I’ll cover how to save money on boxes and where to get your boxes and packing materials AND how to save nearly half on shipping costs, in my next article. But first, let’s pack this guitar to get a feel for how this all works..

how to pack a guitar for shipping

I’m using boxes that have open ends, as opposed to open sides. So the first step is to tape up one end as the bottom.

With my packing tape, I put three strips across the short side (middle, left & right) and one long strop near the long seam.

Pad the Bottom End

The bottom strap button can poke a hole through the bottom and we want to pad it a bit to protect the guitar body anyway, so I cut some cardboard and fold it 3 times over then force it down to the bottom end of the box.

how to pack and ship a guitar

I’ve cut and folded the bottom padding so that it fits rather tightly and I use a broomstick to push it all the way down against the bottom flap.

This piece needs to fit snugly at the bottom of the box. Nothing – not the guitar nor packing material – should be moving inside the box.

Bubble Wrap the Guitar

I begin the bubble wrapping by taping one end of the wrap to the back cover plate to anchor the bubble wrap. I don’t want to tape the guitar body, so why not use the plastic plate?

The mummified guitar!

About two wraps usually does the trick. I’m using half-inch bubbles and about two wraps around the body is usually enough to prevent any movement when in the box.

Well, it still allows vertical movement, but we’ll get to that in the next step.

At this point, you want to stop and decide whether you want to include the tremolo arm, adjustment tools, picks, a business card and perhaps a nice thank you letter.

If you’ve ordered from Sweetwater and other great suppliers, you’ll get a good idea of the kinds of marketing opportunities you’ll want to take advantage of.

Stabilize the Headstock

We’ve done pretty well so far, but the headstock can still wobble around and the guitar can still move vertically. If you’ve ever ordered a brand-new Squier, you’ve seen how they use cardboard with a square cut out of the center, that fits over the headstock and prevents movement.

Pic #1: Cardboard with hole Pic #2: Unstabilized headstock Pic #3: Stabilized headstock
Cover that with more folded cardboard and top it off with some bubble wrap to ensure nothing can move.

Now we’re ready to tape the top end closed, then weigh our package and purchase our shipping label (online at a great discount, of course!).

Bent-Back, Gibson Style Headstocks

Oh yeah! Almost forgot about those. I tightly roll up some corrugated cardboard, tape it so it own’t unroll, then place it under the neck where it meets the headstock. Like this..

Tightly rolled cardboard taped under the neck where the headstock joins

Then, I stabilize the headstock as before..

Cut and folded cardboard to stabilize the headstock

On top of this, goes more cardboard and bubble wrap to prevent vertical movement. I don’t like to use styrofoam here because it can break and then we have potential vertical movement.

Coming Soon!

My next article will cover buying boxes and packing materials and how to get nearly 50% discounts on shipping through UPS. I’ll also tell some of my shipping horror stories and tips that may help you avoid my mistakes. So, please “Like” us on Facebook and tell your guitar flipping friends about us.

If you’d like to share some of your stories, tips, how-to’s, etc. – please write me. You can help us help others who are into guitar tech work and/or flipping and help those who are considering joining our ranks.