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Anyone ever take apart their guitar for air travel?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by surfaday, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. surfaday

    surfaday Strat-Talker

    Sep 18, 2010
    Hi all,

    I am taking a trip and will be flying. I'm not leaving with a guitar but if I buy a guitar I know I don't want to send it through as baggage.

    Has anyone every unbolted their neck and carried the guitar on in 2 pieces? (Assuming I buy a bolt on neck guitar like a strat). Or maybe carried the body on and packed the neck? I suppose the neck could be construed as a weapon.

    I wonder if the neck would be safe deep in my dirty underwear on the flight home? I've sent glass jars of jam and stuff home that way.

    I also suppose I risk having the neck stolen if I pack it. So, I wonder if I could carry it on?

    Your suggestions and experiences would be great.


  2. oakhills

    oakhills Strat Cat Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 7, 2009
    Bay Area
    depending on the airline, I think you can take the neck apart and store both the body and the neck under the seats if theres no room in the overhead bins. I wouldn't send it through baggage unless I had one of those TSA molded cases

  3. OlderEveryday

    OlderEveryday Strat-Talk Member

    Sep 3, 2010
    For a time, I had Ol' Reliable rigged for easier break-down for plane overhead.

    I used brass Hillman 10-24 Wood Insert Nuts (Lowes) and stainless steel machine screws.

    It's been years since I had a need to carry on a guitar, so can't offer any current goings-on experience.

    You might, might not, get by today with having it disassembled in a light duty gig bag, folded, secured around with velcro straps, as a carry-on.

    So much doesn't really add up at face value in the common sense department. One man's weapon is another's stick pen, keys, guitar neck....
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010

  4. daniboy79

    daniboy79 Strat-O-Master

    Feb 26, 2009
    Trinidad, West Indies
    I bought a Strat in NYC a couple years back; I took the neck off and stuck it in my check bag, then the body came on the plane with me in my carry-on.

  5. sneakypete

    sneakypete Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 5, 2009
    several times...always do when I go back to to Canada for Christmas. I have a hard shell suitcase and pack clothes around the bodies and necks. Never had a problem except...last time from Toronto to Montreal there was a problem with the conveyor belt so the luggage came on the following flight...worst hour of my life...I had two very expensive guitars in that suitcase but they made it.

  6. Bendub

    Bendub Strat-O-Master

    May 5, 2010
    I just read an article a few moths back in acoustic magazine detailing exactly how this guy has travelled with his acoustic for 28 years and never left it to baggage. The secret is a gig bag, as the airline HATES the big ones and will absolutely not let you on with them.

    I you like I canthrow the pertinent info up, or pm me your email and I'll send you snap shots of the article.

    What I remember off the top of my head is that you throw it over one shoulder and hide as much of the body as possible behind your back when you check in. At the gate before the plane they may give you a pass to stick on the guitar case which is to have it taken from you an returned after the flight. Tear that off as soon as you're on the boarding bridge.

    Can't imagine an electric being an issue if this guy brought a big acoustic for years.

    All this from the April 2010 issue of acoustic guitar magazine

  7. thaus

    thaus Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 6, 2007
    London Canada
    I've traveled quite a bit with guitars and always put them in a hard-shell case. I seem to remember reading that Dan Erlewine started to install the threaded steel inserts in Bill Kirchen's telecaster years ago so he could remove the neck while touring.

  8. Bendub

    Bendub Strat-O-Master

    May 5, 2010
    Terrifies me to think i would leave my guitar with total strangers.... * shudder*

    I would seriously consider GPS tracking device inside the guitar itself.

  9. Shoegoo

    Shoegoo Strat-O-Master

    Aug 16, 2010
    Interesting. It sounds like it would work. Remove the neck and both the neck and body fit in your carry on. Put some clothes it your guitar case and check it in. And/or you could even put some clothes in a gig bag. Don't laugh its been done. Then when you get to your destination like Houdini you put it back together. And you have your hard shell case to carry your baby. Where would put the tools for reassembly? ;)

  10. John Brown

    John Brown Strat-O-Master

    Jun 18, 2010
    A friend of mine did it. But they put him through the wringer at the TSA checkpoint. They pulled him aside, and they actually took the pickguard off of his Tele. I guess they thought he could hide a bomb under there or something. I think anything that has any sort of "compartment" will be suspect. No harm, no foul. But he was lucky, and they didn't bugger anything up. He carried it in two pieces, in a ditty bag. But it was a hassle that took a few extra minutes.

  11. Texocaster

    Texocaster Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 11, 2010
    I've never been hassled about a guitar in a gig bag and I fly quite often

  12. John Brown

    John Brown Strat-O-Master

    Jun 18, 2010
    I guess it depends on if sombody just recently had a bomb in their shoe or underwear. I've blown through, and other days they are giving everyone the third degree.

    Now they have these full body X-ray thingamabobs. They can see all your junk..... :)

  13. Paulbiz

    Paulbiz Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 30, 2009
    Northern, Virginia
    I do it all the time with my less expensive guitars. Remove the strings, remove the neck, put the neck bolts and plate into a ziplock bag, wrap the body and neck in t-shirts/underware, pack into suitcase with clothes so it fits tight, check the bag in at the gate, and voila your guitar is shipped. Never had an issue.

  14. Offshore Angler

    Offshore Angler Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 3, 2009
    NY Finger Lakes Region
    I used to, but since TSA won't let you carry strings even loose lately it's too much hassle.

    Anyone who's seen my road cases knows nowadays they always get checked. Been doing it for years and no problems.

    Was taking with Chuck Berry and he's been checking his axe ( he travels with only one!) for decades.

    The only issue I've run into is lately, Customs gets pretty picky about brazilian rosewood. So for international, it's ebony or maple.

  15. TSims1

    TSims1 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 9, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    I travel domestically quite a bit, and always just carry on a gig-bagged guitar. Never had a problem at all. Matter of fact, I usually throw my pedals and cords in the front pocket as may take a minute for them to look through it all at the security checkpoint, but it's really no big deal.

  16. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 6, 2008
    I traveled with one of the older (non-TSA) SKB-style cases last summer and just "gate checked" the guitar. I didn't have any problems. It was a simple, domestic non-stop, and that's what a friend who works at the airline suggested.

    I now have one of the newer, TSA cases. I wouldn't have a problem checking a Fender guitar through with one of those cases. (Probably wouldn't trust a Gibson neck to automated baggage handling without a real flight case, but I wouldn't worry about a Strat in one of these.)

  17. Maverick

    Maverick Strat-Talk Member

    Oct 19, 2009
    Taking my black Squier to my condo in Mexico to stay on Sat. Unbolted the neck and I'm going to pack it in my luggage. Also taking down a Line6 Micro Spider in another suitcase. Can't stand to think I wouldn't be able to practice or play for 3 months.:rolleyes:

  18. surfaday

    surfaday Strat-Talker

    Sep 18, 2010
    Thanks for the input. I'm at my destination, Honolulu, I have my surfboard up for trade, let's see what happens! What if I get a Les Paul with a set neck? Argh.

    Got a good ukulele already though.

  19. Gypsy Eyes

    Gypsy Eyes Strat-O-Master

    Mar 23, 2010
    i'd just put it in a hard case for overhead luggage if that is possible

  20. stradovarious

    stradovarious Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 14, 2010
    Here's a shot of my suitcase as I pack up to fly outta here this afternoon. This is my travel-only Strat which I have I modded with extra large machine bolts and "insert nuts" onto the back of the neck. Neck on and off in under 20 seconds either way! Note I also hacked up a tupperware container to protect the tuners. Works like a charm:):

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