If you’re looking for the best protection for your ukulele that you can get, a hard case is the way to go. Gig bags can keep scratches and rain off, but they leave your ukulele vulnerable or crushing or severe blows. A durable hard case will keep your ukulele safe and sound no matter what.
Hardshell vs Foam
There are two main types of hard ukulele cases: hardshell and foam. Both will do a great job of protecting your ukulele, but there are a few key differences in how they perform. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it’s more a question of what kind of protection you’re looking for.
Foam cases are made out of a styrofoam-like material that is covered in canvas or some other fabric. This means that they’re lightweight, but also somewhat bulky. They’re usually padded with a fuzzy material on the inside, and may have inside and outside pockets for tuners, strings, and other accessories. They’ll protect well against bumps and knocks, but if something very heavy gets put on top they’re vulnerable to being crushed. The foam also acts as insulation, and foam cases are great for protecting your ukulele during big temperature or climate changes.
Hardshell cases are made from plywood or molded out of plastic. They’re more compact than foam cases, but (paradoxically) also usually heavier. Their inside is also generally padded with fuzzy material. Because their outer shell is plastic rather than fabric, they very rarely have any kind of outside pockets. This means that the only accessory storage space is inside the case, usually just a small pocket underneath the neck of the ukulele.
In general, hard shell ukulele cases are
- More compact
- More expensive
- Better for crushing/stacking
In general, foam cases are
- Less expensive
- Have more accessory storage space
- Better for changes in climate
Crossrock ABS Hardshell Ukulele Case
Molded out of ABS plastic, the Crossrock hardshell is just about the sturdiest case you could get for your ukulele. The outer plastic shell is rigid and stands up well to all kinds of abuse. It’s also water-resistant, meaning that your uke and everything else inside will stay nice and dry if you get caught in the rain.
The Crossrock is surprisingly light, and very comfortable to carry. It’s still a little heavier than the foam cases, but not by much. It’s more compact than foam cases, but it does have a little more bulk to it than the usual hardshell case. There’s a single shoulder strap included, with the option to buy another one for a full backpack. The included shoulder strap is comfortable and holds the case well.
Rather than latches like many other hardshell ukulele cases, this comes with a zipper. There’s a neat locking mechanism included that holds the zippers in place until you enter the right combination. This is more convenient than having to keep track of a key, although you have to be sure to remember your combination! The case is pretty sturdy, so if you forget, it’ll take quite a lot of effort to open.
Speaking of sturdiness, the Crossrock case can support up to 150 pounds stacked on top without crushing. This is remarkable and perfect for those times when you have to check your ukulele or otherwise let it out of your sight. Whoever is handling it may not be as gentle as you are, but this case will stand up to the abuse and keep your ukulele nice and safe.
The Crossrock hybrid hard ukulele case comes in soprano, concert, and tenor sizes. Unlike the rest of the cases on this list, it’s also available in a bunch of different fun colors.
- Very sturdy
- Water resistant
- Available in many colors
- Locking mechanism
- Bulkier than other hardshell cases (but less than foam cases)
Gearlux Foam Ukulele Case
The Gearlux Foam case is made of lightweight foam covered in a synthetic canvas, and is all black, inside and outside. It opens and closes with a zipper, and there’s a flap near the handle with a button for extra security. The inside is lined with plush fuzz. It’s not as heavy-duty as case as the Crossrock, but it still offers a lot of protection for your ukulele.
One thing to keep in mind is that the fit for most ukuleles is a little looser than normal. This is great for oddly-shaped or slightly large ukuleles, but there may be a bit of play for smaller ukes. Luckily, there’s plenty of padding, so your ukulele will be safe no matter its size.
Being a foam case, it’s quite light. It is, however, a bit bulkier than a hardshell case. Even a tenor size will still easily fit into an overhead compartment or similar space, so it’s not too bulky for travel. And when slung over your shoulder, it’s remarkably easy to forget it’s even there!
Speaking of slinging it over your shoulder, the Gearlux case comes with a should strap, and has multiple attachment points. There’s also a plastic handle for hand-carrying it, although over-the-shoulder is definitely more comfortable.
One big advantage of foam cases is that they usually have large pockets. The size obviously depends on whether you have a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele, but this case has a big pocket right on the front. It’s great for strings, capos, smaller music books, and other flatter objects. There’s also the standard small pocket underneath the neck.
The Gearlux hard ukulele case comes in soprano, concert, tenor, pineapple, and baritone sizes.
- Lots of storage space
- Looser fit
Stagg Tweed Hardshell Ukulele Case
Like Kala’s Tweed Ukulele Amplifier, Stagg’s Tweed case has a vintage-style look sure to turn heads. It’s made of wood covered in its namesake fabric pattern, with leather trimmings, gold latches, and a black plush interior to finish off the look. This is a great hard ukulele case for someone who wants to protect their uke and look good doing it.
The middle latch features a lock, handy for extra security when you’re out and about. As a hardshell case, there’s not a lot of storage space, but there is a small pocket underneath the neck. It’s large enough for a tuner and some picks, but not much more than that.
Unlike some other hardshell cases, there are no attachment points for a shoulder or backpack strap. The handle is fairly comfortable, though, and the case is easy to carry, Being a hardshell case, it’s certainly heavier than the ukulele inside, but not overwhelmingly so.
The Stagg Tweed cases tend to fit tightly to their intended size ukulele. This is great for protection, because it gives the ukulele less room to jostle around. However, if you have an oddly-shaped or nontraditionally sized ukulele, it may not fit. For traditionally-sized ukuleles, though, the snug fit is perfect.
The Stagg Tweed hard ukulele case comes in soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone sizes.
- Unique vintage look
- Snug fit
- No shoulder strap attachment
Knox Gear Foam Ukulele Case
Like the Gearlux case, the Knox Gear foam ukulele case is all black, made from foam with a nylon covering. The outside is actually waterproof, great for battling the elements. Inside, there’s the usual black plush padding.
Again, storage space is a key feature on the Knox Gear case. There’s a large pocket on the front, which can easily store a variety of accessories. For the larger sizes of ukulele, this includes sheet music. There’s also a smaller pocket on the inside, which is substantially larger than the ones on hardshell cases. Tuners, a harmonica, or other small accessories will easily fit inside.
The case itself is quite light thanks its foam construction, and the included shoulder strap is quite comfortable. There’s also a molded plastic handle for hand-carrying. Like the Gearlux and other foam cases, the Knox Gear is bulkier than a hardshell case, but it still works well as carry-on luggage.
The Knox Gear hard ukulele case comes in soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone sizes.
- Lots of storage space
- Somewhat bulky
Gator Hard Ukulele Case
Gator is a long-time stalwart of the instrument case scene. They are well-known and respected for their guitar, keyboard, percussion, and other cases. And even though all of their cases are made in the USA, they are still very competitive when it comes to price.
The Gator hardshell ukulele case is made out of wood with a black PVC covering. Inside is the usual black plush padding. It’s a heavy-duty case, both in ability to stand up to knocks and bumps and in literal weight. This is the heaviest case on this list. But it’s also very rigid, and will take a lot of abuse. There’s no place for a shoulder strap, but the handle is quite comfortable, and the case is easy to carry.
Like the other hardshell cases, the Gator only has one small storage compartment underneath the neck. The compartment is actually bigger than on most other similar cases, so you can fit more than just a small tuner in there. Still, it’s mainly for small accessories.
The Gator hard ukulele case comes in soprano, concert, and tenor sizes.
- Heavy duty
- Larger under-neck storage compartment
- Heaviest of the cases on this list