Loosen strings before shipping?

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by goldTopDeluxe, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Synchromatic

    Mar 20, 2010
    We have had better success with full tension. Shipping without any tension in various temperatures and humidity levels allow the neck to move in any direction, not only back bow, up bow, but side to side, which is difficult to correct. Above all, the neck must be supported to maintain alignment. We would prefer to ship in a hard case, with humidipaks so that the humidity fluctuation can be minimized.

    We have also received new guitars from various regions without any tension, some were unplayable. If we compared the under tension, versus no tension, the under tension tends to survive. If you feel that you are shipping to a high temperature/high humidity region, you could back the tension down by 1/2 step.
    Groutsch likes this.
  2. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    You know, Radd, I don’t even notice or think about that little blemish under the Bigsby. The guitar arrived in fine condition due to your excellent packing. I had to really look closely to even see any scratches. I play it every day. It is the best guitar I’ve ever owned, or ever hope to own.
    radd likes this.
  3. postbopordie

    postbopordie Electromatic

    Aug 15, 2018
    Smithfield, RI
    Great topic and SOOO important in this era of buying a guitar at a distance. I am NOT with the 'expert' who says leave full tension on, at this time. (BTW - There are quite a few customers online talking about receiving Larrivee guitars with broken headstocks, shipped at full tension. ) Lately I have been shipping and receiving with strings off or detuned. That said....the headstock area must be packed snugly with packing material to prevent movement. The guitar should not be able to move in the case AND the case should not be able to move in the box. If a guitar box, on end, falls over, would you rather have the string tension on or off and headstock area packed snugly? So what I feel is most important is the packing, rather than the strings on or off or detuned. If detuned, packing sheet between strings and fretboard is a must....bridge wrapped safely in pocket. ALso I always put a couple inches of bubble wrap or similar in the butt end of the box, becasue handlers often 'bounce' a box. Just received a 56 Gibson L5 yesterday with strings detuned completely and bridge in pocket.....arrived PERFECTLY.
  4. hogrider16

    hogrider16 Gretschie

    Oct 18, 2017
    charles town wv
    That's rough!

    I once shipped a keyboard. I packed in a box with extra cardboard, then packed that box into a second box surrounded with bubble wrap. It showed up to the buyer and the plastic frame was broken. That HAD to have been intentional damage. That thing was packed to survive a lunar landing.
  5. 6stings

    6stings Friend of Fred

    Aug 14, 2010
    If you ship it in the case, nothing to worry about.
    I bought many guitars from many countries over the years, nothing bad had ever happened. One hollow body Gibson was shipped from US to Norway in a thin gigbag! Arrived just fine.
  6. KennyC

    KennyC Electromatic

    Aug 28, 2020
    Morristown, TN
    Here is a story/info that was posted by Paul Yandell in his FAQ which covers this topic.

    On The Road. Equipment Care

    Chet and I never loosened our strings on our guitars when we traveled. I really don't think that makes any difference. About the only thing that happens is that your guitar gets cold from flying so high. We had special travel cases made by a fellow here in Nashville they are about 8 inches thick and have heavy foam linings. I guess we flew a million miles and I only had one incident. On the other hand our amps keep getting beat up all the time.

    People talk about ‘dings’ you get on guitars as you own them or even how they come from factories. You should see the guitars Chet and I played on the road…dings everywhere! It's really hard for a guitar company to ship them without something happening to them. I don't know how many guitars I saw at Gibson come back from the dealers with the necks broken at the nut. It happens…

    A Country Gentleman is too big to get in the overhang. Some airlines wouldn't even let us take Chet's fiddle on board. Some people claim Chet paid for an additional passenger and put the guitar in the seat next to him. According to the story, he was tired of them being stolen. Well, he never did that while I was with him and I worked for him for 24 years. First of all, it cost too much and Chet doesn't like to waste money. Secondly there wasn't any need to because we had travel cases that could handle the airlines and also Randy Hauser our drummer hand carried Chet's nylon string on the plane and put it in the overhead.

    When I first started working with Chet, in 1975 he was playing the Gretsch ’59 Country Gentleman. A number of times when he or I would open his case at the gig the bridge would have fallen over. We would just push it back up and Chet would set the intonation by ear. Later we had those heavy cases made for them so the guitars rode well. Pinning the bridges helped immensely.

    The last ten years or so I had a gig bag for my guitar and I carried it on the plane. I used a Reunion Blues gig bag.

