Flight cases are absolutely necessary for your guitars to survive the rigors of the road. I do not believe that a standard hardshell guitar case would offer the protection let alone hold together after being constantly handled from venue to venue. Things get get a little frantic on tour and items can get dropped or slide off ramps…..it happens! For these reasons flight cases are well worth the investment and can last for years.

Having said that there is one little known evil about flight cases that never really gets discussed. This evil is the foam lining that keeps your guitar secure inside the heavy duty case. What happens is the foam can actually have a chemical reaction with your guitar’s finish. Nitrocellulose lacquer, varnish and shellac are much more susceptible than a modern poly type of finish. The chemical reaction from the foam makes the finish become very dull and sometimes discolored. I remember seeing a vintage 1963 Fender Stratocaster with original Olympic White finish that turned as dull as could be and the actual texture of the finish changed to become very rough feeling. This was a perfect example of the chemical reaction between the flight case foam and the delicate nitro finish. Luckily the foam was light in color and did not discolor the Oly White finish on the Strat.

How do you prevent this from happening? Very easily. When you buy a flight case make sure that the inside has a cloth lining over the foam. Some companies use a velvet-like material and I have seen other types of lining as well. This layer will protect your guitar from any finish damage from the foam. It adds to the cost of the case but will save the finish on your guitar. If you buy good quality cases they may last your entire career on the road so I say it’s a tremendous value. Pun: This cloud does have a silver lining……

Photo courtesy of RJ Flytes.