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Flying/Touring with a bass

Discussion in 'Ask Janek Gwizdala' started by brianh, Jun 26, 2007.


  1. brianh

    brianh

    Aug 19, 2005
    NYC
    Endorsing: Epifani Amplification
    Hi Janek,

    Can you make any suggestions on flying and traveling with a bass?

    I typically use gig bags (to carry on the plane) but recently had a bad experience and was forced to check the bass. I also want to have something really solid for doing road gigs where I have to put my bass in a van with tons of equipment....I'm just tired of worrying about it being in a gig bag.

    I've heard of some flight cases (TKL Bass Safe?) that allow you to put your basses in a double gig bag inside. This would make lots of sense because then you could use your gig bag to get around town.

    Any insight?

    Thanks,
    Brian
     
  2. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    It's the SKB Bass Safe and it works great. Just put your bass in the gig bag and then put it all in the bass safe.
     
  3. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K
    hey Janek, one thing i have always wondered is do you constantly adjust your neck relief when on tour due to the temperature changes, or do you get used it?

    by the way ive heard about those skb bass safe cases coming open if their given a bit of a knock.


    Dave
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The locks on my Bass Safe are terrible, but I love it other than that, so I just take a bungee cord and wrap it around the handle. I've long given up on carrying a bass in a gig bag on the plane. I still get paranoid about checking a bass, but I'll tell you, I haven't got a scratch on my basses using the Bass Safe. When I carried it on, I always got dings from idiots putting their heavy suitcases on it or from bags shifting. The only thing that sucks is when you arrive and the bass doesn't. Happened a couple times. Oh well...it eventually arrived.
     
  5. brianh

    brianh

    Aug 19, 2005
    NYC
    Endorsing: Epifani Amplification
    how do you wrap the bungee chord? do you wrap it around the case to keep it shut or just so the lock wont break?
     
  6. Footie

    Footie

    Apr 2, 2004
    Camas, WA
    I just did a gig in NY and I used a case that's very similar to the Roscoe cases. I flew Jet Blue and gate checked my bass, which meant I carried it to the gate and handed it off before I boarded. When I got off the plane my bass was waiting right outside of the plane on the jetway for me. That was the least stressful (other than carrying it on) I've had with an airline.
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Brian, the case is made of two halves that slide into each other. So there's two halves of the handle. You just wrap the bungee around both handles where they join together.
     
  8. janekbass

    janekbass

    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com
    hey guys, good thread!

    and something I'm really passionate about too as I've had 10 years of trials and tribulations in this area. so here goes.....

    1) know your airline. Delta are the worst, Ryanair have weight restrictions that they will charge you a fortune for, Virgin Atlantic are a total lottery, but I have a trick for them comin up later on in the broadcast.....

    2) NEVER FLY DELTA

    3) NEVER FLY DELTA

    4) NEVER FLY DELTA

    5) if you have no choice.... which is a bad place to find yourself, but sometimes it happens, you will need a flights case.

    this is the one I'm using, and I highly reccommend it:

    http://fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0996102500

    I've flown with Delta to Madrid from NYC with it, and a number of other places since I got it a few months ago and it's been amazing. It holds 3 basses, or the way I've been using it I've just taken one and then my gig bag as weel for when I get to a city, or have to get on and off the tour bus all the time.

    6) when you have your bass in a gig bag you need to do the following if you're hoping to take it in the cabin with you.

    when you check in for your flight, try not to let the check in people see you're carrying an instrument. this is easy if you're travelling in a band or group as someone can just sit out of sight with your bass while you check in. E-Tickets are good too, as you can check youself in and really scope out the whole scene and be relaxed. If you're a guy, pick the cutest girl you can and be very charming to her while you're checking in. This goes a long way if you can win her over. The same thing aplies to girls. Find a guy that you think you can win over and just be relaxed.

