I have blogged before about ukulele cases but thought it was about time I expanded on that a little (with some pictures!)
For anyone with a ukulele, a case really is an essential item you should think about buying. How much you spend depends on the cost of the instrument you are protecting and what you are planning on doing with it. Certainly there would be little point spending £50 on a hard shell case for a £30 instrument. Equally, there may not be that much point spending that much for an expensive instrument if you never plan to take it out of the house.
Whichever, a case is still a good idea, even as just a place for an instrument to sleep when not being played.
Entry level cases are really just gig bags - soft, slightly padded, usually with a shoulder strap. These are the absolute basics and really only provide a means to comfortably carry a ukulele. They will protect it from the lightest scrapes and knocks, but nothing more than that. They certainly wont protect an instrument from being stepped on or crushed.
Pod cases, or semi hard cases though seem to have become the most popular choices out there. The one below is branded with the Southern Ukulele Store logo, but I have many others each with different logos, but each essentially the same thing.
These are popular for many reasons - they are light, they are cheaper than many straight up hard cases, and they are convenient (nice large pocket on the front, shoulder straps etc). They cost about £20-£25 and are basically two pieces of shaped polystyrene foam covered with a fabric outer and held together with a zip. They work very well and offer much more protection than a soft case or gig bag.
All of that said, I am not trying to be too hard on these - they are probably the best all round option there is and I own several in different sizes. In fact, I would recommend that if you are buying any ukulele in the £100 price bracket upwards I would suggest you seriously think about getting one with this sort of case. Protection worries over!
But what if you want something more serious - something that will stand up to serious drops, being tossed into a tourbus under a load of other gear, being trodden on? You need a full on hard shell case.
Beware though - these also come in the good and the bad. At the cheapest end you are getting nothing more than plywood and whilst hard enough, i don't figure they offer as much protection as a pod case.
Spend some more serious money however (and I am talking £40-£70 ish) and you can move into ABS moulded cases. These are supremely tough, though at a price (and a weight). They provide the best protection for an instrument but in most examples sacrifice other conveniences like straps and pockets. Look for one with decent quality catches and hinges (and also check the handle - always the first thing to go on a cheap case).
The one below is by Leader and currently houses my Mainland Concert uke. It's very solid and excellent quality. The lining is plush and deep and the catches and hinges are of a decent quality.
Step it up another notch though and you can get something like this one by TGI. Wow!
This really is a professional feeling case, with much sturdier clasps than the Leader case, deeper lining and D Rings for a strap - this one feels (and looks) the business, and also holds my Tenor uke really snugly. It's also surprisingly light and small - not bulky at all.
But it is horses for courses as I say - just think about some form of protection. If you are gigging, busking, travelling with a ukulele and you want to avoid tears and heartache - I would certainly recommend a pod case as a minimum. In fact, as I say, even for storage - a good hard case is the best place to leave a ukulele when not in use.