The Les Paul is one of the world’s most popular guitars and if you’re lucky enough to own one, you should definitely be using a sturdy case for transport. And potentially even just for home storage. One of the signature features of the Les Paul is the set neck, so unlike a Stratocaster for example, there are no simple repairs should you drop and crack yours.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’re reviewing the Top 5 Cases for Les Paul Guitars. When reviewing the cases, we were looking for strength and rigidity, ease of use, storage, weight, security, design, and comfort.
- Our Top 3
- Individual Reviews
- SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case – Our Top Pick
- Epiphone Epilite Soft Case – Best Budget
- Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case – Editor’s Choice
- Gator ATA Molded Guitar Case
- Gator Economy Wood Case
- How to Choose The Right Case For You
- Final Thoughts
Our Top 3
The SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case was our Top Pick. This is an American-made case that’s engineered to outlive the guitar itself. Built to Mil-Spec standards, this case offers incredible protection, tons of storage space, and an ergonomic carry handle.
If you’re looking for the Best Value, take a look at the Epiphone Epilite Soft Case. This is a semi-rigid, or hybrid, case that blends the internal padding of a hard case with the flexible, lightweight exterior of a gig bag. It’s ideal for carrying for long periods of time, it’s well-made, and very inexpensive.
Players on the lookout for the very best Les Paul case no matter the cost, absolutely have to check out the Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case, the case that won our Editor’s Choice award. It looks amazing and is ready to complement your vintage or relic’d Les Paul while offering superb protection at the same time.
SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case – Our Top Pick
A full-featured guitar case for the guitarist on the move.
The SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case was extremely impressive during testing. As a brand, SKB makes a huge number of cases for many different uses, including photo and video, sports, general industrial use, military equipment, and of course musical instruments. This is a trusted manufacturer that puts a lot of time and effort into R&D, so you know you’re getting a great case every time. This is particularly evident with this particular case.
As far as form factor goes, the 3i-4214-56 iSeries is a plain black rectangular case. It’s a very discreet model that doesn’t draw attention to what’s inside, so this is a great choice if you’re concerned about the security of your guitar.
The main latch is great quality. It’s sturdy, it opens and closes smoothly, and having a TSA lock built right in really helps you feel confident your gear will be secure when traveling by air. If you’re looking for even more security, there are an additional 6 padlock securing points.
We loved the inside of the case. It’s lined with a plush grey/black velour that looks and feels great, and will keep the finish of your Les Paul in top condition. The interior is molded to fit almost any Les Paul. For fitment, there are a few notable exceptions. In particular, a ’61 Les Paul won’t fit this case.
If you’re looking for a case for a Les Paul-style guitar, you may want to double check the positioning of the toggle switch on your instrument before purchase. The cavity for the pickup selector is lined up for Gibson and Epiphone spec, which could cause problems if yours doesn’t match. Another thoughtful design element we found was the double selector cavities, making it suitable for both lefty and standard guitars.
Because of the rectangular shape, SKB has left a lot of room inside the case for accessories and case candy (if you actually want to keep it in the case). And because the top of the case meets the bottom so perfectly, we found that items didn’t move around during transport.
Of course, we also loved having wheels built into the case. It’s not the most lightweight option out there and being a hard case, there aren’t any backpack straps, so having wheels makes a big difference.
Verdict: The SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case is sturdy, protective, and waterproof to boot. It snugly holds a Les Paul and inspires confidence that your guitar will get wherever you’re going in one piece.
Epiphone Epilite Soft Case – Best Budget
A lightweight and hard-wearing gig bag to fit any budget.
The Epiphone Epilite Soft Case is a solid option for the budget-conscious shopper. Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson and as such, are the only brand other than Gibson to be officially licensed to make models like the Les Paul. Because of their status as a Gibson-family brand, the accessories they make are also guaranteed to be a perfect fit for whichever Gibson or Epiphone guitar they’re designed for.
This is a semi-rigid gig bag, meaning it’s made to look (and perform) like a gig bag, but with some of the added protection you’d find in a hard case. We found that it was lightweight and made with quality materials. With any soft-sided case, the zipper is always our biggest concern, but the Epilite is fitted with a solid and robust zipper that shouldn’t let you down.
The interior is molded to specifically fit a Les Paul, although perhaps a little more loosely than some of the hard cases on offer. It does offer some additional security in the form of a neck retainer. The inside of the case is lined in a black plush velvety velour and built into the neck channel is a support that’s designed to reduce the risk of headstock breaks – an issue that plagues dropped Les Pauls.
