1. #1

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    There have been a bunch of threads over the years where people have been asking for recommendations for gig bags for 17" archtops, and the options are pretty slim (basically Glen Cronkhite and Probag were the main recommendations).

    But as I mentioned from in the Winter NAMM 2019 thread, I found out Mono was going to be making a Jumbo/17" Archtop, and I've been waiting for it to become available ever since. They finally "officially" announced it and added the model to their website about a month ago. I happened to have some amazon gift cards piled up, and found the bag on Amazon for $219 (and free shipping with prime) instead of $279 from Mono. Annoyingly, they weren't in stock yet, but I figured I'd get my order in now.

    Well, instead of shipping in August or maybe even September as it was indicating, I got an email saying at the beginning of the week that it would arrive by Thursday, which was a pleasant surprise. Of course, they managed to mess it up somehow, and so the thing didn't ship out until midnight on Thursday, and thus arrived Friday, but I'll let it slide. But even a day late was more than a month ahead of schedule....

    So, how is the bag? It's great. It's really friggin' great.

    I'm personally a really huge fan of the new generation "semi rigid" gig bags, i.e. the Mono M-80 and the Reunion Blues Continental Series. They're way better than the Levy's CM20J bag that I used for years. I've got two RB Continental Bags (a "Concert" Size which magically fits my 16" ES-150 but is a hair too short to fit my 16" 1932 L-5, and a "Dreadnaught" Size which fits either comfortably, but not my 17" 1939 L-5 (or the 1935 L-12 I used to have)), and I'm really pleased with them. I've used them for basically any non-fly-out gig I've done since I've had them. But of course, RB still hasn't made a bag for a 17" guitar.

    I actually hassled both RB and Mono at the 2018 Winter NAMM show about a Jumbo/17" bag, and Mono pulled through.

    So, check out the bag:
    Mono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6931-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6929-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6936-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6935-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6937-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6934-jpgMono M80-JA - New Jumbo/17" Sized Gig Bag-img_6932-jpg

    Based on the pictures, I think you can see that it would easily fit a 17" vintage Epiphone (which were always a bit more than 17") easily.
    The exterior frame has parts that are rigid and reinforced to prevent crushing and to spread out shock. The interior is thoroughly padded and has a nice gap for the end pin. There is a neck block with a velcro locking strap to prevent headstock breakage. There are two well designed pockets, a smaller one near the headstock, and a bigger one over the main part of the body, which comes with a loop for cable storage. The backpack straps can be unlatched at the bottom, and then tucked in - so you can use one, or both, or hide them.

    How does it compare to my Reunion Blues Bags? Well, I first have to say that my RB bags are essentially v.1 and v.2 of the Continental line and they're already on to a v.3 (the Voyager Continental or whatever), and it looks like they have aped a couple of the features of the Mono bag. So, for now I'll merely compare to what I have on hand, and mention where I think they may have changed.

    The first thing is that the RB bag is clearly heavier and bulkier, but that also is because its padding is even thicker. The Mono bag is less heavy, and less bulky, and the padding does look a little bit thinner. That said, I know some have complained about the RB bag's bulk, and the Mono definitely seems more svelte. Having taken the checked it out in persona and even taken the Mono to gig already, I don't really think it's meaningfully less protective. And from what I've read the newest version of the RB bags is a bit less bulky. Lastly, the older RB bags I have don't have a void for the end pin, but the newest version does.

    The backpack straps of the Mono have the guitar sit lower on your back than the old RB ones. I recall seeing reviews complaining about the RB bags being so tall on one's back that you might worry about hitting the door frame. I never had quite that problem, but it can be annoying with the hatchback on my car. That said, I think the newer RB bags have addressed that, and importantly, although it sits lower, I don't think the Mono is going to be any better with my particular car/issue. Both bags have very comfortable straps, and both have the ability to hide them, or use one or the other or both.

    I think the biggest meaningful difference is the accessory pouches, and here I think the Mono case the clear advantage over the older RB bags. The RB pouches both seem small, and "tight". I'm often concerned about putting much in the pouch that sits over the top of the guitar because I really want to avoid putting any pressure down on the top. The pocket only extends a little bit away from the body, and although it's long and tall, it's not "deep". So, it'll easily fit a file folder of 8.5x11" sheet music, but the 2.5" thick case for my DPA 4099 mic is just too bulky to fit comfortably. Oh, and the neck/headstock pocket is barely able to fit some business cards or some sunglasses.

    The Mono pouches are way more useful. The headstock one is quite big, and it's well organized. It would easily fit several packs of strings, along with pens/pencils, capos, slides, and has a lanyard for keys. The body one is similarly tall and wide, but extends farther away from the case.

    I have to say, I think both the Mono and the older RB bags I have are both great, and many of the differences come down to personal preference. The RB bags are a bit heavier/bulkier and have a bit more padding/armoring - the Mono bags are just a little bit lighter and leaner, and have way more useful pocket designs. Although I was leaning toward the RB bags, I think the Mono may be the better choice anyway. I'm certainly not going to replace my existing RB bags, but if something happened to one of them, I might look at the Dread-size M80 instead next time.

    For now, the new Jumbo/17" sized M80 is a really fantastic gig bag - it's semi-rigid frame, ample padding, neck block and end pin void are going to be able to deal with almost any normal bump or shock. And finally an awesome, non-custom order, reasonably priced option for a 17" guitar!
    Jonathan Stout
    www.campusfive.com/swingguitarblog
    My new solo acoustic archtop CD, "Pick It and Play" is available NOW!
    Preview and pre-sales at jonathanstout.bandcamp.com

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  3. #2

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    Glad Mono came through. I added my voice to the call for a 17" Jumbo over the years. Wrote to them once a year starting in 2012. That one looks big enough for a Super 400 with the black padding taken out. It is a Two-fer.

    It looks like a Cronkhite gigbag opened up. Surprised there isn't The Boot. No doubt it would have added 2 pounds to the weight.

    As an aside, I don't really use the pockets in a case or gigbag for anything except for a soft clean towel. I have a separate bag for all that stuff as, like most members here, I have a few guitars and storing essentials in pockets means losing track of them. Also, they throw off the balance of the gigbag.

    Great review. I hope Reunion Blues rises to Mono's challenge as I have been hassling them for some years now. I much prefer RB to Mono as I like a smooth non-quilted appearance. But I like Mono's rubber Boot.

    NB Mono has The Tick accessory pouch for stuff that won't fit in the gigbag pouch.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  4. #3

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    I was just looking at those but I looked at the dimensions and I think they list the depth at 5” which I thought too shallow to work for an archtop. Would you feel comfortable with your ‘39 in there with a DeArmond control box still attached?