Shipping used music gear and instruments successfully isn’t an easy task to accomplish; every instrument is not only fragile, but is also vulnerable to damage in transit as well as changes in temperature and humidity. The bigger the instrument, of course, the more difficult it is to ship – and many are too large to be shipped in standard parcels. Many also are not able to be broken down into small pieces for shipping, either.
Protecting your used musical instruments and used music gear during shipping starts with you – and the case you’ve chosen for your item. Having a good hard, sturdy case for transport is the single best thing you can do to protect it. Keep in mind, however, that even if you have a hardshell case, your instrument can be damaged, especially if you check it at an airport.
Traveling by Air with Instruments
Since baggage handlers are not known to be particularly “delicate” with items at the airports, your best bet, if you are traveling by air, is to bring it to the gate. If you’re able to bring your used music equipment or instrument as carry-on and store it overhead with you, go for it. If you can’t bring it onboard with you, when you bring it to the gate, it will be one of the last items on and off the plane, which will reduce the risk of handling damage.
It’s a good idea to contact the airline ahead of time before your flight and check with them about the rules regarding instruments. If you do check your baggage, make sure you get a baggage claim check. You’ll also want to choose flights that have the fewest amount of stops possible because this will reduce the amount of times your instrument gets handled. Another important point to consider is the liability the airline is responsible for; if your instrument is worth more than what the airline’s liability amount will cover, you’ll want to purchase “excess valuation” from the airline. Finally, always check your instrument for damage before leaving the airport! If you notice damage, you need to bring it to the proper airline staff members’ attention right away.
Traveling by Ground or Sea
If your instrument is a stringed instrument, you’ll want to loosen the strings; this will help minimize strain on the instrument and strings due to temperature, humidity, and pressure changes. Be sure to loosen them, but not too much. Notify your service provider in advance of special precautions that should be taken with your instrument. Always make sure that your instruments for sale or use (and your used music gear and equipment) is insured for travel. If you’re able to pad your instrument with added layers and cover it in “fragile” labels, do so! For extra fragile parts, such as the necks of string instruments, be sure to wrap them fully in padding. Finally, make sure your case has a luggage tag with your name, address, and phone number!
With the proper precautions, although it is impossible to guarantee your instrument will never be damaged, you can minimize the chances of a bad experience. When traveling with instruments and equipment, no step is too small to minimize that risk!
If you’re looking to buy or sell used music gear or instruments, look no further than World Music Trader.