Packing a guitar for shipping requires a few essential items, and a bit of work if one actually wants the instrument to arrive without damage. Here is the method I have developed over the last 15 years. In that time I have shipped Many nice instruments, only a couple of which sustained any damage. In those instances, the damage was due to my own incompetency, or stupidity as the case may be.
  1. It is certainly highly preferable for the guitar to ship within a hardshell case. If a chipboard case, no case or a gigbag is all that is available , extra precautions are necessary.
  2. Loosen the strings so there in no tension on the neck.
  3. If the instrument is shipping to a tropically hot climate, placing the body of the guitar inside a plain brown paper bag, before bubblewrapping is a good idea.
  4. Using bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper, pack the guitar ,INSIDE of the case so that the guitar is completely immobilized. Place sufficient packing materials under the headstock in order to support that very vulnerable part of the guitar.
  5. If the bridge is removable, take it off and place it in the case pocket, or wrap it in some of the packing material so that it simply cannot scratch the instrument. If the end pin is removable, do the same with it.
  6. The butt of the guitar body must be well cushioned from being dropped, so push the body in the case towards the peghead before inserting some packing there at the bottom of the guitar. I also put a sheet of bubblewrap over the top of the guitar and the neck.
  7. After packing the guitar inside the case, I give it a few good shakes to be certain it is immoblized.
  8. I usually put at least one extra layer of bubblewrap at the butt and the top of the case before putting a layer of bubblewrap on , completely enclosing the case. If the guitar is dropped, or falls, these are the two most vulnerable areas.
  9. If the case is a hardshell, this should be sufficient to prevent damage, however, the guitar MUST be immoblized WITHIN the packing box, so additional material will need to be placed inside the box for this purpose. A guitar case that can move when you try to push it around inside the box is NOT properly packed.
  10. If the case is not a hardshell, or if there is No case, the first box must be wrapped in an additional layer of bubblewrap, and placed within a second,slightly larger box, and also made immobile.
  11. Because of size limits in shipping, it is sometimes necessary to cut down the boxes to fit the length of the instrument. If one is shipping a short scale bass, one does not require a box that is 6 inches longer than the case, or the interior box. The easiest way to cut down a box is to run a razor knife, down the four edges (corners) of the box past the ideal length to the end of the box. The excess length can be either cut off, or folded over the case or interior box and taped down.
  12. The ends of the boxes should be taped closed with plenty of tape, not just on the edges.
  13. An extra label giving the shippers and the recievers address should also be taped to the side of the box, preferably also giving the phone number or emailaddress of the recipient.
  14. The shipping label should be carefully taped to the END ( the smallest surface) of the box, done carefully so as to not have wrinkles in the tape over the bar codes. If one is shipping fed ex, or international usps, use a bit of tape to ensure that the mailing pouch that contains shipping documents cannot be ripped or scraped off the box.

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