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Thread: The shipping problem

  1. #1
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    Default The shipping problem

    I just read in another thread that a fellow scheduled a re-fret and set-up with an out of town luthier, boxed the instrument up, and then cancelled the job when UPS quoted him $400 to insure the package.

    Also, I shipped an old, lightweight hard shell guitar case from Tennessee to California earlier this year. UPS wanted about $125 to ship it the slow way. 3 day shipping would have cost another $100. I ended up shipping it by the Postal Service for $105, also the slow way. It took over 2 weeks for the package to arrive at its destination.

    I cringe when I think about the cost of safely shipping a valuable instrument these days.

    And I don't fly anymore, but if I did, the problems of carrying an instrument, especially a larger instrument like a guitar on the airlines are well known.

    It seems to me that there is an opportunity here for someone to establish a courier service for musical instruments and other fragile items. It would require a clever plan to keep such a service affordable, but I think it could be managed if there were enough customers to maintain a good volume of shipments. Perhaps a way to keep costs down would be to maintain a storefront in cities over a certain size where the customers could drop off and pick up their shipments. A few generations ago, this sort of thing was done at railroad stations.

    Or maybe this is just an impossible pipe dream. But I'll put the idea out there anyway.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Here in the Southern hemisphere, a mandolin which once cost $100 to ship from USA, is now $400 via UPS.

    That's more than half the price of of a person!

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  4. #3

    Default Re: The shipping problem

    The whole shipping situation is out of control not only for musical instruments but pretty much everything. Now with inflation coming back along with higher fuel costs it’ll all go up again. This was the initial excuse for the hi price increase in shipping years ago but as always when fuel went down the costs stayed hi. Also, when something is broken, such as the neck on my old fender concertone there seems to be no responsibility even though they shipped and packed. When they break something they don’t even refund the hundreds of dollars in shipping costs let alone pay for the insured damage. I sold a mandolin a couple years ago and shipped from Knoxville to California. Over 300.00 ups! With my last item I was informed that, in my words after decoding their jargon, is that tracking information is really just a pacifier for customers and really isn’t reliable. If I was to purchase an instrument today for any hi amount I’d just have to go pick it up.

  5. #4
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I have shipped quite a few instruments lately. The costs keep getting higher. The boxes I've received from customers look like they have been dropped numerous times as well. It's a shame.

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Were you referring to UPS or were you dealing with one of the UPS stores? My understanding, and I could very well be mistaken, is a UPS store is a franchisee. So they set their own rates for boxes, packaging, etc. I have found they are way out of line that way. (Again, my opinion based on shipping some wood working gifts to family).
    I have a small local independent shipping outfit I use that offers not only standard UPS (which I have no problem with) as well as FedEx, etc.
    The last mandolin I bought through the classifieds the seller was quoted a ridiculous price from UPS store, enough that I was ready to cancel the sale. She went back and was given a MUCH better price and thankfully I got my Mid-Mo that I enjoy to this day.
    That was three years ago and I fully agree things have gotten really crazy when it comes to shipping these days.
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I haven't shipped anything in a while, but the last time I did was through Ebay for an instrument I sold. At the time the shipping cost was much less than going directly to a UPS or FEDEX store. Of course you have to pay the Ebay listing and commission fees, so maybe it all balances out. Just idle speculation.
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I haven't had to ship an instrument in a while but my feeling was always the less time it was in transit the better chance it had of arriving unharmed. With that said I have been ordering items that are steel and cast iron for the last few months. None, and I mean none have arrived undamaged the first time. If a carrier can't handle a 42 pound piece of cast iron in a box I'm pretty sure a musical instrument doesn't stand much of a chance these days.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I'm based in UK and work for a small USA-based international engineering and manufacturing (of our own proprietary products) business.
    We have additional facilities in Ireland and the Middle East.

    I'm sorry to say that we are seeing commodity and finished material costs going up all over, and not by small percentages.
    This goes hand-in-hand, of course, with longer lead times and higher shipping costs.
    Bren

  11. #9

    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I just shipped a mandolin overnight air for $140. Insurance cost another $30. USPS.

    I had a mando shipped to me overnight air last December. UPS. $150 insured. Lucky I guess.
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  13. #10
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    weight, distance, box size, carrier, insurance or no... everything will make a difference in shipping cost. in general I have found that overnight shipping by USPS will cost about one-third or less price of UPS or FEDEX. they can all do well and they can all screw up your delivery and/or instrument. it's the risk you run...

    shipping costs and new laws regarding states collecting sales tax on out-of-state purchases has made things much tougher on sellers and purchasers. a drag...

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  15. #11
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I have used the USPS to ship a mandolin to Ireland safely (2 yrs ago) and several times back and forth to Lou Stiver as well as nearby here in CA. Not one problem and prices in all but the overseas job were under $200 each way for shipping and ins.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Use USPS! Thats what I use all the time "I live in a pretty small town in the sticks so to speak!" and have yet to have a problem, well a check never showed up from me in PA to California so I had to send another one, and I shipped a 24 Tenor Lute on Mon, the new owner was supposed to get it on Thursday in TN but it arrived Sat. Stuff does take longer and prices are up a bit but I've never had any damage occur using USPS and I never insure anything-it goes to the adage of prove what its worth if you don't already have the instrument insured! Chance I take and so far knock on some wood as I sometimes ship high priced instruments!

