Musicians are typically on-the-go and always ready to perform in a new. Tours and travel are how many musicians make money, particularly before they release an album. However, traveling as a music-maker is not as glamorous as it seems, especially if you’re just starting out.
Traveling with Musical Equipment
With making amazing music comes large pieces of sound equipment and multiple instruments to take care of. If you are an aspiring traveling musician, here a few tips to keep in mind if you want to make sure your equipment arrives safely and efficiently to every gig.
1 – Take Extra Care with Drums
Whether you’re flying or traveling down the open road, packing up a drum set is no simple feat. There are lots of moving pieces, some more delicate than others, that make up a full drum kit. You can find “travel” drum kits online, but if you bring along your irreplaceable Tama Starclassic full set, you can’t risk any potential damage.
It’s tedious, but you should pack each drumhead in its own case to prevent colliding and minimize the risk of cracks or tears. You can often find trunks designed to hold your drums, as well.
2 – Get the Right Case for Your Guitar
Whether you have an acoustic, electric, or bass guitar, each one has its own shape, from the body to the neck. Most guitars have cases designed specifically for its size and weight. Even if your acoustic fits in your old bass guitar case, don’t put it in this case.
Make sure your case is secure and padded, too, particularly for air travel. If you can’t take it on as a carry-on, you want it to be as protected as possible. Consider whether a hard case or a “gig case” will be better for your travel option.
3 – Loosen the Strings
This one is for basses, guitars, violins, and other string instruments: if you’re flying or riding in a tightly packed vehicle, consider detuning your instrument before you pack it up. Loosening the strings will prevent possible snapping or strain from changes in pressure and temperature, particularly when it comes to commercial airlines.
4 – If It’s Big, Get a Seat
For the classical musicians out there, if you play a large instrument like a cello or harp, many airlines or public transportation options allow you to buy a seat for it. Since some travel agencies consider them to be carry-on items, a larger piece won’t fit in the typical carry-on storage areas. Buying a seat allows you to keep a close eye on it, too.
5 – If It’s Wooden, Try a Humidifier
Humidity during travel is inevitable, especially in luggage compartments. If you have something made of wood, consider placing a humidifier in the case with it to regulate the moisture and prevent warping. Smaller humidifiers for cases are easy to find and can fit in most luggage, including instrument cases.
6 – Insure Everything
No matter what type of music or instrument you play, if you’re traveling in any sort of public transport, get every instrument insured. If there is any damage or worse, stolen property, having your gear insured will help you repair or buy new equipment as fast as possible.
Do what you can to prevent these things, but accidents happen, so it’s best to be prepared with insurance.
Most people that play music are extra devoted to their instrument, so keeping your gear safe during travel is incredibly important.
With these tips and some extra care, you can rest assured that both you and your equipment will make it safely to your next destination.
The TSA has a page dedicated to traveling with musical equipment: TSA Travel Tips: Traveling With Musical Instruments that everyone that plans to travel with their equipment should read.