Ah yes, ukulele cases. Something that pretty much everybody will consider, but something that you don't see written about all that much. Time to take a look at a new case at Got A Ukulele Towers in the form of the Journeyman Series from Gator.
I've been a fan of Gator cases for quite some time. In fact before I had ever picked up a ukulele I was using them for guitars as they seemed to me to have the right balance between quality and price. More importantly for me in a case, they had never let me down with poor quality hinges, handles and clasps. It was therefore something of a no-brainer for me when I came across their new (ish) Journeyman Series to accompany a new soprano ukulele I had acquired.
The Journeyman cases come in a variety of sizes for ukulele and are also available for other instruments. They all share the same cloth outer which is made from a weaved burlap and is pale and cream in colour. The edges are trimmed in a dark brown leatherette and I think the combination is really, really attractive. In fact it's anything but the traditional black tolex outer that 95% of cases come with. Underneath that fabric is a pretty standard plywood case of course, so it should be said - these are cases for general protection only, not something that will resist significant crushing or travel in an aircraft hold.
It's not the first fabric coated case I have seen for ukulele, and I already own a more ubiquitous tweed covered one from Kinsmann, but this seems to me to be a step up in quality from the others I have seen. And the quality rise is most noticeable in the hinges and clasps. These are chunky, finished in an antiqued bronze but look strong. They are all also screwed, not riveted in place and feel substantial. Trust me - these are the things that are going to fail first on cheaper cases. Naturally, the case is lockable too.
Likewise the handle is well attached, well padded and has substantial linkages. Often with cheaper cases, the links on these are overly thin and prone to breakage - not here.
And I talked about the contrast between the outer fabric and the edges above. That sharp contrasting comes through yet again when you open it and see the deep padded, and rather gorgeous deep blue crushed velvet lining. It's beautiful really. We also have a neck rest and accessory pocket under a hinged flap.
Adding to the features is a good quality webbing strap with shoulder pad that attaches to the D Rings on the outside.
They are, it must be said, on the more expensive end of the scale, with this soprano model coming in at just over £60, but to be honest, to protect your investment reliably, it's really not that much on top if you have a more valuable instrument. For me though, looks aside, this one is all about the quality of the clasps and hinges. Oh, and that BLUE!! My only gripe? You can't put stickers on it!
© Barry Maz