You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone with a guitar. It is America’s favorite musical instrument, and it is second only to the piano for overall popularity in the home.
While guitars are sturdy instruments that can withstand some pretty nasty conditions, it’s still no fun to travel with one. The weather outside could be too hot or too cold, there might be snow on the ground, hail—you never know what you’ll need to go through when you’re hauling your axe around.
Of course, if you want to play your guitar or carry it along so you don’t forget it at home (ahem), then traveling with your guitar is unavoidable; but safely doing so should always be a top priority. Here are some tips on traveling with your guitar.
First, always make sure that you have a good quality case for traveling. If at all possible, get one specifically designed to provide protection for traveling musicians; they are usually better made and more comfortable to transport in than regular cases. They may cost a bit more, but it’s worth it if you want to protect your investment while traveling. This is even more important if you’re traveling with vintage guitars or older instruments.
There is nothing worse than arriving at the airport only to discover that the interior of your case has been crushed, which can happen when not using an appropriate traveling case. Some people get away with traveling by throwing their guitar into a regular hardshell case or gig bag – don’t risk it! You never know what will happen during transit. This could be extremely dangerous for your guitar, especially if it isn’t traveling in an appropriate case.
Look for traveling cases that provide support at all the important points (neck and headstock) to prevent your guitar from moving around during transport. It should also be noted that traveling with a guitar is much easier when you don’t have to worry about traveling by air; many airlines will ban certain types of traveling guitars or won’t allow them on the plane at all (even in cases). This means having to check your guitar as baggage which can lead to damaging it even further. For these reasons, traveling by car is often best when traveling with your instrument, but remember not everyone has this option available.
Protecting the neck of your guitar is just as important as protecting its body. If your traveling case doesn’t provide protection for the neck or headstock, then you should also consider investing in a travel guitar neck stap. It is basically an adjustable strap that goes around the neck and attaches to itself at both ends, which hold it tightly against the headstock and prevents it from moving during transit. These should be adjusted as tight as possible (without putting excessive strain on the instrument) and they will prevent whatever else isn’t provided by your traveling case to harm your expensive instrument.
As we know, traveling with a guitar can be unpredictable; but there are ways to make traveling with one as safe as possible. Even if you use a regular traveling case or gig bag, there are still other things that should be done before traveling to ensure your guitar’s safety. Check the weather before traveling so you know what to expect so your guitar won’t be put under undue stress if it has to travel during extreme conditions. Another precautionary measure is investing in a set of traveling strings for your instrument, which are much lighter than normal strings and can stand up to traveling better. Also, always bring along extra supplies just in case something happens to any items you may have brought with you that could damage or harm your instrument.
If traveling with a guitar by air is necessary, then there are still ways that you can safely do it without running the risk of traveling musicians everywhere losing their instruments due to poor planning on their part. When checking in at the airport, make sure you only give your traveling case to an actual airline representative (never anyone else you might run into at the airport, including other traveling musicians) and ensure that it is properly labeled with your name and phone number(s). Always carry-on any peripherals, such as extra strings or tools, so they won’t get lost or left behind in your traveling case.
You should also plan ahead for travel times; don’t be in a hurry when traveling with your guitar. Sometimes flying can take up longer than expected which could result in throwing off much of your timeline so you will have plenty of time to chill out before sound check. Remember to bring along everything that may be needed for the performance you are traveling to perform so there will be no reason for stress.
If traveling with a guitar is necessary, take the time to plan ahead and research your destination. This will make traveling much safer and easier for everyone concerned. If traveling by air, pack carefully and consider checking it as baggage (if practical). Remember that traveling with one’s guitar can be unpredictable; but there are ways to make traveling with an acoustic or electric guitar as safe as possible.