Whenever anyone talks about the problems of travelling with guitars, you immediately think about air travel. Almost everyone does. Because we’ve all heard horror stories of instruments being forced into the hold by unsympathetic flight attendants. It even happens to world-renowned musicians. It makes the stomach clench! But the thing is, it’s not only flying that can pose a rink to your guitar. Travelling by car can be just as damaging if you don’t take precautions.
What are the issues of travelling by car with a guitar?
We’ll put aside the size issue, because travel guitars take care of that. If you’re concerned about the logistics of ramming a guitar into your boot along with all your other travel gear, there are folding versions of every style of guitar available, with some taking up just centimetres of space. So, the actual car space required to transport your guitar is minimal. But there are other things that you should think about.
1 – The weather.
Extreme temperatures are not good for guitars. If you’re travelling in spring or autumn, this probably won’t be an issue. But in summer and winter your guitar might suffer. Heat and cold can both dry a guitar out. This can lead to: a bowed neck, a lifting bridge, or misaligned frets. Leave it too long without attention and the neck might even snap. In extreme heat, you might also be looking at melted glue, so there will be nothing to hold your instrument together.
2 – Temperature fluctuations.
Exposing your guitar to fluctuating temperatures is almost as bad for it as leaving it in the heat or cold for too long. So, a day in the boiling or freezing boot of a car before being moved into a heated or air-conditioned hotel room can really stress the instrument, causing the rapid expansion/contraction of the wood. This, in turn, can lead to cracking and warping. The obvious way to avoid this is storing your guitar in the main cabin rather than the boot. Admittedly more difficult with a traditional model; much easier with a travel guitar.
3 – Humidity.
Guitars are kind of like Goldilocks when it comes to humidity. Everything has to be ‘just right’. Not to dry. Not too sticky. This is an issue however and wherever you’re travelling. It can also be an issue at home, depending on the location/age/condition of your house. There are some fairly simple precautions you can take to protect your guitar against humidity though, so don’t panic!
As much as we all love to do it, travel can be an almighty pain. The packing alone can be enough to put a person off. And that’s before you’ve even factored in your guitar. But, when you think of the pleasure of strumming away on an isolated beach at sunset, or picking out chords in front of a roaring camp fire as your family or friends gather round, and it all begins to feel worthwhile. Of course, travelling with a guitar can be awkward, but choose the right instrument, pack it well and treat it like a passenger – c’mon, would you really leave Great Aunt Mable in the boot overnight? Really? – and it will give you some amazing travel memories.