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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Mono Cases

Review by Jake Wolf
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The MONO Case Company may be a newcomer to the bass bag market, but it’s easy to see that they’ve hit the ground running.  I caught up with them at Winter NAMM and their booth was buzzing with players, eager to check out their stylish and hip looking gig bags.

As I stepped into the booth, it became obvious to me that the beauty of these bags is not just skin deep.  Smart upgrades like steel riveted handles, internal ABS plastic reinforcement, waterproof external coating, and stowable carrying straps separate the mono bags from the hordes of sufficient, yet not entirely exceptional, gig bags.

M80 single bag

The M80 single bag has a durable nylon exterior that is stylishly stitched and baffled like many of MONO’s products.  The bag itself is fairly compact and dense, weighing in at 5.75lbs, fairly light compared to similar bags.  It has some rigidity to its frame, courtesy of smartly placed ABS plastic reinforcements, which offer more protection of the ends than your average gig bag.

With a bass inside, it feels solid and snug, just the right amount of extra padding in the right places: mostly the bottom and the top. MONO cases feature a Velcro neckbrace that cradles the bass’s neck and holds it snugly in place, minimizing shifting inside the bag.  Plush velour style lining trims out the interior.  The accessory pockets on the outside are sufficient, but I personally would like to see a little more room for extra accessories.  In the main pocket I was able to fit two 12′ cables, a tuner and a strap, but little else. The main pocket also has a built in organizer for pens and paper, similar to what you’d see in a school type backpack.  In addition, there is a small “hidden” accessory pocket at the top of the case, well suited for a small tool kit, or other little items.  MONO did well with their backpack straps, they are slim and low profile, but feel very comfortable and carry the weight well.  I received many a look and compliment on the Mono case from other musicians, its uptown styling and unique appearance seemed to make quite an impression.

M80 Dual Bag

MONO also sent along their M80 Dual bag, which is very similar to the single, except for the obvious fact that it holds two electric basses.  I found it to be mostly identical to the single bag, except the fit is a little different.  Overall it’s roomier, offering some extra space inside to accommodate the bulge of carrying two basses.  One mentionable difference is the thicker, more padded backpack straps on the Dual, they smartly made them a bit sturdier to accommodate for the extra weight.  The most unique feature about the Dual, however, is the Z form™ zipper system.  Whereas most double bags have one or two zippers on one side that allow access to the interior with a thick divider separating two compartments, the mono utilizes two separate zippered compartments, accessed on either side of the case.  This is a cool feature, and has some advantages, such as your basses being totally isolated from one another.  At first I found it a little awkward, but quickly adapted to its design.  It’s a cool idea, and certainly unique.  In general, the Dual does its job splendidly, its thick padding, high quality materials and metro looks earning mega brownie points with all those who inspected it.

Mono Producer bag

MONO was kind enough to send along their producer bag at my request.  The producer has the unmistakably cool exterior that all mono products share.  Essentially a messenger style bag designed to help electronic musicians organize and protect their DJ gear (like external hard drives, headphones, etc) I took one look at the producer bag and immediately saw its value for modern day bassists.  Inside it has a laptop sleeve, and a main compartment large enough for a pile of cables.  The outside of the bag is studded with 4 large accessory pockets, perfect for organizing and safeguarding your DI, an effect or two, some tools, and whatever other small items are gig bound.  To me, this is much preferable to throwing all your expensive accessories in a main compartment of a bag or case, all your nice bass toys tumbling together like a pile of river rocks to and from your gig.  The only thing I wish is that the main compartment was a tad roomier.  Front to back, I’d say (for a frame of reference) that it’s big enough for two college text books, but not much more.   I used the producer for the purpose of organizing all my electronic stuff for a gig and it worked great.  There was just enough room for my laptop, some cables, pedals, and tools…..even my leftover Indian food!

Overall I like the MONO products very much. The M80 single is near the top of my short list for gig bags due to its great padding and protection, along with its sleek profile, exceptional quality, and cool styling.  I’d like to see slightly larger main pockets on the outside of the bags, but otherwise I can’t say there is much I would do to improve on their smart design.  The single and the double cost $189 and $289 respectively, while the producer bag runs $139.

More info can be found at MONO’s website: monocase.com

Jake Wolf welcomes your comments and questions… drop him a line

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