    Once you go through security, NEVER hang out at the gate you're departing from as you WILL BE SEEN and normally be asked to check your instrument. hang out at the gate next door with your bass out of sight, so you'll be in range of hearing your flight called, but won't get hassled.

    when they start calling out boarding by zone (big number in the middle of your ticket not normally related to your seat) make sure you just go down there and get on first no matter what zone they're calling. They normally board first class etc, then families with small children. I normally scope out all the famillies and get right in the back of that line so I'm the first regular ecconmy class. There are some companies like air india that will send away until your zone is called, but with most US carriers you can just get in the thick of the line and they won't bother to send you back to wait.

    all the time that you're doing this you need to figure out which side you're going to have to hand your ticket in on. ie. if it's the on the right, you need your gig bag tucked up under your left armpit completely hidden by your body. even better, if you have someone really tall in the band they can also cover for you too. just as long as the bass is the only thing that the check in steward doesn't see you're good to go.

    Once you're on the plane there are a number of options. You should always check what type of plane you're going to be flying on before you go to the airport. This information is normally available right on your ticket somewhere. From this you can tell what size overhead bins are going to be on the plane. You should always make a mental note when you fly of what the plan type is and whether your bass fits overhead or not. There's no easy way around that one, but just flying a **** load of flights and building up your own database.

    Now for those people flying on domestic US flights there are a couple of planes that they will tell you your bass doesn't fit in, but it does. The US airways, United Airways, and Amercan Eagle flights are very small planes. Normally between NYC and DC, or short connectors. They hold about 20-30 people and the flight attendants will tell you you bass doesn't go in there. I'm using a leather Levys gig bag and have never had a problem. I'm always very confident about it, and I tell them very nicely that I've flown on these size planes a 100 times before and it's totally cool, and that it fits.

    for all other flights... there are a few where the overhead bins are so badly designed that they're just too short to fit a bass.....

    if you're super cool, don't make a fuss, and find someone to charm as you're walking onto the plane..... you can normally find space in a first class coat locker or something like that. The crew on the plane are normally way nicer than the check in staff in the airport, and will help you if they can.

    Just remember, always be cool. never make a point of advertising the fact that you're travelling with an instrument. And if you're EVER in doubt take a flight case. It's heavy, it's a pain in the ass to get to the airport with, it's a nightmare with overweight if you've got a heavy one, and it's a pisser when you get where you're going and you need to carry your bass around. BUT, it's way better than getting caught out in a situation you can't change, and watching your instrument go down the belt and be in the hold with all the other bags.

    Easy,

    Janek
     
  9. janekbass

    janekbass

    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com
    as to the adjusting the neck question:

    I am very fortunat to have an incredible instrument that needs very little adjustment wherever I go in the world. In the past two months I've been to the west coast of the US, the East coast of the US, Asia, and Europe, and haven't needed to adjust it at all.

    in the Caribben sometimes I've had to do a few things, but nothing really. It all depends on the quality of the wood in the instrument, and how the bass is made.

    Easy,

    Janek
     
  10. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    From my past as both a musician and a roadie (hey make a buck anyway I can.)

    Gigbags get good ones with a coat hook on them. Flight crew is usually pretty cool about hanging instruments in the coat closet.

    Try to take to do a gate check in. I like that because they usually put your instrument in the cargo area where animals are flown. That area is pressurized and not as cold as regular cargo area.

    With bands we'd get a guitar trunk, a large ATA case that we could put all the guitars and bass in their cases inside. The key for me was I made sure it would fit on a standard baggage chute. So worst case we'd check it in as excess luggage. It was always amusing to see the other passengers look when this huge trunk would come down the comveror belt with suitcases.

    Long flights or know gear will be in regular cargo I would detune the bass about a 1/2 step to take some tension off the neck.

    Also amazing the things skycaps can do for you if you tip them heavily.

    You'd think after all these years of musicians having to fly instruments airlines would do something handle it. At least I've never had to fly a double bass, now that would be a pain.

