Hiscox Liteflight Pro II Case Review

Look at that design. Now we’re gonna party like 1989.

The case reviewed is a Hiscox Liteflight Pro II Classical Guitar Case (GCL-L)
Overview
“Exactly how strong is the case?”you ask.

“Strong enough for you to stand on!”the sales person replies, before taking a guitar, inserting it into the case and closing it.

“Do you think I would risk damaging my own instrument if I didn’t think it was safe?”the sales person asks,before standing on the case.

For many instrument dealers, this has been the sales pitch for the legendary Hiscox cases.

These cases are reportedly so strong, that the basic model  has a crush strength of 500kgs.

The sales person’s demonstration pales in comparison to the video on the Hiscox website. In that video 6 men stand on the case, with the instrument inside of it emerging unscathed.

For years, I have heard stories of this legendary case. I have always wanted to own one and I have finally gotten my chance.

I ordered a Hiscox Lite Flight Pro II classical guitar case (model GCL-L) to accompany my recently completed Kris Barnett guitar.

But does it live up to its fabled reputation?

Honestly,I don’t know what to think. Being weaned on the prolific stories surrounding the cases for years, I was expecting a lot. And while the case lived up to some of my expectations, it left me disappointed in other areas,.

Build Quality
Firstly, it is worth noting that the case is very well made. The overall build quality appears far superior to competing cases like SKB and Gator.

It feels sturdy and tough upon first glance while retaining a surprisingly light weight that belies its heavy appearance.

I like the spring loaded latches that adorn the case.It allows for easy one handed operation and they feel sturdy and durable.

Spring Loaded catches (open). Notice the lack of ‘teeth’ when open. The reduces the likelihood of damaged should the lid slam down on the guitar.
Latch closed.

But upon opening the case, I became somewhat disappointed with the interior. The Hiscox case does not offer a lot of soft cushioning.

Here I try to dig into the case. Notice the lack of depression. This is because there is no cushion to depress. The base is hard.


The crushed velvet fabric is directly bonded onto the protective foam. This foam is rigid and is by no means soft.

I am surprised that this issue has not been discussed by most Hiscox case owners.

The side walls of the case. Once again, notice the lack of padding.

This isn’t a big issue but I was expecting an interior that was much more plush with much more cushioning. Essentially, I did not find the interior to be as luxurious as I thought it should be.

The Hiscox also houses a generous accessory compartment inside the neck rest.

The accessory compartment is nice and roomy.


You can easily store a few set of strings as well as a string winder and a series of nail files.

The problem with the accessory compartment is that it lacks an opening latch.This is a problem because the scalloped support for the neck is not recessed enough to allow your fingers to open the compartment when fully closed.

Notice the lack of recess. How are you suppose to open this thing when it’s completely shut


When I first received the case, I had to pry the accessory compartment open with a ruler!

Subsequently I looped a ribbon around the compartment’s lid to make it easier to open. This is a rather annoying design oversight that doesn’t belong on a case of this price. Cheaper competitors like SKB and Gator had enough foresight to add opening latched for their cases; cases that cost a faction of Hiscox’s.

I looped a ribbon around the lid to help me open it. I hereby dub this solution, “Dedrick’s Ribbon Pull”


I am shocked that Hiscox didn’t catch this problem.

Durability/Strength/Protection
Hiscox cases are legendary for their strength and durability. There are a countless number of stories that detail the cases’ legendary abilities to protect instruments from anything from a 5 foot drop to a car accident.

My demands from this case were decidedly less grueling. I merely needed it to protect my Kris Barnett guitar as it traveled from Atlanta to Singapore.

In that regard it succeeded. There was no damage to my instrument though to be fair, UPS seems to have treated the package with care. Kris also did a great job of packing it.

Despite the lack of a contoured shape, my Kris Barnett guitar sits snugly in the Hiscox Case.
It is held in place via 4 small cushioning pads that hold the guitar firmly in place. There is also a pad at the headstock area and at the lower bout.
Notice the small rectangular pad at the bottom of the lid.
Padding at the headstock area of the lid.
Corner padding such as this holds the instrument in place.


It should be mentioned that the case came with a small nick at the bottom. I am not certain if it is a manufacturing flaw or if it is due to wear and tear from usage.

How did that happen?!


Whatever the case, I was surprised to see the nick considering that Hiscox prides itself on its impeccable quality and durability.

The case has not left my home since it arrived and I have been treating it with care.

I have not put it through any torture tests save the fabled ‘case standing’ trick. After all, how can you purchase a Hiscox case and not stand on it? (I should mention that the case was empty at that time.)

I’m not sure how Hiscox cases are designed to withstand high crush loads, but it certainly isn’t from pure rigidity.

When I stood on the center of the empty case, it buckled slightly from my 75kg frame.

The case did not seem to be on the verge of breaking, but the deflection was significant enough for me refrain from further testing.

The case’s aluminum valance seems sturdy and the handle and the latches look tough enough to handle common everyday use.

The aluminium valance looks sturdy. But notice the lack of rubber feet at the bottom of the case.
That’s a sticker. I hate it. Couldn’t they have used a tag?


Unfortunately, I have not owned the case long enough to tell if any deformation may take place; an issue that has been reported by some  owners.

Design
In an era of slick carbon fiber and fiber glass cases, the Hiscox looks drab and boring.

I once read a remark stating that the hiscox looks “very 1980s”. I tend to agree.

After purchasing the black case, I discovered that Hiscox currently offers their cases in an ivory shell for slightly more money.

I’m can’t comment on how it looks but I find it commendable that they are trying to offer more aesthetic options.

Hidden somewhere in this case is a time portal to the 1980s. On a serious note, notice the case’s contoured back.


Personally the design looks extremely dated. I would like to see Hiscox offering more daring designs in the future.Their product lines desperately need a face lift.

Conclusion
Hiscox cases offer excellent ABS cases with inspiring build quality.

Despite the lack of testing on my part, I am willing to accept most of the manufacturers claims in regards to the amount of protection offered.

The build quality is that good.

But it isn’t perfect. The most obvious flaw being the lack of a latch for the accessory lid. It’s hard to imagine Hiscox overlooking such an obvious flaw.

The case also would have benefited from more soft padding and a fabric that is more plush.

Hiscox cases appear to be very good at doing what the manufacturer claims, just don’t expect much else. I would not hesitate to use this case for flights or for shipping an instrument overseas. And if that is your intended use for this case, then you will probably be extremely satisfied with your purchase.

But if you are looking for a luxurious, envy-inducing case, then you may want to consider the Hiscox’s Artist case or a case from one of its carbon-fiber competitors.

30 May 2011 Update

Jonathan, a reader of mine, has kindly informed me that the new Hiscox cases have implemented a  pull-tab for the accessory compartment. I have ordered a new Hiscox case and have posted a video update here.

About Dedrick Koh

Dedrick Koh is a Social Media and Communications Specialist at Nanyang Polytechnic. He has a Bachelors (Murdoch) and Diploma (Ngee Ann Polytechnic) in Mass Communication. Dedrick is a communications professional and a highly skilled classical guitarist. As a communications professional, he has worked on brands like Coca Cola, DHL, Nokia, Nestle, the Health Promotion Board, the Economic Development Board of Singapore and the President Challenge. He gave private classical guitar during his polytechnic and undergraduate studies to put himself through school. He has succesfully prepared students for ABRSM and Trinity exams and was previously an instructor cum assistant conductor at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Strings under Alex Abisheganaden .