JustShip’s Comprehensive Guide to Shipping Guitars

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The Guitar: What does it mean to people?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the guitar is an instrument that forms a core part of most modern bands. The guitar was first developed in the 1300s, but when we think of it as a modern instrument, one can look back to the 1950s, when the first mass-produced solid-body guitar was produced. Since the introduction of the Fender Telecaster in 1952, guitars have stood the test of modern times through their versatility. They are often used as the leading instrument in genres, such as blues, jazz, country, classical guitar (flamengo), heavy metal, indie rock, reggae, and pop. Musicians, through their guitars, create tones and melodies which touch the lives of many individuals.

Having said that, guitars are definitely not just for the “professional” musician. Many pick up the guitar as a hobby. To them, it provides some sort of therapy, a distraction from the rigors of stressful life. Some individuals simply collect guitars, seeing them as works of art. A great example would be when Paul Allen purchased Jimi Hendrix’s guitar for a reported $2 million dollars.

Be it Jimi Hendrix’s $2 million guitar, or a $100 budget beginner’s guitar, guitars are fragile items, and should always be handled with care and properly maintained. Simple steps like regularly changing strings, and cleaning it with the correct oils, will ensure the playability of the guitar.

Guitars often do travel around! (Often Globally)

Keeping one’s own guitar in good shape, is arguably a personal choice. Guitars do not always remain at the same location forever. They need to be properly packed when moving domestically, but what happens if they have to be moved internationally? If the person owns only one guitar, perhaps they could hand-carry it with them on the plane.

What happens though if the person has too much luggage to carry on-board? What happens if the person is in fact selling the guitar to someone overseas? Guitars are fragile items that can be seriously damaged if the correct steps are not taken to pack it. Guitars tend to be personal (and as mentioned earlier, sometimes, very expensive) – Imagine the heartache when the guitar’s recipient sees something like this:

broken guitar neck

Broken necks like these are not only very difficult but extremely costly to fix. All this from shipping a guitar without knowing how to do so properly? Definitely not worth it.

JustShip has much experience with guitars shipping. We often provide our customers with Cheap Shipping from Singapore to US and the UK. Just this week, we shipped an Ibanez electric guitar as well as a Taylor acoustic guitar safely to the US. At JustShip, we also offer professional packing services as well as fast 3-5 days international shipping worldwide. We understand your concerns about your valuable items, and here we are to provide some tips for packing guitars safely. We will also provide you valuable information regarding CITIES and how it may affect the shipping of your guitar.

How to Safely Pack Your Guitar

Through our experience and research, JustShip can offer these tips that will go a long way toward protecting valuable instruments.

1. It is highly recommended that you loosen the strings of the guitar. Too much string tension may result in neck warping, especially when being transported to countries of different climates. Neck warping can be a serious issue, especially if the wood warps at different parts of the neck. Different guitars require different amounts of loosening, but a safe bet would be about 2-3 steps down.

2. It is recommended that all accessories be kept separate from the guitar. These items may include tremolos, guitar cables, and a simple guitar pick. Anything accessory of this kind may damage and scratch your instrument.

3. Add a thin piece of foam in between your fretboard and strings! That minimises scratching of your fretboard.

4. It is highly recommended that you use a hard case specific to your guitar’s model when shipping internationally. These cases fit the guitars tightly, thus minimising movement as well as possible impact. High-end guitars often come with their own hard cases, which are suitable for shipping. We also recommend that you supplement these hard cases with properly shaped cardboard boxes. JustShip has professional package services and will be more than happy to assist you with packing your cased guitar.

5. There should not be any loose space in the hard case as they are usually specific to your guitar model. If there are loose spaces, ensure you fill up the loose space in the hard case with foam or bubble wrap. This is especially important around the headboard. Do a shake test to ensure that everything is as tight as can be.

6. If you are opting to use your own box, the conservative approach is to leave a 5cm gap between case and box, on all sides. Then fill up those loose spaces with peanuts or bubble wrap so there is no room for the case to shake within the box. We have had customers who prefer to save on shipping costs and just ship the case in a tight fitting box with no added padding between case and box. Shipping partners will allow that, but just know that you are taking a risk for your guitar if you do so!

7. Lastly, tape your box securely. The last thing you would want is for the box to break and for your case to be exposed.

8. And yes, guitars in soft cases can work too, the same tips above apply. Just make sure you do the shake test extra hard to ensure that there is no space for the guitar to move. There is a trade-off you will have to make when deciding between a soft and hard case. Hard cases are definitely more protective, but will cost more to buy. Typically, the more expensive your guitar is, the more it makes sense to buy a hard case for protection when shipping!

What guitars can you ship?

CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement put in place by governments to ensure that international trade does not negatively impact animals and plants. It is technically legally binding, but it does not take precedence over a country’s law.

These laws affect both guitar makers and owners. For the makers, certain woods require extra paperwork when used or obtained. For the shipper or receiver of the guitar, it is important to note that certain woods have been totally prohibited for international trade. Some restrictions have been lifted. For example, Indian Rosewood was heavily restricted to combat illegal furniture building. However, in 2017, there was an amendment to the clause, and Indian Rosewood was deemed prohibited – specifically for musical instruments.

Thankfully, now, they have amended this clause and Indian Rosewood is free to travel internationally. However, if your guitar contains Brazilian rosewood, it is near impossible to ship out with the correct CITIES approval.

In short, it is most likely that you will not encounter any customs issues if you ship your guitar, as long as it is not made of Brazilian Rosewood. Typically, if there are no specifications on your guitar regarding its origins, it is unlikely that it would be made of Brazilian Rosewood. This is because it is a high-end material that guitar makers would take the opportunity to highlight to customers.

How much does it cost to ship guitars?

To give you a clearer understanding of the costs to ship your guitar, let’s break it down into the two main types of guitars – electric & acoustics. We will then go through the various options of packing and shipping each guitar. For our electric guitar’s size, we will take reference from one well-known to most musicians – the Fender Stratocaster, new ones can range from anything between $1,000 to $50,000 retail.

Alex Turner with a Fender Stratocaster

Alex Turner with a Fender Stratocaster

For our acoustic guitar’s size, we will take reference from a popular acoustic guitar – the Martin D18, which is a dreadnought. This currently retails at around $3.6k at City Music linked here.

A person with Dreadnought Guitar

A person with Dreadnought Guitar

We also assume that the guitar will be shipped to the USA, which is a popular destination for guitars as there are many guitar lovers there who would buy guitars from all over the world and have it shipped there.

Generally, we recommend that you ship with a hard case to protect your instrument, given both its sentimental and monetary value. We also understand that some customers might prefer to opt out of buying a hard case, this is okay, we can ship it too. We will give you options for both hard and soft cases as well as the breakdown for packing and shipping your guitars with them.

How much does it cost to ship an electric guitar?

Options

Use hard case with fragile packing

Use hard case, get it boxed

Use soft case, get it boxed

Cost to pack and ship guitar with case

SGD 803.86

SGD 591.94

SGD 1708.05

Cost to buy case, then pack and ship

SGD 1102.86

SGD 890.94

SGD 1723.05

The best choice we recommend is to go for the hard case and have it boxed with fragile packing. It is the most secure option and does not cost more to ship! See more below for an elaboration on the assumptions we made to arrive at these numbers.

Option 1 - Electric Guitar With Hard Case (ship boxed with fragile packing)

The average weight of a Fender Stratocaster is 3.81kg.

Let’s use a typical hard case often used by Fender themselves for the purposes of our quotations. The SKB 1SKB-66PRO Pro Rectangular Electric Guitar Case costs $299 as in available here from Swee Lee.

The dimensions of this case are 104cm*43cm*15cm, with the weight of 4.07kg.

Boxing the hard case with fragile packing will require an additional buffer of 10cm. This will bring the dimensions of your guitar with hard case to 114cm*53cm*25cm.

Given this, the actual weight of the shipping an average Fender Stratocaster with this case is the actual weight of 7.88kg. Given its dimensions, we can calculate the volumetric weight to be 30.5kg. Shipping would cost approximately $803.86.

Cost to Ship with your own case to US: $803.86

Cost to Ship (after buying the recommend case): $1102.86

Option 2 - Electric Guitar With Hard Case (ship boxed)

The second option is to box up the Fender Stratocaster that is in the hard case. This is not as safe as the first option but some customers have gone with it to save shipping costs.

Boxing the hard case will require an additional buffer of 5cm. This will bring the dimensions of your guitar with hard case to 109cm*48cm*20cm.

To ship your hard-cased guitar with a box, it would cost $611.94, inclusive of the packing fee.

Cost to Ship (boxed by JustShip) with your own case to US – $611.94

Cost to Ship (boxed by JustShip) after buying the recommended case to US: $910.94

Option 3- Electric Guitar With Soft Case (ship boxed with fragile packing)

The third option is for those who wish to ship their guitar with a soft case. In case you don’t have a soft case, one such possibility is the koda essential Electric Guitar Bag ONE – linked here.. It costs a very reasonable $15 again from Swee Lee.

The dimensions for this case are 104cm*38cm*40cm, with a weight of 400g.

