How does my guitar make a long distance move?
June 27, 2009 10:04 AM   Subscribe

How does my guitar make a long distance move?

I'm making a long distance move on Tuesday and am wondering how to move my guitar. I've several options.

1. Put it in the moving truck. It could take up to a week to arrive.

2. Put it in the trunk of our car. It would be a few days.

3. Carry it on the plane.

4. Check it on the plane.

5. Ship it UPS or Fedex or similiar.

It's an acoustic guitar which cost me a few hundred bucks. I've got in a lockable hard case. I'm moving from Pittsburgh to Boston.


posted by reddot to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think this calls for you carrying it as close to your person as possible, so carrying it on the plane sounds about right.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2009

If you fly, de-string. That high of an altitude will snap the neck off your guitar, otherwise.
posted by captainsohler at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2009

If you want it right away, check it on the plane. Loosen ALL the tension from the strings, or you risk structural damage. Otherwise, throw it in the moving truck. It will be fine either way, I have done both.
posted by gnutron at 10:35 AM on June 27, 2009

If you want it there as safely as possible, carry it on the plane and then speak to a flight attendant to get it stored in the closets they use for baby strollers.
posted by knowles at 10:52 AM on June 27, 2009

If you fly, de-string. That high of an altitude will snap the neck off your guitar, otherwise.

You don't need to take the strings off. Just tune down. I've flown with acoustic and electric guitars many times and never had a problem.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2009

Best answer: Just carry it on the plane. I have carried on various string instruments (banjo, mandolin, guitar) many a time without incident. Since guitars are generally a little on the large side, you might want to check with the airline ahead of time to make sure there'll be space for it, but unless your plane is going to be super tiny I highly doubt there will be a problem.

The TSA allows one musical instrument per person in addition to other carry on baggage.

I was always taught to a) never under any circumstances check a stringed instrument as baggage, and b) avoid leaving stringed instruments in vehicles for long periods of time, especially during the summer. Both of these are mostly to avoid exposing the instrument to extreme temperature changes, and in the case of (a), also to avoid exposing it to careless baggage handlers.
posted by Commander Rachek at 11:25 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I carried my guitar back and forth on planes all the time. I think once they made me check it (it came out fine). Most of the time I had no problem bringing it as a carry-on.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 1:02 PM on June 27, 2009

I checked my guitar in a hard case to Australia and back with no problems. They wouldn't allow me to carry it on. I packed t-shirts around it, especially the neck, and covered it with Handle With Care tape, and it did just fine. The main reason I wouldn't put it in the car or moving van is because it's summer, and both locations will probably get super hot, so not good for it.
posted by lemonade at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2009

Thanks, Commander Rachek, I had no idea about this!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2009

This has been discussed many times on AskMe. Try Googling. Previously and previously.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2009

Flown with Telecaster a number of times, in post-911 hyper-paranoid US, no problems, all airline employees extra nice about it, stowed in overhead.
posted by signal at 2:31 PM on June 27, 2009

What is it about the altitude change that makes down tuning necessary?
posted by Jason Land at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2009

I've flow with a guitar from US to Belgium. I was going to check it before the woman at the check in desk was like, "Are you crazy? Don't check it, it'll get destroyed." So I just carried it on and put it in the overhead. No problems. I your best option is just to carry it on the plane.

If you fly, de-string. That high of an altitude will snap the neck off your guitar, otherwise.

Sorry, but this is complete nonsense. High altitude has no effect on the tension in the strings and, anyway, planes are pressurized, so it's barely lower pressure than at sea level. Maybe 2-3 psi lower than at most, so even if there was an effect (which there isn't) there's absolutely no way it would do anything close to snapping the neck off your guitar. Maybe the dry air on the plane has a small effect on the sound and tuning, but even that is unlikely to last more than a day or two, especially on such a short flight. I'd worry much more about heat in the car or moving van than I would about taking it on the plane.
posted by dseaton at 5:05 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone. I had seen the previous question about checking vs carrying on, but no discussion about shipping or moving van or whatnot.

I'll give carry on a shot.

Thanks again.
posted by reddot at 6:37 PM on June 27, 2009

Just carry it on the plane.

If permitted by the airline, you absolutely must listen to this advice. Delta almost lost a Stratocaster of mine that I've had since I was a teenager. It took them a week to find it and get it to me. I kid you not, their response was, almost word for word:

"It's not lost, don't worry. We just don't know where it is right now."

Keep your axe with you, detune it to slack (or remove the strings, whatever), and travel it in a hard case. Pad with some shirts if your case allows it to move around too much.
posted by secret about box at 1:22 AM on June 28, 2009

Response by poster: Hi all. Here's an update. JetBlue wanted me to buy the guitar a ticket and said that it could not be checked as luggage. So I moved it with the movers. It was in a hard shell case and the case was packed in another large box with some other items.

It arrived in perfect condition. Some of my other stuff got really beat up, but not that box.

Thanks for the advice everyone. Good luck to the next person with this situation.
posted by reddot at 3:30 PM on August 1, 2009

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