Archive for the 'Touring' Category

Teamwork & Solutions

Because we make cases for so many musicians and bands, we are really good at instruments and accessory cases. We have built many different styles of mic stand cases for both rock ‘n roll and the military. So when Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television sent me this picture with a request to build a case to take its place, I was ready for the challenge. Mic Stands 1 As you can see, it serves a purpose. But it doesn’t hold any of the stands with tripod or round bases. And it certainly cannot be shipped anywhere in this state. And truthfully, it’s kind of ugly. So we had many conversations back and forth about how big and what absolutely had to fit. Because it’s a school, the kids don’t always put things away the right way. They frequently do things the easy way. So we needed to find a way for everything to fit without having to take anything apart. So all those big heavy bases had to stay attached. After several rounds of drawings and discussions we hit on this: Loyola Marymount Design This made the most sense. The round based stands could hang or stand in half the case. The small tripod stands could hang in the other half, while all the rest of the stands would fit into compartments. This allowed for separating the two halves when needed or shipping the entire case when needed. A win win all around. And some make shift labels for some of the stand compartments. We are a small company and couldn’t do our jobs unless we all work together. And we all wear many hats. My main job is to design a case to make the customer happy. Our CNC programmer also does double duty as our drawing engineer. He is the one responsible for the wonderful drawing above. He takes my down and dirty sketches and turns them into something the customer can relate to. And he does them all the time for all of us. It really helps the customer understand what we are talking about. So here is the final product all packed nicely with the stands. I think we did a fine job with this one! Loyola Marymount 2

Pink is the New Black

I always say I love the difficult to design cases. That I am tired of the guitar and amp cases. Sometimes the easy to design cases look difficult because they have lots of drawers and partitions and table legs. In reality, these are not difficult at all. They are very time consuming for the shop to build because there are so many pieces and parts to them. But they are formulaic to design. The hard part is making sure you remember all the little details because these cases are used at trade shows. They don’t just get the product to the show, they also display the product and function as work space to demo the product. They have to perform.

Lime Crime came to us wanting pink cases to use as their trade show shipping and display cases at the Makeup show in New York. The idea behind the pink was to make them stand out among the sea of black cases that everyone else uses. I am in on this big time because pink is my favorite color. Although I confess I didn’t understand pink when Lime is in their name. As you can see by the picture, the pink is perfect.

Lime Crime

Makeup is their trade. And makeup is usually packaged in small boxes. I mean, look at how small your eye shadow is! And they take hundreds of these to the show. And these little boxes are time consuming to deal with at a trade show or venue – simply because there are so many of them. You have to make sure the drawers are not too big or too small and can be used for a variety of items. You have to make sure you have dividers to keep things organized. And you need to make sure that when they arrive at the show, all the boxes stayed where they were put. If they arrive at the show and all the boxes are in a jumble, they will waste valuable time putting everything where it was and should have stayed while in transit. As products are redesigned and repackaged they might not fit if we are not diligent about getting the drawer sizes right.

And with makeup, the visual is everything. So when it all comes together it has to look as perfect as the employees and their customers do. And it also has to protect the product so it arrives the same way it started out.

I love making sure my customers are happy and get what they want and need. So while I might not always have the challenge of designing a difficult case, I always have the challenge of making sure I get it right so my customers are satisfied with our product. A&S Always Satisfied!

A&S – Always Great Service!

My biggest pet peeve these days is the lack of service companies provide.  In the old days (I know I say this a lot but I am old), service was the number one priority for every company around.  If you needed something they didn’t offer they would find a way to provide it for you.  And they did it happily and courteously.  Today they offer whatever they want you to have for the moment.  No one cares what you want.  Your only choices are what they want to offer – too bad if it just doesn’t work for you.  And since all the big box companies emulate each other, no one steps up to the plate to serve the customer.

 

Here at A&S we still offer great service.  We have a very large selection of standard cases – all of which you can see on our website.  There are cases for every product imaginable.  But more importantly, we will make you any case you need, for any item you have, for any purpose you can imagine.  If it is physically possible, we will build it for you.  You can see many examples of these cases in our gallery photos.  From sound carts, to specialty trade show cases to in studio rolling mixer carts to broadcast editing stations there isn’t anything we can’t do.  And we love the opportunity to make your case dream a reality.

