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  1. #1

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    When you buy or sell a guitar (between individuals), how do you guys/gals handle packing and insurance? I guess the buyer bears the risk but the seller does the packing - not a good place to be I would think. From what little I know insurance runs upward of 10% (but this is anecdotal information).

    For you folks who do this a bunch, how do you handle it. I saw one guitar listed with a 'dehumidifier case'. I just have to believe that this guy doesn't know much about guitars so I kind of shudder to think how he might pack one.

    Thanks.

    dave

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I usually ship guitars FedEx. The last one stayed on the east coast and was insured for $2400. The shipping itself was about $20 with another $25 for full insurance.

    It was a PRS 513, so the box was a little smaller than a typical archtop would be, and therefore the shipping rate was a little less, but probably less than $10 difference.

    I've learned if there is any doubt about the shipper's competence with guitar packing, its best to discuss it ahead of time. That way I don't get a case with some tape wrapped around it and a shipping label stuck on it. (That really happened to me with a custom shop Les Paul.) With coaching, I've gotten really good results from the inexperienced.

  4. #3

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    You are counting totally on the goodness of the person selling you the guitar. I have bought many guitars and I thank each and every one of them for taking care to pack the guitars well. I have read horror stories of sellers using shipping and insurance as a profit centre. That is, to quote the buyer a high shipping and insurance rate and then ship by the lowest rate possible. I have read horror tales of sellers throwing the guitar into a thin box without packing materials once it has been paid for. Not my guitar now, he figures. But jazz guitarists and archtop players, classical players must be classy decent educated folk because, bless their hearts, I have never been screwed over by anyone to date. And I have bought many guitars. Not as many as 2bop (he is the King Flipper; can't touch dat) but at about a quarter of his industry. And I hope my good luck continues. Every one of them packed the guitar as if it was a personal belonging. Everyone showed that he cared even though it has been sold. I pay by wire, not Paypal, because I figure that if I can't trust a person I shan't be dealing with him anyway. Guess that makes me a heehaw simpleton ripe for the picking. Yeah, I got screwed finally, on a pair of fake adidas off ebay. $126. Broke the duck.

    Ameritage Gold Series cases come with a dehumidifier wooden box each. That is what most sellers mean when they mention "dehumidifier case".

    How do I handle it? Work it out with the seller way before the sale is finalised. You have to get a sense of whom you are dealing with.

    Richard Bruné on shipping: Shipping Info — R. E. Brune, Luthier
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 02-07-2017 at 12:24 AM.

  5. #4

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    The seller is responsible for the guitar during shipping - PayPal, Reverb and credit card companies will refund the buyer if the guitar arrives damaged or otherwise 'not as described'. UPS and FedEx offer insurance, and I purchase it when shipping, but getting either to pay on a claim is arduous.

    Reverb now offers buyer & seller protection and if you sell the guitar on Reverb and purchase shipping through Reverb you also get Reverb's shipping insurance added to the cost. Rates through Reverb for USPS or UPS are competitive to slightly better than going direct with USPS or UPS. Hopefully Reverb's insurance will be easier to work with than UPS and FedEx.

    Shipping rates have really gotten expensive for cross-country - UPS quoted $120 to ship from the west coast to Chicago, FedEx was $80 insured. On another sale I was able to ship via UPS through Reverb for under $60 to Boston. I also recently shipped from the southwest to Seattle for approx. $30 insured - shippers are really upping the prices for long distance and it's worthwhile to shop for the best rate.

    I've sold hundreds of guitars/amps/pedals on eBay or Reverb over the past 17 years and only had damage on 1 amp I shipped, but it took months to get FedEx to pay the claim.

    ** IIRC either UPS, FedEx, or both, no longer insure 'vintage' or high value instruments - but you wouldn't learn that until you file the claim.
    Last edited by MaxTwang; 02-07-2017 at 12:24 AM.

  6. #5

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    Dan Erlewine's shipping & packing guide

    http://www.danerlewine.com/freestuff...ingaguitar.pdf

  7. #6

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    I shipped a case a couple weeks ago and got a whopping $82 bill from FedEx.
    I'm sure it was a more of 'dimensional' rather than weight charge, but I only charged the seller $55.
    it's been awhile since I shipped a guitar or case [or bought one for that matter] looks like rates have jumped.
    that won't happen again

  8. #7

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    A 50"x20"x8" box has a dimensional weight of 57.68 pounds. USPS bills by actual weight up to a limit of 70 pounds and L + Girth of 108", I think, unless that has changed recently. Fedex and UPS bill the larger of the two weights, dimensional or actual weight.

