As I run a Custom Guitar Shop (Morton Guitars) I have been working with guitars for many years and know a thing or two about packing electric guitars as I have sold all over the world.
Sending an electric guitar through the post or by courier needn't be a problem if you pack it properly. A friend of mine works for a big name courier and he says that they often see guitars in transit and some are poorly packed. He added that the handlers are frankly less than careful and are chucking our prized guitars in and out of vans like they are stacking logs of firewood.
So how do you pack a guitar properly? First of all, get hold of a sheet of bubble wrap. It can be expensive in retail outlets and I have found that Artists Suppliers sell bubble wrap in large rolls for about £20. But you can also get it on eBay (of course!) Also, visit your local Guitar Store as they are always taking delivery of these specially designed triangular guitar boxes and are usually only too glad to let you take them away for nothing. Often you can get the actual box design suitable for your guitar. Now you should have bubble wrap and a triangular guitar box.
First slacken off the strings slightly to relieve a bit of the tension and ensure that the machine heads are parallel to the neck as the knobs can get damaged. Next, remove the switch tip of the 3-Way or 5-Way switch and sellotape it to the picguard. I usually also remove the knobs (if they are plastic) as they can get damaged too. Next, slip a sheet of paper between the strings and the frets. Strings can damage frets and pickups if they are knocked against them in transit. I usually wrap paper round the strings all the way down the neck and sellotape it in place.
Obviously you will also need to remove the tremolo arm, if fitted. With some guitars (eg Les Paul) it is advisaable to remove the pickguard too. Next, wrap bubble wrap carefully around the headstock and the rest of the guitar taking particular care with any exposed or pointed parts (eg some BC Rich designs).
Add as much packing as possible before sealing the box with strong tape. I usually also tie string around the box so the courier has something to carry the box with in the hope that it wont be just thrown into the van. Put the recipients name and address on both sides of the box and also add your own details as Name, House Number and Post Code like this: Sender: K Morton, 12, G62 9HR to help the courier deliver it back to you in case of delivery problems. If you are sending a guitar in a case, please be aware that guitar necks have been known to break inside the case, so pack the guitar properly inside the case (as above) before sending.
Also, add a layer of bubble wrap or strong paper around the case to avoid scuffs. You may want to add insurance to the auction so the buyer has the option but VERY IMPORTANTLY tell ALL buyers not to sign for the package on receipt until they have fully checked the package for damage. At the very least they should sign as "Package not checked" or, if there is a subsequent claim the courier's insurance company will say "But it was signed for and accepted by the reciever!" and your claim will likely fail as they will argue that it was in top condition when delivered.
So, good packing will help ensure safe transit and a happy customer, minimising any potential hassle for you too.
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