ON THE CASE

Boxes

I have to admit: I do have a weakness for record cases. Practically speaking, it’s unusual that you’d need more than a couple – if you’re DJing an all-nighter, you’d probably bring some kind of industrial case that can store hundreds. Otherwise, for your average gig or record swap, any more than two is cumbersome to lug. But a nice case is like a good piece of luggage or outerwear for your records; it’s a little bit of panache that’s both functional and aesthetic.

I recently bought an extra “empty” 45 case that The Numero Group produced for their Omnibus boxset. Visually, there’s a lot to like with these cases, especially the two-tone style and the cut-angle of the lid. 1 The construction seems solid though the hardware latch in the front feels a bit lightweight compared to the rest of the box. I have one criticism of the Omnibus case however: it’s specs are a little too tight. The case is so exactly to the dimensions of a 7″ that closing the lid tends to fray the corners of your paper sleeves, especially if the box is close to capacity. And if you have your 7″s jacketed in plastic, it’s an even worse fit. I wish they had built in an extra 1/4″ around the sides, just to make the opening/closing less cramped. It doesn’t “feel” right, an odd shortcoming considering how exacting Numero’s packaging tends to be. 2

To me, the gold standard for “mass produced” 45 cases were these Japanese wood cases that Turntable Lab sold about 4-5 years ago:

20064

The construction is heavy-duty; basically looks like Anvil/ATA-style body and hardware. The wood is what makes this work, otherwise, you’re just lugging around a big, heavy 45 case that seems impractical (not to mention a price tag that, if I recall, was at least $100 or higher). But they look bad ass. From what I know, they’re not in production anymore though.

Speaking of which, honorable mention should go to the 20th Anniversary Groove Merchant box:

Making of: Groove Merchant 20 Record Box from Ubiquity Records on Vimeo.

A more common design – deep base, smaller lid – but very well-constructed and hand-crafted (in the U.S. no less!). I think Ubiquity was selling these boxes, by themselves, for a while too but I believe they’ve sold out of that stock by now.

If you want to talk about dream custom case, the best I’ve ever seen is Frank Gossner’s alligator skin 45 and LP case. The rest of us are not worthy.

All this said, if I could design my own case…I’d still go back and start with the Omnibus design. I’d keep the cut-angle lid, I’d make the dimensions just a touch more roomy, and most importantly, I’d find a way to construct the lid so that it can “balance” when opened and allow you to split the 45s between them, thus doubling your box room. Frankly, I’m not sure how feasible (or attractive) this would be (it’d be like trying to put a kickstand on the lid) but I think the utility of it would be awesome, allowing you to pack the base but then split the deck in order to sift through your 45s more easily.

If you have pics or links to your favorite cases, drop ‘em in the comments.

  1. They seem partially inspired by these old Columbia cases except with cleaner lines.
  2. I had bought my extra case before receiving the original Omnibus box set and I might have held back had I realized the tight squeeze quality. That said, they still look great.

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