How To Pack A Guitar For A Moving Cross Country

Summary: Whether you're a touring musician gigging across the country or an acoustic enthusiast moving into your new dorm, it is essential to pack your guitar in such a way that offer maximum protection for the instrument. Guitars should be double-boxed, especially if being shipped across the country. Here is a guide for you.
Guide To Pack Your Guitar For Moving Cross Country

Table of Contents

Are you a musician planning to move cross country anytime soon? If yes, you might be concerned about how to properly pack a guitar for moving. Fortunately, this is not a tough task, if you know how to do it. Guitars are famously fragile and delicate musical instruments that are not made to be moved around in a moving vehicle.

Even though packing up a guitar for moving will not be the major toughest task in your cross country moving checking when moving from one location to another, you should still get it right to avoid any form of pre-damage to your beautiful and valuable possession.

So, how can you pack a guitar for shipment?

Whether you are going to DIY or hire a cross-country moving company, there are still certain things you need to do when packing a guitar for moving.

Focus on the preparation and packing steps here that include the best way to pack a guitar for shipping, because one wrong or uncalculated movement may damage your costly stringed instrument for good.

Weight your Options

Before you commence the packing process, you have to look into these two options:

  • Option One: Pack the guitar yourself: If you go this way, that implies that you are okay with the entire risks that may happen when you are packing a guitar for a move yourself.
  • Option Two: Allow a professional moving company to pack your guitar: By going this way, a team of professional movers specialized in transporting specialty and fragile belongings will pack and deliver it for you. They have experience in this and you don’t have to worry as no mistake will occur.

Steps to Packing Guitar for Moving

1. Gather the Necessary Packing Supplies to protect the Guitar

The number one step to any moving is to gather the right packing supplies for moving. Some of the materials you will need for packing guitar are:

  • Guitar case: With a strong shell case, you will get the best protection when transporting a guitar.
  • Box: Measure the case of the guitar; the length, width, and depth of it. Get a box of three to four inches longer than your case so that you have enough space for padding. You can grab a guitar box from your nearest guitar shop or buy one from an online retailer
  • Tape: Avoid using duct or paper tape. Instead, use brown tape, such as those found in a UPS store.
  • Paper: Packing paper should be used. Old newspapers are also an option if you don’t have the former.
  • Bubble wrap: Use many of it, as much as possible.
  • Rubber bands: Anything you can lay your hands on. You will apply them when placing bubble wrap on the headstock.
  • Do not use packing peanuts: Peanuts can shift during shipping and may become useless as protection for your guitar.

2. Get the Guitar Ready for Moving

Immediately you see the entire packing tips and hacks that are involved in figuring out how to properly pack a guitar for shipment, you will find out that this process is easier, than, for instance, shipping furniture. With that in mind, it is important that you still get ready properly.

Below is a guide on performing that:

  • Reduce string tension: Loosen the entire strings down (you don’t have to detune the guitar totally) so that they are free of much tension to save the string from breaking or prevent the guitar from damage. Also, remove them from the fretboard using packing paper.
  • Protect the headstock: Place bubble on the headstock and prevent it from moving using a rubber band since it is the major guitar component that we are protecting.
  • Place paper below the heel and the headstock: Every space in the case must be blocked with paper or bubble wrap to prevent the guitar from moving. Also, keep some paper on the neck.
  • Remove all attachments: Get rid of all attached things from the guitar like end pins if you have and keep them in a case department so that they are safe.
  • Pack all accessories: Pack every accessory like cables, amplifiers, and picks in a separate box and label it Guitar Features so that you can locate them easily after completing the move.
  • Pause and perform the shake test: Close the case and perform the shake test to find out if the guitar is shifting. If it is not, continue packing.

Avoid shipping your guitar only when packed in a gig bag because regardless of the amount of newspaper and bubble wrap you apply as padding, damage can still happen.

Transporting a guitar without a case is a bad idea, but if you plan to do it anyway, ensure you add more padding with bubble wrap and newspapers and get a sturdy cardboard box.

