How Much to Ship a Guitar: A Comprehensive Guide to Shipping Costs

Shipping a guitar can be a daunting task, especially for musicians who want to ensure their beloved instrument arrives safely at its destination. One of

Ann Murphy

Shipping a guitar can be a daunting task, especially for musicians who want to ensure their beloved instrument arrives safely at its destination. One of the most crucial factors to consider is the cost of shipping, as it can vary depending on various factors. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of shipping a guitar and provide you with a detailed breakdown of the expenses involved.

Whether you are an aspiring musician sending your guitar to a buyer or a professional player touring across the country, understanding the shipping costs is essential. By being well-informed, you can make informed decisions and save both time and money in the process.

Determining the Dimensions and Weight of Your Guitar

Before you can calculate the shipping costs for your guitar, you need to determine its dimensions and weight accurately. This information is vital as it will help you choose the right packaging materials and provide the shipping carrier with the necessary details. Here’s how you can measure your guitar:

Length, Width, and Height

Using a measuring tape, measure the length, width, and height of your guitar. For the length, measure from the bottom of the body to the tip of the headstock. The width can be measured at the widest part of the body, and the height should be measured from the bottom to the highest point of the guitar.


To determine the weight of your guitar accurately, you can use a digital scale. Place the guitar on the scale and make sure it is balanced. Record the weight in pounds or kilograms, depending on your preference.

Once you have the dimensions and weight of your guitar, you can move on to the next step of calculating the shipping costs.

Choosing the Right Shipping Carrier

Not all shipping carriers are created equal, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference in both cost and reliability. Here are some popular shipping carriers to consider:

USPS (United States Postal Service)

USPS offers various shipping options, including Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. They are often the most cost-effective choice for domestic shipments, especially for smaller and lighter guitars. However, keep in mind that USPS may have limitations on package size and weight.


FedEx is known for its reliable and fast shipping services. They offer different options like FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, and FedEx Home Delivery. FedEx is a popular choice for both domestic and international shipments, and they provide excellent tracking services. However, their rates may be slightly higher compared to USPS.

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UPS (United Parcel Service)

UPS is another well-established shipping carrier that offers a wide range of services for domestic and international shipments. They have a reliable tracking system and provide options like UPS Ground, UPS Express Saver, and UPS Worldwide Express. UPS rates can be competitive, but it’s essential to compare them with other carriers to ensure the best deal.

Domestic vs. International Shipping Costs

Shipping a guitar domestically differs from shipping it internationally, and the costs involved can vary significantly. Here’s a breakdown of the factors that influence the shipping costs in both scenarios:

Domestic Shipping

When shipping a guitar within the same country, the cost is primarily determined by the distance it needs to travel. Longer distances will inevitably result in higher shipping costs. Additionally, the weight and dimensions of the package play a role in determining the shipping fees. Carriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS have different pricing structures based on these factors.

International Shipping

Shipping a guitar internationally introduces additional complexities and costs. Here are some factors that can influence the shipping fees:

Customs Duties and Taxes

When shipping a guitar to another country, customs duties and taxes may apply. These charges are imposed by the destination country’s government and are based on the declared value of the guitar. It’s essential to research the customs regulations and factor in these potential costs when calculating the total shipping expenses.

Shipping Method

The shipping method you choose for international shipments can impact the cost. Options like air freight or expedited services tend to be more expensive compared to standard international shipping. Consider the urgency of the shipment and your budget when selecting the shipping method.

Insurance and Tracking

International shipments may require additional insurance coverage for protection against damage or loss. The cost of insurance can vary depending on the declared value of the guitar. Tracking services are also important to ensure the package’s safety and provide peace of mind. Some carriers offer better tracking options than others, so consider this when choosing a shipping carrier.

Packaging Your Guitar for Safe Transportation

Proper packaging is crucial to ensure the safety of your guitar during transit. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pack your guitar securely:

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before you start packing, gather the following materials:

  • A sturdy guitar case or box
  • Bubble wrap or foam packaging material
  • Packing tape
  • Cardboard inserts or blocks
  • Fragile stickers

Loosen the Strings

Loosen the strings of your guitar to relieve tension on the neck. This step helps prevent any damage that may occur during transit.

Wrap the Guitar in Bubble Wrap or Foam

Start by wrapping the body of the guitar in several layers of bubble wrap or foam. Secure the wrap with packing tape to keep it in place.

Protect the Neck and Headstock

Place additional bubble wrap or foam around the neck and headstock of the guitar. Make sure it is well-padded to prevent any impacts or movements during shipping.

Secure the Guitar in the Case or Box

Place the wrapped guitar inside a sturdy guitar case or box. If using a box, fill any empty spaces with packing material to ensure the guitar does not move around during transit. Use cardboard inserts or blocks to provide additional support and prevent any potential damage.

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Seal the Package and Label it Correctly

Seal the package with packing tape, ensuring all edges and seams are secure. Attach fragile stickers to the package to alert handlers to its delicate contents. Additionally, label the package with the necessary shipping information, including the sender’s and recipient’s addresses.

By following these packaging guidelines, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your guitar during shipping.

Insurance Options for Guitar Shipments

Accidents can happen during transit, and it is vital to protect your guitar against any potential damage or loss. Here are some insurance options to consider:

Carrier Insurance

Most shipping carriers offer insurance coverage for packages. You can typically choose the level of coverage based on the declared value of your guitar. It’s important to carefully read the terms and conditions of the carrier’s insurance policy to understand the extent of coverage and any limitations or exclusions.

