If you’ve been thinking about selling a guitar on eBay, Reverb, Facebook Marketplace, or any other online selling or trading platform, you might have found yourself wondering what to charge for shipping? It might be tempting to charge a small flat rate, or even just absorb the cost yourself, but you’d probably be surprised to learn just how much it costs to ship a guitar.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ll be learning all about shipping guitars, including the different methods, the prices you can expect to pay, and some tips for packing your guitar before dropping it with your courier of choice.
- How Much Does Shipping Cost For a Guitar?
- What Factors Influence the Price of Shipping a Guitar?
- Additional Elements to Factor
- How to Prepare a Guitar for Shipping
- Final Thoughts on Shipping a Guitar
How Much Does Shipping Cost For a Guitar?
To ship a guitar you can expect to pay between $85 and $155 for basic ground shipping, and $275 to $395 for expedited 2 day shipping. At the low end these prices are for shipping a guitar within the same state, and the higher prices use Florida to California as the example.
What Factors Influence the Price of Shipping a Guitar?
When shipping a guitar the following factors are ultimately going to determine how much it costs.
Destination in Relation to Origin
The further your package needs to go, the more it’s going to cost to get it there. In our examples we looked at the price of shipping a guitar from Orlando to Tallahassee, and for the same guitar from Orlando to San Diego.
Orlando to Tallahassee
Orlando to San Diego
As you’d expect, the price to ship from Orlando to San Diego was significantly higher, coming in at over $120 more for 2 Day Express, around $100 more for Priority Mail, and a little over $70 more for Standard Ground.
The faster you want the guitar to arrive at its destination the more expensive it will be. For example, standard 5 business day ground shipping from Orlando to Tallahassee costs around $82.45 at USPS.
To use their Priority Mail service, which would cut the shipping time to 3 days, the price would rise just marginally to $82.65 before additional insurance. If you want their fastest shipping, Priority 2 Day Express, the price leaps up significantly to $273.10 for the same journey.
The dimensions of the box play a big role in the price of shipping. Especially with ground shipping, the size of the package impacts price the most because larger packages take up more truck space, and therefore reduce the volume available for other people’s packages.
Not only do you need to consider the weight of the guitar itself, but also the hard case or gig bag, plus any additional padding as well as the outer box. The heavier the package, the more you can anticipate paying.
If you want to be able to track the package and have proof of delivery by way of the recipient’s signature, you’ll have to choose this as an add on, and this will further increase the total shipping cost.
The actual value of the guitar also has a huge impact on the price of shipping. When creating your shipping label, you’ll need to declare the guitar’s value to ensure that it’s properly insured to protect both you and the buyer in the event that it gets lost or damaged in transit.
USPS provides up to $100 of coverage for free, and allows you to add coverage up to $5000. The additional insurance can be quite costly, however, with the max coverage adding an additional $83.60 at the time of writing.
If you’re planning to ship anything over the value of $5000 you will need to consider a private courier who is able to provide greater levels of insurance.
Additional Elements to Factor
Shipping a guitar isn’t just a case of throwing the instrument in any old box and hoping for the best. To ensure the guitar survives the trip you’ll probably need to purchase some (or all) of the following.
Many retailers sell guitar shipping boxes, but as long as it’s sturdy and fits the guitar and the case (if you’re selling with a case), it should be fine. Expect to pay between $10 and $20 for the outer box depending on where you buy from and the quality of the box.
One of the things that can cause the most damage to a guitar in transit is if the guitar is allowed to rattle around in its own box. To prevent this movement, all “broken stowage” or dead space should, if possible, be filled with something like packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or shipping paper.
Using packing peanuts or bubble wrap also provides some extra impact protection against blunt force external strikes, too.
Again, expect to pay between $10 and $10 for these shipping accessories
Gig Bag or Case
While it may seem redundant to buy a case for a guitar you’re sending to someone else, that case may mean the difference between the guitar arriving in one piece or not. If the guitar doesn’t already have a gig bag or hard case, consider buying a cheap $20 bag to provide additional protection during transport.
Hard cases are always preferable for protection, but their additional weight will also mean increased shipping costs.
Be sure to buy a roll or two of packing tape or duct tape. This will prevent the box from inadvertently bursting open during transport. Expect to add about $5 to your total cost for proper tape.
How to Prepare a Guitar for Shipping
These are the basic steps to prepping a guitar for shipping.
Slack Down the Strings
First, you’ll want to slacken the strings. Having tension on the neck during transportation can increase the odds of the neck warping, or even a catastrophic event like a snap.
Remove any Batteries
If your guitar has a preamp, be sure to take the batteries out before shipping. There’s a good chance of battery leaks during the rigors of transport, and these can cause irreversible damage to interior electronic components.
Put the Guitar in its Case
Give the guitar a wipe down with a clean, dry microfiber cloth, then put it into its gig bag or hard side case. Ensure the neck is secured and supported in the case with padding behind as much of it as possible.
Place the Guitar in the Outer Box
Once the guitar is in a case, place it inside of the outer box. At this point you’ll begin stuffing in your additional packing material. Be sure to fill in all of that dead space to stop the box from getting crushed and to prevent movement within the box.
Tape over all the edges of the box to prevent anything getting in (or out) during transit. Wrap tape generously around the box, too, to prevent it from opening in shipping, and also to provide additional structural integrity to the package.
Drop off at your Chosen Mail Carrier
Take the package to your local USPS or whichever courier you plan to use. Let them know there’s a guitar inside, and let them know the value of the instrument to make sure you have the right insurance coverage.
Do not be tempted to play down the value of the guitar to get cheaper shipping. If anything happens to the guitar in transit, the recipient may well refuse the package, and you will be left with a broken guitar. Alternatively, if it goes missing, both you and the recipient will be left without a guitar, and you’ll have to reimburse their costs.
Final Thoughts on Shipping a Guitar
If you’ve never shipped a guitar before, it may seem like there’s a lot to take in. However, at the end of the day, it’s really just like shipping any other package. Be sure to follow these tips, and you’ll have no issues the next time you mail out a guitar.