Guitars are notoriously delicate and fragile musical instruments that have not been designed to be tossed around inside a moving vehicle. In fact, guitars don’t enjoy being moved too much – they like it when they are sleeping motionless in their hard or soft cases and when they are kept stationary on their guitar stands. The only gentle movement they are known to appreciate is when somebody is bringing beautiful notes out of them, either strapped to that person’s shoulders or cuddled on their laps.
If you own a guitar and you’re moving house soon, then you’ve got yourself a minor issue to deal with – how to pack your guitar for moving. And even though packing a guitar for shipment will not be the most challenging task you’ll face when moving from one home to another, you should still do it right to avoid any type of untimely damage to your prized possession.
How to pack a guitar for moving? Pay attention to the preparation and packing steps below that outline the best way to pack a guitar for a move, for one careless or uncalculated movement may ruin your expensive stringed instrument for good.
What to know before packing a guitar for moving
Sure, you can’t possibly compare the difficulty levels of moving a piano to a new home on one hand, and moving an acoustic or electric guitar on the other hand. Still, what you should never do is underestimate the task of packing your guitar safely for the upcoming house move.
If you think that the worst case scenario is to find your lovely stringed instrument with its strings broken when the move is over, then you’re clearly mistaken. While it’s true that strings can be replaced fairly easily and they don’t usually cost too much to purchase, even a single snapped string while the instrument is in transit could scratch significantly the delicate guitar finish.
A cracked bridge should be your next line of worry, followed closely by broken tuning keys and then the worst nightmare that a guitar owner can face – a damaged headstock. Either way, it won’t be a pretty post-move picture so it’s time to secure the right packing materials.
Packing materials for moving a guitar to another home
Ideally, you’ll keep your stringed instrument inside a protective case when you’re not playing it – a hard guitar case or a soft guitar case, and that alone will make the packing and transportation process a lot easier and safer. Thus said, we’ll show you how to pack a guitar for shipping without a case too, so that you’re covered either way.
The right packing materials are one of the most important steps to making sure your guitar reaches its destination in one piece.
- Shipping box. You will need a shipping box made of strong cardboard regardless of whether your guitar has its own case or not. The box should be big enough to enclose the guitar case or the guitar alone with just enough space for the padding materials. The usual size of a guitar shipping box is roughly 50″ x 20″ x 9″. Contact your local moving company or music shop in advance to purchase such a shipping box.
- Unprinted packing paper. It’s best to get your hands on heavy paper but soft packing paper will also do the trick. Just make sure it’s unprinted as the ink can easily damage the sensitive finish on the instrument.
- Bubble wrap. You don’t need much bubble wrap to pack a guitar for a move – a few large sheets should be enough.
- Packing tape. You’ll still need to close up and secure the cardboard box after you’ve packed the stringed instrument inside it. Purchase quality packing tape.
How to prepare your guitar for shipment
Before we move on to the concise guitar packing guide, let’s take a look at 2 simple yet important steps to preparing a guitar for packing and moving to a new home.
- Step 1: Loosen the strings. The first step is to loosen slightly the strings on your guitar. Why? Taut strings will create unnecessary pressure on the guitar neck during the move and may snap, thus damaging the surface of the instrument. You don’t have to detune the instrument completely or remove the strings altogether – detuning the guitar by about 2 octaves should be enough to ease the tension.
- Step 2: Remove any detachable parts. Take down the guitar strap, capo, bridge cover, tuner or any other accessories or tools that may be attached to your guitar. Use soft packing paper to pack all these elements separately and place them inside a small cardboard box or a plastic bag that can be sealed securely. Label the container GUITAR ACCESSORIES and keep it close to the packed guitar.
Food for thought: Should I hire professional packers?
How to pack a guitar for moving
Here come the essential steps that explain how to pack a guitar for shipping during a house move.
- Step 1. Wrap carefully the headstock of your instrument with packing paper first, and then follow it with one or two sheets of Bubble wrap over it. Pay special attention to the safety of the tuning keys. Remember that the headstock is one of the most sensitive parts of the guitar, so you do want to protect it the best way you can.
- Step 2. If you own a soft case or a hard case, then things will be much easier for you and much safer for your prized stringed instrument. Place the guitar into the case after you’ve loosened slightly its strings. In case you don’t have such a protective case, then there are just a few things you need to do as extra protection /read the next step/.
- Step 3. If you’re packing a guitar for shipping without a case, then take a few sheets of soft packing paper and slide them between the strings and the fretboard to keep the two separated. The strings should not be touching the fretboard at any time during the actual relocation of your musical instrument.
- Step 4. The lack of a guitar case will force you to provide an additional layer of padding for the sensitive instrument. Wrap the entire length of your guitar in unprinted newspaper and then use clean hand towels or soft blankets to make a nice snug bundle. Next, place that bundle into the shipping box in such a position that the headstock is facing upward.
- Step 5. This step is a crucial one – add wads of crumpled paper (newspapers are also an option here) between the guitar case or the wrapped-up guitar (without a case) and the cardboard box to immobilize it. Nothing should be moving inside the shipping box. Use old pieces of clothing to fill in any remaining spaces. Before you decide you’re ready, lift the cardboard box and give it a slight shake – you shouldn’t feel anything moving inside it.
- Step 6. Tape shut the guitar shipping box, and mark the container as Fragile and This way up.
In the best case scenario, you’ll be able to transport the protected guitar with your own vehicle but trusting a top-rated moving company is fine now that you know the best way to pack and ship a guitar. If your prized musical instrument happens to be really expensive, then speak with your professional mover about purchasing adequate insurance.
Valuable info: How much does it cost to hire movers?