When we were contacted by a local collector to build a custom case for a priceless, original Gauguin wood carving, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve been building custom cases for decades – since 1976 to be exact – and we knew we could build a case that would protect this customer’s artifact for many, many years to come.
If you've been in the market for a flight case to protect your critical equipment while you're traveling or on tour, then you've probably seen the gamut of cases available. If that's true, you've probably also seen that the prices range by a considerable margin. You might have asked yourself why the prices vary by so much - especially considering that the cases might look nearly identical to the untrained eye. We'll go into some of the pros and cons of different qualities of cases, as well as key indicators that you're looking at a case that's been imported from China or another mass-produced facility.
One of the challenges faced when traveling with equipment is how to properly protect it from various hazards. Possible threats to the integrity of expensive electronic hardware include physical shock from drops or bumps, electrostatic discharge and theft. However, one danger posed for your equipment that you may not have considered is overheating. However, it can be challenging to prevent overheating when equipment is constantly being unpacked, racked and packed again. Below are some ways that you can protect your gear from overheating while out on the road:
We’ve all heard the sad news that Prince has passed away, and like you, I remember exactly where I was when I first heard the heartbreaking report. The news media and supermarket tabloids continue to revel in every new wrinkle in the story of this member of rock royalty’s life and death. But we’re focusing on a photograph of a legendary musical instrument that was crafted exclusively for the “Purple Rain” artist: the last guitar Prince ever purchased.
How You Can Avoid Them
Several years ago, a well-known musician stopped by our facility to pick up a brand new case for his Fender amp. He brought the amp inside, and it fit perfectly in its made-to-measure case. After posing for a picture with me, the musician took his new amp case out to his hatchback and loaded it in the back.
Things were fine until he got on the freeway and accelerated to full speed. Then, the case suddenly slid backward and the metal reinforced corners shattered the rear window with a crash. But at least his amp was still in great shape!
That got us started thinking about all the dos and don’ts we’ve learned in our more than 30 years of working with our products. After all, you buy our cases to protect your prized possessions. And you want to get the most out of what’s protecting your stuff. Here’s how to do that.
Cushion your case with a shipping blanket if you’re loading it in a hatchback, van or station wagon. When you take off, the case may slide backwards and blow out your window.
Change out the foam lining in your cases every ten years or so. Soft foam is a petroleum-based product and it breaks down over time. After a while, the petroleum will melt into whatever is inside, either destroying the contents or making a mess that you’ll have to clean up with acetone.
Strap down your case in the back of a truck, even if it’s big and heavy. When traveling fast, wind can actually flow under the case, lifting it out of the truck bed. And you don’t want to be retrieving your case from the fast lane of the freeway.
Explain your shipping needs when ordering your cases. Knowing how you travel and how you handle your equipment is vital to the construction of your cases. Feel free to ask a lot of questions.
Include a solid one-piece caster board on the bottom of your case. If you have casters installed, this board will prevent the wheels from being torn off. You can always purchase removable caster plates as an option.
Make sure your case supplier is using a quality spray adhesive to glue your foam in place. “Peel and stick” foam is a cheaper product and won’t last as long.
Look for rivets placed every 2½ to 3 inches apart. This is one sign of a well-made case, and inferior case manufacturers will skimp on this.
Examine the material that will be used to cover your cases. Poor quality cases often use a cheap black vinyl that tears easily, exposing the wood to the elements.
Use your cases as a ladder or step. Our cases are built of heavy-duty materials and they can withstand the sheer weight. But their coverings (fiberglass, laminate, vinyl) can be slippery—especially when wet—and you could easily slip and fall.
Specify hard foam to line your case if you have delicate props and don’t want them to get scratched. Hard foam is actually abrasive and can scratch many surfaces. If you need hard foam for some reason, ask your case maker to line the foam with velvet or felt. It will only cost a little more. And it’s OK to request a mix of hard and soft foam. Remember, the case is being custom made for you.
