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Bass on a plane

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pattyløve, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. pattyløve


    Apr 7, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Engineering, D'addario
    So in a few days, I'll be taking my beloved MIA jazz bass overseas to record. Just wondering what precautions I should take on my bass to ensure its safe arrival when I land. I've heard you should loosen the tension of the strings completely to relieve the added pressure the neck sustains up in the air.. is this correct? Any more tips of this kind of nature?
  2. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Are you checking it or bringing it in the cabin? I have done both.

    If it's going in the overhead bin, then the pressure change is only to the equivalent of 6,000 feet altitude (which is like Denver). Not such a big deal. In this case I'd be more concerned about other passengers smashing their luggage into it.

    However, I'm not sure you can reliably expect them to let you put it in the overhead bin (and certainly only with a gig bag).

    If you check it then you will need an ATA flight case. You might want to tune down a bit, but I don't think you need to completely release the tension on the strings. I never have. The temperature is more likely to affect the instrument than the pressure, IMO. It is about -40 at altitude. My flight case has three layers of foam, top and bottom are solid foam and the middle layer is the same thickness as the bass with a cutout to the shape of the instrument. The instrument is held securely with foam all around. Hopefully the foam provides some level of insulation so that the adjustment to the change in temperature occurs a little more slowly.

    Good luck.

  3. I recently flew from DC to Boston with my Ibanez SRX without any hiccups. I checked it in this gator ATA case:

    I have heard that you should not lock the case, in case the TSA goes berserk and decides that they need to look inside. I did not lock mine, and it was fine.

    Just loosen the strings a bit, and that should be fine. The dangers of changing pressure are really much more of a threat to acoustic instruments, solid body electrics are pretty much impervious to that.

    Also, If you are a member of the musician's union, you can procure a letter authorizing you to carry your instrument on the plane, or "gate check" it, with the strollers.

    Hope this is helpful, good luck with your trip!
  4. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Good point. I had zip-ties on mine which had been removed when I retrieved it. After that I didn't use them any more. (I did travel to another country and practices may vary around the world.)

  5. eddododo


    Apr 7, 2010
    I'm tired of these mother****ing bass on this mother****ing plane
  6. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Beat me to it
  7. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    So why bother opening the thread, and making a post?
  8. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    We got a frigging bass on this frigging plane ...

  9. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Have you not seen Snakes on a Plane? Quite possibly the greatest film of the 21st century.
  10. backtobass

    backtobass Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2010
    Rockville, MD
    I'm pretty sure it one the academy award for best picture . . . Ever
  11. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
  12. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    Ok, I just died of laughter.
    And came back just to let you know you're awsome.
  13. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA

  14. Yerf Dog

    Yerf Dog

    Jun 29, 2009
    Carol Stream, IL
    Buy your bass the seat next to yours.
  15. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Nope, but now I'll see if I can find it on NetFlix

  16. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I've said this before in the other "flying with my bass" threads.

    The single best way to fly with your bass is to put it in a gig bag, then put the gig bag inside an SKB-type golf club case, and check it as baggage.

    Not only is it better protected than just a regular case, but airline rules permit checking of golf club cases without an additional "oversize" charge.
    I once checked a bass in a full anvil-type ATA case, and was charged over $80 as an oversize fee. Golf club case = $0.

    You can buy the golf club cases used pretty cheaply.

    And if you plan to take a gig bag onto the plane to put in a closet or overhead bin, think again. Sometimes the flight crew prohibits it for seemingly no reason. Happens ALL the time.
  17. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    This one needs to be printed out and stuck on the wall!
  18. I would agree that no matter where it will be stored you will want it in a flight case or some sort of hard shell case.
  19. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
  20. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    If at all possible, I'd try to avoid checking your bass - the list of horror stories is interminable. (such as this - ).

    I've been lucky thus far - I usually just bring it as carry-on in a gig bag and they've let me put it in the coat closet. At worst, you can check it at the gate - at least then the airport "ramp rats" don't get to throw it around.

    Another potential option is to ship the bass to your destination. Not cheap, but a better option than buying another seat on a transoceanic flight. Another issue with this is if your bass is made of exotic woods - some are subject to greater scrutiny by customs.