When it comes to keeping your new guitar protected sometimes you just can’t win forever; I mean you have anything from the weather getting to it and completely ruining that beautifully sculpted wood, to Billie Joe getting hold of it and someone reminding him it’s time to go, not a pretty sight either way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to protect it from disaster. Here are five great tips for giving your new baby the best chance for a good long life.
In fact, t
When it comes to traveling with your guitar on an airplane, it’s certainly become a hassle these past few years. Restrictions for carry-on luggage and cost-cutting measures by the airlines have limited what is allowed to be brought on board.
Most people tend to cross their fingers and just hope for the best when it comes safely storing their guitar on the airplane, but more often than not it never works out like you hoped. Whether you run across an attendant who’s just having a bad day or you fly with an airline that is unusually strict with their carry-on policy, your odds aren’t good.
With a bit of planning and research, however, it is possible to make sure that you can get your guitar safely through the air.
For this reason I’m happy to share with you 10 tips to flying with your guitar – whether the guitar comes with you in the cabin or below in the frigid never-land with the rest of the luggage. The first 5 have to do with getting a guitar on the airplane…the second 5 are miscellaneous tips and ideas.
Wherever the guitar is stored on the plane, you need to take a few minutes before you enter the airport to prepare your guitar for the journey. For most people this will mean:
No matter what you do – even if you know the airline’s policy on guitars – never allow them to take your guitar at the luggage counter.
Why? There’s a couple reasons. First of all, you have a better chance of getting your guitar on the plane with you if you get it to the gate. Second, the guitar has a much higher probability of actually making it on the plane if it is gate checked as opposed to luggage checked.
If they give you a hard time, just politely tell the person at the luggage counter – “You know, I don’t mind checking my guitar onto the plane, but could I please gate check it? It’s an expensive piece of equipment that I don’t want going down the conveyer belt.” If done nicely, this should work wonders.
Getting my guitar past security is only half the battle. Now I have to find a way to get my axe with me on the airplane and it’s not always that easy, especially if it’s a full flight.
Often times the gate attendant will make a judgement on whether or not the guitar can come with me on the plane. If they decide to tag it for gate check, don’t sweat…it’s not over yet.
When this happens I usually continue onto the plane anyway with my guitar, hiding the tag with my hand and playing ignorant with the flight attendants. Believe it or not, this works as long as there’s room for the guitar on the plane.
Of course the nicest flight attendants in the world can’t help me if there truly isn’t any room on the plane for my guitar. There’s one fool-proof way to fix this: board first.
That’s easy to do if I have the money to fly first class, but I don’t. That leaves me with two other options, both of which I’ve used successfully. You could:
At the front and rear of most every commercial jet there are closets that are normally more than large enough to hold a guitar.
The key is all about how well you can butter up the flight attendants.
Remember that they deal with disgruntled passengers all the time, so approaching them with a calm, very polite manner goes a long way. Don’t fight it, just make your case that the guitar is an expensive, very valuable item and you would be ever-so grateful if they could store it away in the closet for you.
Obviously you’re going to want a good guitar case to travel with, but what exactly does that mean? There are a couple questions you should consider as you travel with your guitar, including:
I used to use the hard case that came with my guitar (Taylors come with their own case), but I found that it got far too banged up and was a bit too bulky. So I bought one specifically for travel.
There are quite a few options out there, but here are a few that I think are worth checking out:
Unless you’re going to be on the road for a gig, have you considered a travel-sized guitar? It may sound like a terrible idea, but newer manufacturing techniques have vastly improved the sound quality and projection of travel guitars.
Guitars like the Taylor Big Baby (see my review of the Taylor Big Baby guitar here) or the Martin LX1 Little Martin (see my review of the Little Martin series here) are excellent options that won’t break the bank. Your chances of getting these guitars on a plane with you are exponentially greater than a full-sized guitar.
You can also check some of the unique travel guitars that either fold or come apart for smaller storage. One of the most interesting that I’ve come across was the Journey Instruments Overhead guitar. This guitar is specifically for storage in an overhead bin. Take a moment to
listen to it and see how the guitar folds up
It has also traveled in a padded case just down the street to a gig or the local guitar store.
In both cases (ha! unintentional pun) my guitar made it safely to my destination.