How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Guitar?
The time has come to say goodbye to your old guitar. You’re not so broken up about it, as you’ve found a great buyer. Plus, you can use the money you made on the sale for a new guitar. Well, at least partially, because you also have to pay to ship your guitar out to its new owner. How much does it cost to ship a guitar?
The price to ship a guitar depends on which shipping service you use, how much your guitar weighs, how big it is, and how far the guitar travels. Here’s a breakdown of prices for some popular shipping services:
- DHL: $240 to $260
- Nex Worldwide Express: $60 to $220
- FedEx: $32 to $389
- UPS: $80 to $546
- Ship Guitars: $87 to $400
In this article, I’ll elaborate more on what you might expect to pay to ship your guitar across the country and even across the world. I’ll also tell you how to get the right box for your guitar and how to ship it out properly. If you were wondering how much it costs to ship a guitar, then you’re not going to want to miss it!
The Factors That Influence Guitar Shipping Price
In the next section, I’m going to share real quotes for shipping costs from one state in the United States to another as well as outside of the US. These quotes do not necessarily reflect what you’d pay to ship your own guitar, so there’s that caveat.
If you experience price fluctuations between the quote you receive from a shipper as well as the quotes I’ll post ahead, you may wonder why that is. Here are the factors that will influence the shipping price for your guitar.
Are you shipping the instrument two states over or clear across the country? Does your buyer live in another part of the world far beyond yours? You have to expect that, depending on the distance the shipped guitar must travel, your shipping expenses will go up commensurately.
If you are shipping within the same state or two states apart, you’ll probably get some of the lowest quotes around. International shipping is going to be time-consuming and costly, especially with a bulky package such as a guitar. You’ll certainly end up dropping quite a deal more money for such long-distance travel.
The distance your shipped guitar must travel goes hand in hand with transit time. When your shipping company only has to pass the instrument to another shipper a few states over because you’re not shipping the instrument far, you can contain your shipping prices, keeping them lower.
Once the guitar is passed all over the globe, the time the shipped guitar can spend in customs does add up on your end. Make sure you have room in your budget.
The weight of your guitar is also important. UPS, in this article, talks about the dimensional weight of a shipped item. The dimensional weight is not purely the weight of your guitar, but how much space it takes up compared to that weight. In other words, dimensional weight takes into account a package’s density.
UPS suggests this formula for determining your shipped guitar’s dimensional weight. First, you want to grab some measuring tape to calculate the package’s longest side. Then, take that length and multiply it by the package’s height and width.
You’ll get a number that’s the cubic size of your guitar package in inches. This number doesn’t tell you the dimensional weight yet though. Next, you have to take that cubic size in inches and divide it by the rate type advisor.
What the heck is a rate type advisor? It’s the retail or daily rate for your package. If your shipped guitar has a retail rate, then you use 166 as the rate type advisor, dividing your package in cubic size in inches by 166. If you’re using the daily rate, then your rate type advisor is 139.
Finally, the shipping company you choose to go through can also play a role in what you’ll pay for shipping. That’s not to say that shipping prices have that big of a discrepancy from one shipper to another, but if you have the opportunity to save some money when shipping, you should definitely take it.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Guitar?
With all that said, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the costs of shipping a guitar both within the US and internationally.
I want to reiterate that while these are real quotes from the following shipping companies, these costs are not necessarily reflective of what you’ll actually pay to ship your guitar. They’re for example purposes only.
DHL Guitar Shipping Cost
DHL is a global shipper with a distinct yellow and red truck. They’re certainly not the best-known shipper, but they’re an option nonetheless.
Let’s say you wanted to ship your guitar from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver, Canada. Yes, I’m talking international shipping here. You can pay for Express DHL shipping, which is quoted at $267.64. If you took advantage of Express Worldwide shipping, your costs are a little lower at $262.21.
Here’s more international shipping costs from DHL, this time from Lincoln, Nebraska to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If your guitar weighs 30 pounds and measures 44 inches by 6 inches by 16 inches, you’d pay $228.85 for shipping.
