transporting a bass to Europe

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by pedro, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Hi folks. Must admit its been some time since I've posted at talkbass but I have a situation that I thought perhaps somebody here might have a good solution to. My son is a professional musician living in Barcelona. Stateside resides his beloved 1940's Kay upright bass. Some years ago when he first moved to Spain we explored ways to transport his bass but everything we came up with seemed pretty expensive and/or troublesome. We don't have a hardshell case and buying appears to be quite expensive. We could buy a ticket for the bass and supposedly the airlines would allow the bass to travel in a passenger seat but our experience doing so in the past at least on domestic flights is that if the bass doesn't fit, it goes in storage. Further, direct flights are rarely an option so there is the hassle of layovers, etc. He does have an upright but I know its not as good as his Kay. Suggestions are appreciated.
  2. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.

  3. I rented a fiberglas case once and flew my bass cross-country and back for a gig. The airline cracked the case on the return trip. No damage to the bass. They did pay the repair bill.
    I would suggest finding a better bass in Europe.
  4. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.

    Thanks. He already has a bass there but it's not as good. I suppose we could sell the Kay and invest the proceeds in an upgrade there but I doubt he'd want that. The Kay IIRC is among the first 100 or so made according to its number.

    Where did you rent the case?
  5. A fellow bassist in my home town. (The case would have to be returned to the renter, as mine was.)
    Gollihur Music is offering a hard case.
    Really, my post was intended to discourage you. No case can stand up to what can happen during shipping.
  6. The likelihood of an airline selling your son a seat for his bass, whether he is sitting next to it or not, is close to nil.

    But if he must sell his Kay, he should sell it in Europe if at all possible. I have a friend in the business and roots players over there are nuts for them.
  7. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I hear ya but still basses travel all the time. The question is how?
  8. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.

    Actually I bought a ticket for his bass in the past without any resistance in the airlines. And I'm pretty sure that they are now legally required too. But the problem is that if it doesn't fit it goes into storage.
  9. I moved from Montreal to Abu Dhabi a few years ago. The movers put my Strunal in its bag, then built a wooden frame around it, which they then sealed over with plywood after stuffing it with foam and stuff. Then it went in a shipping container, out into the sea and around the Horn of Africa for all I know, and arrived in Abu Dhabi after about three months on the briny.

    You know what? It was fine.

    Although I've been told recently that Strunals are tanks. I guess that proves it.

    However I'm going back West in couple of years and I'm going to have to do it again... all fingers are gonna be crossed on this next trip.
  10. pedro.. most people truck/ship ( i mean literally on a ship!) their upright basses.. and when Flying, they have a hard-shell case.. Like I do (David Gage Case) it was like $3000+ just for the case.. then $150 or more each way flying..

    I flew from the States to Dubai with my Upright bass. You want an answer! here it one but not a great one!

    BUT! the first problem you may encounter here may stop this! ha. You as an individual may have soooooo much trouble shipping something because you aren't a "company" .. I have found that trying to use a Shipping Service has been the most difficult becuase they only want to deal with you if you are a company.

    I shipped it using CargoSave -

    Cargosave: Worldwide Freight Shippers | International Shipping Services You Can Depend On

    The thing was Door to Door Service! I think it was $600 .. or more.. I'm trying to remember! I'll try to find the bill..

    but the point is, They literally put my bass in the soft shell case! - into a Big Cardboard Box filled with those peanuts.. the white fluffy things.. and it arrived at my door of the hotel I was at and while there was a dent in the cardboard box, the bass had no problem..

    That is my experience... yours may vary.. and It's not fun..


    OH and do not rent a case!! The airline will destroy it.. (well.. chip it and damage it in someway.. I just flew with a portable bass in a Hardshell Golf bag case and they broke the wheels on it!!)

    Though I'll be honest I'm pretty shocked that the guy before who posted somehow got the airline to pay for it... but what he is not telling us is how long and of a bull-process he went through to get it paid for..
  11. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    A crate-and-ship company would do a fine job, but it won't be cheap. They'll build a custom wooden crate and fill it with packing material then ship as appropriate and even take the box away if you want. There's no way to ship a big thing across a big ocean and not spend big money. There is a Pakmail in Waukesha that could give you a quote. I've used them a couple times for artworks US->UK with good results. Buy insurance on the EU value just in case - old Kay basses are quite valuable overseas and there's no way to guarantee "perfect condition". The quicker the shipping, the less chance of mishaps, but there is no 100% damage-free shipping in this world, and $200 pales in comparison to the loss of a bass that might be worth 10k in the EU.

    Sea freight will take 15-20 days in transit, plus loading/unloading/final delivery. It will cost a whole bunch. I never did US->ES so it's hard to estimate, but maybe a thousand at a guess, plus crating costs. Air freight will get it there in a day or two (plus loading/unloading/final delivery), but it will cost a frightening amount of money. :dead:
  12. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design / AER Endorsing Artist
    I've flown with my bass internationally a bunch of times. It's expensive, but still cheaper than any shipping options I know of. Air Cargo is a logistical pain in the ass, and still requires a hard case. Shipping by sea takes ages and costs more than you'll want to pay.

    Your cheapest and most convenient option is to fly the bass yourself as checked baggage. You probably thought shipping is cheaper, but it's usually more or less the same if you check it. If that's the case, you ought to get a trip to Barcelona out of the deal.

    You will need a hard case -- don't bother trying to book an extra seat, it almost never works. You can rent something if you want. Shops that offer case rentals know full well that airlines smash cases, so you don't need to worry too much about damage. It's why you need a hard case, after all. The larger problem with rental is that you'll have to return the case, which means paying excess baggage fees on the return flight with an empty case. You might as well set your wallet on fire.

    If you really want to save some money, line up a buyer for a new flight case in Spain beforehand. Just find out what the buyer wants, get them to pay in advance, and you're all set. If you can't find a buyer, look for a "hard" foam case instead. They're not as strong as fiberglass or carbon fiber, but they are lightweight and very cheap (approx. $700 vs. $3000 for fiberglass). You could even go for this one here, which includes a really worthless Chinese bass inside. Sell or donate that bass, and keep the case. I wouldn't put a priceless old Italian bass in those things, but they'll do just fine for your son's Kay.

    Finally, be very careful about which airline you decide to fly with. International carriers can have drastically different regulations regarding basses as checked baggage. Read the fine print before buying anything. We tried to compile most airlines' policies in this thread.
  13. Magicrat


    Jan 25, 2016
    Hi, I was involved in shipping for a while, the only way is like a previous post said would be to have the Bass wrapped, then a wooden crate purpose built around it by a specialist shipper. I'm not sure of your budget or how much the bass is worth both in money or sentiment, but the cost of just getting it packed safely is going to run in to many hundreds but it will be the safest way.
  14. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I'm trying to think of what symphonies you have nearby. See if you could rent a flight case from them.
  15. why is everybody saying to rent a case! and at what cost will you pay when you return the case with a chunk taken out of it ??

    that is what happened to my $3000 David Gage Case by the way.. and I own that case!

    but anyway, it's cool people are answering here. But am I the only one who actually mentioned a company?

    there is also Smart Travel to check out..

    I'll try to find the website and etc.. I used them awhile back from Florida.. they shipped my bass by truck in the country.. not international though.. but I wonder if they do international..

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