Shipping A Guitar Internationally: Everything You Need To Know

Since the guitar is a fragile instrument, when it comes to shipping a guitar internationally, stress and anxiety boil in with customs, courier service, rules and regulations, costs, and other concerns. If you are not aware of how to ship guitars the right way, the worst-case scenario is guitar may reach its destination but in an irrevocably damaged condition!     

Panicking while shipping a guitar won’t help you either. Indeed, there are tips and tricks for shipping a guitar internationally safely. This article covers all the necessary information you need, from how to pack to choosing a carrier, to cost and essential tips. So, don’t skim; go through the details if you are thinking of shipping a guitar internationally for the first time. 

Here is what you need

  • A hard case (strongly recommended) or hybrid case 
  • Newspaper 
  • Tape 
  • Guitar shaped box (available at most music stores, somebody might give it for free) 
  • Bubble wrap 
  • Rubber bands 
  • ‘FRAGILE’ Noted Stickers    
shipping a guitar internationally

How Should You Prepare Before Shipping a Guitar Internationally? 

Below find the step-by-step instructions on how to prepare your guitar before shipping:

Loosen your strings 

Detune your strings for one or two steps to decrease the pressure on the guitar neck. It will prevent the guitar warp in different weather conditions while on transit.  

Separate all the loose parts

Remove all the loose parts, including capos, cables, tremolo arms, Allen keys, etc. Ensure none of these parts is brushing up against your guitar and leaving scratches.  

Wrap up the headstock with bubble wrap

The headstock is the most fragile part of the guitar so consider protecting it with bubble wrap and secure it with an elastic band to protect the tuning pegs from damage. 

Make sure there is no wiggling space in the case  

To ensure the guitar does not move around inside the case while in transit, use padding materials like bubble wrap, newspaper, or any cushiony materials to fill the gaps, especially around the headstock.  

Padding between the strings and the fretboard 

It’s optional yet will help your cause. Insert clothing or newspaper strips so that the strings do not brush up against the fretboard.  

Choose the right case for your guitar

I recommend opting for a hard case to ship a guitar internationally since gig bags don’t offer enough protection. 

No one can guarantee that your guitar will safely reach its destination. Usually, shipping packages are thrown around while in transit. A travel-ready hard-shell case can ensure safety. Popular brands like SKB, Gator, etc., produce high- to low-end travel cases that offer protection to withstand transit hassle. 

Pack your guitar in a box

Place some crumpled newspapers in the box and place the wrapped guitar case. Then fill up the open spaces around the guitar case with more crumpled paper to ensure the guitar does not move around. Then add layers of paper at the top as you have placed at the bottom. Close the box and tape up all the edges. Consider adding ‘FRAGILE’ or ‘DO NOT LAY FLAT’ stickers on both sides of the box! 

Instead of shipping by courier, if you decide to carry the guitar on your own, here are some essential tips for flying with a guitar!

How To Choose An International Courier To Ship A guitar? 

Read the policy of the courier

All the ranking courier services have detailed rules and regulations for shipping and vary from courier to courier. Read and check the relevant rules and regulations carefully before deciding.  

Check the insurance coverage  

However, the service is accidents and mishaps are likely in shipping, so don’t forget to look up the compensation section for such instances.

Choose a courier that offers delivery tracking

The delivery tracking option is crucial to you if you have a deadline. It will allow you to monitor the delivery progress and make queries or complaints if there are any. 

Best if a signature upon delivery is required  

It might add a few bucks to the costs, yet signature upon delivery is a practical feature for your peace of mind. The courier service will notify you when the guitar safely reaches its destination. 

Specialty courier services for high-end guitars 

Specialty courier services are the best option if you intend to ship a high-end guitar. The services will take special care, alleviate any safety concerns and offer you expert solutions.  

How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Guitar? 

The cost of shipping a guitar depends on many things, such as the service you choose, distance, the price of the guitar, and many other things. Find below the key factors that determine the cost:  

Distance 

The distance your guitar will travel adds to your cost. Moving the guitar within the state will cost as little as $35. If you need to ship a guitar internationally, the price will start from $150 or more. 

Types of services 

The kind of service you are opting for also determines the cost. Premium services will offer maximum safe and secure transit for premium services and guarantee on-time delivery at a premium price. Also, there are cheaper services too. To give you an idea, shipping a guitar usually costs between $20- $80. 

The price of the guitar 

If you have a premium guitar priced around $2000, I recommend getting it insured. Although insurance will add some cost, considering the risks of damage and security, it’s worth it. 

The weight and the size of the guitar 

The cost will vary depending on the size and weight of your guitar. Typically, electric guitars are heavier than acoustics and will cost more. The recommended travel guitar cases can be surprisingly heavy (ranging from 8 lbs. to 22 lbs.), and the weight of the guitar case adds to the overall shipping weight measurement. Check the website or contact the courier for details.   

Conclusion 

Shipping a guitar is indeed troublesome. There are lots of rules and regulations to follow. I hope this article has given you the upper hand before you prepare. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

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