Reverb How To's

How to Ship a Guitar

REVERB HOW TO'S

How to Ship a Guitar

Nervous about shipping a guitar? Don't be.
Shipping a guitar, bass, or other instrument is easier than you may think. Take a look at this video and see our recommendations on how to pack and ship a guitar as safely and securely as possible.

 
What You'll Need
  • Packing paper, kraft paper, or other non-abrasive packing material.
  • At least one rectangular box in brand-new or like-new condition. We offer a set in the Reverb Merch shop.
  • Packing tape (sometimes called packaging tape).
What you should not use:
  • Do not use newspaper or any other paper with ink, which can stain finishes.
  • Do not use an old box that has lost its structural integrity.
  • Do not use movers tape, masking tape, or other weaker tapes. Only packing tape is strong enough to reliably seal guitar boxes.
What You'll Need
  • Packing paper, kraft paper, or other non-abrasive packing material.
  • At least one rectangular box in brand-new or like-new condition. We offer a set in the Reverb Merch shop.
  • Packing tape (sometimes called packaging tape).
What you should not use:
  • Do not use newspaper or any other paper with ink, which can stain finishes.
  • Do not use an old box that has lost its structural integrity.
  • Do not use movers tape, masking tape, or other weaker tapes. Only packing tape is strong enough to reliably seal guitar boxes.
Step 1: Prep the Guitar

Before the guitar is even in its case, there are some important steps. (Don't worry: If you're shipping without a case or gig bag, these same steps apply).
Loosen the strings.

Don't detune entirely, but give the strings some slack, which will decrease the amount of tension on the neck.

Secure all movable parts.

Nothing should be able to rattle around during transit, so it's important to secure any and all loose components.

  • Whammy bars should be detached, wrapped, and stored either in the case pocket or separately within the shipping box.
  • Check the bridge and/or tailpiece. If there's any movement or potential for movement, put a piece of packing paper between the moving piece and the guitar's body. Trapeze-style tailpieces in particular should be wrapped with a sheet of packing paper so they do not scratch the body.
  • Especially for vintage or extra-valuable guitars: remove the plastic pickup toggle switch and strap pins. Wrap them or place them in a small bag and store them securely in the case pocket. Gibson-style toggle switches are damaged frequently in shipping, and end pins can damage the body if the bottom of the guitar takes a heavy hit.
Separate strings from fretboard with packing paper.

Create a long strip of packing paper and insert it between the strings and the length of the fretboard. This will prevent the strings from digging into the frets.

Step 2: Secure the Guitar in Its Case

Your main goal is: The guitar should not be able to move in its case. To accomplish this, follow these steps in order:
Body

Around the body, add packing paper or other safe packing material anywhere there's empty space. (If the case doesn't fit the guitar snugly, add one or a couple layers of packing paper underneath the entire body.) You don't want the body to be able to shift at all during transit.

Neck joint

Secure the neck where it meets the body, but do not add so much material that you cause extra strain on the neck. (Especially for bolt-on necks, you can cause finish cracks during shipping if you overdo it at the neck joint.)

Neck

If there are loose areas along the length of the neck, add one or two long sheets of packing paper underneath the length of the neck, or a bit of balled-up packing paper in especially loose areas. Be careful not to put pressure on the neck or anything that obstructs the case when it closes. You just want the case to close snugly around the neck—but the neck should still be free of strain in all directions.

Headstock

Keep the area around the headstock free of packing materials. For angled headstocks like those found on Gibson guitars, stuffing paper or bubble wrap into the case's headstock cavity can increase the risk of a headstock break. However, if the headstock is resting on the bottom of the case, use a bit of balled up packing paper near the nut to raise the headstock off the bottom. Otherwise, keep this entire area clear of packing paper.

Step 3: Check Your Work

Now that the guitar is secure within its case, close it, pick it up, and give it a few gentle shakes.
If you hear the guitar moving around, open the case again and address the problem area. (If you're using a box instead of a case, you should make sure the guitar isn't moving within the box in the same fashion.)
PRO TIP
Don't have a case?

For guitars without a hard case, use a double-walled box or two separate boxes, with one slightly larger than the other. Follow the same principles as above. StewMac also sells an inventive Electric Guitar Shipping System and Acoustic Guitar Shipping System you might want to consider.

Step 4: Box It, Fill in Space, Tape it Up

Now that the guitar is secure in its case (or its first box), you should fit it inside a crisp, new rectangular box. Just as you don't want the guitar moving in its case, you don't want the case to move within the shipping box.
Start by adding some packing paper or other packing material at the bottom of the box. Place the case inside and fill the box with packing material on both sides. Finally, add packing material to the top.

Again, the idea is to eliminate the potential for the case to move around within the box—so make sure it's snug.

Seal the box with packing tape and make sure your new shipping label is the one-and-only shipping label visible.

Rest assured that your guitar will get where it's going safe and sound. Now that you know how to ship a guitar the right way, it's time to list some more gear on Reverb!
Learn More About Selling on Reverb

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Reverb Shipping Labels

Don’t let trips to the post office eat up your day and your wallet: Become your own shipping center and print shipping labels right at home.

Reverb Safe Shipping

Using a Reverb Shipping Label gives you the option to purchase Reverb Safe Shipping for a fraction of your gear's sale price. If anything is lost or damaged during shipping, our responsive and friendly support team will help resolve the issue quickly.

Reverb Gives

Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music.

Carbon-Offset Shipping

Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments.

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