Unless your movers are also musicians they will not be able to fully appreciate just how easily musical instruments can be ruined through shaking, dropping, or extreme temperature changes. Even if you write “FRAGILE” all over the box, it is important that you take the necessary steps to pack your instruments in a way that they will not be easily compromised. Ensuring the safety of your prized belongings is not easy so be sure to follow these steps and precautions.
Brass and Woodwind Instruments
These instruments need to be completely taken apart first. Ideally, it will get placed in a hard case made for it. If you do not have a hard case that you normally use to store your brass or woodwind instrument then you will wrap every individual piece in a few layers of bubble wrap. It is important that pieces are not permitted to bump into one another during the moving process. The box you use should be large enough to allow for a layer of inflatable cushions, packing peanuts, towels, etc. Also, if you do use packing peanuts make sure that you seal the wrap around the instruments with tape. This will eliminate the chance of the peanuts getting inside.
Cellos, harps, guitars, etc., need a lot of extra care during packing. To begin, the strings need to be loosened. Instruments with tuning keys will need all the keys turned parallel with the headstock.
If you have the hard case you will want to place the instrument inside. Since the instrument can still likely shake around a bit you will need to add crumpled paper to the case, especially around the headstock. Never use packing peanuts or shredded paper because they can get inside some stringed instruments.
If you do not have the hard case the entire instrument will need to be wrapped in plastic. A garbage bag or dry cleaning bag will work fine. Seal this with tape before wrapping in bubble wrap. This will eliminate the chance of any water getting to the instrument even if the box is dropped in a puddle. Be generous with the bubble wrap. If the instrument is going to be dropped, it will be done from several feet up.
The box you choose will need to accommodate several inches of packing peanuts all the way around. You may want to check to see what boxes are available at your local musical instrument retailer. Always mark which side should be up and gently shake the box to evaluate if you hear any movement. If you do, open the box and add more packing peanuts, crumpled paper, etc., to provide more stability.
Begin with a box at least 2 to 4 inches larger than the drum, so you have plenty of space to add stuffing for protection. Again, check with your local music supply store to see what boxes are available. Remove the rims and heads, and nest the drums by placing one inside the next. Tension rods and other small pieces of hardware should get placed in a separate plastic bag and sealed shut. Spurs, legs, etc., will need to be wrapped in bubble wrap or something similar. Before placing the drums in the box, add a layer of peanuts or crumpled paper. It is important that they are not able to move around inside.
Other Important Considerations
- Give woodwind and stringed instruments 24 hours to acclimate after a move before using them.
- Strive to keep musical instruments at room temperature. If you need to store them temporarily, choose a climate-controlled storage unit.
- Never attempt to move a piano or organ. A professional should always handle these items.
- Always pack hardware and accessories, such as guitar straps, reeds, etc., wrapped separately.
- Large instruments such as tubas, basses, cellos, amplifiers, synthesizers, etc., need a hard case. Bubble wrap will not provide enough protection.