For a variety of reasons, you may find the need to ship a guitar.
If you’re a supplier, then you’re probably going to be shipping all the time.
If you’re a retailer, again, with online sales increasing, there’s a good chance you’re going to be shipping a lot of guitars (unless you don't offer that service).
And, sometimes us guitarists end up needing to ship guitars too. It might be cheaper than paying for another seat on a plane. Or, we might have a classified sale to fulfill on.
So, let’s look at how much it costs to ship a guitar.
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Quick Answer – Here’s How Much Shipping A Guitar Costs
We will be looking at various couriers and shipping services in a moment, but if you’re looking for the quick answer here it is.
So how much does it cost to ship a guitar? Most sources say the cost of shipping a guitar ranges from $100 to $150, which is close. We’ve found this to be true if you’re opting for one of the courier’s cheaper options (i.e. the shipping options that take longer to deliver). Otherwise, the cost can vary quite a bit from one service to another, with a broader range of about $30 all the way up to $550.
If in doubt, we suggest talking directly to couriers (i.e. on the phone) instead of just using online calculators. Otherwise, you may not have a way to specify the contents of the package and offer delivery instructions.
In this guide, however, we will be pointing you to various online calculators so you can get a better sense of how much it’s going to cost to ship your guitar.
Key Variables Affecting Guitar Shipping Rates
Obviously, shipping rates are going to vary based on a few factors. These variables may only play a small part, but when trying to find an option that’s right for you, it’s good to keep these in mind:
- Shipping date: As with most variables, it’s hard to tell exactly how much shipping date affects cost, but it’s fair to say the old adage holds true – “the sooner you want it done, the more it’s going to cost you.”
- Package dimensions: In tandem with package weight, it’s fair to say package dimensions are going to play a key role in the cost of the shipment.
- Package weight: I would suspect that this is the number one criteria couriers consider, though when you think about it, unless the heaviness of the package is exceedingly high, it’s not going to make much of a difference for them.
- Declared value: I can’t imagine declared value factors too heavily into the cost of the shipment, but it can affect shipping insurance.
- Service provider: Shopping around is a good idea, because, as you’re about to find out, provider rates are far from being equal.
Should I Get Shipping Insurance?
At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you. The number one thing shipping insurance gives you is peace of mind. But getting it can be a drag.
The first thing you should know is that some packages are already covered, so it’s not a bad idea to check.
Next, some items cannot be covered under the terms of some policies.
If your package is damaged, lost or stolen, you will need to file a claim, usually within 60 days of being notified of the issue.
You will also need to hold onto all your documentation, or the provider may not be able to help. As well, it might take a while to hear back from the courier.
Finally, in case you like to go looking for options, you can also get third-party insurance.
So, for some people, it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, but if it’s an especially valuable guitar, you might want to get shipping insurance on it.
What Are The Best Guitar Shipping Service?
Below we'll look at some of the best guitar posting services. With the details we give below you should be able to find out which is right for you.
Ship Guitars, as you can probably guess, is a service that’s dedicated to shipping guitars.
They utilize UPS to ship packages, so in that sense, you could think of them as a middleman. But because they’re partnered up with UPS, they can get you rates you might not be able to get by going directly to them.
With Ship Guitars, you can place your order online, print out and attach your label and opt to drop off your order or have it picked up.
To get a sense of how much it’s going to cost to ship a guitar using this service, we need to create a hypothetical scenario.
I chose to have the guitar shipped from Seattle, WA to Miami, FL – basically opposite ends of the U.S (NW to SE).
Ship Guitar allows you to modify the following parameters to set up your order:
- Guitar Type: You can choose from acoustic guitar, electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar, electric bass guitar or other.
- Box Size: You can set dimensions for the box, including length, width and height.
- Weight: You can specify the weight for the box.
- Declared Value of Guitar: You can enter the monetary value of the guitar.
For this part of the test, I found an Epiphone Les Paul on Amazon and checked its package dimensions, weight and price. Here’s what I came up with:
- Package dimensions: 44.5 x 17.5 x 6.8 inches
- Weight: 21.5 lbs.
- Price: $849.99
So, I simply used these values with the Ship Guitars calculator.
From there, Ship Guitars asks you how you want to ship the guitar. You can choose from Pick Up or Drop Off. You can also enter your pickup date. I chose Drop Off since we don’t want anyone from UPS coming to our door thinking this is a legit order.
At this point, you can choose whether to add shipping insurance and if you require a signature upon arrival. For this test, I said “No” to both.
From there, you will be presented with your shipping rates. Here’s what I was presented with:
- Ground: $64.19
- 3 Day: $119.12
- 2 Day: $169.97
- Overnight: $241.11
So, as you can see, what I said earlier about $50 to $150 is true. If you chose ground delivery or three-day shipping, you would be somewhere in that range, but if you chose any other option, you would quickly exceed that amount.