 

We pride ourselves on our ability to meet the needs of our customers.  We offer lots of solutions to every issue.  And we do it happily and courteously because we love doing it.  It is great fun to search for a solution to your case need.  We want our customers to be happy when they leave with our case.  We want the case to make a hundred round trips and protect the gear it is meant to protect.  And if there is an issue, we take it personally.  That is why we are Always Superior.

Non-laminated wood

A while back I talked about laminated wood and the types of laminates we use when we build cases.  We also build cases using wood that is not laminated.  I don’t mean wood that is bare but special types of wood that have the coating applied when the layers are laminated together.

Generally, we use ACX Fir Ply wood for our cases.  It is strong and reliable.  And it has to be laminated so the bare wood can be made road worthy.  But there are some terrific birch woods available that are super strong, have more layers, and are just as good as or better than ACX Fir Ply.

Much of the phenolic birch available comes from Eastern Europe.  It used to be called Finland Birch but now a lot of it comes from Latvia.  It has more layers than traditional ply wood and the layers are thinner.  It is also measured in millimeters as opposed to inches.  When the layers are laminated together, the top and bottom phenolic coatings are applied as part of the laminating process.  And that process is done with a marine glue so the resulting wood is water resistant.  They make the phenolic with a smooth surface, but the better option is what is known as a “diamond” or “hex” pattern.  It is the same wood but the look is different.

Every type of laminated or non-laminated wood has its own set of issues.  ABS is a plastic material and can bubble if it gets hot or sits in the sun.  Fiberglass has a great long life, but scratches really easily.  The phenolic resin is very durable, but if it gets whacked with a forklift, you can lose a chunk out of it.

There is also a Chinese knockoff of the birch ply that is really poplar wood.  You can tell that it is not birch because there are much fewer layers and the layers are thicker.  It also tends to warp so the sheets are not straight.

Here at A&S we use only the best materials so you know your case will always hold up on the road.

Kriz-Kraft Studio & Road Airack® with fans and sound suppression

Studio & Road Rack airackSometimes things just turn out perfectly.  And sometimes you have to make an adjustment or two and it is magic.  Such is the case of the A&S Kriz-Kraft Studio & Road Airack®.  Everyone had a version of them ten years ago.  Then it seems like the need went away or perhaps they didn’t work as well as they should have.  The need is there again and we here at A&S have made magic without sacrificing any of the quality our cases are designed to have.

Sound suppression and heat removal are the two most important things for a studio/road rack system.  Sound suppression is relatively simple because it can be done with foam and being able to keep the doors closed.  (You will understand more about keeping the doors closed as you read below about the fans.)  Heat is an altogether different issue.  The equipment used in editing and protools generates a huge amount of heat.  That heat can destroy the equipment.

The heat needs to find a way out of the rack and cool air needs to find its way in.  Seems like a simple enough problem to solve but it can be tricky.  If you are working in an environment that is not cool, how do you pull in air that is?  My instant answer is air conditioner because I hate the heat and will do almost anything to stay cool.  Ask my dogs, they feel the same.  But putting an air conditioner inside an 18 space rack makes it really loud and is ultra expensive. 

So here is what we do.

The standard foam lined shockmount is necessary for the sound suppression and to channel the flow of air in and out.  What we have done is made the actual rack portion of the case using the A&S airack®.  This allows for better air flow.  (Even in the standard version of the airack®.)  Combine the A&S airack® with the fans and the channeled foam and you have magic.

The fans on the bottom pull the cool air into the case.  The air near the floor is cooler than the air higher up because hot air rises.  The fans at the top pull the hot air inside the rack up into the space between the rack shell and the outside of the case and push it down the sides and out.  The fans can be set to run continuously or to cycle on and off in order to meet the temperature required.  If the fans are set to cycle on and off, they will turn off when the equipment cools down and turn back on when it heats up.  The heat range can be set on the fans to meet your requirements.   If there is no heat demand the fans won’t turn on.

If you are working in an air conditioned environment where the temperature is in the mid seventies, the inside of the rack should remain somewhere in the low nineties.  By keeping the fans cycling off and on, this allows for the equipment to be used inside the case with the doors closed.  This in turn helps suppress the sound.

