A Few Tips for Shipping Musical Instruments

A Few Tips for Shipping Musical Instruments Shipping musical instruments can be quite a challenge because they are both fragile and expensive; in addition, many musical instruments are both oddly shaped and bulky, which hikes up the shipping cost. Let’s figure out together how to find the safest and most cost-effective way to ship musical instruments.

Step 1: Pack Your Musical Instrument Properly to Keep It Safe

If you want your musical instrument to arrive at its destination intact, you should do everything in your power to protect it against damage. Of course, extra packaging materials will cost you money, but it’s better to splurge on packaging than to have your musical instrument damaged while in transit.

There are specific packaging requirements when it comes to different types of musical instruments, but there is one rule of thumb you should always keep in mind: you should ship musical instruments in their original cases whenever possible because instrument cases are specifically designed to protect their contents in the best possible way. If you don’t have a case and can’t find a suitable one, you should wrap the instrument in two or more layers of bubble wrap and secure it with packing tape.

Before placing the instrument in its case or wrapping it in bubble wrap, you should remove any parts that can be removed. Guidelines for shipping guitars and other string instruments typically recommend loosening the strings to reduce the risk of snapping while in transit.

The next step is picking the right box. While most carriers allow to reuse old boxes as long as they are in a good shape, we recommend against it when shipping musical instruments. The box you end up using should be new and strong, made from a durable material such as corrugated cardboard that will hold the weight of the instrument in its case plus cushioning material and won’t lose its shape in transit.

Line the bottom of the box with packaging material (crumpled paper or packing peanuts will do), place the instrument inside, and fill any remaining space with more packaging material. Close the box and give it a shake test to make sure the instrument it secure; if you can hear or feel it move, add more cushioning. Finally, seal the box shut with durable packing tape. Do not forget to add relevant labels and markings such as Fragile and This End Up.

Step 2: Calculate the DIM Weight of Your Package

To choose the best shipping option, you need to know the actual (gross) weight of your package as well as its dimensional weight. Packages containing musical instruments tend to be oddly shaped and bulky, but not as heavy as their size might suggest. For example, drum kits are relatively light but take up quite a lot of space. Because of this, carriers typically charge for shipping musical instruments by dimensional weight rather than by gross weight.

The dimensional weight of a package (also known as volumetric weight or DIM weight) indicates how much space it takes up. To calculate it, you need to measure the dimensions of your package (length, width and height), multiply them together, and divide the result by dimensional factor, which can be 139 or 166 depending on the carrier. You can find detailed instructions for calculating DIM weight here.

Once you know the dimensional weight of your package with the musical instrument, you should weigh it and compare its gross weight to its DIM weight. The carrier will charge you for whichever one is higher.

Step 3: Choose the Best Shipping Option

Since shipping musical instruments is almost never cheap, it’s in your best interest to explore all shipping options in order to choose the most cost-saving one. The easiest way to do it is to use a shipping calculator shipping calculator: you enter the points of origin and destination, as well as the weight of your package (DIM or gross, whichever one is higher), and the calculator provides a list of available shipping carriers (for example, the USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) and services, as well as shipping cost estimates.

Step 4: Consider Purchasing Additional Insurance

Most shipping services include some sort of coverage that allows you to be compensated for lost or damaged packages, but the amount of included insurance coverage is usually lower than the cost of a musical instrument. For example, domestic USPS Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packages are covered up to $100, whereas the average price of an electric guitar is around $500. Therefore it is highly recommended to purchase additional insurance from your shipping carrier or third-party insurance provider when shipping musical instruments and other fragile and expensive items.