Guitars are not only delicate and expensive but they are also oddly shaped, making them difficult to pack. Unlike other items you can throw in a box, the guitar requires a certain level of care to avoid damage. The thought of shipping them is enough to make you nervous.
It is, however, possible to ship a guitar successfully. All you need is suitable packing materials, a good understanding of how to pack them, and an excellent choice of carrier.
How Do I Ship my Guitar?
Whether you want to move your road-worn Telecaster to a new city or swap out your darker-sounding Martin for a bright Taylor, you need to follow this procedure to ship them efficiently and ensure safety.
Get Adequate Shipping Supplies for Your Guitar
You’ll definitely need suitable guitar boxes. The standard guitar boxes are long, narrow, and rectangular. However, other boxes are specifically designed to fit the guitar’s shape.
You can order high-quality guitar boxes from Partners Brand Store on Amazon. Alternatively, you can contact your carrier for available boxes in their stores.
Other protective supplies your need include:
- Bubble Wrap
- Packing Tape
- Rubber Bands
- A hard case if necessary
- Packing Paper or Kraft Paper
- Marker or “FRAGILE” stickers
Packing a Guitar with a Case for Shipping
Even though packing your guitar in a sturdy case may increase the weight and shipping cost, it significantly lowers the risk of damage. The case gives your guitar extra protection against shocks and vibrations. Follow these steps to pack your guitar inside a case:
- Create cushioning by laying crumpled packing paper at the bottom of the box. Then, you can place your guitar in the case, and your instrument will be insulated against bumps.
- Slacken the guitar strings to release tension. This will release the pressure in the headstock and lower the risk of the strings snapping while shipping.
- Use bubble wraps to wrap the headstock to protect the tuning pegs from breaking. You can wrap it in two or more layers of bubble wraps and hold them together with rubber bands.
- Place packing paper between the fretboard and strings. Though this step is optional, many professional shippers agree it helps mitigate damages to the fretboard and the strings.
- Fill all gaps in the case with soft padding materials like crumpled papers or bubble wraps. This will prevent the box from moving around inside the case.
- Shake the case to check if the guitar is entirely immobile. If it’s moving around, you should put more cushioning materials in the box until the guitar is no longer moving.
- Create a layer of cushioning in the box and place the case in the box. It is vital to get boxes that are not oversized or too compact; inasmuch as you don’t need too much space around the box, you will need a little space for protective packaging materials.
- Fill the top of the box and seal it tightly with packing tape. You can then indicate “FRAGILE” or “DO NOT LAY FLAT” using marker or stickers using marker or stickers.
Packing a Guitar without a Case for Shipping
The packing method is similar if you’re shipping the guitar without a case, but you need extra care. It is, however, not recommended to ship guitars without a case. But if you must, you can follow these steps to ship your guitar without a case:
- Get a box that is big enough to prevent the guitar from touching the side but small enough to fill it with cushioning easily. The triangular box will be your best bet as it makes it easy to fill with cushioning and reduces the risk of damage.
- Line the bottom of the box with adequate cushioning to protect it against shocks.
- Protect the strings and headstock by removing the strings entirely though this can be dangerous for some vintage acoustic guitars.
- Double wrap the headstock and place packing paper between the frets and strings to protect them.
- Support guitar neck area with towels, air cushioning, or paper. The neck should not be moving from side to side.
- Wrap the entire guitar in bubble wraps and if possible, place it a gig back to protect it from scratches and nicks.
- Fill any gap in the box with shock-absorbing materials to prevent the guitar from moving inside the box.
- Lift the guitar and shake it gently. The guitar is safer if it moves less in the box.
- Double box the guitar to give it additional protection. You can place a triangular box inside a rectangular box and immobilize it using cushioning.
- Use packing tape to seal the box firmly and label it “FRAGILE” using a marker or stickers.
How to Choose The Best Carrier For Your Guitar
When shipping an item as delicate as a guitar, you need to be careful when choosing a carrier. Here are some things to consider before you make a choice
A carrier with a built-in tracking service will give you a visualization of the package as it moves from its origin to the destination. If you are selling or swapping the guitar, you can give the recipient the tracking number so they can track it themselves.
Good Insurance Coverage
It is vital to find out the insurance your carrier offers. Check out the level and type of damage it covers. If it’s inadequate, you can buy customized insurance or pick a different carrier.
Requires a Signature
Guitars are unlike small parcels that can be left at the door; they are big and can be noticed easily. To avoid the risk of being stolen, you need a carrier that requires a signature from the recipient after delivery.
Consider a Specialty Service
Some carriers have services for shipping fragile, valuable items like the guitar. Even though it may cost you more, using this type of service will ease your safety concern.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship A Guitar?
The cost of shipping your guitar depends on the carrier you pick, the package dimensions, the shipping distance, and the actual and dimensional weight.
For shipping services that take longer to deliver, prices range from $100 to $200. But it can get as high as $250 to $500 for faster deliveries.
A Quick Price Comparison
Most electric guitars weigh between 10-21lbs but shipping the guitar with a hard case can increase the weight by an extra 4lbs.
To compare the prices of the most popular carriers, I checked the price, dimensions, and weight of Epinone Les Paul on Amazon. Here are the specifications
- Package dimensions: 44.5 x 17.5 × 6.8 inches
- Weight: 21.5 Ibs.
- Price: $849.99
I will use these values to compare the prices of DHL, USPS, FedEx, and UPS. Keep in mind that I didn’t add pick up, insurance and signature upon arrival to the calculator.
Note: This was put together in 2022. Actual prices might have changed.
- Ground: $64.19
- 3 Day: $119.12
- 2 Day: $169.97
- Overnight: $241.11
- FedEx Ground: $95.52
- FedEx Express Saver: $209.68
- FedEx 2Day: $274.97
- FedEx 2Day AM: $301.48
- FedEx Standard Overnight:$346.69
- FedEx Priority Overnight: $355.51
- FedEx First Overnight: $388.44
- UPS Ground: $80.84
- UPS 3 Day Select: $140.98
- Ups 2nd Day Air: $199.09
- UpS 2nd Day Air A.M.: $226.38
- UPS Next Day Air Saver: $276.97
- UPS Next Day Air: $284.21
- UPS Next Air Early: $316.09
- Express Worldwide: $262.21
- Express: $267.64
Knowing how to pack a guitar properly is vital when shipping it. It protects the instrument from damage and affects the general weight of your shipment.
The carrier and shipping service you choose will also have an impact on the cost and safety of your guitar. Consider all the factors in this guide before making a choice.