3. Don’t Use Low-Cost Materials for Wrapping

Now that we’ve completed the entire preparatory process, now is the time to lunch into business. Packing guitars is very far from being one of the toughest tasks to perform during a move to another home, but as agreed by almost every musician, it is one of the highly important ones.

Below are the steps you need to take at this stage:

  • Wrap all your things in two sheets of paper: If you are yet to remove the strings, put one or two sheets of paper between them and the fretboard.
  • Proceed to bubble wrap: You also will need many layers. If you are not certain of how to make use of bubble wrap, don’t be scared/ just ensure that the bubbles are directly facing the object and that you protect the turning keys from all sides.
  • Use a few pieces of tape to secure the wrap: Proceed by thoroughly checking the instrument to ensure there are no areas or corners exposed

Place every removable part for guitars in plastic or zip-lock bags and mark them using a marker. Ensure the cables are not tangled.

Pro Tip

Endeavor not to use cheap, fairly-used, or inferior materials because they don’t give adequate protection for guitars.    

pro tips

4. Make Use of the Original Packaging if you still have it

If you are still in possession of the original box or case, you surely know what to do. Just place the instrument inside it, fill leftover spaces with crumpled paper, cover the case or box securely, label if required, and you are ready for the move. However, if you don’t have the original packaging, this process will be somewhat different.

5. Find an Ideal Moving Company

When planning to obtain quotes from movers, remember to ask if the company offers insurance. Ask for the price and the duration of time it will take them to deliver your guitar to the destination. Consider when you want to get it and ensure you are there to receive it and doesn’t have to be kept in a dusty old storage warehouse where it can get damaged.

Pick a moving company that has performed guitar moving several times before, since this is a highly costly and delicate musical instrument and you want to make sure no damage happens to it.

Cheapest Ways of Packing a Guitar for Moving

As we have cheapest ways to move cross country, there is also ways to move guitar cheaply. The cheapest way to pack a guitar in preparation for moving is to create a guitar box from strong cardboard by yourself. It may not be the best or safest way to transport musical instruments, but if you need a cheap and easy method, this is your best bet.

You can make use of any strong cardboard you currently have in your home. You first need to place a big piece of sturdy cardboard on a plane surface when trying to make your guitar packing box.

Then place your guitar on it. Take measurements and mark them using a marker, for instance, so that you will know where exactly to make cuts and folds. During the process of measurements, remember to leave space for folding the guitar transport box. After completing all these, cut off any extra cardboard with scissors or box cutters. As you are folding the cardboard box, remember that the triangular form provides the most protection for your musical instrument.

After your self-made guitar moving box is ready, heavily wrap your guitar in bubble wrap and gently place it in the box. If you notice any space in the shipping box, fill it up using more packing paper or bubble wrap.

When you are done with all these, use tape to secure the box in all the corners and seams. There is nothing like too much tape when transporting an important item like a guitar or any other musical instrument.

How Much Does It Cost To Move A Guitar?

The price of moving a guitar is based on the size and weight, the distance between two places involved, if packed in a gig bag or a strong-shell case, as well as the weight of the cardboard box you will use.

In general, transporting a guitar over the United States will cost about:  

  • using a hard-shell case: $100 to $150 (excluding the insurance)
  • using a gig bag: $85 (excluding the insurance)

The hardshell case increases the weight, but it offers much protection for your musical instrument. Each guitar is different. For instance:

  • The measurement of a standard bass guitar can range from 30 to 34 inches and its weight will be around 8.5 to 9.5 lbs.
  • A normal full-size electric guitar is about 38 inches long and its weight is around 7.5 to 8 pounds.

A complete-size acoustic guitar is around 40 inches long and its weight is somewhere around 5 to 7 pounds


When you have finished all these steps, you won’t have to be worried about something bad occurring to your musical instrument when it is being transported. If you don’t have enough confidence to pack your guitar for shipping by yourself, you always can trust professional long distance movers that can handle that for you. That will ensure you 100% that your guitar will make it in one piece to your new place.

Luckily, our movers can professionally move you and your guitar across the country.

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