You’ve finally decided to sell your guitar. Maybe you’ve got your eyes set on a brand-new guitar, or maybe you just aren’t into playing anymore and want the cash for something else.
Whatever your reason, the shipping costs will have to be taken into account. Guitars are heavy, bulky, and fragile. So, it is important to consider all the logistics before sending your baby off to their new home.
In this article, I will list 5 different options for shipping your guitar to its new owner, as well as take a look at what each of the options has to offer.
Before we start, we should consider all the factors that play a role in shipping a guitar and the associated cost. So, let’s get straight to it in my in-depth Guide to How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Guitar?
What Influences Guitar Shipping Price?
The first and most obvious of the lot is distance. Shipping domestically versus shipping internationally will change the cost tremendously. It might also limit the courier services if you want to ship internationally. The further it goes, the more expensive it will be; it is that simple.
When shipping something as large as a guitar, unless it is a very special, rare example with limited buyers interested in it, you’re better off shipping as local as possible. A few states is fine, cross country more difficult and internationally not really worth it.
If the buyer wants the guitar shipped as fast as possible, it will significantly raise the price. It is a good idea to discuss this early on before any transactions have been made. If the buyer is willing to wait, you can shop for lower prices, which will take a little longer.
If the buyer is overseas, you won’t really have an idea. The best thing to do is to read up on the customs regulations in the buyer’s country to get an idea of how strict they are. From firsthand experience, I’ve had supplies stuck in customs for over two weeks before.
Acoustic guitars are usually lighter since they are hollow. Depending on the weight of the guitar, the price will vary as well.
The most important thing, though, is not only the gross weight but the dimensional weight. This factors in the size and weight, not only the weight itself. So, you’re acoustic might weigh less but is larger than an electric, which might make shipping them around the same price.
How much does it cost to ship my guitar?
Finally, after considering all the factors that will influence the price, I can start discussing what we’re all here for, the price.
For a variety of options, I’ve found prices from five shipping companies, giving them the dimensional weight of my Fender Squier Affinity Stratocaster. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details. For the quotes, I’ve rounded up all the numbers to the nearest dollar for convenience.
One of the most used and trusted couriers across the country, UPS is the first company that comes to mind. UPS also has plenty of options available, which is never a bad thing. There is ground shipping, two and three-day options.
Shipping the guitar cross country, about 1500 miles, I received the following quotes:
UPS ground shipping was $105, 2-day air shipping was $380, and 3-day air shipping was about $100 cheaper at $260. If air shipping is what you prefer, the 3-day option is definitely the better option.
If UPS isn’t your thing, your best bet is Ship Guitars. Ship Guitars are all about getting your precious baby safely into the hands of their new owner, or maybe just get it to wherever you are relocating to. Either way, they have shipped over a million guitars to over 190 different countries.
Ship Guitars has an easy system to follow. Pack the guitar, print the shipping labels, and stick those bad boys on your box, then schedule a pick-up or drop-off at any of the designated drop-off points.
As mentioned, the price will heavily depend on the aforementioned factors. I asked them for a quote to ship my guitar from Los Angeles to New York, around 2700 miles.
Ground shipping amounted to $90. The 2-day shipping cost was $280, and 3 day was $210. These prices are better than UPS and all the other courier companies I tried. Ship Guitars is, therefore, my go-to recommendation when friends ask about shipping their guitars.
Next in my guide on How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Guitar?, we have FedEx, a well-known courier company that is often used to ship guitars.
This time, I decided to send the guitar from Denver to Kansas, which is just under 400 miles. I decided to try a shorter distance to see how large the price difference would be. And as the numbers show, sending the guitar over a shorter distance, between fewer states, significantly lowers the price of sending it.
The ground shipping, which is the slowest, was only $34. If you want 2-day shipping, it will cost $85. There is no 3-day, but FedEx offers overnight, which cost $135, and priority overnight was $150. The main difference between overnight and priority overnight is that the package will arrive at the destination before 10:30 am the next morning if you send it with priority overnight.
The men in yellow come in last, although they aren’t a bad choice by any means.
To get an idea of what it would cost to ship your guitar internationally, I asked for a quote that ships cross country and over the Canadian border to get a good idea of their pricing. They don’t offer as many different options as the previous couriers, which is unfortunate. Their delivery service usually sends the package within one to two business days (overnight if you’re lucky.)
Shipping across the border cost $230, which is reasonable when compared to the rest. However, I wouldn’t recommend sending guitars with DHL within the states, since FedEx, Ship Guitars, and UPS offer ground delivery, which is much cheaper.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the pricing, it’s time to decide which service to use and start packing. So, here are some things to remember when packing your guitar.
Tips for packing your guitar correctly
Prepare the Guitar and the Case
Loose parts are a big no-no when it comes to shipping, even more so when it involves an expensive piece of musical equipment.
I recommend using a hard case when shipping a guitar since it will protect the guitar from bumps and scratches, whereas a guitar bag won’t provide anywhere near as much protection.
Another good idea is to loosen the strings quite a bit. The temperature and humidity difference when shipping could affect the tension they impose on the neck, especially if it is going to a colder area, which could cause neck damage.
Wrap the headstock properly with bubble wrap, especially around the neck joint, and place some foam between the strings and fretboard. If you want, you could even wrap the whole body in a thin layer of bubble wrap, just in case.
Choose the right box
Hard cases aren’t cheap, so why would you want to subject them to the world of punishment that is courier service handling.
When choosing a box, it is a good idea to read up on the burst strength of boxes. There is plenty of information online about it, but essentially it is the amount of weight a box can hold during shipping without breaking.
This is especially important if your guitar is not in a hard case. The box will be the only thing preventing it from bouncing around and getting dented. So, after packaging the guitar, give it a good shake or two; if you hear the guitar moving around, repack it!
Rain is a worst-case scenario. The trucks are obviously waterproof but always expect the worst, and who knows the weather or how far the package will have to be carried in torrential rain on delivery.
Sealing the box and the case will prevent any water from getting in, which, let’s face it, could pretty much destroy your guitar. Better safe than sorry.
Looking for a superb Guitar to replace the one you’re shipping?
Then check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Blues Guitars, the Best Jasmine Guitars, the Best Resonator Guitar, the Best Jazz Guitars, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300, as well as the Best Hollow And Semi-Hollow Guitars you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our comprehensive Epiphone ETCNCHNH1 Hollow-Body Electric Guitar Review, our Ibanez GRX70QA Review, our Fender Player Stratocaster Review, or our Martin LX1 Little Martin Review for more awesome guitars currently on the market.
And don’t miss our helpful guides on the Different Types of Guitars You Should Know, The Different Types Of Chords You Should Know, or Exercises and Tips For Better Finger Dexterity to improve your playing.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Guitar? – Final Thoughts
It’s finally time to say goodbye to your baby, and after all the preparation, you should now be equipped with all the right tools to get it safely to its new home. Remember that ground shipping is your best bet to keep costs low. But discuss this with the buyer beforehand because ground shipping is slower.
If you are shipping it for the purpose of a gig and need it quickly, there are plenty of more expensive options that send it overnight. No matter the time, your guitar, if packed correctly, will get where it needs to be when it needs to.