Greets friends! I am writing here from Mexico City’s Four Seasons hotel. No, I’m not on tour, unfortunately – I am here for a family affair, but man it is nice to live like a king here for a few days.
So, with all the sites and magic of Mexico City what have I done all day? Sheddedguitar in my hotel room. 🙂
Since my last post regarding my mini tour in PA, I have purchased 2 pieces of equipment for touring – Case Extreme road / flight case (https://www.casextreme.com) and a second Taylor 314-CE as a backup guitar.
Id like to tell you about this extrordinary case (guitar post coming).
Everyone will tell you something different about traveling with a guitar and airlines.The truth of the matter is that it is anybody’s guess as to whether you’ll get the axe onto the flight or not. And many guitars have gotten destroyed or seriously messed up on flights.
Each airline has diffferent policies. Furthermore, the same airline can change policies depending on what side of the bed the gate person woke up on. The TSA issued a letter that instruments should be let on – but it is the wild west once it’s you, the gate person and the plane.
If you are traveling with a solidbody or small archtop, bring it in a SOFT case- it will fit in the overhead just fine.
Many people will tell you that gate checking is fine, and I have never done it. If you gate check, it will get handled more nicely (you hope) but if your flight is turbulent, who knows what will go on during the ride?
Also I keep hearing guitarists say “I get the axe on, no problem”. Great, I salute you – but it’s Russian roulette. The day will come where it will not go on. I’m such an optimist, aren’t I? 🙂
The first 2 things I’d recommend with an acoustic are this – loosen the strings to take tension off the neck. Then, pack bubble wrap around the neck, especially where the neck and headstoock join, and the headstock itself.
Apparently a lot of damage happens if the neck and neckjoint are bouncing around inside the case. The tension of the strings would only help snap the headstock off even better, hence the loosening. You want to stabilize the guitar inside the case.
I called Taylor and they un-officially recommended Casextreme.com It is a clamshell case made out of plastic – the same stuff used by the US postal service. Inside it are heavy foam rubber “C” shaped things that go around your guitars hardshell (or soft) case. The concept is that your axe iis floating – much the way when you buy a VCR or computer, styrofoam is suspending it,so if the box takes a hit, the thing inside doesn’t.
Well, go to their site and watch the video of the company owner attempting to beat up a guitar in one of these. He’s using the claw side of a hammer, and even jumps up and down on the axe. No prob -takes a Taylor out in a SOFT GIG BAG, and it’s just fine.
Even a heavy road case does not have much padding. Something heavy falling on the guitar could really crunch it . With the Casextreme, it would have to go through this super heavy plastic, squash this heavy foam rubber, and THEN pierce the hardshell case.
Go to the site and watch the vids!
Needless to say my axe got here in one piece, and I am a happy camper. I checked it as regular baggage.
They are big enough though that traveling with 2 (if I want to bing a backup guitar) willl be a formidable challenge!
More to come. I have more flights, and I hope that it all works out. Consider no news to be good news.
hey there!! im looking at getting the casextreme for my baby (my guitar, not a gift for someone-this is for me and my guitar!! haha) and wanted to check in with you to see if youre still loving yours?? looks like a great case and seems to be maybe one of the best options out there! anyway, thanks for your time…keep on keepin on!
love your version of “aint no sunshine”!! 🙂
luck, love, and laughter…
Adam Rafferty says
Cons: big, hard to get in a regular car sometimes with it, you’ll eat your heart out when you see other guitarists prancing on the plane with their axes, wondering if you are overly cautious.
Truth is, plane rides are russian roulette for guitar.
Pros: Your guitar will arrive safely and not get damaged. I tune my strings down and bubble wrap the neck & headstock for extra protection.
You’ll also find that there is room in the case for other stuff, outside the hardshell guitar case. It is way under the weight allowance for int’l flights – you’ll need to go to the oversize counter though.
Go ahead & get it!
thanks adam!! i am just wanting to have security for in flight – i think you and both know that you can never be too cautious when it comes to an instrument! 🙂
thanks alot for the quick repsonse!
ill let ya know when i give the case a go!
luck,love, and laughter…
Hey man great tips thanks!
I normally send it in at the gate when I fly ……But with the years I got less paranoid….Fortunately I never had a bad experience so far!
Hey Adam! I’m interested in getting one of the casextreme cases, but it seems that the acoustic ones would be “oversized” checked baggage for a flight. Have you had any issues with this when flying on domestic airlines? I just hate the thought of paying $75 to $200 per case one way because the stupid airlines say they are “oversized”…..
Adam, as a Maton fan thought you would’ve a mini Maton.
Sounds great plugged in, strong as an axe !
I always take it on board, in a soft padded bag, from rattle Bones ( Vancouver).
This bag got so many pockets, iPad, juggling balls, Bloks, magazine, sweater, jacket, etc. everything ya need as carry on lugage in the plane.
And fits very nice in the overhead compartment. ( yeah they can toss a backpack on it !).
Happend to me once, they complained at the boarding gate.
Took my essential travel things, out ! ( Ha, just toss it as a pile in front of their feet!)
And this cute mini Maton comes out, smaller than à regular back pack !
With all the essentials back in, it is just as big as a regular back pack. My sweater and jacket always cover the neck. So THE answer is MINI MATON, in a bit bigger padded travel bag ! 🙂
Jim Greeninger says
Our friend Tom E told me his guitars have been damaged by the airlines so many times he can’t count them. A top classical guitarist friend said her guitars were often broken until she painted her Mark Leaf flight case bright PINK. No problems from that day forward.
Jim, TE uses no padding and very standard cases though. When I was at the airport when his guitars were checked in, I felt like I was witnessing an execution 🙂
Hey Adam, this kind of stuff is gold, just like your blog on your stage set up and gear. You go beyond what most others talk about with your tips, equipment advice, stage fright management and more, much appreciated!