The exterior of this case is finished in a hard-wearing nylon. It looks great in black and grey, and features a large vintage-style Epiphone logo on the front. All of the storage for accessories on this case are in the large outside pocket.
We found the backpack straps to be especially comfortable, even for extended periods. Even the centrally positioned carry handle is padded and easy to grip.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a great case, but you don’t want to spend too much, the Epiphone Epilite Soft Case is a stellar option. In fact, it’s very similar to the soft cases that come with new Gibson models. Even if housing a Gibson or other Les Paul style guitar rather than an Epiphone, it will still perform just as well at a fraction of the cost of a Gibson-branded equivalent.
Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case – Editor’s Choice
Possibly the finest Les Paul case ever made.
Our absolute favorite Les Paul case was the Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case in hand-aged brown. If you’re a fan of vintage, NOS, or relic’d guitars, you’re going to love this case. Just like Gibson’s Murphy Lab instruments, this case has been hand aged to look just like a vintage case that’s seen years of use and has countless stories to tell. The only difference? It’s brand new.
We were absolutely stunned by the finish and overall aesthetic of this case. The exterior is beautifully authentic, with the aged brown tolex, the patina on the latches, and the wear on the leather-wrapped carrying handle. This case is absolutely designed to turn heads.
From a practicality standpoint, it’s as well made as any other authentic Gibson Accessories case. The top, bottom, and sides are all sturdy and don’t flex excessively. On the base, there are brass studs to protect the tolex from scrapes and other damage.
While the latches appear rusty and worn, they still operated perfectly. They moved with ease and still locked securely. We had no issues with any slippage and had full confidence there would be no unfortunate accidents caused by failing latches. The latch directly beneath the handle also features a lock to prevent unauthorized access.
On the interior, we found a soft, plush velvet lining in a classic red hue. The interior isn’t aged in the same way as the outside of the case, but it does faithfully replicate the vintage design as found on the original OEM Les Paul hard cases.
As we expected from Gibson’s top-of-the-line case, the fit was perfect. Snug enough to ensure stable transport, but left us enough room to get a guitar in and out without having to wrestle with it. The neck support was superb, with a custom fit cutaway, a platform for the neck to rest on, and a tapered cavity for the headstock to rest within. Under the neck, there’s a flap that reveals a small storage compartment. We were able to fit a couple of packs of strings, a capo, a tuner and a cable without issue.
Verdict: If you want style and substance, there’s no finer case than the Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case. This is relic’d using Gibson’s proprietary (and very secret) aging process that recreates the natural aging process in an organic way, without causing structural damage to the case. It’s comfortable to carry and provides safety and security for your most precious guitars.
A great case for the gigging musician.
If you’re looking for something robust and travel-ready, but don’t like the idea of a rectangular case, take a look at the Gator ATA Molded Guitar Case for single cutaway guitars. Gator makes cases for all scenarios and all budgets, but when it comes to Les Paul specific models, we found this is their best offering.
This Gator case is guitar-shaped and made from a molded polyethylene shell. This gives it extraordinary structural rigidity, while retaining enough flex to avoid breaking when stressed or under impact.
The latches were among the best of any of the models we reviewed. They were chunky and easy to operate, even with a single hand. The central latch features a TSA-approved lock, so if you’re brave enough to check your guitar when flying, security can inspect the contents without having to damage your case.
The interior is lined in plush black velour and is molded to fit almost any single-cut guitar. So your Les Paul, PRS single-cut, ESP EC model, or other single-cut guitar should fit well. Our least favorite thing about this case was the fabric ‘hinges’. They’re made of a super sturdy nylon webbing, so we have no concerns about them tearing or otherwise coming apart, but they did have a tendency to get pinched between the top and bottom of the case when closing, which can interfere with latching properly.
There is ample neck support, which should help to prevent any kind of breaks during transport. Beneath the neck channel is a small compartment accessed by a pull tab. We found it to be a bit smaller than the compartment in the Gibson Accessories case. It’s still useful, but could be larger.
The carry handle is made from the same polyethylene plastic as the shell, but features a soft rubber grip on the bottom, which really improves overall comfort when carrying this case for extended periods.
Verdict: The Gator ATA Molded Guitar Case is a great option if you’re looking for a long haul travel-ready case and you’re working on a tighter budget. It’s sturdy, protective, and is compatible with a wider range of guitars than a case purely designed for a Les Paul from Gibson or Epiphone.
A solid choice for storage and short distance travel.