Ever buy a case made of anything less than ¼” plywood. Imported, cheaper cases are frequently made of thinner material or inferior plywood. Your cases just won’t stand up to the wear and tear of shipping and moving, ultimately damaging the contents of the case.
Expect an inexpensive imported case to be made well. These cases may work fine for DJs who typically handle their own gear when performing at local gigs. But based on my experience, my advice is to never put a case like that on a plane or give it to a shipping company. It will come back in pieces.
Assume a low priced case will be equal in quality to a higher priced case. Most established, quality case companies operate within a ten to fifteen percent price range of one another. If a company’s prices are considerably less, there’s a reason why.
Be fooled by case makers advertising “birch plywood” cases on the Internet. Like so many other things you find on the Web, these products are knock-offs, sold as legitimate name brands. I’ve seen the material they use. It’s an imported product made of poor quality ply with a paper-thin exterior layer of birch that easily separates from the laminate. I’ve also seen cases made of this material do the same.
Presume all case companies are created equal. As in any industry, there are good and bad operators out there. Asking questions and doing a little research will help you make a decision about which company you should turn to and why.
Since 1976, Encore A&S Cases has been making all kinds of cases for all kinds of artists: musicians, acting companies, dance troupes, magicians, circuses, and dozens of other specialties. If you’re looking for world-class craftsmanship and the highest quality materials, turn to us. We’ve become one of the world’s preeminent case suppliers because our cases are built to take the rigors of the road and keep their contents good as new. Call us at 818-768-8803 or email [email protected]
Vintage Encore A&S Cases for Santana
You’ve purchased an Encore A&S Case for your instrument, and you’re ready to take your show on the road. There are a few things every musician needs to know before you step on that plane, so you can be sure your instrument gets the treatment it deserves.
1) I’ll Take That To Go, Please
Before you get to the airport, make sure your instrument is carefully and correctly packed. Don’t leave any loose pieces or parts in the case that might damage the instrument during all the handling it will receive throughout your travels. Loosen the strings on all stringed instruments.
If your airline offers it, pay extra for priority boarding. This gives you a better chance of finding storage space for your instrument, before the overhead bins or first class coat closet are filled with other passengers’ stuff.
Another tip before you go: If you’re going to be lugging your instrument from gig to gig once you get there, consider packing a light weight cloth bag to make that a little easier on your back.
2) Know The Rules
Don’t get to the top of the jetway and start arguing with the flight attendant about wanting your instrument to fly in the same cabin as you. With a little advance planning, there won’t have to be an argument.
It’s going to cost you extra to have your instrument in the cabin. Check your airline’s rules for oversize baggage to determine the price. There are size restrictions, too. Most US airlines specify a linear size for all carry-ons, meaning the total of length plus width plus height. If your instrument’s case is larger than this, you’ll run into extra fees. For larger instruments, you may even have to purchase a second seat. Check your airline’s policies here:
Your friendly flight attendant may not be aware of the rules about traveling with instruments, so it’s a good idea to go to the American Federation of Musicians site and print them out. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 mandated that:
1) Airlines must permit passengers “to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage” if the instrument can be safely stowed in overhead bins and if there is room at the time the passenger boards.
2) For instruments that don’t fit in overhead bins (such as cellos), airlines must allow passengers to carry the instrument on board with the purchase of an extra ticket.
3) For larger instruments (still within applicable weight and size requirements), airlines must transport the instruments as checked baggage.
The TSA website adds, “TSA permits and encourages passengers to be present when their instruments are being screened. For this reason, please add at least 30 minutes to the airlines’ recommended arrival window when travelling with instruments.”
An extra tip: In addition to these FAA rules, carry a copy of the rules on size and weight from your airline’s website. They may come in handy when you’re dealing with a friendly, but uninformed, gate agent.
