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Advice for moving my bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rusalka, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. rusalka


    Oct 29, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm moving across the U.S. next month and wondering whether it's insanity to put my bass on a poorly-insulated moving truck. I'm not so worried about it being packed incorrectly and getting damaged that way - it's more about the cold.

    I'm a little ashamed to admit that I don't know what kind of bass it is, exactly... I know it's a Shen, but I bought it when I was 17 with money from my after-school job, I believe for about $4000 (this was twelve years ago). So, I'm not sure whether it's solid wood or laminate - or whether that matters in terms of the bass's resilience in the cold. Any thoughts you can share would be appreciated - we're already making the plane trip with our two cats, and I'd prefer not to add dealing with bass air travel on top of that. (Plus, I don't own a hard case.)
  2. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    I would definitely invest in a hard case for a move like this. As for whether to put it on a truck or the plane, the choice is up to you. A few days in a moving truck probably wouldn't kill it, but the plane would guarantee less time in the cold. But then you have to worry about if your bass will actually make it to your destination, so you'd probably want to get some kind of insurance on it when you check it (I don't know if airlines offer luggage insurance since I never check luggage, but I'm assuming they do, and I would get it on a $4000 bass)
  3. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Buffalo, NY
    When I moved from Portland (Oregon) to Buffalo, the moving company built a crate for my bass. I put it in a gig bag and then into the custom crate and it was fine. This was late summer though, so I don't know what to advise on the cold. Maybe talk to a luthier about what you can do with sound post and strings to prep it (one might reply on here).
  4. rusalka


    Oct 29, 2013
    Thanks! That's helpful. The moving company we've talked to didn't offer any sort of extra packing for the bass; maybe I'll try to find one that will build a crate.
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  6. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    Would a crate be better than a hard case though? I would imagine a hard case would be cheaper, though I guess you could pad a crate more effectively for a long move, I suppose.
  7. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    If you paid $4000, I assure you that you did not buy a laminate Shen. You at least have a hybrid, maybe a fully carved. You can look at the label inside the F-hole to find out whether it's a 190 or less (hybrid) or 200 (fully carved). But yes, a carved will be more sensitive to climate than a laminate will. I'm not sure that the cold itself is your worst enemy, as much as sudden temperature changes and humidity (or lack thereof). I'd keep a watch on what the humidity is going to be, and if you're going to be traveling through some low humidity areas (which you certainly will if you are traveling cross-country), I might stick a Dampit or two in your instrument.

    This is not professional advice, by the way. Just some thoughts from the top of my head.

    The nice thing about a hard case is that you would have more uses for it in the future.
  8. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    I am no expert, and I would wait for them to chime in, however IMHO laminated, hybrid/fully carved will make a lot of difference in your decision. I have been told by people who's opinions I respect and listen to that the cold can make the hide glue somewhat brittle heat is much worse as it will soften up.

    The larger concern in the cold is the dry air or low humidity level. If it is laminated, should not be a problem, hybrid less of a problem, carved could be a big problem.

    Suggest you determine the bass construction, if it is a hybrid or carved, crate it (you could make one yourself or pay the movers to do it) so it is enclosed and humidify for the trip. A few wet sponges in open plastic bags positioned so that the bass will not come in contact directly with water should do the trick for a couple of days.
  9. rusalka


    Oct 29, 2013
    As for the price of a hard case vs. a crate, I'd imagine a simple wood crate put together by the moving company (and presumably either kept by them afterwards or broken down) would be cheaper. I don't know of hard cases that are less than about $600, though I admittedly haven't looked around much.

    I want to avoid buying a hard case because the cost and extra space it would take up in our tiny apartment isn't worth it for how much use I would get out of it (probably minimal - I mostly play for fun and don't travel all that far for gigs). We're moving to the Bay Area, so I see tiny apartments in our future for several years, unless the real estate bubble out there suddenly bursts.

    Thanks for the explanations of the different concerns for laminate/hybrid/carved, everyone. I'm thinking it's carved, but I'll take a look inside it when I get home this evening.
  10. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding, or cases for double basses are different than a normal electric bass, but I just picked up a new hard case for $80. Being that a double bass is larger, I'd expect a hard case to be a bit more than that, but not $600.
  11. rusalka


    Oct 29, 2013
    Yeah, it's really different from an electric bass case. It's much more like a giant cello case.
  12. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    No, he's in the right neighborhood. A good padded bag for a double bass goes for around $300-400. Everything is much more expensive in the double bass world than in the electric bass world. Just look up the price of strings, if you have any doubt.

