How to Properly Ship a Guitar

How to Properly Ship a Guitar: Step by Step Instructions You’ll Love

Maybe you’ve had the opportunity to sell your instrument on eBay, or you’re looking to ship out your instrument to a friend, shipping out your guitar may seem like a daunting task.

However, shipping a guitar, whether it be an acoustic, bass, classical, or any other instrument, safely packing your instrument away is a lot easier than you may have been led to believe.

While it can be challenging to ship out your guitar and ensure that it doesn’t receive any damage on its journey, with the proper instructions, the packaging is much simpler!

There’s a very simple process to ship your instrument out, so you can relax knowing that if you follow this guide, your guitar will ship out and be delivered to its new owner safe and sound!

Where should I buy materials to ship my guitar?

If you happen to be someone who regularly sells on eBay, eBay actually has an amazing source that allows sellers to purchase shipping materials at wholesale prices. This is a great resource for sellers who are looking for cheaper alternatives to traditional shipping materials.

eBay offers large wholesale rolls of bubble wrap, boxes for shipping, heavy duty paper, packaging tape, packaging peanuts, and a lot of other items.

Even if you’re not a seller who needs to purchase shipping materials in bulk, eBay also allows sellers the ability to shop competitively and purchase the exact items they’re in need of in the exact amount they’re looking for, without having to buy in bulk.

The UPS store, WalMart, and Staples are also stores that offer shipping supplies, but they don’t have as large of a variety or as great as prices as eBay offers.

Finding a large sized box will be much more of a realistic find at the UPS store than it would be at Staples or WalMart, but all three stores offer shipping supplies such as bubble wrap, packaging tape, and heavy-duty paper.

Preparing to ship the guitar

Before you go ahead and actually begin to pack your guitar to ship, you’re going to need to gather some supplies! You’re going to want to make sure that you have:

  • -A guitar
  • -A box large enough to fit your guitar in
  • -Packing tape
  • -Newspaper
  • -Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam padding, or another type of shipping material

A quick note: The shipping box that you choose to ship your instrument in, it should be large enough to not only fix the guitar that you’re shipping it in but should also be large enough to fit shipping materials in.

All of the materials that we have listed above are necessities for shipping your instrument if you want your guitar to arrive intact at its destination.

Step #1: Prep Your Guitar

This is going to be the hardest part of your guitar’s shipment journey, as there are several delicate pieces on the guitar that should be properly protected. This means that you’re going to have to do a bit of prep work before you place your instrument in a shipping box!

Before you even think about placing your guitar in its case, there are some important steps that you need to take before shipping everything out. Even if you happen to be shipping out your guitar without a case or a gig bag, you should still follow these steps.

  1. Loosen the strings on your guitar. You don’t need to completely detune or remove the strings on your instrument, but you should loosen the tension on the neck of the guitar, so the neck of the instrument doesn’t warp or snap. You should detune your strings down around two octaves.
  2. Secure parts that can move on the guitar. When shipping out your instrument, you shouldn’t have anything rattling around on the guitar or in the case. Wrap parts that move around (such as whammy bar or a tremolo bridge) in a newspaper or another type of packing material.
  3. Wrap the headstock up! The headstock of the guitar is one of the most sensitive parts of the instrument, so make sure that it’s wrapped up nice and snug in newspaper or packing material.
  4. Protect the finish of your guitar. There are some sellers out there who choose to use a plastic cellophane to cover the body of the guitar to protect the finish, but you could also choose to use a heavy duty paper. It’s really up to a matter of what’s available for you to use. Covering the body of your instrument isn’t necessary, but it does provide the instrument with extra protection against any possibility of damage.
  5. Separate the strings from your fretboard by using newspaper or bubble wrap. Keeping the strings from touching the fretboard while you’re shipping your guitar will prevent the strings from hitting up against the fretboard, which will cause excessive wearing on the fretboard.
  6. If you have your guitar placed inside of a case for shipping, pack any open spaces in the case with balled up newspaper to minimize the amount your guitar can move around in the case while being shipped. This will reduce the amount of damage that your guitar is exposed to.

Detuning the strings on your guitar will also help to prevent any of the strings snapping during shipment; a snapped string can be sharp and cause scratching on the guitar’s finish.

Maybe you’ve decided not to ship your guitar out in a case, which is totally fine! Just make sure that you wrap your instrument up in extra bubble wrap, heavy duty paper, or whatever packaging material you’re using to provide it with extra protection. Make sure that you pay extra attention to the neck and the headstock especially.

Step #2: Fill in the Spaces

If you haven’t already, place your guitar back into the case or gig bag that you’re shipping your instrument in. After you’ve placed your guitar in its case, you can now place it in the shipping box! You’re now going to want to fill in the space around your instrument.

Filling in the spaces around your instrument will help to prevent the guitar from moving around in the case and/or box during shipment. Filling in the empty space around the guitar when your instrument is in the case or the box will prevent the instrument from sliding around and potentially becoming damaged.

You can fill the spaces around your instrument with balled up newspaper. Really ensure that every open space is filled in so that you minimize the amount of wiggle room that your guitar has.

Step #3: Place Extra Packing Material in the Box

Before you set your guitar case or your instrument inside of the box, place extra packing material at the bottom of the box. You can use heavy duty paper, as the bottom of the box doesn’t need a whole lot of protection.

Ensure that when you’re adding this extra protection down at the bottom of the box that there is an even amount of room on all sides of the box to place your guitar in.

If there isn’t an even amount of room, your instrument’s case should move around during shipping, which will put your guitar at risk for damage.

Once you have your guitar case settled firmly inside of the shipping box, fill in any surrounding areas that are open with more packing peanuts, packing paper, newspapers, or whatever you’re shipping with. You should make sure that these areas are packed snuggly so that the guitar doesn’t have the ability to move around in the shipping box.

Once all of the empty spaces are packed with shipping materials around the guitar case, fill in the rest of the space on the top of the guitar case with additional packing materials, like packing peanuts, air cushions, or bubble wrap.

Make sure that you take a few seconds to double check that there are no open spaces that you missed, as even one open space with no packaging protection can put the safety of your guitar at risk.

Once you’ve double checked, all that’s left to do is to seal the box up with packing tape and send your instrument on its way! Ensure that you tape up your box with a quality packaging tape, because your decision of tape is the only thing that’s going to be making sure that everything you stuffed inside of the shipment box stays inside of the box.

Quality tape can also help to protect against rain damage if you decide to cover the majority of the box in shipping tape.

Conclusion

Whether you happen to have sold your instrument on eBay or you’re shipping your instrument out as a gift to a friend, packaging and shipping your guitar doesn’t have to be as frustrating as it seems! Shipping an irregular shaped and fragile guitar does have to be difficult, but the hardest part may be finding a box that’s big enough to fit your guitar!

However, the UPS store is where a lot of sellers get larger sized boxes, including boxes large enough to fit instruments of all shapes and sizes.

The most important thing to remember when you’re shipping out your guitar is to figure out what parts of your instrument need to be protected the most (which is typically the neck) to ensure that the shipping experience is safe for your guitar.

About the Author Danny Trent

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