A few words about selling and shipping guitars.

Escher

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Messages
555
Reaction score
132
Ok - after a couple bad experiences I thought I would start a thread for people looking to sell a guitar - specifically, how to describe it and how to properly package it for shipment - with more emphasis on the shipment side of things. Hopefully other members will chime in with their advice as well.


First - Describing the guitar for sale / trade.

Frets:
List the amount of fretwear. Give pics of the frets if they are not in perfect condition. Are there any gouges inthe frets? Are they rough? Any buzzing anywhere on the neck. How high is the action? What strings is the guitar set up with? Has it ever had a setup or a fret job done?

Body / general:
Any dings / dents / scratches?

List any dings that are larger than 1/16 of an inch. Give pics if possible. If the guitar is "well worn" state it and list areas where it shows this with pics.

Any scratches through the finish should be listed and photographed. Swirl marks are acceptable, but should be referenced as such.

NIB means no swirl marks. Used in Excellent condition means no dents / dings / scratches / corrosion / fretwear, but swirls are present.

I'll leave others to fill in other grades - but this always frustrates me. Don't list the guitar as "perfect" or NIB or whatever if it has even one little mark on it... You can say Perfect except, and list things within reason.

Electronics that are not stock should have EVERY replaced component listed. Stock componentry should be listed as to whether or not it is perfectly functional (no scratchy pots, etc), or to what degree it is worn - tarnished jacks / corroded leads, etc..

Modified guitars should have all mods clearly listed and photographed. Preferably with a reference to who did the work. If you did it yourself, that is fine, just make sure to state that.

Repaired guitars should have every repair referenced along with the builder / repairman's name. If you did the repair yourself, same applies - reference it anyway.

I know this sounds like a lot of effort - but you WILL avoid headaches later. If you aren't willing to list this info, then you probably don;t really want to sell the guitar.

If you don't know the history - say that and give an honest rating of each area.

Packaging and shipping the guitar

I have now received a couple of guitars with headstock breaks / fretboard separation which could have been avoided with a little bit of planning and thought given prior to shipping.

Bottom line - DO NOT JUST THROW IT IN A CASE AND TAPE THE CASE CLOSED AND SLAP A TAG ON THE CASE!

It is also not acceptable to put a guitar in a case, and then in a box with no padding around the case.

Here is the proper way to package a guitar for shipping:
1) Guitar in an APPROPRIATE case, which has been filled with material to restrict movement. *More details below*
2) Case in a larger box (2 inches or so larger on a side) with cushioning material around the entire case

If you are not shipping in a case then you should plan to double box.
1) Guitar inside a box that is 2 inches larger on each side filled with material to restrict movement
2) Same as above inside a larger box.

Now - some detail on the guitar inside the case.

If possible - first put the guitar in a soft wrapping like a pillow case or a foam bag.

Then, take up ALL slack between the body and the case - do NOT allow the body to shift toward the headstock, or the guitar will shift during shipment and the headstock will hit the side of the case - causing a fretboard split.

Put styrofoam, or padding of some sort on the top strap lock area and horn area to take up this space.

Put bubble wrap on top of the body to take up any space between the body and the case - when the case is closed the body should be sandwiched into the case with the bubble wrap.

Now - the headstock....

The headstock should NOT TOUCH ANYTHING when the case is closed... It should sit freely - or have very very little pressure on the case when the case is closed. If it does touch the case - place something UNDER the body to lift it off the case bottom. If you skip this step you are likely to have a fretboard pop loose ot the headstock crack.

Once the headstock is sitting freely in the case, pad the very top of the headstock with 2-3 inches of bubble wrap. I usually wrap the headstock 3-4 times in small celled bubble wrap so that it is completely protected. That way - if you didnt do a good enough job taking up the slack between the body and the case, the headstock will still have some protection.

Once you have the guitar in the case sorted out - fill the larger box with 2-3 inches of peanuts or wadded up bubble wrap. I would avoid wadded up paper as it has a tendency to settle and leave voids.

Now put the case in the larger box tail end first... now fill the box with peanuts all around the case and pack them down around it so that the case will stand upright. There should be a couple of inches left above the top of the case to fill with peanuts before closing the case.

As an added precaution - I will sometimes put a 2 inch bubble wrap pad on the top of the case, after the peanuts, just as an added cushion if the guitar gets dropped on the headstock side.

