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Thread: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

  1. #1

    Default Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I think i am ready to buy a better case for my Master Model. I fly 4 to 6 times a year and I donít think the factory Loar style case offers the greatest protection. I generally use a travel lite case, but I would be horrified if they told me I had to check my mandolin while it was in that case (I donít know if that would happen but i fear it anyways.)

    I have narrowed my search down to a hoffee or an Austin built Calton. I have seen the calton in person but not a hoffee. I am hoping that someone who has both can post some side by side pictures of the two cases for comparison.
    '02 Gibson master model #70327 02-01-02
    '25 Gibson A-4 Snakehead #82626
    '06 Hicks #1 and #2 F-5 still not done

    Gibson F-5 Master Model Registry

  2. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I have a Pegasus, He uses the space right behind the headstock for more storage space,
    and it being there backs up the headstock ,
    resisting whip lash damage .. now perhaps you can replicate that in your listed choices,
    adding things the factory did not..

    Oh you want pictures , maybe some with the case open will be offered.
    writing about music
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Not sure you really need to see side by side photos, since individual photos of these cases are widely available online, and you can use them to compare any particular aspects of the cases that you want. By searching this forum, you can find many reports already posted about user experiences with these cases (including my own review of the Hoffee case when it first came out, which has pictures). Spend a bit of time doing a forum search and you will be rewarded.

    I own both a pre-Austin Calton fiberglass and a Hoffee carbon-fiber mandolin case. The Hoffee is much better, IMO. But since moving to Austin, Calton has greatly improved the headstock room and neck support, changed the interior compartment size, and protected the latches. I'd say it's pretty much a wash now, as to which case is "better." It really comes down to what you, personally, seek most in the particular characteristics from a case. Do you care more about the weight? Latch/hardware protection? Scratch resistance of the case? Impact protection for the mandolin? Crush protection for the mandolin? Weatherproofing? Thermal protection? Ability to fit into a smaller space (say, overhead on a plane)? Lifetime of the case? Available colors?! Cost? Delivery date?

    Lots to consider...and neither case is best in all these categories.
    Last edited by sblock; Jan-04-2018 at 4:11pm.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    What a great community we have here, even though there are only a few responses here, I have recieved 3 PMís, 5 emails and 4 messages on Facebook offering advice on my question. That makes me very happy.

    The reason i was looking for side by side pictures as opposed to looking at pictures of each one individually is to compare their overall size. The Hoffee seems considerably bigger or bulkier thatís the Calton.

    So far with the messages I have recieved it is nearly tied on yes for Hoffee and yes for Austin built Caltons. I think they both will fit the bill but i wish i could carry each one for a day.
    '02 Gibson master model #70327 02-01-02
    '25 Gibson A-4 Snakehead #82626
    '06 Hicks #1 and #2 F-5 still not done

    Gibson F-5 Master Model Registry

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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Carles,

    Send me a mailing address. I'll pop the Hoffee in the mail to you, you check it out for a few days. If you like it and decide to keep it, we'll arrive at a price; if not, send it back. And if you buy it, I'll make a donation to this site.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    That is an awesome offer. I’ll email you in the morning.
    '02 Gibson master model #70327 02-01-02
    '25 Gibson A-4 Snakehead #82626
    '06 Hicks #1 and #2 F-5 still not done

    Gibson F-5 Master Model Registry

  7. #7
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    My 2 cents. I dropped my Kimble Two-Point when the shoulder strapI was using on my Hoffee slipped right off my shoulder. The case fell maybe 3 feet onto asphalt and bounced several times. I couldn't breathe until I got inside ot check out my mandolin for damage. Not a nick or crack, and it was even still in tune. The case suffered a small indent in the plastic clear coat over the carbon fibre, but was otherwise undamaged. Hoffee makes a wonderful case, IMO

  8. #8
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I own a Hoffee, and would buy another.

    The good:
    • Very well made
    • The fiberglass looks nice
    • Available with Thinsulate lining. This is a BIG deal to me, I live in Texas and sometimes leave it in the car after church going to lunch. It can get hot very quickly when it's 100+ outside. That might be the deciding point for you as well if you ever have to leave it in a cold car. Of course it will only slow down the temperature exchange, but sometimes an hour or two is all you need.


    The so so:
    • The fiberglass can scratch easily, I suggest a cover for it
    • They are a bit hard to open with one hand, but once you get used to it it's not a big deal
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  9. #9
    plectrist
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    When i was looking for a case to use to travel to Ireland, during my research i checked out the Hoffee videos on YouTube. It was tough to watch what Jeff was doing to the guitar in that case .... but man ... he sure got this customer. (By the way ... the customer service from Jeff is just the best.)

