Taylor Customer Service Manager Zach Arntz offers another alternative: Until recently, we've never recommended a flight case because we never found one that could adequately protect the guitar during airline travel, and they were both heavy and very expensive. At the last NAMM show we met a gentleman from a company Casextreme (www.casextreme.com) who sells The Clam, a lightweight case made of corrugated plastic that incorporates C-shaped foam pads that go over the original case to protect it for air travel. The owner of Casextreme, Bruce Lamb actually suggest using a gig bag within the Clam. The substantially reduced weight of the gig bag verses the heaver hard shell case reduces the weight and the overall force of momentum and impact if the Clam is tossed by unruly baggage handlers. So far he has received no reports of damaged guitars, and the price is quite reasonable. We've been referring customers to him and have heard nothing but positive responses.
What really caught the eye of Costa Mesa singer-songwriter Walter Clevenger was a new type of guitar case, The Clam, made by San Diego-based Casextreme Fly It Safe Case Co. "The Clam is unique because you put your gig bag or hard-shell case inside this case - a case inside a case. Your gig bag or hard-shell case is floating inside this case with foam pads.... Your guitar is inside a corrugated plastic container that can support hundreds of pounds without .crushing," said Clevenger, who travels frequently with his band, the Dairy Kings. "I think it's a neat idea because you can leave this case in your hotel room and just take the gig bag with you to the club. A much' lighter alternative than lugging around those heavy Anvil-type cases." Information, www.casextreme.com.
THE CLAM FLIGHT CASE
Designed as an additional shell to fit around a standard hard-shell case or even a gig bag, Lamb Productions' Clam case is a new design that offers enough protection to withstand air travel. Available in several configurations, ranging from a bare shell with no padding ($95) to a deluxe version with a variety of foam pads, wheels, handles, and shoulder straps ($159), the Clam is made from a tough plastic material similar in structure to heavy duty cardboard. The six foam C-pads that come with the deluxe version allow a custom fit with most hard-shell cases or bags and result in a full suspension of the instrument. The Clam we received was very sturdy and easily survived being jumped on. It fit most hardshell cases we tried it with, except for a couple of jumbo-size specimens. It is quite a bit bulkier than other popular flight cases, which could be an issue if trunk or storage space is limited, but with its reasonable price, ample protection, and light weight, the case may be just what infrequent fliers have been looking for. Lamb Productions, (800) 495-8444, www.thegtw.com.
THE CLAM BY CASE EXTREME
SOME AIRLINES NOW require guitars to be checked as baggage. Case Extreme designed The Clam to protect both acoustic and electric guitars from the rigors of life on the road. Its corrugated poly-pro plastic and super-thick adjustable dense foam pads comprise a suspension system that provides the ultimate in shock absorption and weight distribution. Most damage to guitars in transit is inflicted by baggage handlers pitching the guitar through the air or burying it under a huge pile of heavy bags. Unlike thin-shelled plastic cases, The Clam is made to withstand "the crush factor." In addition to being tougher than typical travel cases. The Clam is also more affordable. Case Extreme's suggested retail price is only $159. well within reach of' the average consumer. The Clam can be used with either a gig bag, hard case. or no case at all. When the optional inserts are used, The Clam can protect two electric guitars at one time.
Well, not really much of an adventure; actually pretty anti-climactic. For months I've been agonizing about how to travel back from New York to Beijing -- with 2 guitars, a Martin 000-16SGT and a Larrivee Parlor, via either Toronto or Vancouver on Air Canada. My ultimate plan was to carry the Larri & buy a 000 Lite Case (basically hardened foam covered by nylon) from Stew-Mac, leave the Martin hard shell flattop case at home in New York & put the Lite Case inside a Clam Case from Case Extreme. By the time I got around to ordering the Lite Case from Stew-Mac, they were out of stock. The new ones came in last week but would have been delivered too late for me. So . . . the hard shell case, guitar inside, got packed into the Clam Case last Friday and off I went to LaGuardia Airport at 6:15 in the am on Saturday for a flight to Toronto, a plane change and on to Beijing 16 and a half hours later (including delays). Air Canada is usually pretty customer friendly and they didn't even charge me for oversize baggage. They did give me a bunch of "Fragile" stickers & I plastered the case with big red warnings. Real big! In the rush & hassle of trying to get to the airport & get things packed into one suitcase plus the Clam Case, the guitar had to share space with some of my dirty laundry -- -- and a few books; some software; a big flat, square "Siberian Husky XING" sign; and 4 packs of D'Addario 3-Set string boxes; but my plan to loosen the strings a bit got forgotten, so they were left up to pitch. The headstock got packed (top & bottom) with wadded-up packing paper, the hygrometer got removed from the case and put into my suitcase, but I also inadvertently left a flat pick wedged between the strings. My Larrivee P-10MQ, BTW, got carried on to the flight in its arch-top hard case with no comments from anyone at all. I did have to talk quickly to get early boarding in Toronto (I told them I was "physically decrepit and had body parts that were failing" and the gate agent earnestly asked if I was "okay to fly". I said yes & he smiled and I was the 4th one down the tunnel). the larri fit into the overhead with about a centimeter to spare.