Nex Worldwide Express Guitar Shipping Cost
Even smaller than DHL is Nex Worldwide Express. I wasn’t too familiar with the service before writing this article, but they offer shipping internationally, so you might want to consider them.
After all, you can get pretty good deals in some instances. Ground shipping for a guitar can cost $61.66. If you went with three-day shipping so your buyer gets their guitar faster, shipping costs are $151.05. Two-day shipping is even costlier at $174.40.
Let’s say you wanted to be the best shipper ever and get that guitar out overnight. Nex Worldwide Express’ Next Day AM services cost $205.90 for a guitar and their Next Day PM is $220.22.
FedEx Guitar Shipping Cost
Now we’re getting into the bigger names, with FedEx about as big as it gets. For a 31-pound guitar measuring 44 inches by 6 inches by 16 inches that’s traveling from Boise, Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah, FedEx Ground would cost you $31.49.
FedEx Express Saver is $71.21 for that same guitar. Speedier shipping, like FedEx 2Day, costs $83.62, while FedEx 2Day AM is $93.68. You can also do overnight shipping. FedEx Standard Overnight costs $134.34, FedEx Priority Shipping is $148.25, and FedEx First Overnight is $181.42.
What if you’re shipping from Seattle to Portland, Oregon? FedEx Ground costs more at $95.52. For FedEx Express Saver, you’d part with $209.68, which is a lot of money!
FedEx 2Day is even pricier at $274.97, and FedEx 2Day AM is quoted at $301.48. For FedEx Standard Overnight Shipping, the costs are driven even higher still at $346.69. FedEx Priority Overnight costs $355.51 and FedEx First Overnight is $388.44.
UPS Guitar Shipping Cost
You also can’t go wrong with UPS, which has as much name recognition as FedEx, if not more so.
If you wanted to send a guitar that’s 45 inches by 10 inches by 24 inches and weighs 9 pounds from Atlanta, Georgia to Phoenix, Arizona, how much would you pay for it?
UPS Ground shipping starts at $107.78 for that particular guitar. With UPS 3 Day Select, you’d pay $261.90.
The second-day services aren’t much better. UPS 2nd Day Air is quoted at $378.01 and UPS 2nd Day Air A.M costs $454.84. Shipping overnight is well over $500. UPS Next Day Air for a bigger guitar costs $514.88 and UPS Next Day Air Early is priced at $546.90.
Now, keep in mind that the above guitar is pretty bulky. For an average-sized guitar, you might pay $80.84 for UPS Ground. UPS 3 Day Select might cost $140.98, UPS 2nd Day Air about $199.09, and UPS 2nd Day Air A.M. would be $226.38.
Even overnight shipping in this instance wouldn’t be horrible. UPS Next Day Air Saver is quoted at $276.97, UPS Next Day Air at $284.21, and UPS Next Day Air Early at $316.09.
Ship Guitars Guitar Shipping Cost
The last service I want to talk about is called Ship Guitars. As the name implies, this company deals only in sending guitars to their new destination, be that within the US or elsewhere globally.
If you stay within the country and ship your guitar from New York, New York to Los Angeles, California and the guitar measures 45 inches by 10 inches by 24 inches and weighs 10 pounds, ground shipping costs $87.51.
You could speed things up by paying $212.66 for three-day shipping, $283.01 for two-day shipping, or $399.17 for overnight shipping with Ship Guitars.
What Kind of Box Do You Need to Ship Your Guitar?
No matter which way you slice it, shipping your guitar is not going to be cheap. Once you decide which shipping company you want to work with and get a quote for your exact guitar, it’s time to start packing.
It’s recommended by UPS and other shippers that you should always ship a guitar in its original guitar case. If you by chance don’t have the case anymore, then you might want to buy a replacement. That will ensure the guitar will arrive to the buyer in one piece.
When I say the case, by the way, I mean the guitar’s hard-shell case, not the gig bag you might have carried the instrument in when you used it.
Nestle your guitar in its case first, leaving the lid open. Look for any gaps between the guitar and the case where the instrument could move when in transit. Then, cover these gaps with cushioning or bubble wrap.