Third-Party Insurance

Alternatively, you can opt for third-party insurance providers that specialize in insuring musical instruments. These companies often offer comprehensive coverage tailored specifically to the needs of musicians shipping their instruments. Research various options and compare the coverage and pricing before making a decision.

Additional Fees and Customs Duties

When shipping a guitar internationally, additional fees and customs duties may apply. Here’s what you need to know:

Customs Duties and Taxes

Customs duties and taxes are charges imposed by the destination country’s government on imported goods. The amount varies depending on the country and the declared value of the guitar. It’s crucial to research the customs regulations of the specific country you are shipping to and factor in these potential costs when calculating the total expenses.

Brokerage Fees

Some shipping carriers charge brokerage fees for processing customs clearance on behalf of the sender. These fees cover the administrative tasks involved in clearing the package through customs. It’s important to inquire about any potential brokerage fees when choosing a shipping carrier.

Import Restrictions

Different countries have varying import restrictions on musical instruments. Certain materials used in guitar construction, such as certain types of wood, may be subject to additional regulations. Research the import restrictions of the destination country to ensure compliance and avoid any unexpected issues or delays.

Tips for Negotiating Shipping Costs

Shipping costs can add up, especially when shipping guitars regularly. Here are some tips for negotiating better shipping rates:

Compare Multiple Shipping Carriers

Don’t settle for the first shipping carrier you come across. Compare rates, services, and customer reviews of multiple carriers to ensure you are getting the best deal. Some carriers may offer discounts for regular shipments or have special promotions that can help you save money.

Consider Bulk Shipping

If you frequently ship guitars or other musical instruments, consider consolidating your shipments into larger bulk shipments. This can help you negotiate better rates with the shipping carrier, as they will be handling multiple packages at once.

Utilize Shipping Aggregators

Shipping aggregators are online platforms that allow you to compare rates from multiple carriers in one place. These platforms often negotiate discounted rates with shipping carriers, which can help you save money on your guitar shipments. Consider using shipping aggregators like ShipStation or Shippo to streamline the shipping process and find the best rates.

Optimize Packaging

Efficient packaging can help reduce shipping costs. Use packaging materials that provide adequate protection while keeping the overall weight of the package as low as possible. Avoid using oversized boxes or excessive padding that can increase dimensional weight charges. Additionally, explore alternative packaging options like flat rate boxes or padded envelopes for smaller guitars.

Negotiate Volume Discounts

If you regularly ship a significant volume of guitars, consider negotiating volume discounts with shipping carriers. Contact their sales or customer service departments and inquire about the possibility of receiving discounted rates based on your shipping volume. Providing evidence of your shipping history and future projections can strengthen your negotiation position.

Explore Alternative Shipping Methods

Traditional shipping carriers may not always be the most cost-effective option for shipping guitars. Look into alternative shipping methods like freight forwarding services or specialized guitar shipping companies. These companies often have experience in handling delicate musical instruments and may offer more competitive rates for shipping guitars.

Build Relationships with Shipping Carriers

Establishing a strong relationship with your preferred shipping carrier can have long-term benefits. Regularly shipping with the same carrier and demonstrating loyalty can lead to better customer service, personalized assistance, and potentially discounted rates. Reach out to your carrier’s account manager and discuss your shipping needs to explore any potential benefits or incentives they may offer.

Alternative Methods for Shipping Guitars

Aside from traditional shipping methods, there are alternative options available that may be more cost-effective or convenient. Here are some alternatives to consider:

Guitar Shipping Services

Several companies specialize in shipping musical instruments, including guitars. These services have expertise in handling delicate instruments and provide specialized packaging and insurance options. While they may have slightly higher rates compared to standard shipping carriers, the added peace of mind and convenience can be worth the investment, especially for valuable or vintage guitars.

Local Pickups

If you are selling or buying a guitar locally, arranging for a local pickup can save you shipping costs altogether. This option eliminates the need for packaging, insurance, and carrier fees. Coordinate with the buyer or seller to arrange a convenient meeting point, ensuring both parties are comfortable with the transaction.

Transportation Services

If you need to transport your guitar for a tour or performance, considering transportation services may be more efficient than traditional shipping. Companies that specialize in instrument transportation can provide door-to-door service and handle the logistics of moving your guitar from one location to another. While this option may be more expensive than traditional shipping, it offers the benefit of professional handling and reduced risk of damage.

Tracking Your Guitar Shipment

Once your guitar is on its way, you’ll want to be able to track its progress for peace of mind. Most shipping carriers provide tracking services that allow you to monitor your guitar’s journey. Here’s how to track your guitar shipment:

Tracking Numbers

When you ship your guitar, the shipping carrier will provide you with a tracking number. This unique number can be used to track the progress of your shipment.

Online Tracking Tools

Visit the shipping carrier’s website and navigate to their tracking page. Enter the tracking number provided to access real-time updates on your guitar’s location and estimated delivery date. You can often sign up for email or text notifications to receive updates directly.

Carrier Mobile Apps

Many shipping carriers offer mobile applications that allow you to track your shipments conveniently from your smartphone. Download the carrier’s app and input the tracking number to stay informed about your guitar’s whereabouts on the go.

Customer Service Assistance

If you encounter any issues with tracking your guitar shipment or have specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the shipping carrier’s customer service. They can provide additional information and support to ensure a smooth delivery process.


Shipping a guitar involves several considerations, including accurate measurements, choosing the right carrier, packaging, insurance, and potential additional fees. By understanding these factors and following the guidelines provided in this comprehensive guide, you can confidently ship your guitar while keeping costs under control. Remember to thoroughly research your options, compare rates, and take advantage of available resources to ensure a smooth and secure shipping experience for your beloved instrument.

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