Flying Bass - need to slacken strings?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by kevinod, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. kevinod


    Jun 29, 2002
    Cork, Ireland
    Hey all,

    bringing my new bass :bassist: (Schecter Diamond Series Stiletto Elite 4, on a plane with me, just wondering whether I should slacken off the strings or does it make a difference?

    I remember from years ago my uncle saying he should have slackened off strings when he brought instruments on planes.

    You guys come across that or have any suggestions about this?

    thanks, Kev.
  2. Sorry I can't answer your question, but I do have something else about flying. I don't know how things are in Ireland or where you're flying to or from, but if you're flying to the USA, be careful about checking the instruments. You have to leave cases unlocked here so they can search them if necessary, and they don't always know how to put stuff back properly.
    It probably wouldn't be so bad with a bass or guitar, but they left my mouthpiece rolling around my trombone case with my gorgeous 10.5-inch red brass bell. It's a freakin' miracle it wasn't dented.

  3. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    No, do not loosen the strings.


    I ship and recieve basses from all over the world every day, and NEVER do that.

    I always hear that "they" say you are supposed to loosen the strings...who the *%$# are "they"? And if "they" are so smart, why doesn't Mike Tobias, Fodera, Keith Roscoe, Joe Zon, Rob Elrick, Sheldon Dingwall, Ken Smith, Alembic, Wal....and on and on...loosen the strings on their brand new, very expensive basses before they ship them to me? Do "they" know something these folks don't? ;)

    Good advice on the locking/inspection thing though, they WILL open the case and look in, be prepared. If it's locked, it won't be when you get it back (been there done that).
  4. kevinod


    Jun 29, 2002
    Cork, Ireland
    Cool, thanks for the replies, I don't need to worry about it then.

    Already flew with it, and yup, was asked to unlock it when I brought it to the oversized luggage desk, he had a good look around and feel around of the case alright.

    I had slackened the strings, but then had to retune by ear (more used to the lazy red light/green light method!) as I don't have my tuner with me.

  5. It would be cool to buy a bass from someone, and receive it in tune. That would be so cool.
  6. My G&L came like was a good feeling!.....but I think that the guys I was buying it from in Manny's checked it out before I came in....
  7. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    No disrespect to Gard, but.....:meh:

    Flying in a cargo hold:
    As far as an "all graphite" neck instrument it probably wouldn't make much difference, however, I can't see any good coming from leaving string tension on a wood neck that is going to be exposed to a unpressurized, non-climate controled (i.e. Freezing) hold for an indefinate period of time as wood, like most materials, gets brittle when frozen.

    Why risk it? Makes no sense. Detuning certainly won't hurt it. After the bass warms back up, tune it. Simple.

    An ounce of prevention......

    If you're shipping ground where the instrument might be going to cold, wintery areas of the world (where your bass could be sitting in a unwarmed warehouse or even a delivery truck overnight) I would detune also.

    I detune any wood neck bass I ship that might encounter any of these adverse conditions and
    insist on it being shipped to me detuned under same conditions.

    All due respect to Gard, but, although I live and work in Vegas (and many other places in the world), I grew up in North Dakota and have seen what cold can do to a guitar or bass neck under tension.:eek: :bawl:
  8. If you ship a vaulable instrument air cargo, you do run the risk of damage. But consider this, for most of your instruments life, the neck will be supported fairly evenly between the truss and string tension. If you loosen the strings you should also loosen the truss rod. A bass guitar should be fine with out either being loose, and URB or other delicate acoustice instrument, maybe.

  9. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Although I've never done this, it makes logical sense. I may start.

    Something else I forgot to mention in my earlier post is, don't forget that your strings are metal. Metal, when it gets cold contracts. This is going to increase the tension dramatically on an already brittle/cold neck, if not loosened.
  10. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    PhatBasstard -

    Sorry dude, but John's got the facts straight. There is a balance between the trussrod and the tension of the strings. If you change one, you must change the other or risk damage. I have sent basses all over the world, it's my job. I never under any circumstance loosen strings, and I've never had a bass arrive at a customer's location with a neck problem due to strings at pitch during shipping (we won't discuss problems due to OOPS, er...UPS :meh: )

    Again, look at all the guys that ship basses with the strings at pitch in my list. Many of these basses are unreinforced wood necks, and they NEVER have trouble. However, I have opened boxes, taken out basses with the strings loosened and the necks turn into bananas (back bow is a rampant problem with these instruments) when brought up to pitch.

  11. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Just to throw some wood on the fire, one "they" is whoever does that bass camp in New England (I think Jeff Berlin, could be wrong) who recommended loosening strings, without a reason given.

    I've flown with a bass several times (in a gig bag, in the first class cabin closet). I've loosened and I've forgotten, never had a problem either way (then again this is in a pressurized, temperature controlled environment, no more than 6 hour flight).

    Being in the hold would be different, either keeping the strings at tension (i.e., balancing out the truss rod) or loosening both the strings and truss rod (if string contraction puts more pull on the wood than truss rod contraction? at lower temp) makes the most sense to me....
  12. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    I should probably clarify:
    When I loosen the strings, I don't take all the tension off them to where they're totally floppy. I reduce the tension so each string is detuned about a 4th. I feel this is a good compromise.

    This is why I've never considered the truss rod since the pull from a truss rod is not as severe as full string tension (anybody ever see a neck crack from just truss rod/no strings tension? I haven't).

    Like I said, no disrespect and I don't doubt Gard's conviction, but I have seen (on more than one occasion) what can happen to a full tensioned neck when frozen.
  13. mrbaloo


    May 9, 2002
    I would say Victor Wooten, see ;)

    I don't know if the strings will loose their sound quality (e.g. brightness) when loosing the strings at travel time. But I have only tried this detuning technique with old strings. Soon I'm going to travel with my bass fitted with almost new strings and I worry a lot of loosing my sound... Maybe I would not detune the strings this time?

  14. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.