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 Post subject: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:46 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:29 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Seattle, WA
I've seen a handful of comments on the forum over the years about expensive shipping rates, the most recent from Mike describing $50 shipping as "a little steep". I was interested in thoughts/suggestions from forum members about shipping.

While I agree that $50 is expensive, I've never gotten my costs to ship below that amount (meaning I've lost money on every guitar I've shipped). Of course, I try to make sure the guitars I've shipped are well-packed, but my impression is that I'm not going overboard with packing materials (typically some combination of recycled peanuts, styrofoam blocks, bubble wrap, or similar).

I've received guitars that were damaged in shipping - either because there was insufficient padding around the outside of the guitar case, or because the guitar was banging around too loosely inside the case - and I don't want to be the reason why someone else has a similar experience.

So I'm wondering how you guys try to pack guitars, and how expensive are your shipping costs? I have not yet figured out the best way to balance protecting the guitar while mimizing shipping charges (so I always lean toward protecting the guitar).


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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:10 pm
Posts: 3015
Location: Tifton, Ga USA
Well I think the beef with the shipping rates may lean towards the ones that charged $50 and that show up in the case or gig bag wrapped with tape and an address label and showing $10 postage. I am also a picky shipper and I put the guitar first also. I always loosen all strings, try to place some thin foam or cardboard over the neck and frets to prevent dings etc, and also place foam, cardboard, or bubble wrap around the guitar inside the case or gig bag to prevent damage and then place the case or gig bag inside a guitar box and use cardboard, paper, peanuts, foam etc to fill the box so that there is no room for movement. I have a large collection so I usually have a nice shipping box to re-use and that can save some costs but I understand how the cost can add up if you purchase a new box and packing materials each time you ship. The US Postal Srvice is usually the lowest cost to ship insured and most time if I ship a Guitar sized box packed good in US it ranges from $30 + just to ship. It just kills me when an item shows up with no box or some kind of paper wrapped mess with an address written on it and no insurance or proof of delivery and the shipping fee was north of $50 so I hope this helps explain some of the strife we have here with shipping charges.

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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:29 pm
Posts: 76
Location: Seattle, WA
I'm just amazed that you can ship a guitar for $30+... mine's always been $50+ (and I use entirely recycled guitar boxes, too, so I don't pay for materials).

Question on your comment about loosening the strings... I always thought that, too. But I read something that loosening the guitar strings for shipping is actually worse for the guitar. If I remember correctly, the premise was that the truss rod is tighened to balance against the string tension. When you loosen the stings without also relaxing the truss rod, you subject the neck to the stress from the truss rod. So the thought was that you should leave the strings under tension, which would keep the neck more stable while being bounced around in shipping.

I sure as hell don't know.


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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 6:30 pm
Posts: 1765
Location: Central Iowa
I usually go fed ex ground insured , but in the last year, rates have really gone up...
I have an account, which gets me better rates, but it's usually 35-45 now just for shipping charges. I can see if you are buying a box to ship in and buying penuts or bubble wrap where it could hit $50 for a well packaged guitar...

off-topic: I actually had a guy some years ago ship me a Subaru short block with head studs installed, no oil pan, but oil pickup installed, in a cardboard box, with wadded up newpapers shoved around it... it did not fare well during the trip. the sump pickup was bent/crushed. a coolant nipple bent, and head stud bent... :no:

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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:18 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:50 pm
Posts: 1569
Location: New Jersey
Shipping rates are hard to estimate. If I send a guitar to the west coast I'm going to be looking at about $35 - $40 before packaging and materials. Almost all the guitars I ship end up being a bit over 20 lbs with case. I try and estimate using 25 lbs as a basis. Some guitars get double boxed, some get insurance, all get enough tape tape to wrap a Pharoah, so it's pretty easy to have over $10 in packaging material. Insurance adds a few more bucks and then time to pack and schlep to the PO or UPS adds even more cost.

Shipping costs anywhere in CONUS can almost always be covered by a $50 fee. On very rare or extreme packaging jobs I've gone slightly over that. It's getting to a point where having UPS package and ship is a viable but still unattrative option.

As for loosening strings - most people want that done. I personally think that if a guitar is packaged correctly it would be better off with some tension on the neck. De-tuning about a step should be enough tension relief. IMO extremes in temperature cause more shipping stress than anything else to finish and binding. Always let a guitar you receive acclimatize for a while when you receive it. I unbox it, crack the case but don't open, and force myself to wait for an hour or two before opening - especially in winter.


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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:57 am 
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Location: sor'ta nort' of da Cities in Minna-soda, dere
Mum is the word from me on this one, dudes... :no:


...but you can rest assured I have an opinion on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Shipping Rates
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:14 am
Posts: 262
Steve is a crysanthemum ??? That's how rumors get stated....I get all my boxes from the local Guitar Center on their receiving day, also their used packing material -- i use thin foam sheets from this material to wrap guitars and hold them securely in cases - if no case, they are then wrapped in bubble wrap Note: bubble wrap will damage lacquer finishes !!! -- I also loosen strings, truss rods are easy to adjust, and I understand full string tension can contirute to headstock breaks. I use a commercial re-shipper for UPS, in this case a local commercial printer - Many printing firms also offer shipping, and as they ship a LOT, get good rates -- unless insurance is high (I've had to insure for over $6000 before) my cost is usually $20 to $35 for CONUS (I charge a flat rate for my Ebay sales, sometimes I'm ahead a $ or 2, sometimes under, but it evens out). I also normally double-box. UPS has packing standards and these must be met to collect on any shipping damage claims - I've had 5 claims in 4 years, all paid.


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