    Ryk
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    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Both great cases. Of course, we all have our favorite, and mine is the Austin made Calton. I love the size, weight and balance as well as the latch protection. It's almost "military grade." The finish is very durable and resists scratches and scrapes, which is nice, since mine is white! While I avoid checking any instrument, when flying, regardless of the case, I would not be afraid to do so with the Calton. I think some of the negative feedback on Calton is dated, and has no relevance to the Austin made Calton. That's the view from my saddle.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    From Austin Bob - " The fiberglass looks nice..".Unless i missed something,all the Hoffee cases are Carbon Fibre ?. Hoffee did add one important material to their CF cases,Kevlar !. That material adds a lot to the impact resistance of CF - without it,it's pretty weak material. CF as a material is very brittle,& also,knocked hard,can de-laminate ie 'the layers separate'. The shiny outer surface is simply the resin given that appearance by the application of a 'gel-coat' to the case moulds. The resin is pretty scratchable & a case cover,as Bob suggests,is a very good idea. Other than those draw backs, if used carefully,& why would we NOT use an $800 case carefully ? - the Hoffee cases look superb !.

    Calton cases still have the resin outer coating which can scratch & chip,but being f/glass,i'd imagine that any impact ''might'' have less effect on them. From my own experience over 10 years working with f/glass / CF & 'plastics' - the finest material for a case is high impact resistant Lexan Polycarbonate sheet,but your starting price would be around $300 per sheet & you'd need 2,& that's before tooling costs & overheads = Bill Gates might be able to afford one. Despite that,if the inside isn't designed for max.impact resistance as well,the outer case material doesn't matter much !,
    Ivan
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    Registered User pit lenz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I have a black Hoffee case for two years now, very happy with it. Storage is ok (I can even slip an iPad mini in the storage compartment).
    About the scratches: yes they do show. But I take a fine black Sharpie and run it through the scratch grooves and they‘re gone...
    Mine still looks almost new!

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I love my Hoffee and so does Robyn. (FYI, I don't normally let him sleep in my case, but wanted to see if my Hoffee has his seal of approval, for this thread. Obviously, it does). Now, if someone wants to send me their Calton, I'd be glad to let Robyn check that out, for comparison.
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    From Austin Bob - " The fiberglass looks nice..".Unless i missed something,all the Hoffee cases are Carbon Fibre ?. Hoffee did add one important material to their CF cases,Kevlar !. That material adds a lot to the impact resistance of CF - without it,it's pretty weak material. CF as a material is very brittle,& also,knocked hard,can de-laminate ie 'the layers separate'. The shiny outer surface is simply the resin given that appearance by the application of a 'gel-coat' to the case moulds. The resin is pretty scratchable & a case cover,as Bob suggests,is a very good idea. Other than those draw backs, if used carefully,& why would we NOT use an $800 case carefully ? - the Hoffee cases look superb !.
    You are correct Ivan, it is carbon, my mistake.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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  18. #15

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I'm actually interested in purchasing one of these as well but I'm confused. Both Calton and Hoffee seem to ask you for measurements but they are sold in online without specifying model or make. Are they one size fits all or custom?

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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by Macabre View Post
    I'm actually interested in purchasing one of these as well but I'm confused. Both Calton and Hoffee seem to ask you for measurements but they are sold in online without specifying model or make. Are they one size fits all or custom?
    No, they are not exactly "one size fits all" but neither are they "custom" made. The outer shells (fiberglass or carbon fiber composite) of both these cases are, basically, a fixed size. This size will not fit all possible mandolin styles/sizes. As it happens, they will definitely both fit left- and right-handed models with the same overall dimensions as a Gibson F5 (or A5) style. However, they may or may not fit other styles, and there are MANY of these! There are -- just to mention a few "alternative" styles: flat-tops, bowlbacks, F4's, two-points, Martins, Rigels, Breedloves, Brentrup Stealths, 10-strings, Northfield Big Mon, Lyon & Healy, Vega cylinder backs, Gibson wide-bell A's, a great many emandos, and so on.

    The Northfield Big Mon models, for example, are about 5% bigger than the Gibson F5 in some dimensions, e.g., body size. They don't fit in all mandolin cases.

    The soft foam interior of a Hoffee mandolin case will probably compress enough to fit a Big Mon model, but I have not tried. And I can't say for the Calton, either. But case manufacturers often request the dimensions of your mandolin so they can assure a fit -- or deliver the bad news that it won't fit. In the earlier days of Calton, they would often custom-make some of the interior padding to accommodate some simple size variants, like the narrower neck of my Stelling banjo. Perhaps they will still do that? But mostly, they want to make sure that their existing, standard mandolin case will fit your instrument.
    Last edited by sblock; Jan-17-2018 at 6:05pm.

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  21. #17

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I have an almost new, about a month old Calton. My buddy has a Hoffee. They are both top quality as far as protection.
    The only difference is that the Hoffee clearcoat scratches very easy and shows. The colored clear coat on the Calton doesn’t show as much and can be touched up.
    " Practice every time you get a chance." - Bill Monroe

  22. #18

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by AMandolin View Post
    I have an almost new, about a month old Calton. My buddy has a Hoffee. They are both top quality as far as protection.
    The only difference is that the Hoffee clearcoat scratches very easy and shows. The colored clear coat on the Calton doesn’t show as much and can be touched up.
    Which of them has more storage?

