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Old 12-21-2017, 02:22 PM
jdl jdl is offline
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Default Shipping a Mandolin

I did a quick search and didn't find an answer, so here goes: What is the best method to ship a mandolin? I just sold mine to someone in Vermont. How can I protect it from the cold? How do I pack it? Do I loosen strings? Paper next to the headstock?

Any suggestions are welcome.
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Old 12-21-2017, 02:52 PM
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devellis devellis is offline
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Perhaps most important is packing tightly-wadded paper behind the headstock in the case. Trying to maintain temperature during shipment is pretty much a waste of time. The recipient should know enough to let the package acclimate to room temperature before opening it. Tell him or her as much.

It's a good idea to also put wadded paper on either side of the bridge, under the strings. If there is enough force to transfer through the box and case, I don't want it all to come down on the bridge. I like the area around the bridge to carry that force, as well. Of course, ideally, that force shouldn't get through the box and case, but better safe than sorry if the box is dropped or if it's piled under something heavy.

For instruments with delicate finishes, I'll wrap the instrument in tissue so that no other packing material comes in contact with the finish. Except for vintage stuff, that probably isn't necessary, though.

Beyond that, it's pretty much standard packing procedures -- enough padding to keep the mandolin from moving around in the case and enough to keep the case from moving around in the shipping carton. When I pack stuff, I pick the packed box up and give it a shake. I don't want any signs of anything shifting around.

The one other thing you can do is opt for faster shipping. I really worry during the time an instrument is in transit, perhaps even more so when I'm the shipper rather than the receiver. Upgrading to faster shipping buys some peace of mind. And at this time of year, shipping can take a lot longer than planned.

Although we all worry and precaution is worthwhile, the vast majority of instruments make it to their destinations unscathed. I hope that's the case for you.
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Old 12-21-2017, 08:44 PM
baimo baimo is offline
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If you look at Q&A section of Froggy Bottom Guitars he shows requirements for returning guitar to shop for repair or whatever. They are in Northern VT and I know he feels strongly the FedEx is better up there and that peanuts are helpful in protecting the instrument and help with insulation. If it is an expensive mandolin I would personally ship it overnight. This time of year VT can get very cold days and nights. If that does not help, you might try and speak with a mandolin store that ships all over. I think Jon at MFG has a Mandolin section so he might be able to help.
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Old 12-21-2017, 09:15 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdl View Post
I did a quick search and didn't find an answer, so here goes: What is the best method to ship a mandolin? I just sold mine to someone in Vermont. How can I protect it from the cold? How do I pack it? Do I loosen strings? Paper next to the headstock?

Any suggestions are welcome.
Joel, I hope you haven't shipped that mandolin yet, because from what I can tell, no one in this thread so far has mentioned the single most important difference between shipping a mandolin versus shipping a guitar: the issue of the movable bridge. You do NOT want to ship an archtop mandolin with its bridge in place, because if you do you're basically providing lackadaisical shipping companies with a perfect way to break the top: if the bridge is in place and that bridge area gets hit with any force at all during shipment, that's the easiest way that there is to destroy the instrument.

If it's a flattop mandolin with a fixed bridge, that's a different story, and padding around it like Bob suggested will be adequate. But the construction of archtop mandolins and the "taterbug" Neapolitan-style mandolins that preceded them means that they're especially vulnerable right there at the bridge.

So what I do when I have to ship a mandolin is first take some low tack painter's masking tape and place strips of it on the mandolin top around around the edges of the bridge. Then I loosen the strings and remove the bridge, wrap it with a rubber band or something similar to keep the top, foot and thumbscrews from falling away from each other, then tuck that into the case pocket. I usually place all of the bridge assembly into a little plastic bag, as well, just to keep it all together.

Then I proceed to pack the mandolin in its case and into its shipping box just as though I was packing a guitar for shipment. None of the rest of the process is any different.

Something that you should make a point to tell the buyer is that, while the bridge placement you've indicated with the strips of tape on the top is accurate and correctly intonated for your area, that can easily shift with any significant change in climate or temperature. So your bridge placement might or might not be accurate once it gets to the buyer's house.

The height of the bridge makes a difference to the intonation of the mandolin, as well, and that will vary by local climatic conditions, as well. Make certain that aspect is understood, as well.

Back when I was still using a wooden archtop mandolin for performance, (before I helped design the National RM-1 resonator mandolin I now use,) I used to have to get my mandolin bridge professionally intonated twice a year: when the snow was on the ground to stay, and when the snow was off the ground to stay. Doing it myself I can get my mandolin bridges in where they need to go, but everything about the mandolin as a musical instrument is so miniaturized that if I wanted absolutely spot-on accurate intonation for my stage mandolin - which I did and do - it made more sense to pay my guitar repairman to do the work. Because he could achieve a level of precision that I could not and cannot.

So stress that in your communications with the buyer, or else once it gets there and changes with the local conditions, you might have an irate individual on your hands who thinks you sold him a defective mandolin. Mandolins are one of those instruments, like 5 string banjo, where a proper set up is absolutely critical to making them work properly.

And because their tops can and will rise and fall with the seasons and the humidity levels, those setups have to be repeated on a regular basis. I got away with having it done every six months, and counted myself lucky to only have to deal with it that often.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2017, 09:26 PM
Hoyt Hoyt is offline
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Do what WHM said. Itís how folks like Elderly, etc., ship mandos.
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Old 12-27-2017, 04:17 PM
jdl jdl is offline
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Thanks all. Thanks Wade for the detailed instructions. I would not have thought of much of what you suggest. I haven't shipped it yet, so I have time to do it right.
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