Guitar Care While Traveling

The guitar probably travels more than any other musical instrument in the world, and it’ll only be a matter of time before you take yours on its first trip. If you’re going to take your guitar on the road with you, remember, it’s not just another piece of baggage. You have to make an effort to protect it.

If you’re traveling by car, don’t place your guitar ride in the trunk. It’s much safer in the back seat because most car trunks are neither heated nor ventilated, resulting in varying temperature and relative humidity. Your guitar is assembled with glues that can be affected by heat causing breakdown and loosening of glue adhesion. Most commonly affected is the bridge.

Air travel has become the most popular mode of commercial transportation, but protection of your instrument is important. Airlines don’t set out to damage guitars intentionally, but a conveyor system can’t tell a guitar from other baggage. Airlines may consider a guitar to be too fragile for their handling and may require that a waiver be signed which limits or removes their liability. Don’t sign such a document if you can avoid it. Even a hard case can’t always protect a guitar from damage from mishandling by individuals or commercial carriers.

Occasionally you can bypass the usual baggage handling system by asking to take your guitar to the boarding area where it can be tagged and hand carried to the airplane. Upon arrival, notify the flight attendant or customer service representative and try to retrieve it at the gate. Not all airlines give you this option.

There are size restrictions on carry-on luggage. It must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat ahead of you. Some flight attendants may allow you to try the overhead bin, but if it doesn’t fit, it may have to be checked as baggage. Loosening the strings and using a soft cotton packing material to keep the guitar tight in its case will decrease the possibility of damage while a guitar is in the baggage compartment. The Ramirez’s hard case will help, but a good case is not a cure-all for careless handling or accidents.