  9. #8

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    The few things I have shipped with insurance I let the shipper pack it (if available) so if there's damage they cannot blame the seller. A shipper has a tough time not paying on a claim if THEY pack or is there's a fork lift hole through the case.

    On the reverse side of the coin, sellers to me have been VERY diligent packing well. I have them detune the strings down to put less stress on the neck / head / truss rod area too.

    On the subject... shipping insurance has become a MAJOR scam and PITA. I "HATE" to say it but I think the feds need to investigate these carriers and SEVERELY punish them for not paying or foot dragging on claims. Crappola, life and car insurance companies are regulated why not scrutinize these bastards and maybe regulate the insurance aspect. Maybe just the FEAR of scrutiny would fix it?

  10. #9

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    I purchased a number of very rare guitars from the estate of a forum member who passed away. I spent a lot of money. The guitars are irreplaceable as the person that built many of them also has passed away. When it came time to ship I had the seller take the guitars to a local UPS Store I had already contacted. I had UPS pack the boxes using what I jokingly call "their deluxe treatment" and I insured the guitars for their full value. Mostly over 4k each. So by insuring at that level UPS Stores are obligated to really go "overboard". I have never in all my 70 years seen guitars so well padded and protected. Layers of foam, case wrapped in bubble wrap, just exemplary work. Yeah it cost me more but if any of the guitars had been damaged in shipment I would have been bereft. The guitars all arrived in perfect condition. I kept a couple of the boxes and all the sophisticated padding around for future use.

    Now if you are having someone send you a guitar (when you decide what you are buying) a safe and easy way to close it out calmly is to have them go to a UPS Store and let the store do the packing. Insure the guitar for it's full price and pay for that shipping yourself. It's money well spent. I assume whatever you buy you hope to play and enjoy for a very long time.

    Good luck.

    Big

  11. #10

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    This plus having the guitar shipped to a nearby hub and picking it up from the hub works for me if the guitar and/or my time to deal with damage/claims is too valuable.

  12. #11

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    I prefer USPS to either Fedex or UPS, by far. Cheaper, faster, more reliable. There are many, many horror stories just on this forum about damage during Fedex or UPS shipments. I've never had any damage with USPS. I would not trust anything that I valued to UPS or to Fedex. I've seen packages that were supposed to be overnighted sit for more than a week just waiting for Fedex to pick them up. Fedex Ground is often quicker than their air shipments, depending on the destination and/or origin. USPS will pick the package up from you if you want. Insurance is reasonable. They even have Sunday delivery for packages.

    If you want to know how to pack a guitar for shipment. go to archtop.com. There is an extensive tutorial with pictures. Joe deals with shipments of expensive guitars every day, in both directions. He's seen a lot, if not all, and has good advice.

  13. #12

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    USPS is not perfect either. I recently had them damage a very rare flattop that the seller sent Express Mail. A solid brazilian rosewood back and sides guitar, the box was dropped on it's end, probably by whatever airliner it flew on from California to Chicago. The end result is repairable but ugly. So USPS is NOT an angel in these matters.

    Big

    On Shipping Guitars-img_1502-jpgOn Shipping Guitars-img_1501-jpg
    Last edited by BigMikeinNJ; 02-07-2017 at 01:35 PM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I prefer USPS to either Fedex or UPS, by far. Cheaper, faster, more reliable. There are many, many horror stories just on this forum about damage during Fedex or UPS shipments. I've never had any damage with USPS. I would not trust anything that I valued to UPS or to Fedex. I've seen packages that were supposed to be overnighted sit for more than a week just waiting for Fedex to pick them up. Fedex Ground is often quicker than their air shipments, depending on the destination and/or origin. USPS will pick the package up from you if you want. Insurance is reasonable. They even have Sunday delivery for packages.

