altTraveling with any instrument, especially a guitar, can be a stressful event to say the least. While we may never be fully relaxed when our instrument is in the hands of the airline, train or bus companies, there are several steps we can take that will ensure our guitar makes it to its destination in playable shape.

 

  • Always travel with a hard-shell case. Soft cases are great for short car rides, or if you are walking to your destination. For longer car trips, and all flights, a good hard-shell case can prevent your guitar from becoming banged up.

 

  • Loosen the strings by a whole-tone, roughly one full turn of the tuning pegs. By loosening the strings we are preventing them from vibrating at normal tension. This helps to prolong string life, and prevents wear from occurring on the fingerboards and frets while in transit.

 

  • Place a cloth between the strings and the fingerboard. This suggestion is geared more towards flying than driving. As the plane travels it is constantly vibrating at a very fast rate, which causes your strings to vibrate at the same time. Even over the course of a short flight these vibrations can cause your strings to wear out, or worse, wear down the frets.

 

  • Always try and bring your guitar onto the plane with you. The overhead compartments in most planes are big enough to hold any solid-body guitar and some classical, acoustic and hollow-body models as well. If you cannot fit your guitar into the overhead, ask the steward(ess) if you can store it in the coat closet, most will allow you to do so without any reservations.

 

  • If you must check your guitar, either under the plane or as a gate check, make sure to keep the case closed for several hours after arriving at your destination. While the guitar is under the plane it is exposed to very cold temperatures, which in turn cause the temperature inside the case to drop well below room temperature. By leaving the case closed the temperature inside the case can slowly warm up on its own. If you were to open the case right away and expose the cold guitar in the case to the warm air in the room it can cause damage to the neck, bridge or body of the guitar.

 

  • Two things to always pack when traveling with a guitar is a screwdriver and case humidifier. If you have a classical, acoustic or arch-top guitar the humidifier will help keep your guitar at a constant humidity, even if the humidity outside the case has changed throughout your trip. The screwdriver will come in handy for electric guitars, as the guitars intonation can often slip when traveling to different climates, especially with a change in temperature.

 

Traveling with a guitar has become more and more popular as the cost of flying has dropped over the past decade. By following these few simple steps you can ensure that your guitar makes it safely to your destination, and remains playable for the duration of your trip. All of these tips can also be applied when you are shipping a guitar via Fedex, UPS or any other shipping company.

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