If you're a guitar player who is looking at buying a specialty case to use as part of a performance, such as a coffin case for gigs with a band that puts on horror-themed shows, you have to be aware of some quirks that coffin cases bring. Many of these cases are well-made—that's not the issue—but the odd shape can be a benefit or detriment, depending on the guitar you play and the places you take it. Here are three things to think about when looking for coffin cases.
The coffin case shape is a lot wider in the portion that holds the body of the guitar, but that also means that the tip of the body section is narrower. Always bring either your guitar or the exact measurements for your guitar to the shop with you when you look for a case. If you're buying the case online, look for the measurements for the interior holding area—not the whole size of the case itself—to ensure that your guitar will fit. Length can be a real issue, especially if you have a non-standard-sized guitar that is longer than normal or that has an odd body shape. You see that last one a lot on some electric guitars meant for heavy metal performances where the body has pointed edges.
Any guitar case that's going to be flown somewhere, whether you check the case or try to carry it with you, has to be strong enough to deal with the bumps and bruises of travel. Plus, it has to be lockable. Look for cases that have metal reinforcements along the edges and corners (these are sometimes called hardware cases), look for something called ATA certification, and use TSA-approved locks to keep the case closed. If you use other locks, the TSA can break those open to inspect the guitar case contents, and that can leave your guitar unprotected against theft for the rest of the trip.
Between the shape of the case and the shape of your guitar, you may end up with a lot more storage space for picks and other accessories, or you could find you have very little storage at all. Find out where the storage compartments are located within the case and see whether the shape of your guitar allows you to add more storage. Being able to keep all of your picks, tuning accessories, extra strings, and so on with your guitar is essential.
If you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact the companies that manufacture these cases to ask questions. The last thing they want is a return from an unhappy customer, so you'll be able to find out dimensions, ATA certification, and other factors easily.