Guitar forums and YouTube channels have been abuzz recently with a topic that isn’t discussed often: Case Candy. It’s a good time to talk about the modern-day phenomenon of case candy – Worthless junk or added value?
Case Candy is a modern-day way term for the free stuff that guitar companies put in your guitar case. Pedal manufacturers also sometimes but some freebies into the packaging, too. These little pamphlets, stickers, manuals and certificates are supposed to heighten the experience of owning a new piece of gear. Sometimes, you’ll get some plectrums or perhaps a guitar cable, or maybe a guitar strap thrown in, usually by the manufacturer themselves. It’s all in a bid to give you the feeling you’re getting some extra value added to your purchase.
I want Candy!
We’ve seen a huge surge in Case Candy in the last 25 years or so. It is now becoming almost obligatory for companies to include some little sweeteners with the main product you’ve just bought. Some retailers also add in a little something extra when you buy from their outlet. For example, I received a USB stick loaded with a set of high-resolution images of a guitar that I had just purchased. Thomann sometimes includes glossy prints of photos taken of your instrument, if the one you ordered was the one featured in its ads or on its website.
Traditionally, most guitar companies throw in a hex wrench, a crappy plain black plastic cheap guitar lead and maybe a basic operation manual. When I was a teenager in the 1980s a Boss pedal would come with a little catalogue of all the latest pedals available, called the Pocket Dictionary. It suggested ways to combine pedals to achieve certain tones and would make you want to go out and buy even more little multi-coloured pedals.
In recent years, manufacturers have included different kinds of things to make you feel all glowy when you open the case. Examples include photographs of the guitar you just bought on a workbench for its final setup from Gibson, or weird key rings, stickers or even actual candy included with some pedals. Then there are limited run t-shirts, that you’ll probably never wear out, or the fancy cloth-covered cable sealed in a bag, or little signed and numbered hardback books, or possibly a photograph.
Some basic things make sense because they’re practical. When you buy a new combo, it’s good to get an amp cover included. Another practical addition is the multi-tool you sometimes get to keep your instrument in good fettle. But does anyone ever break the seal on the bag and use that free cable or sit reading that little hardback book?
Second-Hand Case Candy
What I find a bit ridiculous is that you can buy unused Case Candy on online auction sites. But you may be someone that appreciates these little bits of paper and bags with cleaning cloths in. Does it complete the package? Or is it all just craziness?
Once the Fender and Gibson Custom Shops took off, the two big US brands started putting in Certificates Of Authenticity, and maybe a half-decent cable and a branded strap. All the major guitars companies jumped on the bandwagon, and the whole phenomenon has grown from there. Don’t get me started on boutique guitars! Boutique builders often pile on the goodies; you’ll get a hand-signed, limited edition booklet or small novel with your purchase!
The seventh ring of Case Candy hell, however, is reserved for the limited edition, collectable recreation of an artist’s prized guitar. This will include all manner of cheap tat to complete the package. Let’s be honest, you’ll never use that studded guitar strap or tasselled suede jacket for fear of losing some perceived value.
How much is Case Candy worth?
The ultimate question is: Would you pay more for a 2nd hand guitar with all the Case Candy? I know for sure that used guitars with the C.O.A. included will often for more than a guitar without the original documentation. A C.O.A. will either live in the case or be filed away somewhere, so it isn’t adding anything to the instrument itself. The same, I think, is true of those little hang tags, pamphlets and user manuals. So why do we covet these things?
How important is Case Candy to you?
I don’t have the answers, but I am intrigued to know what other players think. The guys over at Casino Guitars did a great little video about the subject. Also, the readers over at TGP Forum had a raging debate about the subject recently and I even got involved in that one myself, so you can probably find my comments buried in there if you want.
Don’t forget: you are paying extra for Case Candy, as it is factored into the final retail price of the guitar, amp or pedal you just bought. This stuff wasn’t free and so it is your wallet that takes the hit. Is Case Candy important to you? Would you be willing to get a better deal if there was no Case Candy involved? Does Case Candy make you feel special? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.