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Join date: Sep 2007
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I'm going to be going on a trip down to San Diego to work at a camp and I want to bring my acoustic guitar with me(it's the Columbia Crest Parlor Guitar) and I'm not sure whether or not it'd just be better to go and buy a travel guitar, get a cheaper guitar and hope it'd make the trip, or get a flight case or something of the sorts. What do you think would be my best option? Have any experiences with taking guitars on airplanes? Oh and if it makes any difference, I'm going through SouthWest Airlines.
Join date: Jun 2007
330 IQ
I almost alwasy take my acoustic with me on holiday, its been on an 11 hour flight to india so it will survive if you have the right case. I have a gator case, cost me 60quid, but well worth it.
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Last edited by charlie__flynn at Apr 10, 2009,
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Join date: May 2007
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UPS/FedEx it there. You can add as much packing as you want, and still pay less than the airline would charge.
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Join date: Apr 2008
241 IQ
What type of case do you currently have? You could always call the airline and ask their policy on bringing musical instruments on board as cabin baggage. But all the advice I've ever read on the topic has cautioned that even if a customer service agent assures you that they can accommodate your guitar, they won't be the ones calling the shots on your actual flight - ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO CHECK YOUR GUITAR if that's what it comes down to. If all you have is a gig bag or flimsy chipboard case you'll be taking a big gamble.

When I had to fly with my guitar I was hoping to carry it on but I ended up being forced to check it. Thankfully I was prepared for the possibility - my guitar was very carefully packed up and padded in a flight-capable case.* Instead of checking it as fragile luggage, ask to have it gate checked. That's what parents do with strollers - your guitar will stay with you until you actually board the plane. Your guitar, probably along with a stroller or two, will go in the luggage compartment absolutely last. This will minimize the possibility of anything falling on your guitar or being piled on top of it.

If you do decide to fly with your guitar, the biggest danger besides getting crushed is "whiplash." The headstock with all the metal tuners is quite heavy and the neck of the guitar is skinny, making the end of the neck a weak point that is prone to snapping if your guitar is dropped. It doesn't even have to fall from any great height, it could happen if your guitar case is standing up vertically and falls over onto the floor. To reduce the potential forces of an impact, slack your strings and pack padding (balled up socks work nicely) all around your headstock to support it. This damage is called "whiplash" because it's similar to what happens to YOUR head if you get rear-ended in a car - and similarly, as a properly positioned car seat's headrest will save your neck, properly positioned padding around the headstock will save your guitar's neck.

*I don't have an actual flight case, which are those metal, enormous and incredibly heavy cases that could probably be used as battering rams. I have a TRIC case , which is made by the Godin Guitar Company. It's molded from some kind of polypropylene, like a dense foam, that is impact resistant and also has very good insulating properties to protect guitars from extreme temperature changes. It's much lighter and cheaper than a flight case, though obviously not as tough, but it's still tougher than most hard cases.
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Join date: Apr 2007
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^ It's actually a myth that you should loosen your strings. Don't loosen them. If you do, the whiplash is more likely occur since there is no tension to counterbalance the guitar properly anymore. Make sure you stuff the headstock compartment of the guitar case with lots of newspaper so it doesn't move and pads your headstock.

Quote by Taylor Guitar FAQ
Many players and repairpersons believe it's best to de-tune a guitar for long-distance flights, due to changes in air pressure and temperature in the baggage compartment. We don't recommend doing so, because if you de-tune a guitar for any length of time, you also have to loosen the truss rod. Otherwise, the neck may develop a back bow, and it could prove difficult to completely correct that. In other words, you actually could do long-term damage to the instrument by loosening the strings and not loosening the truss rod at the same time. On a Taylor guitar, it's best to simply leave it as is, even on relatively long flights. Otherwise, just use your best judgement when it comes to traveling with your Taylor. For example, don't leave it sitting in a car for any length of time, because not only can it be stolen, but the extreme temperatures can cause serious damage resulting in costly repairs.

