violins, drums etc

·         While most bags keep out dust, most are not waterproof and are susceptible to humidity changes

·         Over time the zips, straps, pockets and outer material will show their age and will eventually require replacing

·         Soft bags do not generally pack or stack well

Buying tip

If you do not expect to travel much with your instrument or will be able to personally handling it if you do (to and from class in your car for example) then a well-padded bag should provide ample protection for your instrument.

Recommended bags

Founded in 2000, Gator is a trusted manufacturer of instrument bags and has over 1000 products providing storage and transport solutions for instruments. See our range of available Gator bags (and cases) here:


Hard cases

hard instrument cases are generally built for specific instruments (or even specific instrument models) and, in comparison to soft bags, offer the best protection for your instrument, however, they do have some drawbacks.

Below you will find the pro and cons of hard cases, our buying tip and some recommended cases available online or from our stores.


·         Offer the best possible protection for any instrument

·         Most cases are both dustproof and waterproof

·         Can be custom built or customised to fit your specific instrument

·         Usually lockable, keeping your instrument away from prying hands

·         Built to last (from metal or hard plastic) and can thus take a beating

·         Easy to pack, stack and store

·         Can have wheels attached for easy transporting over distances


·         In comparison to soft bags, hard cases are expensive

·         Mostly bulky, heavy and (depending on the size and weight) difficult to carry

·         Usually built to fit specific instruments means you may need to change case if you change instrument

·         Seldom will you find hard cases with extra compartments or additional storage areas.

Buying tip

If you intend on traveling a lot with your instrument or having it moved around and packed with other instruments and gear (for example on a tour bus or truck) then we highly recommend a hard case for your instrument.

Recommended cases

For more than 40 years SKB has been a manufacturer dedicated to travel, storage, and shipping protection needs for music, pro audio, sporting goods and even industrial applications including government and military contract fulfillment. Here are some SKB cases available from our stores or online:



In conclusion, the choice between either a soft bag or hard case will depend on your needs, your budget, and your travel/storage concerns. If you require additional advice, information or pricing, feel free to contact us via our website, on social media or visit any of our stores and speak to one of our sales staff who will be able to assist you in finding the best solution for your instrument.

Back to blog