Average cost: $148.60
Calculator: Get a quote
Ship Guitars deals specifically with the shipping of guitars. Other couriers, however, handle a variety of envelopes and packages containing many types of goods.
So, to get the best rate possible with other couriers, you’d generally need to do a bit of digging. You can get a quote online in most cases, but because you are limited in terms of the parameters you can specify, the finer details and nuances can easily get lost in translation.
So, it’s not a bad idea to call in for additional support.
Anyway, we all know FedEx – they hardly need an introduction. Using their rate finder, and the same hypothetical scenario we already established, I’m going to see what kind of rates we can get using their online calculator.
On their website, be sure to choose Your Package under “Package type” and specify its height, width and length for an accurate quote.
Apparently, FedEx does not ship from Seattle to Miami, so I had to choose Portland as a starting point instead.
Having entered all the details, here’s what the rate finder spat out for my request:
- FedEx Ground: $95.52
- FedEx Express Saver: $209.68
- FedEx 2Day: $274.97
- FedEx 2Day AM: $301.48
- FedEx Standard Overnight: $346.69
- FedEx Priority Overnight: $355.51
- FedEx First Overnight: $388.44
- FedEx Same Day: I was asked to call in for details
Obviously, we can’t do a straight comparison of these rates since FedEx can’t deliver from Seattle to Miami. Still, the ground option came in between the standard $50 to $150 rate.
Average cost: $281.76
Calculator: Rate finder
UPS is another popular courier. It’s unlikely you haven’t heard of them. And, as we’ve already seen, services like Ship Guitars take advantage of their delivery network.
Going in, I had high hopes that we’d be able to do a straight comparison again. So, I started putting all the pertinent details into their calculator.
I soon found I had to enter whole values (no decimal points) for package dimensions, making a straight comparison a little harder to do.
And, here were the results I got:
- UPS Ground: $80.84
- UPS 3 Day Select: $140.98
- UPS 2nd Day Air: $199.09
- UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.: $226.38
- UPS Next Day Air Saver: $276.97
- UPS Next Day Air: $284.21
- UPS Next Air Early: $316.09
Again, we find the first two options fitting nicely between the $50 to $150 range. But it would seem more advantageous to use Ship Guitars in this case.
You might get different results talking directly with UPS, however, so that’s a good thing to keep in mind.
Average cost: $217.79
Calculator: Get a quote
Nex Worldwide Express
I’ve never heard of Nex Worldwide Express myself (I’m Canadian), but maybe if you’re in the U.S. you have.
Anyway, I figured we could give them a try and see what their rates were like.
Having entered the weight and dimensions of the package, these are the options I was presented with:
- Ground: $61.66
- 3 Day: $151.05
- 2 Day: $174.40
- Next Day AM: $205.90
- Next Day PM: $220.22
I don’t know how reliable Nex Worldwide Express is, but their ground rate isn’t half bad. And, their online calculator is easy to use. Might be worth a look.
Average cost: $162.65
Calculator: Express shipping rates
I tend to think of DHL as a “fringe” courier. Their website is scattered and hard to use, and their service is equally convoluted.
More than once, I’ve gone to pick up a book shipment from them (which they refused to leave at my door) and had to pay extra at their office just to get the package released (I had already paid for shipping on Amazon).
Anyway, in case you want to take advantage of DHL, we’ll put together a bit of a scenario here. We’re not going to be able to use a domestic example, unfortunately, as their website simply won’t permit it.
So, in this scenario, we’re going to try shipping from U.S. (Seattle) to Canada (Vancouver).
Having entered the details, I was given two options:
- Express Worldwide: $262.21
- Express: $267.64
Although DHL didn’t offer much additional detail on this shipment, I take it that these are basically day rates. With Express Worldwide, the package is to be delivered by noon, and with Express, by the end of day.
So, in that sense, their rates seem comparable. But if you want to see if they have any other options, or if they’re able to deliver domestically (I can’t see why they shouldn’t be able to), you’ll probably want to give them a call to see what’s up.
Average cost: $264.93
Calculator: Get a quote
Other Shipping Services
There are other shipping services out there, whether it’s domestic, international, or otherwise, such as Purolator.
It might be worth checking with them as well, in case they’re able to do anything for you.
But as with DHL, there may be some that can’t deliver your package nationally, in which case you’ll probably want to stick with one of the tried and true services mentioned above.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Guitar? Final Thoughts
When shipping a guitar, you should also know how to ship a guitar. It’s important to protect the instrument from damage, as some components tend to be somewhat fragile.
Note that your packing process can affect the size of package you ship, and to some extent, its overall weight. Of course, the guitar and the case are going to be the heaviest components overall.
So, it’s important to be mindful of all factors involved when shipping a guitar. There’s no sense in shipping if the instrument arrives broken on the other end.
Use the above guide to price out the cost of shipping and build a relationship with couriers if you’re regularly shipping, as they may be able to help you save on costs or set you up with a business account.