Travelling with a guitar comes with its inherent problems. The instruments are fragile, easily damaged and susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Sometimes, it’s tempting to just leave them at home, but that’s not always an option. If you need to take your guitar with you, whether for work or pleasure, there are a few simple precautions that can help it survive the journey.
1. Invest in a quality case. OK, so that seems like an obvious one, but a lot of people don’t. If you’re not intending to travel when you first purchase your guitar, it’s tempting to go for the minimum expense. And that’s fine for about the home, but less so when your instrument has to face the rigours of air, sea, or even road travel. Either a solid case with a soft inner, or a soft case with structured inner is a really great option.
2. Prepare the instrument. Loosen the strings so that changes in pressure don’t snap the neck. This is one of the most important steps you can take if flying. You might also want to consider purchasing a travel guitar/folding guitar so that you’re able to take your instrument on as hand luggage to avoid the potential threats that come with stowing in the hold. In theory, you should be able to take your regular instrument as hand luggage] . In practice, it’s not always that easy. A folding guitar can remove this problem.
3. Use bubble wrap. Bubble wrap has become ubiquitous in the postal industry for a very good reason: it’s an excellent shock absorber and it’s cheap. For your purposes, it’s also pretty thin, so it can create an air pocket around your guitar without substantially increasing the required case size. Just line the case with a layer of the wrap and place your guitar on top. Leave a little space, as if the guitar fits too snuggly it will come under undue pressure. Cover the top of the guitar with a further layer of bubble wrap – it’s often easier to use one large sheet – and tape the sides together.
4. Further protect fragile areas. The neck and headstock of your guitar are the areas most prone to damage, so wrap an additional layer of bubbles around them. The side of your guitar can also be vulnerable, so if there’s room, place another layer of bubble wrap down the sides.
5. Keep accessories separate. While it’s tempting to lump everything in together, the more you have in your case, the greater the chance that your instrument will be damaged. So, unless your case has an integrated accessory store, keep your spare strings, picks, and especially your capo, in a separate bag.
And that’s it. A little bit of prep can save you a whole heap of heartache, helping you to finish your journey with your guitar intact.