I’ve tended to avoid gig bags, personally. I’ave had a few of ‘em over the years and they’ve generally felt like something that would protect your guitar from, oh I don’t know, stray leaves and errant breezes. And the ones that were built to be more sturdy seemed unnecessarily bulky and cumbersome. So when the MONO Guitar Sleeve showed up for review I found myself thinking “Oh well, here we go. How much can you say about a bag?”
Turns out you can say plenty. MONO seems to really get musicians. They know that we can be rough on our gear, as can roadies, kids, pets, etc etc etc. So everything they make is very durable and hardy in what I see as two different ways:
1) It protects your precious equipment from damage; and
2) It’s strong enough to protect itself from damage too. In other words your MONO case isn’t likely to forfeit its life protecting your guitar. It’ll keep kickin’.
The Guitar Sleeve is made of materials which MONO has highly tested and approved due to their extreme resistance to abrasion and the elements. The water-resistant shell keeps out the rain. The riveted handle eliminates a potential weak spot from a structural standpoint while also providing a nice positive grip. A custom steel buckle across the messenger bag-style storage pouch (great for laptops, tables, cables, etc) secures the storage space without requiring you to fiddle about with clips or locks. There are double steel zipper pulls and a self-healing nylon zipper. It’s all very Star Trek: The Next Generation.
MONO also includes an EVA insole with a little well to accommodate your guitar’s strap-pin. This keeps the body off the ground and protects the strap pin from getting jammed into your guitar if the Guitar Sleeve takes a hit from the bottom. Very clever. Equally clever: the Headlock, MONO’s patented neck suspension system, which takes a hit and absorbs the shock so your guitar doesn’t have to.
One design feature that initially confused me a little bit was that the Guitar Sleeve doesn’t unzip from the bottom of the guitar body like other gig bags: it only unzips down to the neck, and opens out diagonally. But from the very second you put a guitar in there, you realise that this method means the ‘body section’ can be much more secure, while it’s now much easier to quickly unzip and remove your guitar from a standing position instead of trying to find enough of a flat surface (and I’m sure we’ve all played at enough dives to know that there aren’t often many of these to be found in cramped backstage areas) or, worse, risking the dreaded ‘upside-down guitar extraction removal’ manoeuvre. Oh and it’s worth noting that even my Ibanez 8-string RG fits in there with no hassle despite its longer scale length and huge headstock.
I don’t know if it’s a measure of my guitar-geekiness that I find myself getting excited about what is essentially a bag, but the MONO Guitar Sleeve is so cleverly designed and made of such hard-wearing materials that it lives up to the hype within seconds of chucking a guitar in it and slinging it onto your back.