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Thread: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

  1. #1

    Default Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Just looking for opinions here. I have a Nugget A mando, and I put a custom-made high arm rest on it. With the arm rest, it no longer fits in the case it came in.

    I'm debating between getting a custom-made Calton case for it (around $750) and getting a Gator GC case (around $100) and doing my own modifications to the foam and padding to fit the mandolin.

    What would you do?

    Thanks!
    Thane Glenn

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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    If you like some storage room in the case, the Hiscox should fit it fine. Nice interior with ton of space. The top lid holding pad is over the tailpiece and should not interfere unless the arm rest is very close to TP.

    A custom calton would be nicer for that mando. If you can, post a picture showing how high it is - I'd like to see that.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    I've never tried posting pics in this forum before: we'll see if this works...

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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Cool. That is tall huh? Hiscox would still work if you don't mind a rectangular case and lots of storage room. Ivory w/ blue int

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    +1 for Hiscox. It's got plenty of room and is affordable.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    My Gibson F5G with a Tone-gard and a siren strings armrest (It's almost that high) fits inside my Calton.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    I have my Weber "Fern" F5 in a gator case. I actually bought it for my Ellis "A" style,but it's a loose fit,so i put my Ellis in my Travelite case,which seems to fit every mandolin placed in it perfectly,& put the Weber in the Gator.

    If you can try a Gator case before you buy it,try it out - if it fits, fine,if it's loose - leave it & go for another case. I'd recommend a Travelite every time - or find out about the new Northfield 'Airloom' cases,
    Ivan
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    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    My Nugget A with a ToneGard & arm rest fits great in a new Calton; no modifications needed & rides well-protected... I am interested in getting something lighter for around town, but using the shoulder strap, it's very manageable.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Gator AFAIK is ABS, vacuum molded thermoplastic shell , Calton is in mold laid up fiberglass..
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Mandroid is 100% spot on - structurally,there's no comparison,hence the cost. Vac.forming any plastic sheet is a very quick operation, laying up a fiberglass / Carbon fiber shell by hand is time consuming & costly,& with CF,so is the actual material.

    As with all things - you pay your money & make your choice,however,regardless of make / material ALL cases should be used with care. The outer case make be bomb proof,but if the inner case isn't well padded,the mandolin can still be damaged. IMHO,the Travelite cases have the most padding around the instrument. It's not 'squashy' & holds the instrument firmly in place,but it's still soft enough to protect against a hard knock,
    Ivan
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    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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  19. #11
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Nice looking, under-stated Nugget. Large frets, 20-fretter, slim neck/fingerboard. And that ultra-cool tailpiece designed by Nugget hisownself (which I retro-fitted on my Gilchrist 5, I love it.) How does it sound?

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  21. #12

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Hi all. Thanks so much for all of your thoughts--I really value the insights of others. A few further thoughts for clarification. I really want a hard shell case, so I think the Travelite is out. Based on what I can garner of the dimensions, I don't think this instrument--with the tone gard and this extra high arm rest--will fit in a Hiscox, unless the Hiscox padding/foam has a *lot* of give. Maybe someone can speak to that.

    I have a Gator case that I use for another mandolin, so I have an exact idea of its dimensions. If I were to go with the Gator, I would have to dig out some foam where the arm rest sits, and I would have to add some padding around the body to keep it from being loose and bumping around.

    I've been in contact with the folks at Calton, and I know they could produce a case custom made to fit the specs of this instrument. So my dilemma is really whether to go with a half-decent, relatively inexpensive case that I tear up a bit (but I think I can make it work) or to bite the bullet and invest in an expensive high-quality case that will be custom made for this mandolin.

    I love the Café, and so much appreciate you all taking the time to offer your thoughts! So great!

    Thanks,
    Thane

  22. #13

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    AlanN, thanks! It sounds great. I LOVE it, *and* it's fairly newly acquired, so I'm still learning how to play it. It's got a great rich woody tone, a lot of depth, and it projects powerfully without being shrill. It plays really easily. My "complaints" are few: I've gotten used to a radius fret board, so in a perfect world, I think that would be my preference (this one is flat); I'd love to have a little more dexterity around the highest part of the fret board which an F-style would better allow; and I could use a touch more projection from the E-strings (though actually, when mic'd, the greater projection from the lower string courses balances out what comes through in the sound mix when I'm playing up and down the range of the instrument). The mandolin has enough sustain and volume that when it gets humming in a bluegrass setting, I'm still learning to control the tone. In less rowdy ensembles, like jazz or classical, when I can start with a lighter touch and work the dynamics, it's just a dream. Thanks for asking!