3) Avoid A Hunting Expedition
Your instrument probably requires certain things that break or wear out often (strings, sticks, picks, etc.). When you’re in a different city, or even a different country, you don’t want to be wasting your time searching everywhere for that special brand of strings you just “can’t live without.”
So make it easy on yourself and bring a supply of extras, so you won’t be spending your time off hitting every music store in a 50-mile radius.
One more tip: It’s not just strings and sticks and picks that can screw up your performance. If you’ve got room, bring your own cables, effects pedals and adaptors. They can also save a gig at the last minute.
4) Assume The Worst, Hope For The Best
You are the expert on your instrument. You certainly can’t count on the TSA people or airline employees to understand what a reed knife, capo or electronic tuner is. Things like these that could stir up suspicion should be packed in your checked baggage to avoid slowing down your boarding process.
Be calm and friendly with airport personnel. I know a musician who always travels with a nice box of chocolates for the attendants on his flights. He claims it frequently greases the wheels of progress, and he’s even gotten bumped up to first class on occasion!
Another helpful hint: carry a fabric measuring tape so you can prove to authorities at any moment that your instrument case is in compliance with regulations.
5) Houston, We Have A Problem
There may be situations when a musical instrument can’t travel in the cabin and must be checked. So what should you do if you arrive at your destination, open your instrument’s case and discover damage?
Airlines are responsible for damaged or lost instruments, if the owner can prove it was delivered to the airline in good condition. You don’t have to prove whether it was the airline or TSA (or someone else) who did the damage, only that the damage was done when the instrument was in the airline’s hands.
It’s a good idea to take photos of your instrument before turning it over to the airline or TSA. Then, if you open the case on arrival and discover damage, go directly to the baggage office and ask to file a claim. Carefully record the damage with your cell phone’s camera and don’t leave without completing a formal, written claim form.
Bonus tip: You may also want to file a claim with TSA if there’s a note inside your case that says they inspected it while it was traveling.
Since 1976, Encore A&S Cases has been protecting the valuable instruments of many of the top names in all branches of music. If you’re looking for world-class craftsmanship and the highest quality materials, turn to us. We’ve become one of the world’s preeminent case suppliers because our cases are built to take the rigors of the road and keep their contents good as new. Call us at 818-768-8803 or email [email protected]
Now that you have safely packed your delicate product in your Encore A&S Case, here are a few tips for ensuring successful boarding:
Remember to be polite and always keep your cool when dealing with airport staff, as they tend to feel more inclined to accommodate someone who's treating them with respect. A good TIP, bring a box of chocolate and give it to the flight attendants this nice gesture will reward you benefits possibly even upgrade to first class ;)
Since many gate agents and flight attendants may be unaware of the official policy regarding musical instruments, it's important that you have a copy of the official rules printed and ready.
It's advised that you pay extra for priority boarding so that you can make sure to find a space for your instrument before the overhead luggage racks fill up.
Some planes may have an additional closet on board for extra storage. This varies depending on the size of the aircraft, but there's certainly no harm in asking a flight attendant if your instrument can be stowed there for the duration of the flight.
The recent US Department of Transportation ruling is a huge step in making travel a lot easier for musicians. Supplementing these rules with a few extra precautions means that you can now confidently and comfortably take your music abroad without having to worry about the safety of your instrument.
On a slightly overcast April day in London back in 1963, Ringo Starr and the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, visited Drum City Ltd, so Ringo could find a new drum kit. His previous set, a British-made Premier mahogany Duroplastic four-piece kit, was showing its age.
What happened next depends on who you ask, since many versions of the story have been shared through the years.
What Starr says is that he saw a Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl drum kit in the store’s window and immediately fell in love. He and Brian met with the store’s manager, Gerry Evans, to talk about what Drum City could offer. Other kits were discussed, but Ringo remained true to his first love: the American-made Ludwig Downbeat kit he’d seen in the window.
In order to close the deal, Brian wanted to meet with the store’s owner, Ivan Arbiter. Epstein wanted the band’s name to appear on the front of the bass drum and Arbiter made a quick sketch of how he thought the band’s name should look, emphasizing the “Beat” in “Beatles.”
