We recently reviewed a Jackson Soloist USA guitar and were extremely impressed by the custom-designed hard case it shipped in. Knowing that the case was of SKB origin, we set out to discover if the fantastic case was available as an after-market accessory for other guitars. Sure enough, we found the nearly identical SKB-66 case and purchased a few of them for ourselves.
The SKB-66 accommodates right and left-handed Stratocaster and Telecaster style guitars, and is made from SKB’s familiar plastic shell over a foam core with plush padding that cradles the guitar like a pair of cozy slippers. At just over ten pounds, it has a solid feel to it but is light enough for easy transport.
The redesigned case features larger external bumpers around the corners than the previous generation case, and a rubber-covered handle lets you grip the case with authority.
SKB TSA-approved security locksMost important to the gigging artist are a few key features. First, these cases feature TSA-approved locks, so you can securely lock your case before the baggage handlers at the airport do their famous luggage acrobatics with your prized axe.
Also, the fiberglass-reinforced, nylon trigger latches are a new design that is definitely more rugged than found on the previous generation case. If you have an older generation SKB guitar case, you’ll instantly notice the more refined and rugged construction of the new design.
The other feature we loved: exterior stacking points. The case is sculpted externally so that multiple guitar cases can stack very securely on top of one another without risk of your guitar sliding off the pile and crashing to the ground. We might have overlooked this important feature had we not purchased a few of these cases, but players with multiple instruments on the road will really welcome this detail.
Inside, the case is notched at the bottom for the strap peg on the bottom of your guitar, so the instrument rests with its butt flat against the case, critical if you tend to stack cases vertically or when being handled for transport. There’s a large cutout that can accommodate a strap and various accessories, but it lacks a cover. Fortunately, the top of the case is formed to cover the compartment, and we haven’t experienced any items falling out of the compartment, which could otherwise ding your prized instrument.
We put the case to use with a variety of guitars to see what kind of a fit could be achieved. Marketed for Strat-type guitars, we put a USA Fender Strat and a Japanese Squire Strat into the case and they fit perfectly without any wiggle room. But we also wanted to see how the case fared with a variety of other guitars.
The case worked well with Ibanez RG-series guitars, a Music Man JP-6, and a Gary Kramer Guitars Cathedral Deluxe (Strat-style boutique guitar), but the fit wasn’t initially snug enough on its own to instill confidence. There was enough wiggle room that would have enabled these guitars to shift by more than an inch or two in a few directions (which could have damaged them in transit), but by simply gluing or taping two or three pieces of foam inside the case (one along the edge of the body cavity, one where the guitar’s upper horn rests, and one at the headstock), we easily eliminated the risk of movement with about two minutes of work and created a totally custom fit.
The SKB-66 case (MSRP $209.99) sells for under $130, a good price for such a nicely made case. If you don’t mind making a tiny tweak to customize the fit, it will work great with many Strat-style guitars, and we definitely prefer our modded SKB-66 to the “vintage” style case that ships with many of our favorite boutique guitars.
If you’re looking for extreme guitar protection, a nineteen-pound, injection-molded ATA-rated case is available, too. This impressive case (not reviewed here, but we have examined it) has a handle on one end, wheels on the other, and in the event of a water landing, can be used as a floatation device or a surfboard.