So you've saved and saved and it's finally time to buy the guitar you've always wanted. One problem: It's on the other side of the country, or worse yet, the planet! She wasn't cheap, after all, so it's not like you have the money to fly over and pick her up in person. So what's a guitar lover to do? Here are some tips to get her home safely.
1. Buy from a reputable dealer or at least someone who knows guitars.
Odds are they'll know how to get your baby to you in one flawless piece. Ask to be sure, of course, but reputable guitar folks are generally reputable for a reason. If this isn't practical (maybe grandma is selling grandpa's old Les Paul and the closest she's been to it is five rooms away with the door shut), keep reading.
2. Brush up on what it takes to ship a guitar safely.
The folks at your local music shop are almost always helpful for this, even at at big retailers like Guitar Center. We're not talking about the stoner 16-year-old doing his best to hold down a summer job, mind you, but the folks who spend their days in the guitar room plucking strings and rattling off weird guitar factoids. The goal is to be knowledgeable enough to talk the seller through the proper precautions.
3. Hire a pro to pack and ship your baby.
Again, ring up the most reputable music shop you can find near the seller. Tell 'em your predicament and that you're willing to pay for their help. Then ask the seller to hand your baby off to them when it's time for her to depart. The price paid usually depends on the instrument, of course, but the retailer's usual shipping cost plus 25% isn't a bad deal. Just how important is she to you anyway?
4. Insure your baby.
No one can guarantee shipping perfection; there are just too many variables. She'll meet a whole host of people on her journey; package handlers, drivers, pilots, conveyor belts, multiple shipping hubs – name it! The best you can do is the best you can do and that includes protecting your investment in the case some sad soul gets just a little too rough with her.
5. Say a prayer.
No, really. We're convinced the big guy up above has a special place in his heart for stringed instruments. Angels do play harps, after all. When you've done all you can do, send positive spiritual energy her way. She'll most definitely reward you with many years of musical enjoyment.
Oh, yeah – almost forgot. What happens when you don't do these things? We're almost scared to show you. Check out this 1958 Hofner Archtop fresh out of a pitiful attempt at bubble wrap.
Russ Penuell lives in Nashville with his girlfriend, three dogs and a lot of music.