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Regarding the shipping of basses (Official UPS/Fedex/USPS word on the subject!)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ElBajista, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    I was informed by my local pack'n'ship company that the all of the major shipping companies (USPS, Fedex, UPS, DHL) will take into account whether or not the bass (or guitar) was shipped in tune.

    The official word from the books is that all stringed instruments must be completely relieved of tension prior to shipping. I was informed that these companies will take this into account, and be less likely to pay out a claim if the item was shipped at anything above nil tension (i.e. not even loosened by a half/whole step). Basically, to ensure item safety in the first place and security of making a claim if an accident should occur, you must ship stringed instruments at no tension.

    The shipper said that in his experience it is a good idea to remove the strings entirely, that was if there is a claim to be made the companies can't try to say that you shipped at tension.

    Up until now I shipped at full tension, but the last few basses I've sent out have been at no tension. What do you guys think?
  2. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    i always ship my basses in tune ,
    never had any problems ...
  3. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    I think Instruments are designed to have a certain amount on tension applied to the neck to ensure the neck stays straight, and dropping the tension (especially to nil) of the strings is going to cause more problems than it alleviates.
  4. joeybcdt


    May 6, 2004
    SE Texas
    I always loosen the strings. Every guitar and bass ever shipped to me had the strings loosened. Even though the neck "may" change over time with the strings loosened it will change back once the same guage strings are brought to pitch. It just may take a couple of days.
  5. 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
    Sadowsky ships basses FED-EX with the instrument in tune.
  6. If you slack the strings to ship, you have to slack the trussrod too, or the tension it is still excerting could crack the wood or pop throught the fretboard from a shock.
  7. ElBajista


    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    I understand what all of you are saying. In fact, I agree! It makes more sense to send a bass with full tension.

    All I wanted to mention was that Fedex/UPS/USPS states that the instruments must be completely out of tuning in order to be awarded the claim. Why do you think they require this?
  8. Because alot of people seem convinced that they need to do it, and the more rules shipping companies have, the less cash they have to shell out for their mistakes.
  9. When I bought my Spector from Nino it arrived FedEx ready to play.
  10. We do the same, but use UPS.

    I find this difficult to believe, as I have never had our account rep mention such a "rule" to us.

    As I've pointed out over and over on these forums, NO builder ships their bass de-tuned in any way, as it will certainly compromise the setup, and possibly cause permanent damage.

    Also, when I was at Bass Central, we had several damage claims on basses, and we always shipped at pitch. Never had that mentioned as a factor in recieving compensation, and always won our case (although sometimes UPS made us work for it....:rollno: ).
  11. Exactly, so why do anything to begin with? Ive shipped several basses, always in tune, and never had any issues with the necks messing up.
  12. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    I'm not surprised that shippers have chosen this way to go, despite the fact that experts might offer the opposite advice on what to do.

    Consider that shipping company risk management folks are not experts about most of the articles their companies ship, yet they have to come up with rules that appear to address problems. I'm guessing that shippers really hate guitars because, between the mechanics of strings, necks, etc and the prevalence of fragile, glossy finishes, guitars damage more easily than other articles. Now, if I'm a shipping company risk manager (not a musician), one of the things that appears logical to me is that one of the sources of neck cracks, could be string tension, combined with bumping in transit. I have no expertise in the matter, and my bosses don't either. It's far simpler for me to take the apparently reasonable path of refusing to pay claims unless strings are fully loosened than to ask any more questions. Why should I? I've already won the battle of guitar shipping. I look prudent to my ignorant boss (Hey, I'm somebody's boss and I know I'm ignorant...). If I happen to know that most guitars will be shipped with some tension on the strings, and if I'm morally challenged, I may feel really smug that now my company will almost never have to pay a guitar claim.

    For me, as a risk manager, life is good. Guitar shippers beware...
  13. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
  14. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    +1 I think your local pack and ship guy need to know what he's talking about.
  15. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    This one makes me laugh.
    The only thing the shipping companies take into account is the size, weight, and destination of the package.
    I especially love the companies which try to charge triple for shipping to an APO address, even though APOs are zip coded in the states. It shows how much Fedex and UPS support our troops.
  16. jazzenfunk

    jazzenfunk Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    bay area
    I work for DHL. This is utter nonsense. If a claim is filed, no one is going to ask if the bass was shipped "in tune". I ship all basses in tune.
    I ship them through my employer (DHL). Never had a problem. This guy doesn't know *** he's talking about.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Last week, a 20 year old girl at the airport tried to convince me to tune down the strings on my bass because her boyfriend said you should. And she added, "The airline may not pay for a claim if you don't." RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!

    BTW, angled headstocks, I think, can benefit from loosening strings. You hardly ever see Fender style headstocks breaking in transit. It's mostly headstocks like Gibsons and Gretsches that are angled back that you have to worry about.
  18. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Every bass I've ever shipped has been shipped in tune. Never had one problem.:eyebrow:
  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'm sure the guy who told you this meant well, but I believe you have
    been misinformed.

    Because of shipping my P/J to Oregon for a recording, I have actually
    recently studied in detail the Fedex document that explains all their
    terms and conditions (rules). In it, I saw nothing about this.


    There are limitations affecting declared value that do impact bassists
    shipping vintage instruments or highly customized/personalized
    instruments, but that is a different thread. :ninja:
  20. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    All the basses (except one*) and other instruments I have had shipped to me have arrived in tune, including the Fender '51 P RI that was basically mailed from Japan it its box. These have arrived via FedEx, UPS and DHL.

    I have watched the manager of the local music store unpack deliveries, and I've never seen one that was detuned.
    * The single exception was a bass from a trade with another TBer, and he insisted on my removing the neck from the Tribute L2000 I was sending, and he did the same to the Jazz fretless he sent in return (it so happened, both basses were bolt-ons).

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