Sometimes, the environment in which the Kriz-Kraft Studio & Road Airack® is being used is warm.  If this is the case, it may be necessary to add additional fans on the back door to help pull the warm air out.  The fans on the rear door are an addition and not a replacement for the fans on the top and bottom.  The fans on the door just help pull hot air out.  They do not help pull cool air in.  And that is essential for heat reduction and sound suppression.  Also, adding fans to the rear door may be necessary because of the excess heat in the environment where the rack is being used, but it also adds to the noise level.  Ideally, you want to keep the doors closed so the noise stays inside the case.

The Kriz-Kraft Studio & Road Airack® has two Kriz-Kraft doors.  One is Plexiglas and the other is ½” ply wood with laminate on it.  There is foam between the outside of the case and the inner shell.  Inside the inner shell is an A&S Airack®.  The foam has channels on the right and left side to pull the hot air out.  There are fans on the top and bottom of the inner shell.  We also install a power strip and a Hubble connector in the case.  We can provide a rack mounted temperature gauge if you like.  You can mount it near the top of the rack and see it through the Plexiglas door so you know how warm it is inside the case.  This is A&S security.

Please view other photos in the Gallery.

HUGH SCOTT-DOUGLAS ‘THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI’ at BLUM & POE GALLERY OPENING RECEPTION

A&S was honored to be asked to make case pieces that would be part of an art exhibit. We make cases for exhibits all the time but to be part of an exhibit, now this is COOL! When we were asked to make pieces as large as 28′ feet long and 14′ feet high, we knew we would have to overcome some challenges. Indeed the scale of the pieces makes this installation impressive. It was a joy to see our cases as part of an art exhibit. We get to be involved with cool projects everyday but there is something about being part of an art piece that is immortal!!! 

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THROUGH THE YEARS

When I first began designing cases in the 80’s the bulk of cases we designed and built were for the music industry.  Amps, guitars, keyboards, drums, and band instruments were high on the list.  Audio and computer cases were a very quick growing second.  This was back in time when monitors were still CRT technology and were enormous.  And laptops had not even been talked about yet.  A computer was a large, heavy desktop model that weighed a hundred pounds. (I know… I’m old.  You have no idea how lucky you are!)  We had to figure out how to get everything into one huge case or several small cases that weren’t really small.  Now, I put 10 laptops in a case that can be checked as luggage on a plane.

Some requests were very challenging because the hardware had not yet been designed or developed to allow us to do really complex cases.  I can still remember the first customer who wanted casters on the end of his piano case so he could pull it like a luggage cart.  There were no recessed casters in those days.  So I figured out how to recess a regular Colson caster into the end of the case and mount it to an interior “casterboard”.  This was not a really good solution because it was a Roland RD300 which weighed a ton.  The keyboard kept bowing the interior casterboard which caused problems with the wheels.  Today it would have been a piece of cake.

For a while, entertainment cases were a huge deal.  This was before TV’s were 2” thin.  The old ones still had a big tube protruding out the back.  And we needed to fit it in there with speakers and stereo equipment.  Today, the vesa mounts on the back of the TV’s make it possible to do most anything.  We can even mount the TV on an electric lift so it comes and goes when you want it. Quietly.

This year, it seems the new designs are lending themselves more to television production and post production than ever before.  For me, these are the most fun because they can be very challenging.  Mounting several screens and mixers and gear in a case that can roll over any kind of terrain is new just because the technology of the gear is new.  In ten years this too will be out of date.

I never knew designing cases could be a career.  And I certainly never thought that one day I would look back and see how far case design has come over the years.  A&S has always been on the forefront of new design.  We always strive to find the newest and best products to make our cases better.  And I think this is evident in the products we have created.  Check out our galleries to see where we came from and where we are going.

SLAM! Cases

Back in my younger days I was a champion door slammer.  It was the very best way to get rid of all that ire.  Slam that door as hard as you can!  And I always looked so demure people were stunned.  And the neighbors didn’t really like the fact that the entire apartment building shuddered.  Now, however, it is truly “in” to slam! the door!

A&S SLAM Racks and Cases™ are a 21st Century innovation!  Road cases have been around for decades.  There are lots of companies claiming to make Road Cases.  Most of them use inferior or low quality materials of questionable origin.  There are a few that make pretty good cases.  But A&S has always been the leader in quality and innovation.  And we have done it again on both counts!

