i'm heading to the states in a couple of weeks and thinking of picking up a guitar while i'm there. i live in sweden and prices for american guitars are about 35% cheaper over in the states. if i paid all the taxes and duties i think it would still save me a few pennies but i was hoping to keep things under the radar of customs if possible and grab a bargain.

plan is to pick up a guitar with a hard case (currently thinking about an american strat but will save that until i get my hands on a few) then hopefully carry on as hand luggage otherwise will have to put my faith in the hold.

anyone got any words of advice, stories of success or stories of failure on either successfully navigating customs or taking guitars on the plane in general?
If you are taking an American airliner that operates under the FAA in the US you can just take the instrument on the plane as a carry on if it fits in the overhead or the coat closet.

49 U.S. Code § 41724 - Musical instruments

a) In General.—
(1) Small instruments as carry-on baggage.— An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if—
(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and
(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.

EDIT: Also under the IATA you can carry an instrument on the plane if you let your carrier know ahead of time.

9.8.2 Objects not suitable for transport in the cargo compartment (such as
delicate musical instruments and the like) will only be accepted for transportation
in the cabin compartment if due notice has been given in advance and
permission granted by Carrier. The transp
ort of such objects may be charged for


Guitarist and Aeronautical Science (Professional Pilot) Major
Gibson RD Silverburst w/ Lace Dissonant Aggressors (SOLD)
Electra Omega Prime Ceruse
Fender Franken-Jag Bass

Amps and the like:
Laney VH100R
Seismic Luke 2x12
Dunlop 105Q Wah
Gojira FX 808
Line 6 M9
Last edited by TheStig1214 at Apr 21, 2014,
I used to carry guitars around quite a lot at one time, I've never had any problem with either British or Oz customs. I've also always put them as hold baggage, and asked for a fragile sticker. The only problem I had was when some thoughtful handler put it in the lift instead of on the carousel, and I thought it was lost.

Buy a used guitar and case, nod, nod, wink, wink.