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Top tips for keeping your guitar safe while travelling

Laura  Barnes
Top tips for keeping your guitar safe while travelling

Following on from our guide to travelling with a musical instrument, Nik from Pedal Rockstar delves deeper into how to perfectly pack your guitar while on the road and how changing temperatures and humidity can upset your instrument…

Are you thinking about taking your guitar with you on your travels? If so, you better keep reading, because we will be discussing a number of essential tips for keeping your guitar safe while travelling by air or on the road.

Whether it’s for leisure or professional purpose, taking your baby out while travelling can be a very stressful experience. So download these tips to your brain and you'll minimise the risk of damage to your guitar during travel.

WHAT TYPE OF CASE?
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So, let's start with what you should be using to place the guitar in. You’ll want to go for the strongest hard shell case you can find on the market. The tough shell of a hard case will not only protect your precious guitar from bumps or reckless airport staff, but will also preserve a part of the "habitat", of what your guitar is used to. If you haven't got yourself a hard shell guitar case yet, be on the lookout for cases with reinforced corners, as this will drastically increase its lifespan.

STICKER IT!

It might be very obvious to you that you would be very careful if you were handling some other guitarist’s axe, but others need more clarity. Putting stickers on your case saying "Fragile" will definitely increase the chance of others being more cautious with your guitar. This applies if the guitar is taken with you as carry-on luggage, checked baggage or when you are taking it on the road.

SETTING YOUR GUITAR UP

To safely get your guitar from point A to point B, setting it up is essential. You’ll want to start with loosening the strings on your guitar. Due to changes in air pressure, temperature or humidity, the wood and strings of your guitar will start warping. Some guitars can handle this better than others, but results might vary from no visual changes to cracking of the strings, neck or body. Loosen the strings by roughly 1.5 tone to prevent this from happening.

Especially when travelling on the road, the temperature inside the vehicle can get extremely hot. While these extreme temperatures are too much for humans or animals, you also don’t want to expose your guitar to it! So, don't park your car in the burning sun, with rolled up windows and your guitar in it. Take your guitar with you!

As explained, humidity is one of the factors that could cause some serious damage to your guitar. By placing a dehumidifier in your guitar case, this is at least one thing less to worry about. When a guitar is placed in an environment with a high humidity, it will absorb some of that moisture, thus expanding and possibly cracking. The dehumidifier will absorb the moisture in the guitar case instead of the guitar.

FILLING UP THAT CASE

Something what you absolutely want to avoid is having a lot of extra room that your guitar can move around in. Extra room in your guitar case will make it easier for the guitar to bump around in and get damaged. Especially fill up spaces around the neck as this is a delicate part of the guitar.

BLOCK STRINGS FROM FRETBOARD

When a guitar is placed in an environment with a lot of vibrations, say a plane, naturally the strings will start vibrating. Now, we have already filled up space around the guitar, but still want to add some cloth or such between the strings and the fretboard for precaution. The constant and high-frequency vibrations of the strings can cause fret wear due to the constant contact.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

This is probably a no-brainer, but make sure you place your guitar on top of other luggage. You will have to make sure that whenever you have the opportunity, say you're going by bus, try to have your guitar placed on top, especially when you are not using a hard shell case.

When travelling by plane, you’ll want to make sure to board the plane first, as this leaves out the chance that your guitar will be denied in the plane when there's no room in the overhead cabins. Also, you could try and persuade the cabin crew to place your guitar in one of the storage closets.

DON'T OPEN IMMEDIATELY

Leave the case closed for some hours after flying or driving around in a hot car. The guitar needs to slowly adjust to the room temperature while staying in the case. Opening the case immediately will cause too fast of a change in temperature and humidity, thus inflicting stress upon the guitar and possibly breaking the body, neck or strings.

Travelling with a very favourable and/or expensive piece of equipment can be a very stressful and "dangerous" experience. But, when taking the time to prepare your rig and understand the tricks of the trade, you can decrease the chance of damage to your guitar drastically.

Feel free to go back to this list once in a while to bring this knowledge back to the forefront!

Nik is the Content Manager at Pedal Rockstar.

Tags: Opinion , travelling musicians , guide , Nik , Pedal Rockstar , top tips , travelling with a guitar

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