Close up the box and use GOOD quality packaging tape to tape ALL seams. Tape is cheap - use a whole roll. Seriously... Tape over any rips or tears in the box if you are re-using a box.

Shipping

Most carriers offer insurance... take it... but be advised - most will not honor the insurance UNLESS they lose the package or you can PROVE they destroyed it. Most claims I have heard of are denied on the grounds that "UPS / FEDEX / ETC didn't pack the item" and the box arrived in tact.

That being said - you want it in their hands for as short a time as possible. If you can afford it, use second day or overnight. Yes its expensive... But is that $1500 guitar worth taking a risk on? If your buyer insists on using a slower method, you had better be darn sure you packed well and let them know you take no responsibility for damage in transit.

Take photographs of the packaging prior to shipment - I must admit I'm lazy about this... but it can save you if the guitar gets damaged. you can prove the steps you went through to ensure it would be safe.

....

...

Some final notes - I'm putting this up in the hopes that some of the newer members will take heed before jumping in and selling or trading. Take it seriously. Nothing is more disappointing than opening up the case to find a broken guitar.

Please feel free to add your thoughts... My notes here may seem a bit extreme - but I go on the premise that I want to ship the way I would want the guitar shipped to me. I take every precaution I can. Its fine to improvise, but use your head. Shipping a guitar in a single box with no padding is a disaster waiting to happen...
 

4nd3h

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
1,603
Reaction score
133
Good post, thanks.

About pedal shipping: Please put the pedal in a ziplock bag, and secure with bubble wrap. If you're sending in the original box (which is always great) please make sure to double box!!! I can't stand when I get a pedal in its original box with shipping labels and damage all over.
 

mhz

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2011
Messages
157
Reaction score
29
Thanks for the great info. This should be a sticky!
 

LPJones

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2007
Messages
656
Reaction score
120
Also, take the tension off the strings, I always de-tune before packing a guitar.

Its also not a bad idea to put paper or cardboard between the strings and fretboard/pickups
 

Clump

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2010
Messages
828
Reaction score
924
Here's a great post from another forum about how to properly pack a guitar, with pictures. I had seen this linked somewhere on MLP in the past.
Packing a LP for Shipment

Here's a how not to pack a guitar example. Yes, it actually came to me this way, from CA to MD via UPS and survived. I really can't imagine how the neck made it in 1 piece.

 

coldengray

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
3,792
Reaction score
2,707
WOW - I can't believe that headstock didn't break. Unreal. I hope you had some words for that shipper.
 

BillB1960

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2008
Messages
15,908
Reaction score
21,233
Great post!

About detuning, I always do it but I've read several places including manufacturers websites that they ship them tuned so it's shipper's choice I guess.

Also, Gibson ships their guitars in the case with no additional material added either between the strings and the body or around the headstock as well as being tuned. The key is that they add a specially made piece of cardboard which 'locks' the top of the case into the center of the box and additional side & bottom pieces which prevent the lower portion of the case from moving back and forth. Essentially the guitar is immobilized in the case and the case is immobilized in the box. Seems to work well for them.
 

guitarbob123

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
3,754
Reaction score
1,122
This thread is really useful for those who want to ship any guitars. That link to Dan Erlewine's guide is particularly useful!
 

Jessenoah

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2008
Messages
6,603
Reaction score
2,924
If I may, I find peanuts are not very effective compared to bubble wrap, bubble wrap stays "stuck" in place, where peanuts can slide around. There have been times when a guitar arrives and the case is leaning up against one corner of the box, and the peanuts are pressing it there because the case and guitar where too heavy for them and displaced them, where as bubble wrap seems to do a better job of holding the guitar in the middle of the box and being a nice protective layer!
 

notoperational

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2007
Messages
6,537
Reaction score
1,181
Detuning isn't necessary at all UNLESS the guitar is going air.
As somebody that ships guitars every-day, I would honestly recommend against detuning. Too much relief on the neck will almost always mean the person receiving it is going to be getting a set-up when they receive it. When we receive guitars from manufacturers, they are never, ever detuned unless they are sent from over-seas (or some kind of air-mail).

