About this project
Thank you for checking out our very first Kickstarter project! I believe this product is nothing short of revolutionary for guitar and bass players!
The GigBlade is a patent-pending guitar bag concept that's over two years in the making. As a company that focuses on innovation in utility gear for musicians and photographers, we study how they carry their valuable gear. Over the last couple of years we've pondered this question: What would be the most ideal way to carry a guitar? It's tall and flat, in some ways fragile, and very unbalanced when it comes to how the weight is distributed.
What people use today:
Hard shell cases are the traditional, "old school" solution. Great protection for travel, but bulky, heavy and not very comfortable to lug around. Soft gig bags on the other hand are typically in a backpack or sling configuration, much more comfortable to carry around your body, constructed with lighter modern materials, but sacrifice some protection for comfort. Hybrid gig bags combine some of the protective benefits of hard cases with the comfort of soft bags, so these have been a popular choice for modern musicians.
Lately, most case companies have focused on pockets, improving protection, adding bells and whistles, etc.. While those are all great, we challenged ourselves, "Why not focus on what matters the most in a gig bag, which is improving on how the bag is carried?"
We identified these issues with current gig bags in the market:
- Worn too low, the bottom of the bag hits the back of your legs while you walk. Pretty annoying really.
- Worn too high, the top of the case sticks out over your head, hitting low doorways, bus doors, van/SUV hatches, etc., risking damaging the neck of the instrument. Heavier guitars can also make you feel off-balance because of the center of gravity being too high.
Also, we've noticed that more and more people pretty much wear these bags on one shoulder - It's quicker to put on and they're used to it, like their backpacks. But the problem becomes that the bag wasn't made to be worn that way, so it still sits too high, rests awkwardly at a weird angle, and is just generally not very comfortable.
GigBlade is the solution! :-)
By simply re-designing the case into a side-carry bag, all these problems are solved. You can now enjoy these key benefits:
- Super-fast to slip over one shoulder and you're off
- The top never sticks out over your head so you don't hit doorways
- Designed to stay on your side, so you can walk naturally without bouncing on the back of your legs
- Center of gravity is lower so you don't feel like you're getting pulled off-balance
- Designed symmetrically to be worn on either left or right shoulder. It has several other carrying options including a quiver-style sling, as a cross-back sling, and as a traditional backpack style (with optional 2nd strap).
What we've done so far:
First, I tried to figure out the most natural and relaxed way to carry a guitar without a case while walking. I used a bass guitar as the subject as it's a heavier and larger instrument. I held it in front of me, put it on my shoulder, carried it behind me.. None worked too well and it always got in the way. Then I figured out that having it stay on my side with the neck pointing behind me kept my arms relaxed, the bass didn't protrude above my head, and the heavy body part stayed closer to the ground and I can walk more comfortably.
With the help of my industrial designer, Peter, we built a basic structure out of cardboard and foam, slipped a guitar inside and just walked around to prove the concept, and so far so good!
Peter worked on the basic concept drawings and we submitted our patent.
We then prepped an existing gig bag we had for surgery! We cut out the side, removed and relocated one of the backpack straps, and put everything together with duck tape. Again, things worked and felt great!
Next step was super fun, which was sketching out what the product could look like! We wanted the shape to be formed around the user, and keep things streamlined and thin. The unique top pocket shape came from this design brainstorm, which proved to be a handy location for smaller items like tuners, pedals, picks, in-ear monitors, spare batteries and tools.
Peter and I started discussing access to the guitar: I personally prefer the faster way of holding my gig bag upright while taking out my guitar, but being able to lay the case down flat and having full access to the guitar proved to also be valuable. So we decided to do both!
Next, we took several guitars and basses we have in the office, laid them out on paper and traced around them, giving us the ideal sizing, spacing, and storage locations around the guitar and user. Peter took my sketches to CAD and scaled things to the dimensions we decided.
