Packing and shipping a saxophone
Over the last few years, we have experienced an increase in customers wanting to sell their saxophones to us, or wanting to sell them on consignment, and there is always the question – “Well, how do I get this saxophone to you?”
Keep in mind, there is no sure-proof way to send your saxophone by mail that 100% prevents it from being damaged, but there are things that you can do to greatly reduce the odds. If you plan on packing and shipping your saxophone, here are a few steps that you should take to prevent damage while in transit:
Find Proper Shipping Materials
1) The Box: Please use a box. (Yes, I have to say it, you don’t know how many saxes we have received with tape over the latches and a shipping label stuck to the case). The best way to ship a saxophone is in a box that is slightly larger than the case, about 2-4 inches on each side. We ship alto saxophones in a 30 x 14 x 12 box, and we ship tenor saxophones in a 36 x 16 x 14 box. We purchase these boxes from Uline, but that may not be convenient for you because we buy these boxes in bulk. You can make a box out of a large sheet of cardboard, and you can combine smaller boxes to make a larger box, if needed. Packing / shipping tape will be your best friend if you need to make a box.
2) Packing Materials: You don’t need to go out and buy expensive packing peanuts or bubble wrap for the packing materials, but if you happen to have some, either one will work great. Newspaper is a great, affordable option for a packing material.
3) Packing / Shipping Tape: 1.7 Mil tape is good enough to use. You can buy a roll at any office supply store for just a few dollars.
Preparing the saxophone
Locate any loose items inside the saxophone case (saxophone neck, saxophone mouthpieces, saxophone reeds, mouthpiece ligature, saxophone neck strap, etc), and wrap them either in bubble wrap or newspaper and tape the entire roll closed so nothing falls out. This can either be placed in the compartment of the saxophone case or in the bell of the saxophone if there is no compartment.
If possible, wedge down the keys of the saxophone so that they are all closed. You can use wine corks or pieces of foam to wedge these shut. If you understand the mechanics of the saxophone, it should be easy for you to find the places where the cork should be inserted to keep the keys down. If you do not understand the mechanics of a saxophone, you will just use a little bit of extra packing material in the next step.
Packing the saxophone (inside the case)
Place a few pieces of newspaper in the bottom of the saxophone case, and gently place the saxophone properly in its case. You can also wrap the saxophone in a layer of 3/16” bubble wrap and place the saxophone in the case. Crumple up newspaper and gently stuff it in any open space inside the case between the saxophone and the inside edges of the case, or use bubble wrap to fill in these spaces. This keeps the saxophone from moving inside the case.
Once the item looks secure, gently close the lid of the saxophone. It is best if you have to put some light pressure on the outside of the case to close it, because that means that the saxophone is packed tightly. You do not want to have to press hard on the lid of the case because this will cause damage to the saxophone. Likewise, if the case closes on it’s own with no pressure, you will probably want to add some more padding inside the case so the saxophone does not shift around in the case.
Once the lid is latched shut, give the sax a little shake to make sure it is secure. If you do not feel or hear anything move inside the saxophone case, you are now ready to put the saxophone in the box.
Packing the saxophone (inside the box)
Basically, the same principle applies here. You want 4eh saxophone case to be snug inside of your box to prevent it from shifting in transit. Plus the greater the density of the package, the lower the possibility of the saxophone being crushed or compressed (even when the shipping company does not follow the instructions of what we will write on the box.
Place a few inches of packing materials in the bottom of the box. Place the saxophone inside the box and fill in all spaces with crumpled newspaper or bubble wrap, or packing peanuts.
When closing the lid of the box, you should have to gently press on the box lids to close them. If they close needing too much force, you have too much packing materials inside the case, if no force is needed, you do not have enough.
Proceed by taping the box shut by going across the seam as well as with the seam to create a sure seal for the box.
Write several times (on all sides) on the outside of the box in a large permanent marker “PLEASE DO NOT STACK” and “FRAGILE”. Again, this may not prevent it from being placed on the bottom of the pile or tossed on or off the truck, but at least you did your part.
Purchasing the postage
Shipping a saxophone is very easy. Buying postage online and scheduling a pick up is so much easier, and much more affordable, than going to the post office to try and ship a saxophone. To do this though, you need the dimensions and the weight of the package. If you do not have any scales in your house, you can either estimate the weight. We estimate that a packed alto saxophone weighs about 16-20 lbs with a case, and a packed tenor saxophone weighs 20-24 lbs with a case. It is better to go high than too low, because if the weight is too low, then the package will be returned. We also suggest that if you buy postage online, that you schedule the pickup rather than bring it somewhere to drop it off, but if dropping it off is the only option for you, then this is OK.
95% of our shipments ship through the USPS because they are a much more convenient and affordable service for our company. 9 out of 10 shipments go by USPS Priority, and we also use Parcel Post Occasionally. UPS Ground is a great option if the shipment is in state, because UPS Ground has next day delivery when used to ship a package to an address in your same state.
We insure packages at replacement value. It may seem unnecessary, but shipping companies lose packages! (It doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen). Insure it for what you expect to be reimbursed if it does get lost, or damaged. You don’t need to purchase insurance, but we recommend it if you want the shipper to be held accountable. If you use a “pack and ship” business to ship your saxophone, in most cases insurance and a “guarantee” is placed on the package because you hired them to pack the sax, but it does cost more money for these options.
Signature required is a good option, but you want to ship by a traceable method so that way you can see the progress of your item to make sure it arrives at its destination.
If you have any questions on packing and shipping your saxophone, please contact us and we will be glad to assist you!