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    Registered User Manfred Hacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    I bought a new Calton about 3 months ago.
    Storage is scant. That's the price you pay for the very compact size of the Calton.

    I like everything about it except for the latches. They are so hard to open that I have to be careful not to rip off my fingertips.
    Does anyone else have this problem?
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  25. #20

    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    That's not good if you've had it for three months. You would expect it to loosen a bit at least.

  26. #21
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    The one case that i own that fits all 3 of my mandolins perfectly,even my oversized Lebeda,is my 'Travelite'.. In fact it's fitted several mandolins belonging to folk who've visited my home as perfectly. Every mandolin just seems to fit as though it was tailor made for it.
    That's why it's my 'playing out' case - it's very light & well padded inside & outside. There's nothing to scratch or chip & the outer covering is as tough as he** !. It's the very best case that i own,& currently houses my Ellis "A" style - 'perfectly'.

    With regard to having to check in a mandolin to be loaded into the baggage hold of an aircraft,i think that it's still ''the luck of the draw''. Despite recent rulings re.instruments being allowed onto aircraft,the message either hasn't reached some folks,or,it's being ignored on purpose. I'd be very unhappy if i had to check a mandolin into the hold in a Calton or a Hoffe case. Depending 'where' they're placed & how they're handled,they may survive un-damaged or not.

    The Hiscox case folks showed just how strong their cases are by having a bunch of guys standing on one - maybe they should have had them tested by the idiots who dropped this mandolin case from a baggage hold ?,
    Ivan
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    Last edited by Ivan Kelsall; Jan-18-2018 at 2:28am.
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    The one case that i own that fits all 3 of my mandolins perfectly,even my oversized Lebeda,is my 'Travelite'.. In fact it's fitted several mandolins belonging to folk who've visited my home as perfectly. Every mandolin just seems to fit as though it was tailor made for it.
    That's why it's my 'playing out' case - it's very light & well padded inside & outside. There's nothing to scratch or chip & the outer covering is as tough as he** !. It's the very best case that i own,& currently houses my Ellis "A" style - 'perfectly'.

    With regard to having to check in a mandolin to be loaded into the baggage hold of an aircraft,i think that it's still ''the luck of the draw''. Despite recent rulings re.instruments being allowed onto aircraft,the message either hasn't reached some folks,or,it's being ignored on purpose. I'd be very unhappy if i had to check a mandolin into the hold in a Calton or a Hoffe case. Depending 'where' they're placed & how they're handled,they may survive un-damaged or not.

    The Hiscox case folks showed just how strong their cases are by having a bunch of guys standing on one - maybe they should have had them tested by the idiots who dropped this mandolin case from a baggage hold ?,
    Ivan
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    Looks like the case did the job it was supposed to? If I recall, the mandolin was 100% fine so what exactly is the issue?
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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  29. #23
    Registered User MissingString's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by Macabre View Post
    Which of them has more storage?
    The Hoffee has more storage for sure, but I wouldn't say it's a "lot"of storage. The Hoffee's compartment is roughly 8" x 4" x 1.75". The Calton pocket is about 6" x 3" x 1". The big question is ... what do you intend on putting in the storage pocket? If it's a set of strings, a tuner, a few picks, etc. then either would suffice. If you want to add a small metronome, an arm-rest or a strap then the Calton is likely too small.

    Hope that helps.

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  31. #24
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    Quote Originally Posted by Manfred Hacker View Post
    I bought a new Calton about 3 months ago.

    I like everything about it except for the latches. They are so hard to open...Does anyone else have this problem?
    Everything about the case is better than the earlier Canadian's...more refined including the shell of the case which is injection moulding, better inside geometry, lining, padding, etc..

    I only use one of the three latches at home because they are tough customers to snap open, partly because of how tightly the shells fit together.

    I've had the case for a month and it seems to know it's a case now, but still requires a firm hand! Good and bad and tradeoffs for everything I guess.
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  32. #25
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    Default Re: Hoffee Vs. Austin Calton

    That case did itís job, for sure! The issue is the unnecessarily rough handling to begin with. I realize that accidents happen, customers (myself included) want faster baggage handling and service, etc, but rough handling seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception. I have a fairly expensive hard shelled suitcase that was billed as ďnearly indestructible,Ē that baggage handlers managed to put a hole in the very first trip I took it on. Basically destroyed one of the corners, of all places. Itís had another small hole put in it as well since in the back, which I can see happening more easily than the corner damage. That may be what warranties are for, but, sheesh, they must have tossed the thing from plane height onto a steel pipe to make one of those holes. Baggage ring toss from the hull! It shouldnít have to be that difficult...ok, rant over...peace...
    Chuck

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