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Join date: Apr 2008
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Quote by captivate
^ It's actually a myth that you should loosen your strings.

Oops, thanks for the correction!
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Join date: Apr 2008
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Quote by captivate
If you do, the whiplash is more likely occur since there is no tension to counterbalance the guitar properly anymore.
But you do realize that whiplash can happen in the direction of the string tension as well?

"Years ago I had a customer leave his guitar case standing on its butt end with the neck sticking straight up in the air. Just as I warned him, the case fell flat forward on its face. When he opened it up, the peghead had snapped clean off! This was a good illustration of how simple a fall can cause great damage. A flat fall on the carpeted floor caused no damage to the case, of course, but delivered a huge blow to the peghead."
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Join date: Mar 2009
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I've traveled many times with various acoustics. They've always been in a hardcase, and I've always checked it at the gate along with my daughters stroller. I've never had any issue with this regardless of which airline. That said, full size guitars aren't very much fun to carry around. Recently I decided to get a travel guitar for this reason. I purchased a Martin LXM and the SKB case for a baby taylor(fits like a glove). This is very convenient, and while it doesn't have the sound of a full size, you'll be impressed. Also, the HPL is pretty great in extreme weather. I've had mine in Iraq for around 5 months, and leave it out of it's case and don't humidify it nearly as much as I should. If you travel quite a bit, I would look into the little martins/baby taylor (NOT the backpackers).
Instruments - Fender American Standard Strat, Mexican Tele w/ 3 pickups, Yamaha RBX4 bass, Taylor DN3, Martin DM, Fender ESM 10, Martin LXM, Roland Electric Piano

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Join date: Apr 2008
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^ Actually, I'm curious as to what OP was considering buying as a "cheaper" travel guitar... it's my understanding that Columbia Crest is just about as inexpensive as you can get. Much less than a Baby Taylor anyway.
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Join date: Dec 2005
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I'm really glad I stumbled upon this... I was wondering the exact same thing.

I also have a TRIC case but I've never travelled with my guitar anywhere. I'm going away for a year, leaving this summer, so I was wondering how to travel with my guitar.

I understand that you're all saying to check it in with luggage, but hypothetically, is it possible to take it on the plane as a carry-on? Where would they put it?

And someone just told me I should loosen my strings... if you're all saying NOT to, where do they get that you're supposed to?
UG's Acid Trip
Join date: Dec 2007
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I'm going to be in the same predicament since im going to new zealand for 8 months soon. Will the hardcase that comes with my takamine be ok to check?
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It's probably been said but plan on getting it gate checked. I usually go with Alaska and they let me carry it on but be ready to check it just in case.
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Join date: May 2009
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I travel with mine in a hard case quite often. Pad your neck extremely well to keep it stationary.
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Join date: May 2009
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Not a guitar but I have a $5000 cello that I had to check... I was using a BAM case and after a 6 hour flight from California(85F) to New Jersey (22F) , the cello was fine. Just make sure to loose your strings. Though BAM cases are on the pricey side.. I payed $999 for my cello case, i believe guitar ones go for $500~. Definitely worth it if you are going to travel alot, otherwise just get a cheap travel guitar.
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Join date: May 2009
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Do not loosen your strings. It was already mentioned that string tension should be kept. Padding your neck should be your biggest concern as most guitar cases have large spaces below it.
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Join date: Jul 2008
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the airline company may have a place for "Fragile objects" ! as sunshowers said, call the airline and ask their policy on bringing musical instruments on board ..
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Join date: Dec 2005
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I have a cheap Epiphone that I take on holiday every year. It goes in a cheap Stagg hard case and I check it through the outsize baggage gate. I usually wrap a towel round the neck to protect it and so far it's been fine. I think the secret is to have a guitar that you don't really care much about, that's all laminate construction for strength and a reasonable case. One guy tried to sell me a £100 hard case - the guitar only cost £85! My case cost £35 and it's fine for what it does.
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