How to Design the Perfect Case for Your Amp
Posted by Jim Bugg on 1st Jun 2020
Purchasing a road case can be an exciting step in your path as a musician - it means you’re playing out consistently enough that you need to protect your gear! Here at Road Cases, we want to help make sure that the case you order is a perfect fit, to keep your gear safe on the road for years to come. Amp cases are one of the most common cases that musicians purchase - unlike guitars, amps don’t usually include a case or gig bag; but the more you’re moving an amp around, especially a tube amp, the easier and more practical it becomes to keep it in a case.
Just In Case
So why do you need a road case in the first place? Well, if you’re moving your amp
around with any regularity - let’s say leaving your house with it, whether that’s once a week to play at a bar or at church on Sunday, or for weeks at a time on tour - your amp needs protection like an instrument would. Perhaps even more so! Amps are full of delicate electronics - tubes, fuses, etc. - and protecting them from jostling around will keep them consistently functioning at their peak performance and keep you focused on the gig.
While there are some soft case or cover options available, they are more intended to keep dust off of your amp at home and fall short compared to a true road case providing protection to and from the gig. A typical road case for an amp includes a tray with casters on the bottom, which the amp sits in, and a lid, which latches onto the bottom tray and is lifted off during use - this design keeps the case practical and functional at all times:
- The case’s tray keep your amp off of the floor, which both keeps it away from dirt and spilled drinks, and acts as a source of isolation from excess vibrations coming from the amp’s cab
- The tray’s wheels make heavy amps like 2x12 combos more mobile, and mean you can use your case to cart other items like a mixer or console into the gig in fewer trips; the case lid can also be used as a table for a drummer or keys player during the gig (super handy!)
- The tray & lid latch together, meaning that your amp is totally surrounded in shock-absorbent foam anytime it’s on the move, and the tongue-and-groove between tray and lid ensures that your amp is totally insulated from dust & dirt when it’s not in use
- Let’s be honest, there’s nothing that looks cooler than an amp sitting in a road case on a stage
Finding the Right Fit
Some amps, like a Vox AC30, are just straightforward rectangles. But what about a Fender Hot Rod, for instance, where the front of the amp slopes gently upward - do you need to account for that when measuring the case? What about the rubber feet on the bottom of the amp?
Let’s start with the basics: most amp cases are, basically, rectangular; i.e. the basic measurements needed from your amp will be length, width, and height. Since we build our cases to the maximum dimensions of the amp, it’s important to include anything like handles or rubber feet on the bottom of the amp that extend beyond the cabinet itself; and in the case of an amp with a sloped front, or any non-rectangular shape, we’re able to build a case that will fit perfectly by using the maximum dimension (usually the width or depth at the bottom) and compensating for the difference at the top with an extra piece of foam. Say, for instance, your amp is 13” deep at its base but only 11” deep at the top - we would simply add 2” of foam at the top, which keeps the amp fit snugly inside the case and without room to move inside.
Because amps can have unique characteristics like this that require specific attention to ensure the perfect fit, we generally do not build cases based on the model alone - different models can have slight variations and design changes from year to year (for example, a cabinet for a 1960s JMI-era AC30 won’t fit a later 1990s Korg-era AC30), and therefore the dimensions found online can differ slightly from your actual amp. It may be helpful to use an online resource to check against what you’ve measured for any glaring discrepancies, but we recommend taking measurements from your amp yourself to ensure that your case will fit it.
One helpful trick here is, using a tape measure, to measure from the first inch marker rather than the start of the tape, then subtract that extra inch from the total measurement - this can help you get a more accurate starting place to ensure a snug fit. If you’re unsure or don’t feel confident in taking accurate measurements, feel free to get in touch with us via phone or email - we’re happy to take the time to help ensure the fit of your case. Usually, we can build cases with up to a ½” tolerance. It can also be helpful to send us photos of your amp in addition to the measurements, in order to help us envision what we’re building for and see if there are any other considerations we may need to make. This may not be necessary for more “standard” amps, like Vox & Fender, or an Ampeg SVT head and cab, but is definitely helpful for any more boutique or obscure brands - it helps us map the dimensions you’ve provided to the actual item which will be riding in the case.
Built for Any Application
The standard materials for our road cases are ⅜” plywood fitted with 1” foam inside; these materials are what we consider to be the best fit for most applications, but we have plenty of options for lighter- or heavier-duty cases available depending on your specific needs and budget. Please feel email us at email@example.com or give our sales crew a call at 631-557-0000 and we’d love to discuss the perfect case for your amp!