Online shopping is everywhere these days and along with it come shipping headaches. If you have ever shipped a guitar then you know it is a big deal.
After all the work that you put into packaging it securely, who should you trust to deliver it? Is there one company that stands out from the others when it comes to shipping?
I consider UPS to offer the best services for shipping in the USA but the USPS has its merits too. If you need to ship abroad though, that is where UPS and FedEx really shine as they can maintain control of the package all the way to its destination. Or with a little patience, you can just sell or trade locally.
Before we proceed any further let’s get one thing straight. Your attention to packaging is going to be the most important factor.
Basically, you want the instrument to be able to withstand speed bumps in vehicles, (accidental) drops, rain, or whatever unsavory thing might happen in transit.
But there are other important factors in shipping that may help you to choose from among the companies.
What makes a good shipping company for guitars?
When it comes to shipping many people complain that the company employees don’t care much about the packages.
But this has never been the case in my personal experience and hauling heavy packages around isn’t exactly an easy job. So I am willing to give the delivery workers the benefit of the doubt no matter which shipping company.
However, I will never forget the scene in the beginning of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where Jim Carrey is posing as a delivery worker and absolutely destroying the package he is supposed to be delivering.
That was the 90s at its best and if you haven’t seen it you should definitely check it out.
Anyway, accidents can happen to any company and it may be something beyond their control such as having to slam the brakes on in a delivery vehicle.
So let’s focus on things a company can control such as cost, accurate delivery date, and tracking.
Our pick for shipping guitars in the US
In the USA you have three main choices for shipping: the United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, and UPS. All three of these options are viable for shipping guitars.
In my experience, USPS is usually the cheapest option so if cost is all that matters to you then it is a fine choice.
However, it depends on who is receiving the guitar and whether the person has someone at home to receive the package when it is delivered because you don’t want an instrument left on the front porch where it could be stolen.
This is compounded by the fact that USPS tends to be less precise with tracking packages to get an accurate delivery date and time.
If this is an issue and you are shipping an expensive instrument I would advise UPS Ground or FedEx because they will give you a pretty precise delivery time, although they are usually more expensive. That way you can make sure someone is there to accept the package or get it delivered to someone’s workplace during the week.
So for shipping in the USA, I would recommend USPS or UPS (if it is cheaper than FedEx) but there is no substitute for hard work so I would really recommend getting online estimates from each service and giving your customer the best choice.
Our pick for shipping guitars abroad
If you want to ship a guitar out of the country things are a bit different.
Basically, UPS and FedEx operate in many countries around the world so global shipping and tracking are easier because it is done by one consistent carrier.
The USPS obviously doesn’t operate in other countries so if you choose them to ship outside of the USA, the package will have to be handed off to another courier service.
I’m not saying that the package won’t arrive but sometimes it can be stressful to “lose sight” of the package when it is transferred to the local postal service.
So for international shipping, I think UPS and FedEx share the gold medal but it won’t be cheap.
Are there other shipping companies for guitars?
If you have done some research on shipping guitars you may have come across ShipGuitars.com.
This is kind of a strange situation because the service uses UPS for its deliveries. I guess you could think of it as a user interface or GUI.
It allows you to get your quote, print your shipping labels through their website, save some money because you are using their “bulk discount”, and then ship via UPS.
The service is free to you and perhaps they get to keep some of the savings from the bulk discount too?
I’m not sure about the details of how this one works, to be honest, but I would be willing to give it a try the next time I have to ship a guitar. If they’re willing to share their bulk discount that’s fine with me.
Sell your guitar locally if you don’t want to worry about shipping
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you have noticed that fuel prices are crazy these days.
So nobody is going to call you a hippie if you decide to keep things local and forget about shipping stuff altogether.
You can certainly unload a bunch of gear at a local shop for cash or credit or use a networking site if you are more patient.
You should be able to get more for your music gear if the buyer doesn’t have the added cost of shipping.
And if you are planning on spending your profits from the sold gear on new stuff then keeping it local has another great advantage.
You can arrange an equitable trade if you get lucky enough to connect with the right person (or balance the trade with a little cash as needed).
Something that people living in the USA take for granted is just how much used music gear and nearly everything else is available.
People in a lot of other countries simply don’t have the option to buy and sell used gear on the scale that Americans do. So if you’re in the states you should take advantage of it when you can.
And if everyone starts buying and trading used gear then maybe, just maybe, the prices of new gear will come back down. Probably not, but it’s a nice thought anyway.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.