I’ve had a neck cracked on a Larrivee in a hardshell case on a short flight from Tauranga to Wellington (small crack and surprisingly airline fronted the repair costs) and did get a travel guitar in its softcase taken off me at the gate flying from Auckland to Melbourne, which was weird as I’ve carried it on the same route before, it survived but like you say, at the mercy of the attendant it seems!
Thanks, maybe I’ll see you when visiting NYC later this year!
Steve, all we can do is take precautions – sorry to hear about the Larivee! Hope to meet you too.
Thanks for the information about casextreme. Read once that Willie Nelson used to buy a ticket for his ax. Don’t know if that’s still possible with 9/11 & terrorist stuff now days so I appreciate the info.
I just bought a seat the other day for an axe…can do!
Seems weird, when you think of the condition of Willie’s guitar “Trigger” -big holes in the top, signatures scratched in with ballpoint pens, etc., but it’s his partner on stage, and as important to him as breathing. LOL
Thanks Adam, It’s nice to know there’s a safe alternative to buying it a seat
hi Adam, stumbled across this blog post when I was searching to find recent experiences with flying with one of these clam cases. Last time I used mine was 2008 when the airlines weren’t yet completely nickel and diming every thing they could think of. But now I’m assuming I’d have to check it as oversized. What’s been your recent experience $$ wise when checking this thing lately? Thanks!
Thanks for the comment and sorry for the late response – here goes…
9 times out of 10 they say “wow that looks like oversized!” And then I open it,
showing them that it’s just a guitar inside, and it’s to prevent damage.
When they seee for themselves that a guitar is NOT oversize, and this is just a tad bigger they say “ok, I see.”
Only once the jerks at Denver Int’l charged me. I started to insist that it wasn’t and was threatened immediately with “sir, we will call security if you don’t lower your voice” – and I was not yelling, believe me.
My uncle told me in that case to sign the credit card slip, and under the signature in all caps write “UNDER PROTEST” to show a record for any further complaints.
It costs extra to fly 2 guitars but so far, it’s always arrived safe with the CaseExtreme 🙂
Thanks for the info, Adam. I confirm : travelling airlines is a Russian roulette for instruments, particularly guitars.
I often and regularly fly from Papeete to Paris and back with my Guitar(s), and each time I fear the worth for them. One time, I had a Seagull Artist completely broken inside its case (Trick type). Another time, I travelled with my Ovation Collector, and as I checked it at the arrival at Paris : US customs opened its hard case although it was key locked and wrapped into a thick plastic film, and, worth, the guitar roundback had been opened and let as it !!! Fucking L.A. US customs… Since that day, I hate them, almost as much as Immigration.
So, no way for me to buy a second seat for my guitar for a so long and expensive travel. These Case Extreme seem to be an excellent alternative.
Thanks a lot, Adam !
I love your arrangements.
1) fly with 2 guitars, if one breaks you can still do teh gig
2) use bubble wrap INSIDE the case especially around the headstock to keep the guitar from moving. The nut is where it could easily break.
I know, it is a hassle!
I’ve got a Taylor 210E and a pretty okay flight case that I purchased from Musicians Friend and I’ve taken that on plenty of flights it’s always been ok. One time it got lost when I was gigging in South Padre Island, Tx but they found it and brought it back. I end up checking it at the ticket counter, but don’t think I don’t worry about it. It’s a crap shoot. There are things you can do to try and get the dice to roll in your favor, but it’s still a crap shoot.
I do have a small archtop parlor style guitar and I never thought to put it in a softcase and bring it on the plane. Does that really work?
Soft bags for anything thicker than a solidbody is a crapshoot. I suggest (and do the following):
Attempt to get a hard case on board, and pack the guitar with bubble wrap INSIDE the case, esp around the headstock / nut area.
Tell everyone “let’s try to get it on board, maybe in an overhead or closet. If not, I’ll gate check it.”
When you gate check, no one throws it around, it comes on / off at gate with baby carriages.
Some planes are just too small (the puddle jumpers) and a guitar cannot fit.
Thanks for comenting! – AR
Inconvenience, expense, and guitar safety are only the least of my concerns. I have a vintage luthier-made acoustic guitar. Any damage of any structural nature is essentially terminal. It’s sound cannot be remade. And its 43-year old cedar top simply cannot be replicated. Casextreme is the only viable alternative to buying it a seat.
John, my advice ultimately is get a “flight guitar” where you won’t shed tears if it gets busted up. That’s the only real solution 🙂 I fly with 2 in case one gets destroyed, so I can play the gig 🙂 – AR
Thomas Karstens says
Hi there, I enjoy reading this lively discussion. Til today I am still practising Trevors method although I had long discussions at the check in. If posible, I come with a second person to the airport, so that I can go to the check in without the guitar case and then showing it at the gate for the first time. I made the experience that the crew in the plane is much more cooperative than the employees at the ground. There is and maybe there will never be an 100%-alternative to a second seat in a plane. When You travel shorter distances and find a cheap company flight long before your ride, it is affordable (more or less ….) Even Menuhin (with a violin case !!) and Segovia with his guitar had to buy a second seat ( on the ticket the name written was “Miss Segovia”), but I don´t think that they had to pay the bill. I have found a very stable carbon case which has nearly the size of a soft back and it looks similar, when I put the optional neopren cover around. More infos here: https://www.cccases.eu/
When “shit happened” at least try to keep humor, sometimes this helps a lot as You can see here:
David Hartman says
Any thoughts on Godin’s Tric styrofoam cases? You would think that dropping a guitar in a styrofoam beer cooler type case would generate far less shock to the guitar than a typical hard case, and would also prevent oversize issues. David