How to Ship a Fender Bass
You've just sold your Fender bass online and now you have to ship it. For many people packing and shipping such a large and precious object can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be.
I've personally shipped dozens of basses over the years with no issues at all.
If you follow these simple steps you can easily and safely pack and ship that Fender bass to it's new owner without much hassle.
Having a hard shell case is a must for safe shipping. If you don't have one, look into buying a cheap one, it's worth the piece of mind of knowing the bass will be well protected. Some people use padded gig bags with success but I never have and don't recommend it, as a hard shell case adds much more protection.
The first step you want to take is to loosen the strings about a turn or two to take some tension off the neck. This insures that the neck doesn't warp or crack as the box goes through different climates changes and stresses. This method is somewhat debated, as some feel that loosening the strings might have adverse affects on the neck later, but this is standard practice for most guitar manufacturers who have been shipping their instruments this way for years with no problems at all.
The next step is to take crumpled newspaper (cheap and effective) and stuff it around the bass firmly, making sure to get plenty all around the outside of the instrument. Be sure to put lots of paper between the strings, the bridge area, and around the pickups. Also make sure there is plenty of paper filling the entire inside of the case. The main goal is to keep the bass from moving inside the case, so use as much newspaper as possible and make sure it's tightly crumpled and firmly packed.
In most situations when a bass is damaged in shipping it's the headstock that gets broken, so it's always a good idea to use some bubble wrap or foam peanuts under and around the headstock area and underneath the neck to give some added protection and support. All this extra padding will not only aid in protection against impact but also help keep the bass insulated from temperature and humidity changes.
Close and latch the case, then lift and shake it to make sure there is no movement inside. Remember that most shipping services are not known for being gentle with packages so make sure there is no shifting inside the case. Some people like to wrap tape around the case for added security, but some types of tape can damage the surface of the case. To prevent this I recommend using thin strips of cardboard where the tape contacts the case. Of course, if you're using a cheap case specifically for shipping only, this may be a none issue for you.
The next thing you want to do is get a heavy duty cardboard box (minimum of 275 lb test). You can get one from a shipping supply company like Uline , or sometimes a guitar shop will sell you a box and if you're real lucky you can find one in their trash. Make sure the box allows at least 2-3 inches of space around the case. This insures that there is some buffer between the box and the case to protect against any impacts on the outside of the box. Put some foam or bubble wrap at the bottom of the box, and then while you're holding the box upright place the case inside.
When you've got the case inside the box, stuff packing material all around the case. I recommend using foam packing peanuts or bubble wrap for this part as newspaper may not have enough cushion. The key is to not allow the case to touch any part of the box. Make sure there is plenty of packing material at the top, then close the box tightly and seal it with shipping tape. It's very important to seal all the seams on the box and it's a good idea to double or triple up the taping job, better to use too much tape than not enough.
Now the bass has two layers of protection, the case with it's packing and the box with it's extra packing material insulation. Place several fragile stickers on the box or write in large letters, "fragile please handle with care" on every side. Make sure to leave space for the shipping label.
It's a good idea to insure the bass for at least $100 over its value. Insurance fees are small and paying an extra few bucks is well worth it if in the rare case something were to go horribly wrong. Always make sure to save the tracking number, as this can alleviate a lot of stress and frustration if the package is lost or late for delivery.
I strongly recommended that you use a well known shipping service like UPS or FedEx. I would avoiding the post office (USPS) as they charge extra for tracking numbers and have a less than stellar record for fast and reliable service.
Always check the "signature required" box on the shipping forms as some shippers will leave a box outside of a residence without that request! Be sure to send all tracking and shipping information to the buyer as soon as you can. This makes you look a lot more professional and allows the buyer to track the shipment and know when the bass will arrive. Follow these steps and that Fender bass should arrive safely and securely to it's new destination.