Buying Imported Cases – Weighing Out The Pros & Cons
First, you should ask yourself what you’ll be doing with your shiny new case. Will you be traveling? Will it be flown on a plane, shipped across the country, or used more than 1-2 times a month? If so, purchasing a cheap case purely based on the price would be like setting your hard-earned money ablaze.
- The wood that is used may show the same thickness as a quality case in the product specs, but how many layers are used in the plywood and where was the wood sourced?
Most Chinese manufacturers use low quality recycled mixed wood which contains many voids and separations within its construction. The wood is also prone to bowing and warping. It’s no secret that the quality is much lower, and therefore a simple collision with something while being loaded into a truck or cargo hold could easily break off a caster or put a nice (not so) little hole through a panel – potentially damaging your valuable equipment and leaving it exposed to the elements.
Encore A&S cases use only the highest quality American Douglas Fir and European birch woods in their construction, which are much stronger and use more layers per sheet of plywood. Speaking of the elements, you may also want to look at what material their wood is laminated with. Is it the same high-quality fiberglass or phenolic resin used in a more expensive case? Chances are, it’s not. It’s probably as thin as possible and a low-quality plastic of some sort. The low-quality plastic, Tolex, & PVC coatings are thin and easily removed. In fact, they often delaminate on their own over time. If the exterior finish wears away with use, the wood will be exposed to the elements and won’t last very long.
- The case hardware used is also made as cheaply as possible. This results in corners that are easily bent or broken off, casters that stop swiveling or rolling, rivets that mysteriously disappear, handles that simply break off when there’s any substantial weight in the case, and a multitude of other potential issues.
- Cheap cases simply fall apart with moderate to heavy use. They aren’t designed for professionals that expect a high level of quality from their flight cases. They are designed to appeal to the lowest bidder – which brings me to the positives of inexpensive cases.
If you’re a weekend DJ/musician/photographer or someone that doesn’t plan to store expensive gear in your new flight case, the imported cases are a viable option. The pricing is better than any quality case on the market, and it is a hard deal to pass on. Just keep in mind that any quality product isn’t cheap, and the money you’ll save now will result in diminished quality – potentially resulting in expensive repairs (which can’t be done in some cases) or a new higher quality case in the long run.
Inexpensive cases are inexpensive for a reason. Every corner that can be cut, will be. That much is a guarantee. Nobody decides to sell their Porsche or their mansion in the hills for anything less than what it is worth. The same applies to manufactured goods. The manufacturing facilities are out to make money, and at the prices they’re selling their cases for, they still need to make a profit. In an industry where margins are already small, it’s almost frightening to think about how much money they’re really spending to manufacture a case.
Here are a couple of ways to easily spot an imported case:
- Chromed Hardware – The most blatant giveaway is usually the finish on the case’s corners. Manufacturers of imported cases (usually from China and other areas near the ocean) have to worry about corrosion on metal hardware. This is why you’ll usually find chromed corners instead of zinc plated ones. They can hide the quality of the metal underneath shiny (thin) layer of chrome.
- Thin, Brittle Metal – If you have a keen eye, you’ll notice that the metal is also thinner and of a smaller gauge than U.S. made cases. Thinner metal is easily dented, cracked, or broken when trusted to handle the weight of a fully loaded case – especially when the quality of the metal used is the cheapest metal available.
- The Finish – A good percentage of imported cases are laminated with Tolex or PVC. These coatings are easily scratched off and will leave your case exposed to the elements.
- The Obvious – Most differences are not visible to the untrained eye, except for one. The price. Simply put, if the price of the case seems too good to be true, it is.
If you are a professional and use expensive equipment, there’s really only one option, and that is a quality case. The peace of mind in knowing that your equipment will show up to the gig safely and securely is priceless – especially when you realize that Encore A&S cases are built to last a lifetime, and you probably won’t need to do a thing other than a small repair or adjustment after years of use. You won’t have to frantically look for another case to replace your broken one in the middle of your travels – you’ll be able to focus on the task at hand and let your case do the job it was designed for.
If you have any questions regarding the differences between imported vs American cases, or if you would like to inquire about our products, please give us a call at 818.768.8803, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or live chat with a Product Specialist on our website.