Next, weigh and measure your guitar and the case combined. Then, choose a box appropriate to the instrument’s size and weight. If you’re going through UPS, they recommend bust strength boxes 200# or 250#.
You can also buy guitar boxes through Uline if your instrument plus the case weighs no more than 275 pounds. They offer three types of guitar boxes. The model S-14224 is 18 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 45 inches tall. It can hold 2.8 cubic feet and is recommended for electric guitars.
The S-18000 measures 18 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 52 inches tall. It can hold 3.8 cubic feet, such as for a bass guitar. Your third option, the S-4922, measures 20 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 50 inches high. Able to contain 4.6 cubic feet, it can store all other guitars.
EcoBox in Texas also has guitar boxes, all corrugated. Their 18-inch by 6-inch by 45-inch box is made for electric guitars. You can also get an 18-inch by 7-inch by 52-inch box for bass guitars.
If you prefer acoustic instruments, EcoBox’s 20-inch by 8-inch by 50-inch box is for standard-sized acoustic guitars. The 20-inch by 10-inch by 50-inch box is bigger for large acoustics.
How to Pack Your Guitar for Shipping
Shipping a guitar costs a lot of money. The last thing you want is to have your guitar get damaged in transit. You have your box all picked out, so now it’s time to prep your guitar for shipping! Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Loosen or Remove the Guitar Strings
If you want to take the guitar strings out of the instrument completely, you can, but that’s typically not necessary. Otherwise, you only want to loosen the guitar strings. Doing so controls the headstock pressure. Also, if your guitar flies or travels great distances, pressure changes won’t cause the strings to snap before the guitar reaches its recipient.
Step 2: Take out Other Moving Parts
There’s also no need to keep any parts that can move attached to the guitar. When the instrument is in transit, these parts can come loose, shift, and scratch and ding up the guitar. That’s no way for your buyer to receive the instrument.
I’m referring to accessories and parts like the whammy bar, the capo, and the slide. If you want to include these with your guitar, then fine. Just make sure you package them up in bubble wrap and put them within the guitar case so they can’t move.
Step 3: Wrap up Delicate Areas
Guitars can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, but they’re somewhat fragile instruments too. Thus, dedicate some time to prepare the guitar for safe travels. Begin at the fretboard, nestling something soft between the fretboard and the guitar strings (if you left the strings intact, that is).
You can either fold a newspaper, find a long sheet of foam, or use a towel you don’t mind saying goodbye to. Taking this extra step will protect both the strings and the fretboard, maintaining their respective conditions.
Next, get some bubble wrap and put it around the headstock, wrapping at least twice. Tape or otherwise secure the bubble wrap, such as with a rubber band. The tuners now can’t get twisted and even pop off as the guitar travels.
Step 4: Pack up Your Guitar in Its Case
Now you can do what I mentioned in the last section, which is put the guitar in its case. As I said, you want to ensure there are no spots or gaps where the guitar can move in the case, because it will during transit. Bubble wrap and cushioning will come in handy for this job.
Step 5: Shake and Resettle as Needed
Close up the guitar case and give it a vigorous shake or two. Can you hear your guitar moving? If so, then put the case down, lay it flat, open it up, and do some repacking so the guitar is securely nestled and does not move when shaken.
Step 6: Put the Guitar in the Box
With your guitar box at the ready, slip the guitar case (with the instrument inside) into the box.
Step 7: Pad the Box and Shake One More Time
You also don’t want the guitar case to move much in the box. To prevent that, put some bubble wrap or air cushioning in the box, filling it two inches of the way. Then give the box a shake. You shouldn’t hear nor feel the guitar case moving in the box.
Step 8: Tape and Ship
When you’re confident the guitar case is secure, tape up your box with packing tape, slap a shipping label on it, and get it out to your buyer.
Shipping a guitar can cost several hundred dollars depending on the weight of your guitar, the shipping company, how fast you want the instrument shipped, and where you’re shipping from. With all the information in this article, you’re now ready to send out your guitar to its buyer so they can enjoy it for years to come.