Short Guide to Shipping Musical Instruments

Posted by Benjamin Meskin on Aug 7, 2019 3:24:02 PM
Benjamin Meskin

Shipping Musical Instruments

Musicians invest a lot of time and money into their craft and their treasured instruments. Without their instruments, these artists could not share their talent with others or in most cases, earn a living.

A good quality instrument will typically set a musician back thousands of dollars. That is not something they want to replace often. So, music shop owners, antique or vintage dealers, and specialty shop owners must use caution when sending these fragile items to their customers.


If you own a music shop or any establishment that sells and ships musical instruments to customers on a regular basis, it is vital to know the importance of packing and shipping these fragile products carefully. You don’t want to have to send a replacement or give a refund because a poorly packaged instrument arrived damaged beyond repair. Therefore, it’s important to learn as much as you can about how to ship these items successfully.


General Steps for All Instruments

Shipping a Guitar


Musical instruments should not be packed and shipped like other items. They must be packed securely so that there is little or no movement and so all the small parts are kept safe to prevent damage.


Not only do you need to remember to keep valuable instruments safe during shipment, but you should also keep in mind that different instruments require different packing needs. The way that you securely pack a flute will be dramatically different to how you pack a guitar.


Here is a useful step-by-step guide on how to prepare various types of musical instruments so they will remain safe while traveling from point A to point B.


  • Gather a large amount of brown Kraft paper or newspaper that can be crumpled to add extra padding.
  • Be sure to use high-quality tape designed for packing and shipping.
  • Use boxes large enough for your instruments to be packed individually.
  • If possible, you may want to double-box.
  • Additional supplies needed include bubble wrap, rubber bands, and stickers that read DO NOT LAY FLAT and FRAGILE.


Step by Step Guide for Each Type of Musical Instrument

Musical Instrument Group


Musical instruments can be placed into three main categories, Wind, String, and Percussion. Here we will provide you with instructions on how to safely pack each one for shipping.


Wind Instruments

Wind Instruments


Wind instruments such as horns, flutes, or clarinets may be more affordable to ship and much easier to pack, but you still need to use plenty of caution when shipping them.


Once inside the box, if the instrument can move around at all, it may become damaged. Loose articles could become lost down inside the bell; therefore, you should pack securely in bubble wrap so that it can’t move. However, don’t wrap it so tightly that the instrument is compressed. A snug fit that impairs movement will be fine.


If you are shipping inside a case, check all latches to ensure they will not accidentally pop open. You can secure the latches with shipping tape or wrap a strong strap around the case so that it will not open on its own.


If you are shipping the instrument without a case, wrap it at least three times with bubble wrap and secure the wrap with shipping tape. There should not be any edges sticking out and the instrument should be completely covered. Select a strong and sturdy double corrugated box that is at least 2-inches larger than your instrument in height and length.


String Instruments

String Instruments


String instruments require a little more preparation than wind instruments when shipping. Larger pieces can often be broken down into smaller parts and placed in separate boxes to prevent damage. However, if you have a larger instrument that doesn’t come apart such as a harp or cello, you will need to take additional precautions to guarantee the safety of the item.


Another factor that you need to think about with string instruments is the humidity and temperature changes during transportation. Since most string instruments are constructed from real wood, they could shrink or expand when traveling through extreme hot or cold climates. Temperature changes can also affect the strings.


You should take the time to research different shipping companies to find one that has experience shipping a musical instrument or other fragile items. Compare shipping rates and additional benefits. Find out if any of the companies you have in mind charge extra for large or fragile items. Then choose the best option to help you with all your company’s shipments.


For a more in-depth guide on shipping insurance options for guitar dealers, get your free copy of our E-book here: The Guitar Dealer's Guide to Shipping Insurance.


Percussion Instruments



Shipping an entire drum set can be a bit of a challenge. You have to find the right size boxes to ship each piece and ensure there’s enough padding to keep everything safe.


You start by breaking down the drum set, removing the legs and taking the rack tom stand apart. Remove the bass drum heads and line the inside with cardboard strips. Then add crumpled newspaper inside.


First, wrap the rack tom in newspaper, then in bubble wrap. Use shipping tape to secure the wrap. Place the wrapped rack tom inside the kick drum, fill in the gaps with more crumpled paper, and place the whole drum in a box, filling up all empty space to ensure that it won’t move around. Secure each box with strong shipping tape to make sure that it will not open during transit.



Should You Add Insurance When Shipping a Musical Instrument?

Insurance Coverage


If you are shipping any item that is irreplaceable, expensive or fragile, it is essential that you have shipping insurance so that the contents of your package are covered. Here are a few reasons why you should always add on insurance any time you are shipping an instrument.


1. It Provides Peace of Mind


Once you ship the instrument off, you shouldn’t have to worry about what condition it will be in once it arrives at its new destination. Adding insurance will provide you with peace of mind so that you have less stress throughout the day.


2. It’s the Responsible Thing to Do as a Seller


If you frequently sell online and want to build up a good reputation with buyers, you should always add insurance to your shipments because it is the responsible thing to do as a seller. The same goes for any small business, antique shop, or music store. You are not only preventing yourself from enduring a loss when you have to refund the seller’s money, but you are also providing the buyer with peace of mind in knowing that they will receive exactly what they paid for.


3. Adding Insurance is Simple and Easy


Adding insurance to your shipment is one of the easiest steps of the entire process. With just a few clicks, you can add the exact amount of insurance you need, and the price will be added to your total shipment cost. You may think extra insurance is costly, but think about what could go wrong and how much a lost or damaged shipment would set you back. Read our article comparing the insurance rates of the common carriers to get a better idea of what you should expect to pay.


4. You Will Be Reimbursed If the Item is Damaged


If your item is lost or damaged during shipment, the insurance will take care of the loss for you. After going through the claims process, you will be reimbursed for the amount you had to refund to the buyer. Insurance can be purchased up to several different amounts to completely cover the cost of your item.


Contact Cabrella When You Need to Insure Your Musical Instrument


Cabrella is the leading third-party shipping insurance provider that can cut the costs of your musical instrument shipping needs. Once you take care of the packing and shipping, Cabrella handles the coverage side of the transaction.


Cabrella Get a Quote

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