Ukulele cases. Often something that is overlooked by many players, but really - the safest way to store or transport an instruments is in a good quality case. I was therefore intrigued to take a look at this new line from Fusion, kindly supplied on test by Stones Music. This is the Fusion Premium Tenor gig bag and is the top of their line.
Now uke bags tend to come in about three flavours - thin cloth covers, semi hard pod cases, and fully hard cases. The former don't really offer any protection whatsoever, so most people wanting something sturdy choose between the pod case and the hard case. The pod cases are not quite as sturdy as a good hard case, but have the benefit of being lighter and usually include things like shoulder straps and pockets. Full hard cases can be bulkier and heavy, but do provide the best protection in transit or from crushing. This Fusion case is of the pod variety.
The first thing that strikes you about the Fusion Premium series is just how much of it there is. This is impressively fully featured and I spent a good ten minutes going over it and finding new features all the time. It is however a little bulky, but as you read on, you will see that the case is clearly designed for travel and taking as much with you as you can, and not as a grab and go case.
It really does exude quality in every area. The zips and tags are thick and sturdy - something that is often a failing of generic pod cases. These are trustworthy and lockable, with each one tagged with the Fusion logo in a soft feel rubber.
The case material is based around a 30mm foam shell, with a water resistant rip proof PVC outer (in the kind of material good quality walking rucksacks are made from) and a velvety soft lining. This one is in black and green, but it also comes in a range of colours.
In fact the walking rucksack comparison doesnt end with the material it is made of, as turning it over shows off a very clever air flow system and supremely comfortable shoulder straps and waist band. This is very much a walking ruck sack, and the back is held away from the back by two padded strips allowing air to circulate. Goodbye sweaty back! You can see the case means business. I tried it on and it is indeed supremely comfortable and adjustable. Almost feels like it isn't there. Compared to the thin shoulder straps on cheap pod cases, well, there isn't any comparison!
There are pockets absolutely everywhere with three deep pockets on the front, and another on the back. The front pockets are kind of stacked on top of each other with the largest running about two thirds of the length of the case. The smallest pocket has zippered sub pockets within it, and the middle pocket houses a stretch to fit rain cover. Really, you could carry so much stuff in this.
And if there isn't enough storage for you, Fusion have included what they call a 'Fuse-ON' system, allowing their range of accessory bags to be easily and neatly clipped to the outer of this one.
Inside is cool too. The finish is very soft to protect the finish of the uke, and has a removable padded strip to cope with different sizes of tenor uke. There is an adjustable neck pad and strap to provide further security and this too can be detached and moved. I tried a few of my tenors in the case and fit very well and securely.
Elsewhere the quality continues, with rubberised bumper strips and for standing it up, an address tag and the main handle is about the best I have seen on any case.
Honestly - for features and build quality I cannot fault this in any way whatsoever. It really is a Rolls Royce. And that brings me on to the Rolls Royce price. These are retailing for the best part of £162. That is not a typing error. £162. I think that is an eye watering price for a uke case, and it leads me to believe that you need to be a very specific buyer to get one of these.
Firstly, the case would suit you down to the ground if you are travelling, trekking, or perhaps even just doing a regular city commute to busk as you can carry so much gear with you. I mean, you could even fit a spare change of clothes in it! If that is for you, you may be interested. If your uke life involves you just walking to the local pub for a jam, then it is clearly overkill (and would take up the space of a person!). If you are just looking for a case to store a uke in at home, similarly I would say it is overkill and a cheap pod will suit you fine.
And what about expensive ukes? Well, I would always recommend a case whatever the uke, but if you are lucky enough to own a £1000 instrument, then perhaps £162 is a fair priced investment to protect such a prized instrument? Well perhaps, but I would then suggest a good hard case for such a uke, not this. And that is because of the one area that Pod cases fail over hard shells - crushing. A good hard case can pretty much be stepped on and the uke will be fine. Pod cases have their strength in the shell around the sides of the uke, but are not designed to end up on the bottom of a luggage compartment (and I certainly would not put this in an aircraft hold).
But the choice is not mine to make. If you have the cash and want a superbly made and functioning case, you will love this. I wish I could justify the cash myself as its such a nice thing. Thankfully though, Fusion also do a fuller range of cases at cheaper prices, and if the quality of this is anything to go by, they will be well worth a look. For me though, it was still fun to take a look at the Rolls Royce!
FUSION BAGS WEBSITE