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How to pack your guitar

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Don't let this happen to you

More and more guitars and basses are bought online, lots guitarists are sending their guitars to me via a courier too. Often, they arrive where they should without any problems but your prized guitar could get smashed about by a less careful postal worker.

I'm going to show you THE BEST way to pack a guitar and how to minimise the damage that someone else could do to your guitar while in transit.

I recommend shipping me a guitar in a decent hard case. If you cannot get hold of a hard case I recommend going to your local guitar shop with your guitar and test fitting some cardboard ones out. You want a decent tight fit. See if they have any bubble wrap around too. Try to find one with some kind of polystyrene neck support if possible. You'll have to make a neck support if there isn't one.

  1. Remove loose or unnecessary things from inside your case. You really don't want a tremolo arm loose in there running wild.
  2. Secure the lid, make sure that it can't open on its own
  3. pack a guitar
    Put the guitar in neutral — slacken the strings.

    When tuned up your guitar holds a hell of a lot of pressure — think of it as being charged. If someone dropped your guitar strung up to pitch there's much higher risk of a headstock break!

    No matter how you're packing you guitar I really do recommend slackening the strings
  4. Protect the frets. I like to add a sheet of newspaper under the strings to stop them touching the frets. I'll do this always but after a fret dress, I've spent the last 20 minutes polishing them up. The last thing anyone would want is small grooves in the tops of the frets!
  5. If your guitar has an arch top (loose) type bridge you need to support around it. I recommend adding rolled up paper around it to make sure it doesn't come loose in the box
  6. hiscox hardcase
    Make sure the guitar and particularly headstock is secured. Ideally you don't want the headstock to touch the tip of the case. A good test is to close the case or box temporally and shake it. If you can hear the guitar sliding around you need to pad it out some more.

    Bubble wrap and newspaper scrunched up into balls is good
  7. When you're happy with the fit I like to wrap some gaffa tape around the whole package. I like to cover the fastenings on hard cases just incase they fail and the guitar just drops out.
  8. Label up your box or case and add FRAGILE - PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE! Draw a broken wine glass on the case too.
  9. Insure your guitar for more than it's worth just in case something goes wrong!

Take those steps and you're minimising any potential damage to your guitar. Best tip on there is about slackening the strings — trust me!

Would you ship a crossbow loaded??!

If you need more convincing have a look at the photos below. These were all done by a clumsy postman

Mandolin neck was broken in transit here A Norman guitar trashed by the postie
Reliced Les Paul headstock break, thanks Parcelforce This Fender acoustic looks like it got run over in the box
Broken Martin Neck courtesy of DHL Broken Cello scroll