    There wasn't any point in Chet using a gig bag. I carried my guitar on board mainly because we had so much luggage to carry, about 12 pieces or so, and with a gig bag I could take my guitar to the hotel so I could practice

    We carried our own amps and we had special cases made for them but every time we would go to CA. the planes would bust a speaker or the transformer in Chet’s amp would come loose. Many times I had to put his or my amps back together so we could do the show.
  7. Wjensen

    Wjensen Gretschie

    May 25, 2019
    Raleigh, NC
    It is anecdotal of course, but a certain music store has shipped my two guitars, both of them fully in tune, and intonation. For electric guitars, this makes sense to me. Nylon string guitars may be different because they don't have truss rods.

    Pre covid, I went to lessons once a week with a fully tuned guitar. Of course, when I got there, I had to tweak the tuning a bit. But the advice to detune if traveling seems to have been over the top.
    Gretschmen65 likes this.
  8. amills2

    amills2 Newbie

    Jan 3, 2018

    This is coming from years of experience at one of the top vintage shops in the world. We ship hundreds of guitars, and buy just as many. I can't tell you how many times we've received instruments fully tuned up, and in most cases with some damage.

    There is an enormous amount of tension on a guitar when it is in tune. If the case or instrument takes a hit you risk breaking the headstock, the neck, the bridge, the top, if it's a flat top the bridge could rip off, etc etc. Detune the guitar fully, place a strip of cardboard on the length of the neck under the strings. If it takes a hit it could also potentially cause dents int he frets. If the instrument has a floating bridge, remove the bridge, wrap it in bubble wrap and place it in the case pocket.

    Make sure the guitar is packed tightly in the case so it can not bang around, then also wrap the guitar in bubble wrap.

    PLEASE DETUNE IT. I don't know how this isn't common sense.
  9. bigjohnbates

    bigjohnbates Electromatic

    Jun 15, 2011
    I have shipped guitars on tour so many times ... generally modern guitars ... I have loosened the strings a few times. One of those times I wound up with a broken neck on a '61 Clipper. I don't bother any longer. I see the usefulness of the comment above mine - I just don't buy it for most modern instruments. But I'm not a salesperson. Maybe dropping to about D .... I dunno. It depends who wants to play baseball with it on the tarmac.
  10. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    You got very lucky with that gigbag shipment!
  11. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    I usually ship a guitar with the strings tuned way down to relieve some stress on the neck. And I always put a piece of cardboard between strings and frets. (I saw frets heavily indented by strings during a rough transport.)
    Dave Murray likes this.
  12. goldTopDeluxe

    goldTopDeluxe Electromatic

    Aug 25, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thank you for all the replies.. looks like there is no clear cut right/wrong answer. I'm expecting a vintage piece to arrive soon. Seller ended up with removing the strings and bridge. Given its floating, I think it makes sense to do so in case it gets knocked about. Fingers crossed it arrives safely. In the hands of the Gods now...
    Dave Murray likes this.
  13. Dave Murray

    Dave Murray Electromatic

    Feb 27, 2016
    Indio, CA
    Humm . . . interesting. I never knew the machine heads and the headstock were the "heaviest parts of the guitar". Tell that to the body of my Les Paul, which I have told to immediately lose weight. I'm still trying to figure out what is meant by " . . . the string tension from proper tuning serves to counteract the stresses these parts place on the instrument." So I told the bridge to just lay low and keep quiet.
  14. goldTopDeluxe

    goldTopDeluxe Electromatic

    Aug 25, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Okay.. so this arrived safely in perfect condition from Tokyo today. This seller did a stellar job packing it. Was in transit for 6 days. Bridge was removed and tailpiece carefully padded and wrapped for protection. Neck looks sturdy as and no sign of warping.


    Below is a quick photo with my 1964 Firebird on the left. This one is four years older.


    I haven't had time to even string her up and put the bridge in place.. I still have a couple of work meetings to get through.. I'm completely giddy with excitement.
  15. Scott Fraser

    Scott Fraser Country Gent

    Jan 14, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I don't have a dog in this fight, but that statement does come from a maker of acoustic guitars, so in their world it's a correct observation.
    j.s.c likes this.
  16. Dave Murray

    Dave Murray Electromatic

    Feb 27, 2016
    Indio, CA
    . . . . and the moon is made of green cheese.
  17. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Congrats goldTopDeluxe!

    Gorgeous Jet that sir,as is your double cut.:cool:
    goldTopDeluxe likes this.
  18. amills2

    amills2 Newbie

    Jan 3, 2018
    A banjo received shipped at full tension. Dont need to say much more

    Attached Files:

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