For players who prefer hard-sided cases to gig bags, but don’t necessarily need something that’s ready for international travel, the Gator Economy Wood Case for single cutaways is a great choice. It’s as basic as hard cases get, but is made with familiar Gator quality.
The Economy Wood Case is a slimline hard-sided case made the traditional way using wood wrapped in tolex. It has a classic Les Paul silhouette and thanks to the minimalist design, we found it takes up very little space, making it a particularly useful option if you’re storing a guitar.
Everything about this case is basic, right down to the latches. They’re a classic design and finished in chrome-plated steel. They look great and the central latch features a lock and key to keep everything inside safe and secure.
The interior is plush and padded, and as with the other cases we’ve looked at, it’s finished in a soft velour to avoid causing damage to guitar finishes. It’s molded to accommodate most single-cut guitars, so like the Gator ATA, this case is suitable for a range of Les Pauls and Les Paul style instruments, irrespective of brand. There was plenty of neck support and an ample internal storage compartment.
One area that could really be improved with this case is the handle. We found it to be well-made, but very thin and lacking in padding. Because of the thin, unpadded handle, combined with the fact that this case is heavier than the others due to its plywood construction, we found it was quite uncomfortable to carry for extended periods (especially with an 11 pound Les Paul onboard!).
Verdict: This Gator Economy Wood Case is worth considering especially for players who aren’t in the market for a case with all the bells and whistles, and just need a sturdy and safe place to store their guitars at home or to keep them safe for short transits to gigs or practice.
How to Choose The Right Case For You
As with most accessories, there are a few things to look out for when choosing the best Les Paul case for your needs:
When trying to git your guitar into a van, tour bus, closet, or the overhead bin of a plane, you’ll need to make sure the case dimensions don’t exceed the available space (or the maximum allowable space in the case of air travel). Some cases offer less padding in order to provide a more slimline size. Others profile the guitar exactly, ultimately reducing wasted volume. Others still are coffin-style, or rectangular, which offers the most interior space, but also occupies the most cargo space.
If you need to keep any accessories in your case, pay particular attention to the size of the storage compartments (if available). In hard cases, they are most often located in the channel for the guitar’s neck, and double up as neck support. Gig bags and hybrid cases have exterior pockets, which offer more room than the average hard case. Rectangular cases will also typically offer significant storage space on the inside of the case.
The neck of any guitar is usually its weakest point, but this is especially true on the Les Paul, a guitar which is particularly prone to headstock breaks due to the downward rake of the headstock. A good case will have rigid support beneath the neck to cradle it and protect it from the type of shock that could potentially cause breaks, while still leaving a cavity for the headstock to rest in without contacting the sides of the case.
Prevention of Movement
Within the case, your guitar should remain as still as possible. The more it moves inside the case, the greater the opportunity for damage, even with a hard case. The best cases for Les Pauls snugly fit the guitar’s contours while still leaving room to get fingertips behind it for safe removal. Extra points to cases that feature some kind of strap over the body or neck to prevent the guitar from accidentally falling out if the case is opened at the wrong angle.
Even if your Les Paul isn’t worth a lot of money, there’s a good chance it has irreplaceable sentimental value. The best Les Paul cases should feature at least one locking latch to prevent unauthorized access to the guitar. If you plan to fly internationally with your guitar, it’s always a good idea to get a case with TSA (Transport Security Administration) approved locks. These locks can be opened with a master key held by TSA agents. If your lock isn’t TSA approved and they choose to inspect your case, they will use whatever force necessary to open the case, up to and including destruction.
Weight and Portability
If you take your guitar to lessons or use public transport and carry it with you, you should be looking for a Les Paul case with good ergonomics and low weight. It should be easy and comfortable to carry while still offering protection from knocks and bumps along the way. Hybrid cases often come with backpack straps, which offer the ultimate in portability. Some cases even come with wheels for easy transport. Heavy cases with basic handles are fine for short trips from the van to the venue, but can quickly become tiresome on a long haul.
There is a surprising amount of variety in the world of guitar cases for Les Pauls. From these top cases, there’s a good chance you’ve found something that will suit your particular needs perfectly.
To recap, our Top Pick was the SKB 3i-4214-56 iSeries Waterproof Les Paul Guitar Case – it offers superb protection, and the fact that it’s waterproof offers great reassurance that your guitar is well-protected. Our Best Value was the Epiphone Epilite Soft Case, a hybrid case that offers pretty much all of the benefits of the morse expensive Gibson version at a fraction of the price. For the ultimate in style and protection for your Les Paul, give your consideration to our Editor’s Choice, the Gibson Accessories Historic Replica Les Paul Case.