Another thing to take into account when shipping something... If it doesn't have a hard-shell case, it really isn't going to be protected well. And if it isn't worth enough money to have a case (or a PROPER) gig-bag, it probably isn't worth the time to sell it online and go through the (sometimes) hassle of shipping it. The guitar's hard-shell case/gig-bag is really a major factor in the over-all protection of the guitar. The box and packaging materials that surround the case/bag should reinforce that. It should also be sturdy and not moving in any way at all.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with really, really ignorant people that refuse to do anything correctly, let alone something as detail oriented as packaging a guitar or amplifier. Bottom line for safe transactions over the internet DO NOT BUY FROM PEOPLE YOU DON'T TRUST. And you likely won't end up in a claims battle.



Cheers
 

loucamaro91

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2010
Messages
2,477
Reaction score
155
I always detune,
As far as shipping goes, I always insure them and have my local UPS Store box them up for me.
They have what is called the "pack & ship promise". They guarantee its safe delivery or its a no questions asked immediate insurance payment!!(Ask me how I know this:)

I have shipped upwards of $100K of Les Pauls in the Last 6 Months and every SINGLE one(knock on wood) have made it to their destinations intact.
 

Raider08

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
310
Reaction score
68
I always detune,
As far as shipping goes, I always insure them and have my local UPS Store box them up for me.
They have what is called the "pack & ship promise". They guarantee its safe delivery or its a no questions asked immediate insurance payment!!(Ask me how I know this:)

I have shipped upwards of $100K of Les Pauls in the Last 6 Months and every SINGLE one(knock on wood) have made it to their destinations intact.
+1

If your unsure how to pack the guitar, this is the way to go. That way, if something does happen, UPS can foot the bill for a replacement. Plus, most UPS stores do decent job of packing anyway.
 

loucamaro91

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2010
Messages
2,477
Reaction score
155
+1

If your unsure how to pack the guitar, this is the way to go. That way, if something does happen, UPS can foot the bill for a replacement. Plus, most UPS stores do decent job of packing anyway.
Packing them is pretty simple. Between work and now a baby, I don't have time to hunt down a box, pack it up and worry if it gets damaged. For me, its worth the extra $25 to have them handle it.
 

teame1

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
6,695
Reaction score
6,846
If detuning a guitar with a floating bridge, remember to tape the base of the bridge (I find electrical tape works).
Is also worth a bit of bubble wrap taped round the strings either side of the bridge and joined with a bit of tape.
 

nitrous12

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2008
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
68
"It is also not acceptable to put a guitar in a case, and then in a box with no padding around the case."

This is exaclty how guitars ship from Gibson. Do you feel their method is unacceptable? Not trying to stir up anything negative I am really just curious what people think here.

I personally feel that if I received a Gibson NIB like this and decided to sell it....I would turn it around packaged the same way.
 

Escher

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Messages
555
Reaction score
132
"It is also not acceptable to put a guitar in a case, and then in a box with no padding around the case."

This is exaclty how guitars ship from Gibson. Do you feel their method is unacceptable? Not trying to stir up anything negative I am really just curious what people think here.

I personally feel that if I received a Gibson NIB like this and decided to sell it....I would turn it around packaged the same way.
Its been covered before - Gibson does NOT just put a guitar in the box - Gibson has customized box inserts which restrict the movement of the guitar during shipping. Since the average Joe does not have these inserts, just putting a guitar in the box is not acceptable.

For the record - I have shipped in Gibson boxes with the inserts - but I did add a bit more padding in the case... call my crazy, but its not worth the risk for $1.00 in bubblewrap.
 

nitrous12

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2008
Messages
1,180
Reaction score
68
Correct...insert at the top to keep it from moving, but the rest of it is simply the case in a cardboard box with no additional padding. Bubble wrap is not going to stop a forklift.
That said I wouldn't argue with adding the additional protection.
 

JPP373

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2008
Messages
1,384
Reaction score
421
Great Thread..For the Last 2 years i've been Vidoeing at the Place of Shipment Prior to packing. It has 100% shut down the crazy things i've heard after the guitar has arrived and virtually shut down returns. I started doing this becuase i've heard people taking off stock parts and replacing with cheap after market stuff. i.e. PUP's, Tuners etc. I dunno thought i'd share what's been working for me
 

Goodcleanfun

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
1,152
Reaction score
331
I'd also like to say please PLEASE DO NOT use polystyrene packing peanuts if they're going to be in direct contact with the guitar/case.

I had to spend 2 hours last night rubbing melted polystyrene off of my guitar case after someone had shipped it to me covered in them in 100 degree weather.

Not good.
 


Latest Threads



Top