It was some time ago that this gig bag brand launched their products in the UK. I was lucky enough back then to review a pre-launch version of their premium tenor ukulele gig bag. Since then, Fusion have gone from strength to strength and I was delighted when they recently contacted me asking me to take a look at their new Urban Double Gig Bag.
You may recall from that review of the premium tenor bag that I was incredibly impressed at the quality of the item. Superb craftsmanship and just a wonderful product. I did think however that it was slightly too expensive for many, but know that since Fusion have filled various other price points with offerings for ukulele players. This double bag, under their 'Urban' range is actually really keenly priced I think for what you are getting. That is to say it's £120 for something handmade in England and offering a lot of features.
The bag is a soft gig bag type case, meaning it isn't totally solid. So whilst not a case that will provide crushing protection it's more a lifestyle case as you will see. Actually, a quick word about fully hard cases. Many people assume they will provide ultimate crusing protection (ie, being trodden on or driven on). Unless you have gone with an ultra high end hard case from only one or two manufacturers, the majority of hard cases won't actually offer this protection. Put it this way, I own a few and would not want to test them out by standing on them. And I say that because I have seen a few examples of 'hard case snobbery' out there. The people who say 'oh I will only trust a hard case' when the fact is, for going to and from busks, club nights etc, a padded bag will do a perfect job.
In fact a padded bag will tend to offer many advantages over hard shell cases such as pockets, shoulder straps and the like, so for many, practicality is just as important as protection.
So on to this case, as I say it's soft, but it IS extremely heavily padded inside. In fact it has an outer rim of 2cm of high density foam within a rugged thick rip stop polyester outer. Add to that the plethora of rubberised bump strips and edging and this is one tough and rugged case. I'd happily rely on it for protection for pretty much anything I can think of in my own life.
But the real trick to this model is the double compartment inside the thing. This will hold (as a maximum) two full scale tenor ukuleles, but thanks to a range of shaping inserts to the compartments, you can mix and match the space, so perhaps one tenor and one concert, or even down to two sopranos if you wanted. I think with some judicious packing you could probably get about four sopranos in this if you wanted to (and certainly lots of Nanos!). In addition both compartments hace neck support rests with velcro ties to keep your instruments ultra stable. Now that is great in itself, but the bonus I actually saw to the double compartment is for the festival going ukulele player who likes to travel light. You see that other compartment could EASILY carry a change of clothes and toiletries for a weekend, leaving the other compartment to carry your ukulele. Th perfect backpackers ukulele bag perhaps? Or perhaps you busk - you could easily carry a ukulele, music stand, cables and small battery amp like a Roland Mobile Cube in this bag (trust me, I tried it!)
And that would mean nothing if it didn't actually work as a comfortable backpacking bag. Thankfully though it comes with really nicely padded and adjustable shoulder straps (complete with chest strap and waist strap) meaning this really does feel more like a walkers backpack than a mere ukulele case. It even comes with a fold out rain cover and numerous eyelets on the front for adding bungees or strapping extra gear to the front.
Elsewhere on the bag you have two generous accessory pockets, (the largest of which also has an inner zippered security pocket), an extremely rugged rubberised and riveted handle, a top grab handle and tough zips. And if there is ONE THING I cannot stand, it's cheap zips..
And the quality of the manufacture really shines through. These are not hastily put together with loose stitching and flimsy zips, and every inch of it feels tough and well made. Add in a two year warranty and you shouldn't be too worried in any case!
If it sounds like I am waxing lyrical about this bag, it's because I truly like it. In fact, I will stick my neck out and say that in my book, Fusion are making the best and most practical gig bags around. If you of the 'hard case only' type, you probably won't like this (or perhaps stopped reading). But I do think you should seriously re-assess what your needs really are. I'd happily tour, travel or gig with one of these and in fact, I know that Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee undertook their UK and European Tour (all the way from the USA) with these bags carrying anything but low end instruments. In fact, there are many professionals using them. Want more names? How about Phil Doleman, Manitoba Hal Brolund, Zoë Bestel, Andrew Molina and many more...
So for just over £120 for a bag that will safely carry multiple instruments, or perhaps an instrument plus your kitchen sink, what's not to like?
© Barry Maz