How To Ship A Guitar

Trying to ship a guitar can be really tedious. However, there are ways to reduce the hassle. So in this article, we’ll be showing you how to ship a guitar. 

How To Ship A Guitar

You have to acquaint yourself with the packaging process, that is, how to pack your guitar in order to prevent it from being damaged. You also have to familiarize yourself with the shipping requirements and policies of the courier service you intend to use.

How To Pack Your Guitar For Shipping

As a touring musician or someone who sells and delivers guitars across the country or worldwide, you have to make sure that the instrument reaches its destination in perfect condition. Guitars are fragile instruments that are easily subjected to cracks or serious damages if proper care is not taken.

Before shipping or even putting your guitar in a case, you have to take some precautionary steps.

Loosen The Guitar Strings

The first step is to loosen your strings. You don’t have to detune the strings entirely. You can simply detune them about a step or two whole steps down. This is to reduce the tension exerted on the guitar neck and prevent neck warping while the guitar is in transit.

Wrap The Headstock

The headstock of a guitar is a delicate and sensitive part. The headstock holds the tuners of the guitar in place and if your tuners get damaged, your guitar becomes useless. To protect the tuners, use bubble wrap or newspapers to cover your headstock and secure with tape.

Secure All The Loose Parts

It is really important to make sure that loose and movable parts are packed separately from the guitar. These parts include the tremolo system (comprises of the bridge, the nut, tremolo bar), capos, cables, Allen keys. 

You should ensure that these parts are kept in a separate place or pocket on your case before your guitar is packed. This is to prevent these metal parts from rattling around and brushing up against your guitar while it is in transit. This is effective in preventing scratches on the guitar’s finish. They can also be wrapped using a newspaper or bubble wrap material.

Separate Strings From The Fretboard

Before your guitar is placed in a case, you also have to separate your guitar strings from the fretboard. During transit, the road might get bumpy and the separation ensures that strings don’t end up smacking or brushing up against the fretboard. To do this, simply get a good padding material and place it between the bottom of the strings and the fretboard. A piece of cloth or newspapers can get the job done.

Get A Good Case For Your Guitar

Once you have taken the precautionary steps above, you have to purchase a proper case for your guitar to prevent any external risk that it might get exposed to while in transit. 

It is advisable to get a hard case. You can easily purchase one on any e-commerce store or a regular music shop in your neighborhood. You will definitely find one that fits the body of your guitar and does not put too much strain on your budget. 

Click this link to check out some of the best hardshell guitar cases

Once you have purchased your guitar case, wrap your guitar with two layers of bubble wrap and place it in the case, paying attention to the fit. There is a high possibility of having an unfilled empty space between the guitar and its case. 

You can resolve this problem by using newspapers or bubble wraps to fill up space. If you leave the empty space unattended, your guitar might be damaged from excessive swaying during transit.

If you are unable to afford a guitar case, you can opt for a gig bag. While this is the least favorable protective package for your guitar, it is also an option. On the plus side, it prevents scratches too and is easier and lighter to pack. 

After you have loosened the strings and separated the movable parts, put your guitar in the bag. Here, you will need a lot of padding and cushioning material to fill the empty space. If you are shipping an electric guitar, you will definitely need a lot as they are heavier than an acoustic guitar.

Place The Guitar In A Shipping Box

After you have packed your guitar in its case, the next phase to place it in the box. Before you go ahead to buy a regular box, we should point out that there are specially designed guitar boxes for this purpose. You can go with a musical instrument cardboard box too. 

After placing your guitar in the box, make sure you fill the empty space to minimize or completely eliminate movement. Use bubble wraps or any padding material you can lay your hands on. Attach your shipping label and that is it. Don’t forget to secure the flaps and seams of the box with packaging tape.

For a better understanding of how to properly pack your guitar before shipping, please click on the Youtube link below.

How To Ensure The Safety Of Your Guitar

You don’t want to go through all that procedure above and end up losing your guitar while it is been shipped. Here are a few things you should take care of before you hand it over to that courier service.

The Insurance Policy

This is an efficient way to ensure the safety of your guitar. Especially if it is really expensive or maybe it is a cherished gift from a loved one. Whatever the reason for its value may be to you, ensure that you make inquiries about the kind of insurance that your chosen courier service uses. If you find it to be unsatisfactory, try another courier service or get a customized insurance cover.

Check The Rules And Regulations

It is advisable to acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations of your preferred courier service. Confirm their policies on damaged goods, especially for delicate goods like the guitar. this will save you a lot of trouble with the shipping firm if your guitar gets damaged while in transit. If you realize that the rules and regulations are not desirable, find a courier service that will satisfy your needs.

Delivery Tracking

Make sure you go for a courier service that offers delivery tracking. This way you will be able to keep tabs on the movement of your guitar. They will also notify you in case your guitar is not delivered on the scheduled date. You will also get a notification once the guitar reaches its destination. 

Shipping Costs

Finally, before you ship out your guitar, you have to be aware of the shipping costs. This varies from one shipping company to the other. Few factors also play a role here. They include

The Size And Weight Of The Guitar

Shipping cost varies based on the weight and size of your guitar. If you’re shipping an electric guitar, it will definitely cost more the shipping an acoustic guitar. This is because electric guitars are heavier, courtesy of the solid body feature.

Another factor that determines the weight of your guitar is the choice of package. Placing your guitar in a gig bag will definitely weigh less than using a hard-shell case. This simply means that using a bag reduces the cost or shipping a guitar while a hard-shell case adds to it, but keeps it safer.

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

The Guitar’s Value

If you intend to ship a really expensive guitar, there is no way you can resist insuring it against possible damage. Like getting a specialty courier service that put in place strict safety measures. This, apart from the peace of mind that comes with it, will definitely add to the cost of your shipping. 

The Destination

The distance at which you intend to ship your guitar matters. There is a huge difference in the shipping cost between shipping within the country and shipping from one continent to another. For instance, from the United State to a country in Africa. 

The best way to go about this is to cast out your net and check the shipping rates of several trustworthy courier services. Compare the rates and select the best option for you. Also, when it comes to shipping internationally, taxes and clearing fees come into play. There is no escaping from an increased shipping cost. However, you might be lucky to find a courier service that takes care of this for you. 

Conclusion

You should be aware that most courier services do not treat packages delicately like you would. So, it is important to ensure that you do everything to protect your guitar from being damaged irreparably. 

As mentioned above, while guitar bags are viable, you should try to go with a hard-shell case. In a gig bag, your guitar might not survive being thrown in and out trucks.

Lastly, don’t forget to do a shake test. After you fill the empty space in the guitar case or gig bag, shake it gently. If you observe any movement, no matter how little, make sure you add extra padding material.