Shipping musical instruments by courier can be a very simple or complicated logistic operation with an unpredictable finale. Everything depends on the instrument size – the bigger the instrument, the more trouble. The other important factor is the price of the instrument being sent – cheaper items travel in courier parcels.
Shipment of a musical instrument can be as complicated as the transport of works of art, as some instruments are actually works of art – priceless antiques that are much more than 100 years old. The most well-known ones are the famous violins by Antonius Stradivarius, but there are also many priceless pianos, cellos, as well as a lot of iconic trumpets, saxophones and electric guitars. Despite their age, they are still in use and therefore have to travel. However, unlike other instruments which travel in courier parcels to the next concert location, these old and valuable instruments are shipped in this way only in exceptional cases.
Grand piano, or elephant
The grand piano in the world of musical instruments is kind of an elephant in the animal world. However, still there are larger examples in both worlds, e.g. whales or an organ, but they usually do not travel. At least not in one piece. That is why elephant and grand piano transport is the top logistical achievement in the musical and zoological community. Requirements during transport of both giants are very similar. Both elephants and pianos are very vulnerable. They tolerate badly even the smallest impacts, violent braking or any movement of their package in the cargo area, which should ensure a reduction in vibration levels.
The delicate wood of the case and many other parts of a grand piano react very badly to the increased humidity – if it occurs with high temperatures, it can cause permanent damage to the instrument. So strict control of humidity and temperature is a must. The true challenge is not only the piano transport itself, but most of all its handling, including taking the instrument out of the building. Transporting a grand piano on your own is practically impossible – it should be undertaken by professionals having experience in transport as well as knowledge of musical instruments.
Middle- and lightweight travels in cases
All instruments smaller than a grand piano, including dozens of various electronic instruments, travel in the so-called flight cases. The characteristic black boxes on wheels, with aluminium profile system on the edges of the case, are known to everyone who has ever been to any concert in their life. These durable, easy-to-use cases, which protect musical instruments during air transport, were developed for the purposes of the rock music concert logistics.
Flight cases are boxes of various sizes made of waterproof phenol plywood, forged on all edges and corners. They often have wheels and solid locks. They have got rubber, foam or sponge inserts and linings for shock absorption to ensure the safe transportation of even delicate electronic instruments.
Flight cases are tailor-made packaging: they are made as a container for a specific instrument. Their construction excludes the need for any additional fillers, taping, or wrapping. Just as they are, they protect not only against shocks and mechanical damage, but also against temperature changes and other weather conditions. This is by far the best and safest method of transport for musical instruments.