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Secure, Pack, and Ship!

On July 4th of 2010, as I was waiting for the completion of my tetrachordo bouzouki and its arrival from Greece, I had written a post regarding the safety of the bouzouki instrument during overseas shipment.

Researching and reading posts in different forums, I had come to the conclusion that, the most safe way to ship my bouzouki, was inside a ROCKBAG RC 20144 case.

Two and a half years later after I have received 4 custom made bouzoukia from Greece and have shipped three, I thought to share with all the followers my experience "in transit", by writing a small step by step document of how to secure, pack, and ship safely a bouzouki instrument in a very economical way.

Someone who has experienced the anticipation of a safe delivery for his musical instrument, can easily relate to this topic, as his main concern during the waiting time,it is the instrument to finally reach its destination in mint condition.

Case
I still believe that the instrument should be shipped inside a ROCKBAG RC 20144 case. If you cant find the real deal, at least place the bouzouki in a similar case style. (some of them made in China cost a little more than half of the ROCKBAG brand price.)

Photo has been taken from matsikas online store

Preparation
After inspecting the instrument, detune the strings, and remove the bridge from the soundboard. Do not leave the bridge side ways on top of the sound board since the small movement in transit can lightly injure the lustre and the finish of the bouzouki top. (I have experience on this)

Remove the bridge from soundboard, but do not leave it on the sound-board
Use a small size bubble wrap (preferably)  to wrap the bridge then place it inside the case pocket. If it doesn't fit inside the pocket, place it inside the area of the case where the instrument's head stock rests.

Placing the bridge wrapped with bubble wrap inside the case pocket
Use the small size bubble wrap to fill up the empty space between the case and the bowl. Doing it , you will avoid any tiny movement of the instrument's bowl.

Filling up the empty space between case and bowl
Finally, cut a square piece of the small size bubble wrap and place it on top of the soundboard, at the area between the soundboard and the inside top of the case.

Protecting the sound-board
If you have remaining bubble wrap, wrap the maniko (neck) at the height of the 12th fret (the point where the neck connects to the instrument's bowl), and the head-stock.

Wrapping the head-stock
Small size bubble wrap

Exterior preparation
You will need a scissor, a red and black marker, packing clear tape, Self-adhesive 3M labels, and bubble cushion wrap with big bubbles.(12'' X 75')


Materials for the exterior protection

Wrap the instrument case all around with the bubble cushion wrap and secure it tightly with the shipping tape.
Use double sheet of bubble cushion wrap, at the area around the soundboard, the bowl, the connection of the neck to the bowl, and at the headstock.
Do not be "cheap" in materials in this step.Use most of the bubble role and the packing tape to secure properly your instrument.



Instrument wrapped with bubble cushion wrap

At the end, use the Self-adhesive 3M labels with the red market to write in every side of instrument's case "Fragile." In addition, use the black marker to create a label with the address and destination information.



Ready to go!
Fly me to the moon
This step is optional, but if it makes you sleep more peacefully at the night , you can then package the above set up inside in a cardboard box. Be sure to secure the case somehow or fill up the empty spaces between the case and the box.
This set up will require some extra time in packaging since it is very hard to find an out of shelf cardboard box in dimensions which can fit your bouzouki case inside.You will need to break one or two large cardboard boxes (found in Home Depot) and re-design/restructure to a larger box.
Be aware that your package now will cost much more due to is size. ( as a parcel package approx $ 80.00 more)


Take Photos
Do not forget to take pictures from the whole step by step process in case you will need them for insurance claim purposes before delivering the package to the post office.
Cost
I would recommend to add insurance to your package, for the cost of approx. $15.00-$25.00 depending on the instrument's value.
You will need approx. $ 40.00 in packing materials, and another $ 25.00 for shipment inside US with insurance through parcel mail and US Postal Services ( referring to the option without the additional external cardboard box).

Good luck!

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