    As Janek said be cool to the people, be firm but not a jerk. I know what can happen as the result of jerkoff road crew at the airport and the baggage handlers getting their revenge.
     
  11. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K

    thats some real good advice as far as getting your bass on a plane, when my dad bought a guitar in florida the guy in hstore told him to ship it, my dad managed to get it in one of the 1st class lockers on the plane but i think he was just lucky.

    as for the bass necks moving, my emporer moves a little more than id like to be honest, but its still not very much.

    i just wondered how drastic it would be when your flying around all the time.


    Dave
     
  12. Footie

    Footie

    Apr 2, 2004
    Camas, WA
    This is a great thread. Has anyone here used the incase stuff?
     
  13. ryanowens

    ryanowens Commercial User

    Feb 1, 2004
    Houston
    Trickfish Amplificaton
    I have used my incase bag on about 50 flights and it really has been great. It has a little more support than a standarg gig bag and tons of pockets while also being extremely small.... ie not bulky.

    I also agree with Janek, be cool, be early, but be firm.

    I go back and forth between using a flight case and a gig bag, it just depends how much stress I want to deal with.

    Gig bag = stress because of getting it on the plane safely

    Flight Case = stress because of the weight and possible overweight $$.


    oh and PS... my new Fodera will be here in the next 2 weeks!

    Peace,

    Ryan
     
  14. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K

    ooh ooh ooh, what model you getting?


    Dave
     
  15. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    That fender case looks amazing, bit expensive though over here in the UK I think I can get one built for a lot less might look into that is a useful stand as well would greatly save time on packing down.

    Thanks for the info.

    On another note I've never had an issue ever flying with a bass but don't think I've done it since 9/11 always had a soft case that went into the locker or cupboard for the flightcrews stuff.

    The one time I took a hardcase it got smashed up, it was a fitted SKB Rickenbacker case luckily it did its job and the bass was fine but the case was unusable afterward. Did the same journey on the way back with it in a softcase and just took it on board.

    I agree with the whole being nice thing, smiling and flirting goes along way, and I wouldn't even limit yourself to women ;) if you flirt with a guy who is clearly straight and possibly homophobic they generally want to get rid of you with as little hassle as possible ;) regardless of if you are pretending or not, I'm of the what ever I can do to not get my bass in the hold school of thought. :D

    On check-in I've always had a family member hang on to my bass so that they don't see it then.

    Cheers
     
  16. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    I used to always just walk on. As Janek suggested- don't advertise that you're carring a bass! And yes, let someone else hold it for you when checking in, done that a bunch of times and it works.
    Spirit Airlines now along with Delta WILL NOT let you carry on. Anything larger than a normal carry-on bag goes under the plane.

    -DON'T FLY SPIRIT

    We're stuck with Spirit on the next few flights :)mad: ).

    I just picked up the SKB Bass Safe and I love it.
    In fact my Smith made it from Detroit to Atlantic City IN TUNE!!
    Just left the bass in my Levi's gig bag (leather) and put it in the case.

    Highly reccomend it. Plus it has wheels on one end!

    JimmyM- My latches are OK. Did yours go bad or did they kinda suck from the get go?
     
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Mike, mine were bad from the getgo. SKB's "solution" was to send me new ones and some rivets. The only reason I haven't sent it back to them and made them fix it properly is because I use it so much and I need it.
     
  18. I'm flying with my Sei in August, I just booked it a seat next to me.

    The flight is only £20 each way, £40 is cheap compared to losing a £2500 instrument.

    I'm also getting an Incase bag, just to be sure.
     
  19. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I have found that even with lot's of charm and cleverness, carry-on in the US is pretty much impossible. I use a very heavy-duty ATA case with all recessed hardware. I hate it, but it works.

    Does anyone here use TSA "masterkey" locks?
     
  20. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I don't. I bought them but decided not to use them b/c they'll probably just get cut off anyway AND on the SKB Bass Safe, they would stick out, get caught on something and that's how those latches get broken so easily.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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