Moving...How do I protect my guitars?

I’ll be having my stuff trucked from Florida to Connecticut, so it’s quite a drive. I have cases for all of them, but I’m wondering if I should loosen the strings or just dismantle them completely for the movers.

My recommendation is, loosen the strings, and put “Fragile” stickers on the cases. Then, if possible, be present when the cases are loaded on the truck. Make sure that they are not placed under heavy objects, or in a location where they could be subjected to a sharp blow (such as a fall or having something fall on them.) Also, try to be present when they are unloaded.


I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to my guitars. I would never allow them to be transported by anyone unless I crated them myself.

In any case, you should always loosen the strings first, and if you can find some silica gel to pack with them, it is a very good idea to do that too, particularly if they are going to be subjected to extreme temperatures. If I were you, I would crate them myself and ship them “insured” via FedEx or UPS, instead of relying on movers to protect them.

I’d never trust my axes to movers unless they were specialists. How many do you have? If you have a large collection you may have no choice. If we’re talking two or three, drive them or fly them yourself (how are YOU getting there?), although flying guitars introduces its own problems. I’m not sure why you would loosen the strings, usually you would do that if the axe is going to be subjected to cold and the contracting strings could put stress on the neck. Relaxing the tension by loosening the strings can be almost as bad. Of greater concern is the lack of heat/humidity control inside a moving van.

get some of that foam that firefighters use on small fires. Turn the cases into foam blocks, move, and peel the stuff off when you get there.

I’m a big fan of Leo Kottke, guitarist extraordinaire, and he routinely describes destruction of his guitars while he’s travelling. He says the airlines get one about every twelve to eighteen months, so I’d say flying them is far from a safe solution. He can be sanguine about it – Taylor makes a Leo Kottke Signature Model to his specifications. I’m sure his replacement costs are extremely low. But for those of us who have to purchase our own guitars it’s not so trivial.

I think the other suggestions here are viable. I definitely wouldn’t rely on a guitar case, even a good one, to provide protection in a moving van. Some additional protection is vital.

When you arrive at your destination with your instruments in a sealed container leave them for a while to change temperature if the differance is large.

Changes in humidity may cause the wood to move somewhat so you might well have to do more retuning than usual.

How many guitars are you talking about moving? I only have 2, and I absolutely would not let them out of my sight. I would not trust their transport to any other soul on earth. If necessary I’d take a separate trip in the car just to transport them. Home is where my guitar is.

Holy crap, people, we’re talking about guitars, not children!

It sounds like you have a few that you like, and I’m guessing that they are in a “reasonably priced” range.
Go with the idea of loose strings and “fragile” stickers.

If you had a set of pre-1930 Martins or a couple of early Weisseborns or could afford high end guitars I figure you could afford “specialists” (if there are such people). For Johnny Player, a sturdy case in a box surrounded by packing material has got to be more than sufficient. Remember that your movers do take care of stuff; they don’t toss stuff around like those gorilla baggage handlers in the old Sampsonite commercials. If they destroy stuff, they lose their jobs!

Just pack the guitars and have the shipment insured. It’s what, a 2 day trip? Unless you are going in February the change in temperature is not that drastic, nor is the change in humidity.

I have guitars from a $125 12-string to a multi-thousand dollar custom built job. They’d all make the trip in the van if I found that I was unable to fit them in the car.

I’d just be sure that you have hard shell cases for each of them. Make sure they’re at least SKB quality (no cases made of cardboard or soft material). Add a little silica and everything should be fine.

I’ve moved a couple times with many expensive guitars (Brian Moores, Martins, Strats, Les Pauls, Music Man EVHs, etc.) and I’ve found that the hardshell cases protect them very well. I would just be sure that you’re around when the movers actually move stuff between the truck and the domicile. You don’t want one to get five-fingered or manhandled.