How to Ship a Fender Bass Guitar

You’ve just sold your Fender (or other) bass guitar online, and now you have to ship it. For many people, packing and shipping such a large and precious object can seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be. Keep reading, and we’ll explain the ins and outs of how to ship a bass guitar.

I’ve personally shipped dozens of basses over the years with no issues at all.

If you follow these simple steps, you can easily and safely pack and ship that bass to its new owner without much hassle.

Getting ready to ship your bass guitar

Shipping a bass guitar with a case

Having a hard-shell case is a must for safe shipping. If you don’t have one, look into buying a cheap one. It’s worth the peace of mind of knowing the bass will be well protected. Some people use padded gig bags with success. However, I never have and don’t recommend it, as a hard-shell case adds much more protection.

Prepping the bass guitar

The first step you want to take is to loosen the strings about a turn or two to take some tension off the neck. This ensures that the neck doesn’t warp or crack as the box goes through different climate changes and stresses. This method is somewhat debated, as some feel that loosening the strings might have adverse effects on the neck later. However, this is standard practice for most guitar manufacturers who have been shipping their instruments this way for years with no problems at all.

Next, be sure to put lots of paper between the strings, the bridge area, and around the pickups. This will protect the more fragile parts of the bass from damage in case the box is dropped or not handled well.

One other thing to consider is removing any switches or other parts that are, in fact, removable. Look for parts that stick out from the body of the bass and might be more easily broken. Simply wrap them up nicely and include them somewhere obvious inside of the case.

Packing your bass guitar for shipping

The next step is to take crumpled newspaper (cheap and effective) and stuff it on the inside of the case. Pack it around the bass firmly, making sure to get plenty all around the outside of the instrument. Also, make sure there is plenty of paper filling the entire inside of the case. The main goal is to keep the bass from moving inside the case. Use as much newspaper as possible, and make sure it’s tightly crumpled and firmly packed.

Protecting the headstock

In most situations, when a bass guitar is damaged in shipping, it’s the headstock that gets broken. So, it’s always a good idea to use some bubble wrap or foam peanuts under and around the headstock area. Also, pack underneath the neck to give some added protection and support. All this extra padding will not only aid in protection against impact, but it will also help keep the bass insulated from temperature and humidity changes.

Movement is the enemy

Close and latch the case, then lift and shake it to make sure there is no movement inside. Remember that shipping services are not normally known for being gentle with packages. So, make sure that there is no shifting inside the case. Some people like to wrap tape around the case for added security, but some types of tape can damage the surface of the case. To prevent this, I recommend using thin strips of cardboard or craft paper where the tape contacts the case. Of course, if you’re using a cheap case specifically for shipping your bass guitar, this may be a non-issue for you.

Bass guitar shipping box

Where to buy a guitar shipping box

The next thing that you want to do is get a heavy-duty cardboard box (I’d recommend a minimum of 275 lb test). You can get one from a shipping supply company like Uline, or sometimes a guitar shop will sell you a box. If you’re really lucky you might even find a free one in their trash.

You can also purchase one through Amazon. Just make sure that the dimensions are correct for the size case you’re shipping.

How to make a guitar shipping box

If you’re going the budget route and you have a lot of very heavy-duty cardboard laying around, it is possible to make your own shipping box for a bass guitar. You should not build a box for this purpose out of standard weight cardboard. If you’re not comfortable assembling sturdy things out of cardboard, I’d skip this step and just buy or find one. It’s important to protect your shipment well, and the box is the first layer of defense.

If you are making a box, you simply need to measure the case that you’re shipping your bass in and then cut pieces to assemble a box just barely larger than the case itself. Make sure that the corners are folded in and doubled over, not just taped edge to edge. You want as much cardboard overlap as possible. Remember, if you don’t have industrial weight cardboard, this won’t work.

When you tape your box together, make sure to use a very generous amount of packing tape all around the edges and corners. Test the strength of it at every step.

Boxing up your bass

Whether you buy a box or make one, you should allow for about 2-3 inches of space around the bass guitar case. But not much more. This space will ensure that there is some buffer between the box and the case to protect against any impacts on the outside of the box. Put foam or bubble wrap at the bottom of the box. Then, while you’re holding the box upright, place the case inside.

When you’ve got the case inside the box, stuff packing material all around it. I recommend using foam packing peanuts or bubble wrap for this part as newspaper may not have enough cushion. The key is to not allow the case to touch any part of the box. Make sure that there is plenty of packing material at the top, then close the box tightly, and seal it with shipping tape. It’s very important to seal all of the seams on the box. It’s a good idea to double or triple up the tape. Better to use too much tape than not enough when shipping something as valuable and fragile as a bass guitar.

Now the bass has two layers of protection. It has the case with its packing, and it has the box with its extra packing material insulation as well. Place several fragile stickers on the box or write in large letters, “fragile please handle with care” on every side. Make sure to leave space for the shipping label.

Shipping your bass guitar

Insuring your bass

It’s a good idea to insure the bass guitar for at least $100 over its value. Insurance fees are small, and paying an extra few bucks is well worth it in the rare case that something were to go horribly wrong. Always make sure to save the tracking number, as this can alleviate a lot of stress and frustration if the package is lost or late for delivery.

What shipping company should I use

I strongly recommended that you use a well-known shipping service like UPS or FedEx. I would avoid the post office (USPS) as they charge extra for tracking numbers and have a less than stellar record for fast and reliable service; however, you can choose the shipping company that suits you best.

Unless you have a good reason not to, always check the “signature required” box if it’s available on the shipping forms as some shippers will leave a box outside of a residence without that request!

Track that bass

Be sure to send all tracking and shipping information to the buyer as soon as you can. This makes you look a lot more professional and allows the buyer to track the shipment and helps them to know when the bass will arrive. Follow these steps and that bass guitar that you’ve just sold should arrive safely and securely to its new destination.

Wrap up

You can see that while there are some specific steps you want to follow, packing and shipping a bass guitar isn’t all that hard to do. Protect it well; track it carefully, and your buyer will be over the moon. You might even get repeat business.

If you’re looking to pick up a new bass, especially a Fender, check out our article on purchasing a Fender bass online.

If you have any ideas or suggestions about shipping a bass, leave us a comment below.

2 thoughts on “How to Ship a Fender Bass Guitar”

  1. It’s about a quarter of the way down reading how to pack a bass guitar for shipping, it became apparent that you have to ship it in an actual guitar case. I can’t just wrapping and bubble wrap and stick it in a cardboard box.

    • Well, James, you COULD do that. But, the bass would possibly arrive in several pieces if you don’t pack it properly. If you buy a bass guitar from Amazon, most of the time they will ship it to you in a cardboard box with bubble wrap, shipping foam, and other sturdy cardboard supports. It IS possible to ship a bass without it being in a case, but you really have to know what you’re doing. And with the low cost of a cheap hard case these days, it’s worth it to ship in a case.


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