    Word of the wise as I've shipped 100's of instruments through the years, use the right size box and shipping will not be too much! Like don't use a guitar box to ship a mandolin in say a shaped case! I use boxes just a bit bigger so I can pack all around said instrument/case. Now guitars and say banjers are heavy so expect a high shipping cost due to weight and size! Also depending on where you ship, the different Zones can get you like me shipping out West-Alaska etc.!

  17. #13
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    Here in the Southern hemisphere, a mandolin which once cost $100 to ship from USA, is now $400 via UPS.

    That's more than half the price of of a person!
    But isn’t slavery outlawed now?

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  19. #14
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I orderd some parts for my pedal steel guitar last summer, the only supplier is in Canada, and he shipped them to me within 4 hours, after which it sat in customs in Chicago for a little over 2 months. So 10 weeks total to get to me!!
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  20. #15
    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It seems to me that there is an opportunity here for someone to establish a courier service for musical instruments and other fragile items. It would require a clever plan to keep such a service affordable, but I think it could be managed if there were enough customers to maintain a good volume of shipments. Perhaps a way to keep costs down would be to maintain a storefront in cities over a certain size where the customers could drop off and pick up their shipments. A few generations ago, this sort of thing was done at railroad stations.

    Or maybe this is just an impossible pipe dream. But I'll put the idea out there anyway.
    There is a company called ShipGuitars.com that is similar to what you describe. I've not used them before so I'm not sure what the benefits are by using them. I do know that they contract with UPS to do the actual shipping. Here is the link to their website: https://shipguitars.com

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  22. #16
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    There is a company called ShipGuitars.com that is similar to what you describe. I've not used them before so I'm not sure what the benefits are by using them. I do know that they contract with UPS to do the actual shipping. Here is the link to their website: https://shipguitars.com
    I’ve used them twice for guitars (all in the past year) and once for a non-guitar item (large canvas art) and they were significantly cheaper than going directly thru USPS/UPS/FEDEX and I had no issues. The rates seemed comparable or maybe even a little less than the reduced rate you get when you get a ship.label directly from Reverb.

  23. #17
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Needed to ship something I sold from western NY to California a short time ago. Took it to USPS, UPS and Fedex. The difference in price was way crazier than I expected. Fedex was lowest by quite a bit AND apparently if you have an "account" with them the rates are quite a bit lower than walk in rates. I do not know what "opening an account" entails but it may be worth it if you ship more than I do.

  24. #18
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    There is an outfit called uship.com where you post your shipping need and different providers bid to meet it. My daughter and son-in-law got involved with this a number of years ago when they carried a puppy to Chicago as a way to finance a cross country trip. Musicians serving other musicians in this manner could potentially be an idea.

  25. #19

    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I had a violin shipped to me 2 weeks ago, CT to WA. The local UPS store quoted $220 to ship the box, violin and case. I have a UPS Account. I had the client send me the measurements and weight. It cost the shop $58.40. I told her that in my next life, I am going to skip the luthier thing and just own a UPS/FedEx Store.

  26. #20
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    I pack everything myself and use my UPS account to keep costs down, and since instruments come and go all the time, there are usually boxes and packing material that I can reuse. I did just finally break down and order 5 guitar boxes from Staples, which cost $33. (Come to think of it, those were supposed to be delivered on Wednesday and they ain't here yet.)

    Bought a mando on eBay last week and the genius seller charged me $30 for shipping ... when it came to actually shipping it, though, he ended up paying more like $80. With some sellers I've been able to save money by just generating a UPS label myself and emailing it to them.

    Anyway, UPS doesn't "insure" anything; you can declare an item's value and they'll charge you more to ship it, but they will be looking to cover their own behinds if something should happen and you should file a claim. Someone once advised me to put everything on a real instrument insurance policy, like Clarion or Heritage, and let those agencies handle any shipping damage that occurs. I haven't done that yet, because it's a pain adding and subtracting instruments from my Heritage policy, but it sounds like good advice and perhaps I should take it.
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  27. #21
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: The shipping problem

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Anyway, UPS doesn't "insure" anything; you can declare an item's value and they'll charge you more to ship it, but they will be looking to cover their own behinds if something should happen and you should file a claim. Someone once advised me to put everything on a real instrument insurance policy, like Clarion or Heritage, and let those agencies handle any shipping damage that occurs. I haven't done that yet, because it's a pain adding and subtracting instruments from my Heritage policy, but it sounds like good advice and perhaps I should take it.
    Definitely don't waste your money on the carrier's insurance. A policy with Heritage or Clarion is as close to real coverage as you're gonna get. I've found adding & deleting instruments to be pretty easy with Heritage. I've never had a claim but I understand they're responsive. Personally, I've only had one incident in many, many transactions, and UPS hosed me Luckily it was only a couple hundred bucks but Heritage policies are cheap & even a couple Benjis still chaps my hide That's only my personal opinion & is is not meant as an endorsement or recommendation of coverage.

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