Next step was to create a full-scale model. We took the CAD outlines and cut out the panels out of 1/2" medium density foam, then taped everything together. This model even had a hinge made of duck tape to simulate the full clamshell lid. We then riveted on a single strap and did our usability testing with a guitar inside. Again, it passed with flying colors!
Afterwards, we went back and refined the shape to flow better, printed out several line drawings, and began our color scheme and aesthetics study. We wanted the GigBlade to have a sleek look, have every part be functional, and have a design and branding that works for both vertical and horizontal orientations. Pockets had to work well in either position and not have the contents accidentally spill out. We wanted to be able to fit a laptop in the main pockets without adding too much bulk. And I wanted to better way to store my guitar strap (especially nice leather straps!) instead of rolling or folding it into a general pocket, so we decided on full-length pockets on both sides.
Sampling time! We searched for a new production facility that has made successful guitar bags, and we found a great factory who makes products for Tumi, Incase and Hurley, so we were confident in their expertise. We sent them our detailed CAD drawings and waited a few weeks for our initial sample, then in November 2013 we visited the factory overseas to see the sample in person - Always exciting to see our ideas come to life for the first time!
Several more back-and-forth discussions followed, addressing manufacturing efficiency and material options. We also worked on this GigBlade logo concept which I had in my head, so I sketched it out on paper then had Peter clean it up on Illustrator. After a few weeks, we received a 2nd sample that's more refined and included our new logo.
From there we decided on what features to keep and what could be removed to keep pricing within target. This is a tough one because as a designer, you always want to keep all the features intact, but in the end, some have to be simplified or discarded so the product doesn't get to pricey to build. After sending out those revisions in December 2013, we received our 2nd set of prototypes on the 3rd week of January 2014, this time with a couple different colorways and full branding elements.
At the time of writing, we just returned from previewing the samples at the Winter NAMM Show, the biggest international music products tradeshow in the USA, and the reaction from world-renowned artists and visitors was a resounding "WOW!"
We'd love for you to experience this new and improved way of carrying your guitars and basses. Your help in supporting our Kickstarter campaign will allow us to fund the mass production of both electric guitar and electric bass versions in the first color option. Once we've reached our initial goal of $30,000 (Update: we did it!), we plan to do stretch goals to offer a 2nd color option and more (Update: see graphic below). We'll be setting up a poll soon to get your feedback on what color choice you'd like :)
Kickstarter Pricing and Shipping Info
Target retail for the GigBlade is $199 USD (plus $30 flat-rate shipping within USA). "Early Bird" backers can get a GigBlade for less than HALF PRICE, so don't wait!
Here are more photos and videos to check out, so you can get a really good feel for what the GigBlade is all about!
GigBlade YouTube Playlist:
About Me and Gruv Gear
As a musician, I'm primarily a bass player, and started with guitar about 23 years ago. My design background is in both digital/web and product design, and I've ran successful startups in both. Today, my company Gruv Gear combines my love for music and products we musicians use, with my love for true innovation. I'm blessed to have a small but amazing team who strives for excellence every day.
We launched Gruv Gear just 4 years ago, but we've built a reputation in the music industry as a brand that designs and builds some of the most innovative utility gear and accessories to come in years. Today we have over 150 prominent artist endorsers from all around the globe raving about our stuff, and I feel very humbled and honored to hear every day how we've improved musicians' lives. That's what our company mantra is all about.... to "MAKE LIFE GRUV!"
Special thanks to #gruvartist Leonardo Guzman and Jellybeard for the killer soundtrack on our video, "Jumping Frenchman of Maine" from Leonardo's new album "Now" available on jellybeard.com!
Risks and challenges
Since we already have a solid factory we're working with for mass production, the only risk we currently face is production lead-time, which can typically vary from 60 to 90 days depending on their production cycles for other projects. Our June target delivery is based on the ideal 60-day production lead time which is very attainable, but we don't anticipate taking longer than 90 days so we can get the product into your hands asap!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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