Why have roadcases gotten so expensive, especially guitar pedalboard cases? The same reasons everything else has and a couple more, but there are strategies you can use to keep the price down particular to pedalboard hard cases.
- Avoid imports.
This might sound biased coming from Rubiconroadcase.com, but the price of shipping from China has gone through the roof and you are seeing that in the price.
You have been hearing about those 40’ containers waiting off the coast of LA to unload – in 2019 you would pay around $2500 to get that container from a factory in Guangzhou to your west coast warehouse – today that cost is $20k. You basically went from the price of a 2000 Mercury Cougar with 150,000 miles on it to a new Nissan Sentra.
If your container is filled with 32” x 16” x 8” pedalboard cases, that cost went from $4 to $34 and it is taking weeks to get to the port of Long Beach. Many road case manufacturers don’t import so they are not faced with that particular hurdle – Rubiconroadcase.com is based in Taylorsville, NC (as an example) the heartland of America’s furniture business and sources all of our parts stateside.
- Pick a stock pedalboard case.
Most roadcase companies offer custom cases (and a good number love to make them because the service component is a large part of their value proposition), but if you can get by with an off the shelf design you will save some money because:
- The size was optimized for the lowest amount of waste.
- The R&D element is amortized over a larger number of units (I know, R&D on a box sounds like what you do before reinventing the wheel).
- You get production efficiencies when you make a bunch of a product rather than one at a time – think about the time it takes to bake one cookie versus twelve cookies on a per cookie basis.
You get the picture – a stock pedalboard hard case is less expensive to make and thus less expensive to buy.
- Go with Plywood
I have been reading and writing about “thick plastic laminate” outer panels for so long that I am a little shaky recommending that someone skips the part of a roadcase that seems so essential.
However, as I was checking competing prices I got a scare finding a couple of less expensive options out there from big name brands until I figured out that they were leaving the plastic off and just painting plywood. Not to be left behind, we added some plywood type versions to Rubiconroadcase.com for folks who want to save a little money.
Now hear me out on this, but it actually makes a lot of sense for a pedalboard case if:
- You don’t expect a high moisture situation in your travels.
- You don’t mind some scuffing on the case.
- You don’t expect high force “spearing” type impacts from, say, fork trucks on parts of your case, which is kind of unlikely for a guitar effects pedal case unless you are also a samurai warrior often set upon by brigands and in need of an improvised shield.
Rubiconroadcase.com has a great finishing department, we do paint work for furniture that ends up in Restoration Hardware among others, so we will be adding some nice colors to our plywood cases in future if they take off. Right now we are offering black cases, with a paint quality that you can show off as a living room accessory when you are not using it as a pedalboard flight case.
UPS and Fedex charge more for larger packages, so if you add a pedalboard to your order the shipping for the extra item is essentially free so we can offer a better price when you buy them together. It is also pretty handy that the box you are shipping the pedalboard was designed for that particular pedalboard.
- Wait for it
If you have maximized you savings following tips 1 – 4, for the sake of Pete don’t just give it all back to Fedex or UPS by getting expedited three day, two day or overnight shipping. Unless your pedalboard roadcase provider is shipping an organ for transplant to you in your pedalboard case, it is in your best interest wait the extra few days. Most reputable vendors of pedalboard cases offer free ground shipping – enjoy the freedom!
A hard case for your pedalboard is like insurance for your effects pedals – you don’t want to pay a lot but you want to be covered. We’re here to help and also to learn – if you have any ideas let us know at Team@rubiconroadcase.com.
Be well and stay safe,