What few people know is the now-famous Beatles “Drop T” logo (that’s as recognizable as Coca-Cola’s or McDonalds’) wasn’t created by some high-powered advertising agency or record label. It came from the creative mind of a London music shop owner.
The Downbeat drum kit included a 12” tom tom, 14” floor tom and 20” bass drum. This new Ludwig kit was first used on May 12, 1963. Gerry Evans (of Drum City) personally delivered them to the studios of the British TV show, “Thank Your Lucky Stars,” where the Beatles were to appear later that evening.
This set of Ludwig drums was heard in over 160 songs on 28 BBC radio broadcasts. It went on to be seen in almost 20 TV appearances. It was also used extensively on the first and second British albums including “She Loves You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” In 1963 and early 1964, the Ludwig set crisscrossed the UK, throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, then on to Sweden and France.
A little more than fifty years since Ringo entered that London music store (April of 2014), we here at Encore A&S Cases got a call from Ringo Starr’s organization. His representatives wanted to know if we could build five sets of high-quality road cases for the now legendary drum kits Ringo performed with as a member of the Beatles.
Over a two-year period from 2013 to 2014, Gary Astridge (the Beatles’ drum historian), Jeff Chonis (Ringo’s long-time drum tech) and Scott Richie (personal assistant to Ringo and Barbara) had been organizing and documenting all the Beatles gear Ringo had in his possession. With Starr’s blessing, a plan was created to make all five Beatles era drum kits complete, with historically correct hardware and cymbals.
Musicians won’t be surprised to learn that the men found some hardware pieces from the kits had been misplaced, replaced or lost over the years. Ringo provided funds to purchase period correct hardware and cymbals (including original vintage Ludwig T-Rods and Claws) so that each kit would be complete and authentic, perfectly matching what Starr bought on that auspicious day in 1963.
Ringo and his staff agreed that each drum kit should be ready to exhibit, as well as ready to play, should Ringo ever desire to do so. Important to this plan’s success was that each kit would also be protected in its own custom Encore A&S road case. The cases would be used to store and ship these drum kits, many of them not seen or played since the Beatles era.
Some of the drums were to be sold by Julien’s, the famous auction house in Beverly Hills, California. They would then have to be shipped to the lucky highest bidder. Our road cases would assure the drum kit got to its new owner in pristine condition.
Our sales professional, Jim Turner, took the lead with the order and specified purple fiberglass over ½” birch plywood, with ½” dividers lined with an inch of hard foam. Each custom case had four heavy-duty casters, with recessed handles and latches.
Julien’s held its auction for Ringo’s historic first Ludwig kit on December 4, 2015. The owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, purchased it for 2.1 million dollars. This sale set a world record for the most money ever paid for a road case—and a set of drums. We always knew our cases were worth their weight in gold. And in this situation, we have proof!
When the time came for preserving pieces of music history, the professionals turned to us. Whether you’re looking to preserve your own history, or just want to take your Stratocaster on the road and keep it looking fine, turn to Encore A&S. In business since 1976, we’ve become one of the world’s preeminent case suppliers because our cases are built to take the rigors of the road and keep their contents good as new. Call us at 818-768-8803 or email [email protected]
The Stone Temple Pilots came to Gary Peterson when they were preparing for an upcoming tour. Gary and the team at Encore went above and beyond to make them exactly what they needed with a very short turnaround time, and the band was so impressed that they even mention Encore in their “Core” album liner notes. Thanks guys!
Green Day had Encore Cases make all custom green cases for their instruments and band gear. When coming in to pick up their new Encore cases, one member of the group fell in love with them so much that he had Encore construct him an entire bedroom furniture set made of the same green case material. Headboard, dresser, nightstand – the whole shebang – all made with the unmistakable quality and style of Encore. At Encore, if you can dream it, we can build it.