    If you want to know how to pack a guitar for shipment. go to archtop.com. There is an extensive tutorial with pictures. Joe deals with shipments of expensive guitars every day, in both directions. He's seen a lot, if not all, and has good advice.
    Interestingly, I've had essentially the opposite experience. Fortunately, no damage using any of these shippers, but in most instances USPS has been 50-100% more costly and widely variable speed with USPS. My '68 GJS sat in the post office in Philadelphia for a week before it even began to move. Talk about nerve wracking!

  15. #14

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  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ
    USPS is not perfect either. I recently had them damage a very rare flattop that the seller sent Express Mail. A solid brazilian rosewood back and sides guitar, the box was dropped on it's end, probably by whatever airliner it flew on from California to Chicago. The end result is repairable but ugly. So USPS is NOT an angel in these matters.


    Big

    On Shipping Guitars-img_1502-jpgOn Shipping Guitars-img_1501-jpg

    How was USPS on the claim? We've had a couple USPS claims, either lost item or damage, and the post office paid w/o questions. In the case of damage to a sculpture USPS saw the packaging and admitted USPS should not have accepted the package (a stone sculpture that was in a clear plastic storage box w/ no padding).

    OTOH I've had UPS reject a damage claim on a carved soapstone statue that was in a custom wood crate encased in 5" of 'foam-in-place' around it. UPS claimed the item couldn't have been damaged w/ that packaging but you could see the item had been driven through 5" of foam-in-place and came into contact w/ the crate (that's quite a drop!).

  17. #16

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    None of the options are perfect, of course. Stuff can happen, or to put it another way, defecation occurs. But IME, which certainly isn't everyone's, the USPS is the best of the readily available and affordable options.

  18. #17

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    Last guitar I shipped I let UPS do the packing ... no problems on that one

    I am trying to steel myself to sell some guitars ... I've been dawdling for months, but I need the cash to pay off my Super 400

    I plan on letting UPS do the packing again ... I will be selling solid bodies so I'm not as worried as I would be with an archtop ..

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg
    ... I will be selling solid bodies so I'm not as worried as I would be with an archtop ..
    If any of the solid-bodies says Gibson and Lifton case, you should be. Don't know what to tell ya but use those cardboard endcaps that hold the case upright and immobile in the shipping box, and strengthen the box at both ends, and pack lots of foam worms around the hard case. Put a small bag of foam worms under the Gibson headstock and nut.

    The stupid Gibson Lifton-style case is too close-fitting around the headstock. Any slight movement, the headstock comes in contact with the side walls and toast, man. You gotta stop the guitar from shifting in the case. Keep the headstock away from the walls. And remove the endpin and store it in the string compartment wrapped in a big wad of paper in a Ziplock.

  20. #19

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    Amen Jabberwocky on immobilizing the case and headstock.

    With the DY95n, the guy didn't insure it. And I didn't file a claim. Right here I was told that the carrier might want the guitar, then have their insurance pay me off for the value of the instrument and I'd be out the guitar. No thanks. But let this guitar be a primer of NOT TO DO's:

    Never have a guitar shipped when it is super cold at the send or receive locations. A fellow member had a lovely Guild Artist Award get totally finish checked because it was shipped during
    frigid weather. Mine arrived on a day when it was 8 degrees and stayed like that all day. Allow any cold or hot box to rest at the receiving location until it has totally adjusted to the room temperature, then remove case and if it is hot or cold allow it to totally adjust to room temperature.

    In my case it was 8 degrees here in Chicago, going USPS Express it was on a jet and got to Chicago about 5am. And then bounced around on a USPS truck until about 1pm. Who knows WHERE it got dropped. All it took was one solid drop in that frigid state and that delicate solid rosewood would crack. In the Spring I'm taking it to Pete Moreno to have him fix it. And not going too heavy on the well intended seller paid off, not 4 days later he offers me the Holy Grail of Alvarez Yairi's to me - a 1978 DY96. I'll post this shot of the Three Amigos together: a '78 DY95n, the '78 DY96 and a '77 DY95n... all solid jacaranda. Lovely beasts. Found them all in a period of 5 days. Life Happens.

    Big


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  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC
    When you buy or sell a guitar (between individuals), how do you guys/gals handle packing and insurance? I guess the buyer bears the risk but the seller does the packing - not a good place to be I would think.
    dave
    No Dave. The seller bears all the risk inherent in shipping. If the sellers guitar does not arrive as described, or the guitar is damaged in transit, it's the seller whose on the hook. The buyer receives a refund while the seller deals with the shipping company and a damage claim.

