How to safely ship a bano is important stuff! Whether you are shipping a banjo to our shop for repair or setup (a popular alternative for those who live in an area of the country where banjo repair people are non existent) or shipping a banjo to someone as a gift, it is very important to know how to package and pack a banjo so it arrives safely.
Start by slacking the tension on the strings, but not all the way. Remove the bridge or lay it down face down on the banjo head and allow the remaining tension of the strings hold it in place safely. Place the resonator (if your banjo has one) in the case and fill it with loosely crumpled newspaper or other packing material that will attenuate but not over-stuff the resonator. The idea is to make it difficult for the resonator to move should an impact occur. Replace the thumb screws and make them tight, but not too tight. The idea is to allow them to keep the resonator from moving, which can cause damage.
Now, place the banjo into the case. Begin by wrapping the headstock so that it can’t move from side to side or up and down ways in the case. Again, the idea is to prevent abrupt movement of the neck should the box in which the banjo is being shipped be dropped. **I do not recommend shipping a banjo without having a hard shell case** Now, begin carefully stuffing newspaper or bubble wrap in the remaining voids around the neck and the resonator and heel of the banjo. The tighter you can make the banjo fit within the case without forcing the neck into a bent or unnatural position the better. If the lid of the case doesn’t protest at least a little, the banjo may not be sufficiently snug. With that in mind, don’t pack the banjo to the point that it requires brute force to close and secure the case latches. Firm, not stuffed!
The box you use the ship the banjo in should allow room around the case of the banjo to pack material around the case on the bottom, the top and both sides of the banjo case. Checking with music stores in your area for boxes of the correct size is a good idea.
After filling the box with the packing material you should tape the box closed with wide box tape sold nearly anywhere. Be sure to label it and insure the package for the correct amount. Some fragile stickers and you should be good to go.
Most carriers will suggest the you print one additional label that should be placed inside the banjo case. The idea is that should the label on the outside of the box be damaged, the carrier will open the box to check for information that will allow them to still get it to the destination.
Please remember that the humans in the chain between the time it leaves your hands and the time it arrives at the destination are only… human. Prepare your package as if at least one or two humans handling the banjo will be having a bad say, and that’s the best you can do.
I NEVER recommend that you ship any musical instrument through the United States Postal Service. Use UPS or FedEx please… I’ve dozens of reasons not to trust the post office over the past 25 years.
I hope this was helpful and thanks for reading.