  23. #14
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    From Thane - "I really want a hard shell case,...". Why is that so important ?. The majority of good cases are 'hard shelled',but the Travelites aren't 'soft'. They're very rigid,but padded on the outside underneath a hellishly tough Ballistic Nylon outer covering. Their biggest asset is that they are light,but they're also totally capable of protecting any mandolin unless it's put under extreme pressure. As i said previously - ALL cases should be used with care. However,your use of a Tonegard & your extra high arm rest might rule a Travelite out,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Thane,
    Nice Nugget! Do you mind me asking why you went with such a high positioned armrest? I like using an armrest and find that it positions my arm so that I don't make pick or finger contact with the soundboard thus not requiring a pickguard. Like you, I find my preference for a radius rather than a flat fretboard.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  25. #16

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Hi Jim. Great to hear from you! With this particular mandolin, I find that the sweet spot for picking is just at the end of the fret board, and it makes a notable difference in tone. In addition, the arch on the top is pretty high, so I'm finding that I'm extending my right hand a little higher up the length of the strings than usual, and with the height of the saddle, I was having a hard time not damping the strings with the heel of my palm when I pick. The modified arm rest I have on there now may be a bit too extreme (though the side-on picture I posted above exaggerates its height); I'm going to experiment with a modification that isn't quite as high.

    I haven't used a pick guard before, and was thinking of removing it--I don't generally make pick or finger contact with the soundboard when I play either. However, it's such a beautiful pick guard, I thought I would give it a real shot before deciding to remove it.

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  27. #17
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    +1 for the value of the Travelite. The construction is better than the Calton for absorbing dynamic energy and protecting the contents of the case. The rigid build of the fiberglass offers more external protection against most breaks and punctures, but will transmit more of the dynamic energy of a fall or contact to the instrument. Think of the difference between your basic '68 Charger and its frame vs. a 2018 Optima and how it absorbs a crash.
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  29. #18
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    having done fiber glass, within that is 2 different ways to put the fiber in..

    a chopper gun can spray in strands.. that can make it quick..

    getting the bubbles out of the resin is possible to use a plastic bag and a vacuum pump.

    another way to speed up production ..





    Heard of some ABS if the case gets hot, wanting to go back to being the flat sheet it was made in,
    or at least rippling..

    Guitar cases in the hot sun, in a car will do that... one of the light weight cases from Martin is ABS plastic shell.





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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Greenspoon View Post
    +1 for the value of the Travelite. The construction is better than the Calton for absorbing dynamic energy and protecting the contents of the case. The rigid build of the fiberglass offers more external protection against most breaks and punctures, but will transmit more of the dynamic energy of a fall or contact to the instrument. Think of the difference between your basic '68 Charger and its frame vs. a 2018 Optima and how it absorbs a crash.
    You forgot to mention CRUSH PROTECTION under static (or quasi-static) loads! In addition to protecting better against breaks and punctures, hardshell fiberglass and carbon-fiber composite cases offer significantly better protection against crushing forces, such as those due to being compressed by other items placed in a baggage hold, or when placed the bottom of a heavy stack of things, or accidentally run over, and so on. Many of us prefer to travel with hardshell cases for precisely this reason.

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  32. #20
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    +1 for Hiscox

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    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Cases, IMHO, are like every other mandolin accessory, and need to be evaluated based on individual needs. My instrument never travels anywhere aside from beside me in the car. As such, I’m going back to carrying it in a gig bag.

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  36. #22
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    You forgot to mention CRUSH PROTECTION under static (or quasi-static) loads! In addition to protecting better against breaks and punctures, hardshell fiberglass and carbon-fiber composite cases offer significantly better protection against crushing forces, such as those due to being compressed by other items placed in a baggage hold, or when placed the bottom of a heavy stack of things, or accidentally run over, and so on. Many of us prefer to travel with hardshell cases for precisely this reason.
    +1...

    I've been sold on Calton ever since that Cafe member's mando fell out of his rental car in Santa Monica, CA and it was recovered in its Calton having been run over by a vehicle(s), mandolin inside undamaged. That crazy episode hooked me for life...YMMV
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  38. #23

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bowsman View Post
    Cases, IMHO, are like every other mandolin accessory, and need to be evaluated based on individual needs. My instrument never travels anywhere aside from beside me in the car. As such, I’m going back to carrying it in a gig bag.
    What if you drive off a cliff or something?
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  39. #24

    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    Cases are an exercise in compromise. A gig bag is light and will keep your mandolin damage free most of the time. in a Calton, a mandolin will survive the bottom of an airplane cargo hold or a UPS conveyor belt drop. So how lucky do you want to hope to be? Buy accordingly.
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  40. #25
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinion on Calton Case vs. Gator?

    So Thane:

    It's been 7 months since your last post... I'd ask what's in your wallet, but that's a commercial. So what wallet does your Nugget occupy?

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