Flying w/ Acoustic

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by wpod, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. wpod

    wpod Member

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    I'm leaning more towards acoustic of late and want to fly my Yairi down to Baja.

    Any issues I should consider before doing so? Any suggestions for commercial flying? Of course will hope to take as carry on, but when I brought my elec. down had to check it in due to security concerns on either Delta or United...and expect to have to check in the acoustic as well. Any precautions or preparations I should do?

    :AOK Thanks in advance for the suggestions and insight...
     
  2. royd

    royd Member

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    There is a letter available on line from the FSA authorizing airlines to allow musical instruments onboard. Some airlines will let you while others won't. Just in case, the best case you can afford and carry is smart. Still, things happen. A friend of mine who tours constantly had one guitar disappear last year and his replacement took 3 extra days to show up after a more recent flight.
     
  3. suttree

    suttree Member

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    loosen the strings off (if you don't, the pressure differences can pull the top right off the guitar). get a good case. if this is going to be a regular occurance, get a calton (although this will be more than you probably paid for the yairi, or close). otherwise use a hardshell case, and tape the latches shut, and the case as well. i'd get a guitar box from a local music store and pack it all up for shipping, myself. and then pray that the baggage handlers are in a good mood. if you ask at the check in counter, there's at least a "special handling" cart that you can put your guitar on. then, whatever you do, don't watch them load your guitar on the plane, that way lies only heatbreak and sorrow.
     
  4. theraygun

    theraygun Member

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    I took an acoustic to Ukraine several years ago and had it checked. It was a beater guitar that I didn't care if it got jacked up, but it made the trip there and back perfectly. If you've got a solid hardshell case that fits the guitar exactly, you should be fine.
     
  5. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    I am not sure if they'll allow the guitar on the plane, so I would make sure you have a very good perfect fitting (or else padded) guitar case that wont allow the guitar to shift up down side ways diagonal or in the 4th dimension. Besides that loosening strings is a very good idea. Also if you have an end pin, make sure you pad it in such a way that the end pin wont be able to push in on the back.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Umm... with all due respect this is not true. A guitar is surrounded by a single air mass; there are no airtight cavities. If the air pressure changes, it changes in all directions over the entire instrument. There's no need to tape the case, either. If air pressure drops outside the case, you want the pressure inside the case to equalize.

    Some people loosen the strings because it takes tension off the headstock. In a case in which the headstock is properly braced, like a Calton, there's no need. I've been checking my guitar through in its Calton case for 7 years, always tuned to pitch. It's always arrived in tune.
     
  7. johneeeveee

    johneeeveee Member

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    All very true... nice post Michael. If your case is less than stellar (Calton's are built like tanks), loosening the strings might save a snapped neck if the case takes a fall, but that's the only possible advantage.

    I fly with my acoustic and always put it in the overhead (I fly SW airlines exclusively... they're great about it).

    Good luck - jv
     
  8. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I just got back from a two week trip with my Larrivee parlor guitar. I've flown with it several times before (usually Alaska down to Mexico) and never had issues having it on the plane as my personal item. This trip was on Delta, who are (apparently) notorious for how poorly they treat musicians.

    I had actually ordered a flight case for my Santa Cruz, but it did not arrive in time for the trip. I wanted to take a guitar, so the only choice was the Larrivee in its gig bag ($300 new several years ago). I was hoping that it would be allowed on the plane with me, but was skeptical given the recent restrictions on carry-on luggage. At the worst, I thought they would let me gate-check the guitar. It turns out that Delta would not let me gate-check the instrument, so it made the first leg of the flight in its gig bag with a fragile sticker on it. I was pleased that it arrived without a snapped off neck, but the guitar did take a blow to the body, which cracked the top and bent in the side a bit.

    I had a several day stop-over before the next leg of the flight and was able to get a shipping box for the guitar. From there on out I just checked the guitar as luggage, though I still had to sign a waiver stating that I wouldn't blame Delta for any damage to the instrument.

    Moral of the story: be sure of the airline's policy regarding instruments and prepare for the worst. Flight cases are your friend.

    Bryan
     
  9. suttree

    suttree Member

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    i'll take back the pressure thing, but the lower tension has been repeatedly advised to me by hundreds of flying musicians, so i've always done it. i had assumed it was a pressure thing, but it turns out it was indeed to lower the tension on the bridge and headstock while it's being banged around.

    the taping of the latches though, isn't because i thought the guitar would blow up. it's because the latches have a tendency to snag on other pieces of luggage and get popped open (a very, very bad thing).
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Hundreds of flying musicians, huh?