    However, on a quick search I did find this one for $459: http://www.gotofmi.com/34upbalihaca.html

    But it sounds like space considerations knock a hard case out of consideration anyhow.
  13. MetalSearGolid

    MetalSearGolid Cyperpunk Cowboy

    Aug 29, 2013
    Michigan, USA
    I know how much bigger it is lol, it just seems ridiculous that they're that expensive.
  14. http://www.davidgage.com/store/prod...id=35&osCsid=a4f915730444fe47219d5f18f09a85ea

    David Gage case = $2,900. I've traveled with one of these before (the band I was with owned the case) and they are nice to have.

    To the OP: have you looked around to see if you could rent a hard case from a shop in the Bay area? See if they could ship you a case, it makes the trip with your bass, then when you get to the area you could return it.
  15. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    you have options -

    if you're in a large city you might rent a hard case (usually about $100/wk) move and ship it back to the owner, air freight (about $50 depending on locations)

    if you're moving to a large city you might call ahead and have someone there ship you the case (similar costs)

    I'm moving 750 miles in 2 weeks in a UHaul truck - 2 of my basses are already there but the last one is coming with me - bridge down wrapped in blankets in the 'grannies attic' above the cab of the truck

    these are all carved basses and I've moved them a lot - avoid humidity extremes (as mentioned above) wrap it and secure it and you'll be fine
  16. mjt0229


    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    I'm doing a similar move next month (east to west, 1 bass, 2 cats). We're driving the bass and flying the cats. About 5 years ago, I did the reverse move, the same way. I think your best bet is probably to rent a hard case, as has been suggested.

    If you can, though, driving the bass is a nice way to be sure it gets the proper treatment. Failing that, I would definitely investigate whether it's possible to rent a hard case. If you rent a hard case, you should still be careful that it's well packed and try to supervise as much of the handling of the bass by the airlines as possible. I think the ISB has some helpful resources on flying with a bass, too.
  17. pastorjamesc

    pastorjamesc Cheap Ability, Expensive Taste Commercial User

    Jun 26, 2012
    Waco Texas
    Owner/Operator of Cotten Patch Sound Design. I do sound design, resetting, and education for churches, organizations, and small venues with no Sound personnel.
    Last April I packed up my 5 basses, wife's dobro, accordian, clarinet and one small ukelele. Not all were in hard cases but were carefully packed and put in the "mom's attic" of the uhaul. What makes this significant is that I left Western Central Manitoba in a blizzard, drove south in three days to Waco TX. Unloaded them in 90+ degrees. I took them all out. tuned them. left them in the "loaner" house for a month and a half, got moved into our house on July 11th. did a set-up and have had zero problems since.
  18. Hqubed

    Hqubed Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2009
    Columbus, Ohio
    For every story of no weather related issues there is likely just as many of problems. For example, last April I accompanied my son to the Richard Davis Bass Conference in Madison, WI. It was still very cold, the lake frozen over showing no signs of a thaw. We were sitting in watching an honors recital when, what could have been a cannon, went off in the room and everyone ducked for cover. It was in fact one of the participants bass, set to the side as he sat awaiting his turn to perform, had opened up a 6+ inch crack in the top due to the low humidity.

    I would still be concerned about the humidity (or lack there of) along the journey (air or road) and would take the proper precautions.
  19. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
    you could also put out a call to local jazz/classical musicians and see if you could borrow/rent a hard case from some one who has one.

    might be better to see if some musician at your destination could send one to you and then deliver it once you have the bass.
  20. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    yes & yes - humidity changes are much more worrisome than temp differences

    that being said a good bass is not as delicate as you might think - last time I checked even maple and spruce grow outside

    anyone that owns a trunk really appreciates a few $$ - they usually sit around collecting dust - and, pro string shops offer rentals as a regular service - air-freight is not that costly, you just need to go to the freight forwarder to drop off and pick up

    but, I'm still going to wrap mine in blankets - going from S Fla at 85/70% to 60/40% in GA it's a gradual adjustment

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