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Trade Secrets!

How to properly pack a guitar for shipping


Issue 334 July 25, 2019



Learn how to pack and ship a guitar like the guitar repair shop professionals. Avoid shipping and handling damage by properly preparing your guitar and securely packing and shipping it with StewMac's acoustic and electric Guitar Shipping Systems. Ship guitars securely with or without a case. Take the pain out of shipping guitars with this simple, convenient and secure system.
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blankIn this Trade Secrets video:
  • checkmarkKnocking around in the case or box is how guitars get broken
  • checkmarkPack inside the case until it doesn’t move when you shake it
  • checkmarkDon’t forget side impacts, too!
  • checkmarkDan and Elyse use the new inflatable guitar shipping system from StewMac

Packing a Guitar in a Case for Shipment
Download this PDF to support StewMac Trade Secrets Video #334.





Here's what's covered in the video:

How to properly pack a guitar for shipping

When you need to ship a guitar. Here are some things you need to know. Don't leave room in the case for the guitar to knock around. Moving around in shipping is how guitars get broken. First thing, loosen the strings. They don't need to be sloppy loose but, you don’t want there to be tension pulling on the headstock while the guitar is being handled in trucks and airports. This is especially important with angled pegheads like Gibson's, Martins and, Guilds.

Pegheads, especially ones that are angled, are a weak point

Elyse is right about the angled pegheads. That's about a 15-17 degree angle. This is a block of wood that the neck’s cut out of and the grain goes straight. As soon as you cut back that way you only have this much straight grain and strength. Cut this down to the shape of a guitar neck, put strings on it and put it in the case and, when it falls, BAM. That peghead comes right off, which means a lot of work for me. A fender neck is different. Even with the little scoop in it, this is a straight green neck all the way through. It’s made out of a board. And I know a guy that dropped one of these out of the second floor window just to see what would happen and, it did not break. I'm adding support under the peghead, around it and on top of it. I don't want that peghead moving around.

Protect the center from impact

As you add packing, think about an impact here in the middle of the case during shipping. Protect the frets from hitting the strings with a piece of paper. I cut this piece long enough to protect the pickups as well. I also don't want the switch knob sticking up like this. I'll send it in a baggie. Now, if you have a guitar with a trapeze tail piece, you want to protect the finish from that. I got this nice little bag. Paper would do, or paper towel taped on it. Just don't let it scratch.

Check under the heel for a void

Look to see if there's a gap underneath the heel. If there is, support it was some tightly wadded newspaper. I don't want it shifting around. So, I packed paper down here, too. When you pack it right, it won't move around in the case at all. So, once you've packed your guitar in the case like Elise showed you, you're ready to ship. You'll need a box to put it in and some packaging on the inside to keep the case from moving around in the box.

A revolutionary new guitar shipping system

Today we're going to use this protective shipping system from StewMac. It comes with a guitar shipping box and all the protection that goes inside which stores flat and is inflatable. We use our shop compressor but, you can do it with a hand pump, too. The inflatables protect the guitar and don't let it shift around. We even have versions for shipping the bear guitar without a case. How's it going. It's going good. Check it out. Wow, what a fit. I like the hat. Yeah, I have packed hundreds and hundreds of guitars in my lifetime – thousands, probably - and I have empty boxes all over the shop and under the stairs. I even have a storage shed down the street. These inflatables are really going to change how we do things, shipping wise. Just awesome.