For the boxing of soft cases, we normally add a buffer of 15cm to ensure the security of the guitar. This will bring the dimensions of the package to 119cm*47cm*57cm. In turn, this will give us a volumetric weight of 64kg. This would cost $1671.05 to ship, with a reasonable packing fee of $75, considering that this package would be deemed as fragile.

The materials used in soft cases can typically make their dimensions larger than that of a hard case. This explains the massive increase in volumetric weight and thus cost.

We have shipped guitars in soft cases to the US with no issues in the past. But would the above two options be better suited? Hard cases can also be considered as an investment for safer travel in the future. JustShip is here to provide you with the choice and options!

Cost to Ship (Boxed by JustShip) with your own soft case to the US – $1708.05

Cost to Ship (Boxed by JustShip) after buying the recommended case to the US – $1723.05

How much does it cost to ship an acoustic guitar?

Options

Use hard case, get it shrink wrapped

Use hard case, get it boxed

Use soft case, get it boxed

Cost to pack and ship guitar with case

SGD 1056.39

SGD 923.21

SGD 1317.69

Cost to buy case, then pack and ship

SGD 1315.39

SGD 1182.31

SGD 1392.69

The best choice we recommend is to go for the hard case and have it boxed with fragile packing. It is the most secure option and does not cost more to ship! See more below for an elaboration on the assumptions we made to arrive at these numbers.

Option 1- Acoustic Guitar With Hard Case (ship boxed with fragile packing)

The average weight of Martin D18 is around 2.3kg.

JustShip recommends the use of the popular SKB 1SKB-18 Deluxe Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar Case linked here. It costs a reasonable $259.00 from Swee Lee.

Its dimensions are as follows: 114.30cm*49,53cm*16.69cm. It weighs 4.51kg.

Boxing the hard case will require an additional buffer of 10cm. This will bring the dimensions of your guitar with a hard case to 125cm*60cm*27cm. This in turn will increase the volumetric weight to 40.5kg.

This combination costs a total of $1056.39 to ship to the US, inclusive of packing.

If you need to purchase your case with Swee Lee, the total cost to ship to the US would be: $1315.39

Option 2- Acoustic Guitar With Hard Case (ship with box)

The second option is to simply ship the guitar in a hard case which is in a tight fitting box.

Boxing the hard case will require an additional buffer of 5cm. This will bring the dimensions of your guitar with a hard case to 119cm*54.53cm*25cm. This in turn will increase the volumetric weight to 32.5kg. This combination costs a total of $923.31 to ship to the US. The JustShip packing fees are just $27.50.

To sum up:

This combination costs a total of $923.31 to ship to the US

If you choose to purchase your case as recommended, the total cost to ship to the US would be: $1,182.31

Option 3- Acoustic Guitar With Soft Case (ship boxed with fragile packing)

The third option is for those who wish to ship their guitar with a soft case.. In case you don’t have a soft case, one such possibility is the SKB 1SKB-GB18 Acoustic Gig Bag, available here at Swee Lee, priced at $79.00.

For this case, its dimensions are: 113.03cm*45.72cm*16cm. (Do note that the height has been adjusted from its original 6.99cm. The original height given by the SKB assumes that the case is empty. 16cm is derived from the average height of a dreadnought guitar.

Typically, when we box guitars with soft cases, we add a buffer of 15cm to the original dimensions – this results in the dimensions of this package being 128.03*60.72*31cm, with a respective volumetric weight of 48kg. Here the shipping fee to the US would be $1317.69. Because this would be considered a fragile item, the packing fee be $67.

We have shipped guitars in soft cases to the US with no issues in the past. But would the above two options be better suited? Hard cases can also be considered as an investment for safer travel in the future. JustShip is here to provide you with the choice and options!

To sum up:

Cost to ship an acoustic guitar with its own soft case (boxed by JustShip) to the US: $1317.69.

If you choose to purchase the new soft case as recommended above, your cost to ship to the US will be $1,392.69.

JustShip your guitar with us!

JustShip understands how nerve-racking it can be shipping such as a personal item, never mind its value. We hope that this guide has brought value to you.

Here is what JustShip can bring to you:

1. Cheap, fast (2-5 working days), international shipping to places such as France, Japan, the US, and the UK. These are just four of the many countries we can ship your guitars to.

2. Experience with packing fragile, expensive items such as guitars. We have all the boxes and items needed to ensure the safety of your instrument.

3. We combine research with experience in order to make our customer’s shipping better!

4. Free pick-up services, or if you prefer, you may drop it off at our office at Ubi (Address below)

Any questions? Our friendly customer service team will be more than happy to help you! (We reply within 24 hours!)

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JustShip
May 18, 2022
shipping guitar

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