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Shipping bolt on necks

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Noddy Boulder, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Noddy Boulder

    Noddy Boulder

    Jun 11, 2012
    Can somebody help? I am planning on shipping a guitar to the US and am wonderig if it would it be better shipping the bolt on neck guitars in parts? i.e. take the neck off and ship body and neck together. Is this a no no and if so why?
    Look forward to hearing your input.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    You can ship it separated IF the buyer agrees to receive it that way. Some buyers are inexperienced at assembling guitars, and will not be happy at receiving a guitar in parts.

    It takes just as much bubble wrap, tape, and packing care to ship the separated instrument as it does with the whole thing assembled. The only real benefit is you get to use a box that isn't as long. It might possibly be safer from damage during shipping, but that depends on how you pack it.
  3. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    True, though as I have found that can often make a not-insignificant dent in shipping costs since many shippers have a length threshold that (once it is passed) hike the price a lot.

    Of course, if you are shipping a $3,500 bass then an extra $30-$40 in shipping is negligible. But if you're selling/shipping a $300 bass, that can make a difference.
  4. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I agree with this. While it sounds simple to re-attach the neck, a common issue that happens is that the buyer will attach the screws on too tight potentially causing a crack on the corners of the neck cavity. Also the instrument might need another setup done once the neck is re-attached.
  5. Noddy Boulder

    Noddy Boulder

    Jun 11, 2012
    so basically the consensus is that it can be done but better to ask the buyer. many thanks for the input. i have a couple that i am considering one a cheap one and the other a japanese lakland thingy. may be the lakland with neck attached.:thumbup:
  6. Bassist_5LX

    Bassist_5LX 38 Year Veteran Touring/Studio Bassist

    Jan 9, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist:Spector Basses / Ampeg / D'Addario
    "Detune" about 2-3 steps all strings or take most tension off of strings.

    When shipping a "Neck-Thru" leave strings tuned to 440Hz :)

    Same price in shipping if cost is by weight not size.
    (Size usually cost more with UPS or FedEx)
    Buyer probably more happy to get it assembled.. I would! :)
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I see no reason to detune. The bass is built to be under tension constantly, releasing tension to ship is just asking for trouble.
  8. Kikegg


    Mar 3, 2011
    Madrid, Spain
    It seems to be common to detune them just in case they suffer damage during shipping. I've read in this forum that if not detuned shipping companies (Fedex, DHL, etc) would wash their hands and not pay the assured value just because of that.

    I don't know if this would happen here in the EU.
  9. Alper Yilmaz

    Alper Yilmaz Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    And how would they figure out if the instrument with a cracked neck was detuned prior to shipment?
  10. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    Some people have reported that full string tension on the neck, combined with having the box get dropped in shipping, can result in the headstock breaking off. Others have posted that a good quality bass will not do this.

    Personally, I prefer to do like Bassist_5LX said. Detune a bit to take a little tension off. But, not all the way. No tension at all will let the neck relax and lose some of its relief. When the receiver tunes it back up, now the setup is jacked up. It should go back to what it was in a few days, but if it's a buyer receiving the bass, they don't want to necessarily hear that they should keep the bass for a few days and it will start playing okay then.
  11. adivin


    Jul 9, 2009
    New Orleans, LA

    This just happened to me. I received a new bass in a hard case, in a box with a cracked neck. It was apparently dropped on its head. The bass was tuned to pitch it seems but who knows if that contributed to the crack or not. So much for NBD. :( ImageUploadedByTalkBass1392388717.372012.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I can't remember the last time I've received a bass that was detuned. High dollar custom bolt-on builders like Sadowsky and Nordstrand ship their basses tuned to pitch.

    Speculation: seems to me that if a neck cracks during shipping, string tension won't be a factor. Really, what are the chances that the bass will receive the amount of force that will crack a fully tuned neck but not an detuned one? And if you detune the strings, shouldn't you also loosen the truss rod? Forget that mess... if Sadowsky doesn't worry, then I won't either.
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Agreed on all counts. Yes necks do get damaged in shipping, but the amount and direction of force required to do the damage would have caused pretty much the same damage whether the strings were tuned up or not.

    The one hypothetical exception I can imagine is an extreme temperature change, say from a very cold climate to a very hot one, with no time to transition. Hypothetically the heat could cause the neck to swell so much that the strings couldn't stretch enough to compensate, and the neck cracks. But that seems pretty far-fetched in reality.
  14. Super Iridium

    Super Iridium Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    Not to hijack this thread, but I have a question about detaching the neck.

    If I'm a buyer who is comfortable with reattaching the neck and taking care of the rest of the set-up (truss rod, bridge, etc.), then wouldn't it be safer for shipping for me to ask the seller to detach the neck? I always ask for this, because I've just assumed that there's much less likelihood of damage when there's two pieces of wood packed and shipped as separate pieces rather than two pieces of wood held together (but without much supporting structure) by four bolts. Then I read the posts above, and now I'm not so sure.

    So which is better for the competent-at-setting-up-a-bass buyer? Shipping with neck detached or attached? Thanks.
  15. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Good question.

    Also, I bought a few basses and guitars on line, and I remember tuning them, but I don’t remember getting the impression that they’d been detuned. Do these places (manufacturers and retailers) detune their guitars and basses for shipping?

    I’m curious why a neck thru would be less susceptible to damage than a bolt on.
  16. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    The key to packing a bass safely is to make sure that if the box is dropped on it's end where the headstock is, the full weight of the bass isn't absorbed by the neck. If it's dropped like that or stored by the shipper upside down for an extended amount of time, the weight of the bass can potentially damage the neck.
    What you need to do is to make sure the bass is "suspended" inside the box by packing the sides with packing material so that the weight of the bass if upside down is absorbed by the sides of the bass and not the neck.
    Detuning the strings help because if the box is dropped at a certain angle (if packed incorrectly) , the tension added along with the force of the impact will snap the neck inwards towards the bass folding it like a taco.
    I've had more than 40 basses delivered to me, boxes in varying amounts of damage, not one snapped neck amongst them thankfully . One was delivered with a hole in the box the size of a small dish with packing foam leaking out of it. lol
  17. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    On a bolt on, tension and stress is held together by the bolts and point of contact of them to the neck and on the body of the bass. Smaller tension points. On a neck through, the stress and tension is spread out throughout a much wider space down the body of the bass. Essentially the width of the wood neck and into the body.
  18. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    The weakest link is where the headstock joins the neck. Unlike the rest of the neck, string tension on the headstock is not counteracted by the tension from the truss rod.

    It's just a lot of one-way tension on the headstock. Give it a good enough jolt and guess what can happen. I suspect the chances for shipping damage to the neck go up during feezing cold weather.

    Three out of the four times its happened to me were during cold winter months. The first time was my fault, didn't slacken the strings. Cracked headstock. UPS did not pay, despite my arguing with them about it for months.

    The other times were basses shipped to me, with strings tuned to pitch. Headstocks shattered, necks fractured. Even though the chances of damage are slim, that won't happen to me again. Lesson learned. The hard way.

    Good luck, hope you don't draw the short straw.
  19. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Good point about the headstock. I hadn’t thought about that.
  20. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    I think a bigger question is, why do all carriers' insurance companies unequivocally state that guitar strings must be slackened to comply with their packing requirements?