    Not for the faint of heart. And as a buyer, 50% of the guitars I acquired were packed well. The other 1/2, not so much. It's a roll of the dice, but still, out of many transactions I only experienced 1 guitar that had to be returned, and that guitar was misrepresented by its seller. In short - Most sellers don't spend the time to adequately pack a guitar...it's not difficult to do, but it takes time to do it correctly. I finally had to stop buying/selling because of health reasons and not having the energy to spend on packing a guitar right. It's work now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg
    Last guitar I shipped I let UPS do the packing ... no problems on that one

    I am trying to steel myself to sell some guitars ... I've been dawdling for months, but I need the cash to pay off my Super 400

    I plan on letting UPS do the packing again ... I will be selling solid bodies so I'm not as worried as I would be with an archtop ..
    Wonderful. But every UPS outlet is different. Many of the outlets staff their stores with minimum wage employees that don't know how to pack a guitar. I've received many so called "packed by UPS" guitars that weren't adequately packaged.

    The bonus of shipping via a UPS STORE, meaning they pack and ship it, is should the guitar get damaged in transit UPS is on the hook for the damage. The down side to shipping via a UPS store is the price is 2, 3, 4 times more than shipping via ones own UPS account.
    Last edited by 2bornot2bop; 02-07-2017 at 11:33 PM.

  22. #21

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    I've probably said this before, but if you work for a company that does a lot of shipping, check to see if they provide an "employee personal shipping" discount. My company does, and it's great. I generally pack my own items that I've sold, but they will also pack for you. (And given that the company is generally sending high end broadcast gear, they're pretty good at it.) The company corporate discount, which employees receive, generally amounts to about 60 - 65%. They always give me a receipt that shows the non-discounted rate (which for a $4,000 guitar shipped across country via 2-day air can be well over $200). I would typically pay a third of that amount.

    Worth checking out to see if your company offers that benefit.

  23. #22

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    If you are the seller and no matter how professionally you pack it yourself and if you ship UPS and insure it fully and UPS breaks it they WILL NOT pay you a dime. You will need a lawyer and have to sue UPS to get your insurance money.

  24. #23

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    I had a guitar delivered by TNT earlier this week; a 1973 Les Paul Recording - Box arrived looking crumpled on the ends. Looked like it had a bit of a rough ride. Fortunately -- the guitar was very well packed (both inside and outside the case) so no damage occurred. I was expecting a broken headstock scenario, but thankfully all was well. I did age a couple of years while unboxing the guitar.

  25. #24

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    I've shipped over 200 times with USPS--had two guitars damaged by dropping. My Heritage Insurance covered them. Last winter I sent a guitar to the east coast and shipped via Priority Mail because a big snowstorm was on the way and the PO guy said it would get there ahead of it. It took two weeks to get to the new owner, being stuck in a PO delivery truck for half of that, with no status updates. Lately I've avoided using USPS because some of the boxes I use are over their limit for Priority Mail and because our local post offices tend to be a zoo in season, although i do send smaller stuff using their free pickup service. The snowstorm shipment was the last guitar I've shipped with them

    My preferred choice now is Fedex Ground. I use UPS only when a buyer send me a prepaid label, mostly because Fedex always seems to charge me less. I've never had a problem with either one, sending or receiving.

    I wrote a long article on shipping my entire guitar collection when we moved 18 years ago. I thought I'd posted it here, but I can't find it so maybe not. I should do it in a new thread, though.

    Danny W.
    Last edited by Danny W.; 02-07-2017 at 11:42 PM.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    I finally had to stop buying/selling because of health reasons and not having the energy to spend on packing a guitar right. It's work now.
    I hear that!!! I gave up on combo amps bigger than a Princeton years ago due to the work it takes to pack them, now I'm selling off unplayed guitars while I'm "young enough" to pack them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Danny W.
    I've shipped over 200 times with USPS--had two guitars damaged by dropping. My Heritage Insurance covered them.
    ...
    Danny W.

    I've been wondering about Heritage and also Clarion insurance, seems like a good idea in case of break-in theft as well as shipping damage.