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Everybody knows what a guitar box looks like, right? If you want truly great protection, you have to get a guitar box. You may be able to get a shipping box from you local guitar shop. If not, you might try modifying a bicycle box.

All you do is seal your packed hardshell case into the box with a whole load of wadded up newspaper as stuffing. That way, when the box hits the pavement it will bounce a little, crush or otherwise keep the blow from being sharp enough to create the kind of damage I've been talking about. That's the way we ship guitars and that's the way they all arrive at our shop, packed in these cardboard boxes.

It turns out to be very easy to take your boxed up guitar through the airport. You can carry it just like a suitcase if you simply have a handle:

Lay the box on its edge and pick it up to find the balance point. It's never in the middle. Then whip out your pocket knife and cut a C-shaped hole like this:

Fold back the flap and you have a reasonable handle that doesn't compromise the integrity of your box:

Am I stylin' or what? Packed and ready to fly:

This is the way to travel!

Seriously, I've never heard of a guitar injured by the baggage system when it was packed this way. Total cost of the packing is near nothing, and it's just a little more work than going with a naked guitar case.

How about another airline story:

Many years ago a professional musician friend was traveling to Nova Scotia. Before the flight back she detuned her guitar as usual before checking it through as baggage. When she opened the case after the flight, she found the guitar was tuned back up to pitch. Another illustration of how tempting guitars are. . .

Here's what I do to the latches on my luggage, and to the latches of a guitar case if I have to send it through as baggage:

Duct tape is cheap insurance. I met a friend at the baggage carousel just as all his clothes came down the conveyor after the latches were torn off his suitcase. The airline declared that it was "normal wear and tear" because the suitcase was old. My guitar case is old. . .

Well, that's all I can think of to say about packing for shipment or travel.

Here's an observation about case longevity.

A case cover will extend the life of your case many times over. The simplest case cover will protect the edges of a standard wooden case (like the one above) from scuffing. When the fabric scuffs off the edges, the case falls apart. Get a Cordura case cover like this one and your case will last almost forever:

Speaking of case covers, this one is not so much for mechanical protection, but it has a lot of heat resistance. It's a Climate Case, and it's made of that reflective space blanket material:

Don't get the idea that it will eliminate the damage from being stored in a hot parked car. It will give quite a lot of protection, but eventually the interior temperature will go up, so watch out. I know the manufacturer claims more than that, but I'm pretty nervous about the heat thing. As far as I know, these covers offer the best heat protection, especially when zipped up right over the case handle.


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