    Anyway, the headstock could be a problem because structurally it's one of the weakest points on the guitar, and strings pull with quite a bit of tension. But the bridge is not under the same stress. I loosen strings when I'm packing a guitar to ship it in anything less than a custom fitted flight case.

    I've never heard of anyone taping the latches before. The odds of all four or five latches catching on different pieces of luggage during a single flight are pretty slim, but if taping them eases the fear of your guitar spilling out onto the tarmac, by all means you should do it. For that matter you should probably tape every latch on every piece of luggage, no?
     
  11. suttree

    suttree Member

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    what's yer point? yes. hundreds. i've talked in person to thousands upon thousands of musicians over my life. not even on the infoweb, tyvm.

    um. the bridge is under the exact same tension as the headstock, as it supports the exact same strings. it may be better braced though.

    i've flown and had 2 of four latches open when i got to the destination. that was enough to convince me that i wasn't playing the odds...
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I apologize, that was pretty rude. My only defense is that I was very tired, but really it's inexcuseable.

    It's the same amount of tension in total pounds, but not the same structural stress, which is what I said. Not to nit-pick, but it's not really about bracing, it's that the tension is distributed differently. A guitar has to be pretty badly smacked for a bridge to break, headstocks tend to snap more frequently.
     
  13. suttree

    suttree Member

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    hmm. i posted a response, but it got lost?

    micheal, no worries. god knows i have my moments... more than most.

    in any case, the loosening of the strings seems a pretty easy precaution.
     
  14. usc96

    usc96 Member

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    I am flying this week to Denver, and I told my assistant not to book with Delta for this very reason.
     
  15. jpfeiff

    jpfeiff Member

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    My understanding on this always had more to do with temperature than pressure. The luggage compartment is usually colder at 30,000 feet than the passenger area. As the strings contract in the cold, they essentially tune themselves higher than they should be, putting undo tension on the neck and bridge....is this a myth?

    Anyhow, I have flown many times with my guitar and usually succeed in getting it on board in an overhead bin--a standard dread fits almost always. Otherwise, gate checking is the next best option. Just walk away with your guitar in hand if they tell you at the desk that you can't gate check it--YOU CAN! I have done this before and it works. I will admit, though that I always leave the Santa Cruz at home and opt for flying with my old Takamine just in case....
     
  16. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    >> My understanding on this always had more to do with temperature than pressure. The luggage compartment is usually colder at 30,000 feet than the passenger area. As the strings contract in the cold, they essentially tune themselves higher than they should be, putting undo tension on the neck and bridge....

    Put it this way: on what is "your understanding" based? Not meaning to be rude, but seriously. If it's what you read on the internet, is the determination to be by democratic process, i.e. by plurality? If more people say it's true than false, is that what passes for knowledge?

    >> is this a myth?

    Yes it's a myth. Show me one person who can demonstrate that this ever happened; whose guitar was packed in a Calton custom fit flight case (only as an example of proveably correct support and cushioning), tuned to concert pitch, and the neck or headstock broke or "the top pulled right off" because the strings contracted so much. Headstocks and necks break from poor packing all the time, but no one likes to blame themselves.

    Try this experiment at home. I guarantee it will not hurt your guitar: overtighten your strings by hand, moving along one by one, turning the key a quarter turn each time. Keep going. Don't stop.

    What happens?

    >> Just walk away with your guitar in hand if they tell you at the desk that you can't gate check it--YOU CAN!

    I admire your gumption, but what did you do about your ticket?
     
  17. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Personally, it was the security guards that turned me back and told me I could not gate check the guitar, not the folks at the check-in desk.

    Bryan
     
  18. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    FWIW Delta's policy on musical instruments states rather bluntly that most guitars are not within the size parameters for carry-on items.

    There are always ifs, maybes, possiblys, could bes, etc. when it comes to this. Why mess with it? I see no reason other than money not to buy a good flight case and check it through. And if money is the issue, look at it this way: it's cheaper than replacing it after it gets busted up... as a friend of mine recently discovered (who now blames Delta for the damage because they gate-checked his gig bag).

    If the cost of a flight case is prohibitive, don't fly with the guitar... because you sure as hell can't afford to replace it, either.
     
  19. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    As has happened to me, too. It depends on the airport. What are you gonna say, "They let me bring it through in Cleveland?"
     
  20. royd

    royd Member

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    The security guards are FSA employees. Show them a copy of the FSA directive regarding musical instruments. You still may not get the guitar on the plane, but it should get you at least to the gate.
     

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