 SLAM LATCH RACKS GROUP (NO BACKGROUND)

These cases are made using an Eastern European phenolic birch ply material that has more layers than regular fir ply.  The layers are laminated with a marine glue and the top and bottom textured/colored layers are put on as part of the lamination process.  This makes for a very strong, water resistant wood.   We use an innovative door channel that turns the case into a six sided box so that it is stronger.

But my favorite thing about the Slam! Rack is that there are no more twist latches to test your finger strength or tear your jeans.  You just set the door into the slam channel and slam it shut!   I can’t tell you how many of my favorite jeans I have torn with those twist latches.  But wait, you have too!  Now you get the strength of a Kriz-Kraft rack with the ease of the Slam! Rack.

We can also make a killer workbox and trunk using the same Slam! technology.  This technology allows us to make a great case that costs less.   One of the best things about this job is the ability to dream up and design new products.  And this is one of the best so far.

“The Veterans Memorial Charity Guitar” – A&S’s second collaboration with Ginny & Byron to provide their Charity Guitars an ATA case for touring

Ginny and Byron have been exposed to music their entire life. Their father was a concert clarinetist, and played jazz locally in Sacramento. He was a Band Master in the Army, as well. Their mother was a concert flautist. Their Grandfather was a percussionist in the Shiners’ Drum Corp., and their Grandma was an excellent cellist! Byron and Ginny both play guitar. He is a self-taught musician and, being left-handed, found it difficult to find guitars to play. At the age of 16 he built his first “lefty”! He’s been building custom guitars ever since.

The first Charity Guitar was for Breast Cancer. Ginny Jobe was diagnosed in 2009. While well on her way to being cancer free, she was the original promoter of the first guitar. And A&S collaborated with Ginny and Byron and made the case for the first guitar. The Jobes donated the guitar to the Susan G .Komen Run for the Cure where raffle donations were in excess of $8,000.

Now, Byron and Ginny are working on their second guitar “The Veterans Memorial Charity Guitar”. And A&S is again very proud to be included in the second collaboration to provide an ATA case for touring for the new guitar. The proceeds from this one will be donated to The Fallen Warriors Memorial Organization.

Veteran's Memorial Charity Guitar in Case

The Ramp Case

In the old days when you got a case it had a top lid.  It was either a POL or POC (meaning a pull over style with a large lid and a small base for a big heavy item), or a trunk style.   Everything had to be lifted up and into the case.  If it was a pullover lid then it just had to be lifted as high as the small base of the case and casters, which was probably 9” off the ground.  A trunk style would likely be significantly taller.  Somewhere along the way we got smarter and designed a case with a front door like a refrigerator.  This made it easier to load some things into the case.  But they still had to be lifted up and into the case.   Then came the Ramp Case.  Now we’re talkin’!   Now the big heavy thing with wheels could just be rolled up a ramp and into a case.

We still use foam to hold the item in place.  We can also use foam with a loadspreader under the item to give it shock protection.  Or we can use rubber shock mounts and a loadspreader to give it shock protection.  It can be held in place with a variety of straps depending on the weight of the item.  We can use ratchet straps or straps with buckles.  As useful as it is, Velcro would probably not be an option in this case. 

We can build with an accessory compartment.  We can also make the case with a front and rear lid if necessary.    Sometimes there are multiple compartments.  But the idea is to make it easier to roll a heavy item up into the case instead of having to lift it up.

The ramp itself is generally ½” ply wood.  This can be covered with carpet or aluminum.  Or it might need to be ¾” ply wood.   If needed, we can build it with steel or aluminum.  The case can have skids or casters.  The ramp is usually connected to the case with a heavy duty hinge.  On rare occasion the ramp will be removable and stored inside the case.  There is steel or aluminum at the end of the ramp so it flows evenly to the floor.  If it is a very heavy item and long, there might be supports to keep the ramp straight.    If it is a short item from front to back, the ramp might need to be a double with a hinge in the middle.  When it is ready to be used, it unfolds out of the case and the item rolls down and onto the floor.  The ramp then folds up into the case and is held in place with straps.  The lid is closed and the case rolls away or is removed by a forklift.

At A&S Case Company it has been our mission for a long time to seek new solutions.  If you want to see a ramp in use, check out our video of R2D2!