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How to Pack and Move Musical Instruments

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Musical instruments are always prized possessions. Whether you're in a rock band, concert band, orchestra, or just a casual player, your instrument is an expensive piece of your identity. Moving with instruments can be difficult since they are often fragile, valuable, unique, and complex. This guide will outline some packing tips for a wide variety of musical instruments.

General instrument packing/moving tips

  • Always disassemble what you can, especially for longer moves or storage. Many instruments are in a constant state of tension when they are ready to be played. Relieving this tension during transport and storage could extend the lifespan of your instrument.
  • Buy and use appropriate cases. Cases are designed to protect instruments when they are being transported. Just remember that most are designed for gigs, not long distance moves or storage.
  • When packing a musical instrument in a case, you usually should add extra packing material to the inside so that it needs some light force to shut completely. This will ensure that the instrument does not move in the case.
  • Larger instruments like pianos and concert-sized percussion equipment should always be moved by professionals. It is possible to move your own piano, but it is inadvisable.

TIP: Get more specific information on moving drum sets, pianos, or guitars.

String instruments

String instruments are quite delicate and expensive. Music is created by making taught strings vibrate, so the strings (although replaceable) are central to the health of the instrument. Any bending or warping of the wood that makes up the body of string instruments can also distort the tone. String instruments include guitars, cellos, violins, violas, basses, and all their varieties.
  • Loosen the strings before the move. You will have to tune them once you arrive at your new destination, but keeping them tense during the move is an invitation for a broken string or, even worse, a warped instrument.
  • Wrap the neck with the loosened strings in bubble wrap.
  • Place the instrument in an appropriate hard-shelled case.
  • The case should close without any space for movement given to the instrument. If there is space, fill it with packing paper.
  • Pay special attention to the part where the neck meets the body of the instrument. This area is prone to breaking in most string instruments.
  • You could move your string instrument in its case, but if you want to ship it and label it, you have to slide the case into a box if possible. Add more packing paper to make sure the case is secure in the box and tape it up.
  • Label it as fragile even if you are confident the case and box will protect your instrument.
  • Unless the case has a specific place for it, bows should be packed separately. They should be lightly wrapped in bubble wrap. Wrapping too tightly might damage the hairs.


Percussion includes all types of drums, sets, cymbals, and their accompanying equipment. You may think that since these things are designed to be hit, they may not need a lot of protection. That is not true.
  • Break down drum sets and remove all drums and cymbals from stands.
  • Fold up stands and wrap them in bubble wrap.
  • Use a drum key to loosen the heads of all drums so they are less tense and less easily punctured.
  • Cymbals and drums should have cases to protect them, although they are usually soft. Consider filling soft cases with additional packing material like bubble wrap and packing paper.
  • Keep track of all the nuts and screws involved after everything is disassembled. Label them and keep them in plastic bags.
  • Label all boxes that you place drum parts in so you can put everything back together. There are going to be a lot of separate pieces.

Brass and woodwinds

Brass and woodwinds are the majority of instruments that make up marching and concert bands. They include trumpets, trombones, saxophones, flutes, clarinets, bassoons, tubas, and all their varieties.
  • Clean your instrument with the appropriate swabs and brushes . Since you blow into woodwinds and brass instruments, your saliva could be coating much of them. This can lead to bacterial buildup and foul odours if the instrument is packed for an extended period of time.
  • These instruments are almost always disassembled and kept in cases between performances, so you should have a case to put them in.
  • Since these cases are used so frequently, you may have to get a new one for the move if your old case is beat up.
  • Use bubble wrap and packing paper to make the pieces of the instrument more secure in the case.
  • Place the case in a box and fill the rest of the space with more packing material.
  • Tape, label, and load, making sure everything is secure and handled carefully.

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on October 23, 2014 - Moving Expert
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