How to Ship a Drum Set

Learn how to pack and ship drums, and why drums are one of the most expensive things you can ship
how to ship drums
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Do you need to ship some drums? Believe it or not, there are many situations that require you to do so. Maybe you’re an online music retailer and someone has just purchased a kit; maybe your band is going on tour and your first date is on the other side of the country. Whatever the case may be, don’t beat your head like a floor tom thinking about how to send all of those drums, because we have your back. The guide covers how to ship a drum set, how to protect your kit, and how to save money when doing it. Let’s rock and roll!

Table of Contents

Drum Sets are One of the Most Expensive Things You Can Ship

We won’t sugarcoat it for you: drum sets are expensive to ship. Very expensive. Not only are they huge items compared to everyday D2c shipments that the major carriers are used to transporting, but drum sets are made up of several individual drums and cymbals. For starters, a basic drum set features the following pieces:

  • A kick drum and its associated pedal
  • A snare
  • At least two toms (rack and floor)
  • A cymbal or two (like a crash and a ride)
  • A hi-hat
  • A throne for seating

Since each of these pieces has such a unique shape, you’ll need to send them out separately when it’s time to ship the whole kit…and that brings us to our next point.

Pack Each Drum and Cymbal Separately in its Hardshell Case and Ship Them Separately

Any drummer knows that denting your drums or cracking your cymbals is a nightmare scenario. So, before you go buying labels and slapping them on the sides of your drums, we suggest first investing in some hardshell cases for your drums and cymbals (if you don’t have them already). When you pack your drums in a hardshell case, you protect them from outside pressure and sustaining damage from drops or sudden movements during transit. It may sound like a whole lot of hassle and a whole lot of money, but ask any drummer. They’ll tell you that hardshell cases are absolutely necessary for transporting drums, no matter the distance.

If you’re looking for some hardshell cases for your drums, here are some options where you can pick them up:

Treat Each of Your Drums as an Individual Shipment

Once you pack your drums inside their cases, you need to treat each of these as its own separate shipment. That means you’ll need to measure the dimensions and weight of each of those pieces, then buy a shipping label for each one. That’s why shipping drums is so expensive! You’re not shipping out just one huge package; in some cases, you’re shipping out more than a dozen individual shipments, each with a different size and weight.

UPS is the Best Carrier for Shipping the Whole Drum Set (Although You’ll Still Incur Surcharges)

On top of sending out lots of individual packages, drums are bulky inside of their cases. This can cause problems when it comes time to ship them. For instance, most kick drums are too big for USPS, and won’t fit within the maximum size limits that USPS allows. Therefore, you’ll need to go with a carrier that specializes in transporting larger, heavier packages. In this case, UPS is the best bet (FedEx would also work, too, but their rates are way higher than UPS).

UPS allows a much higher size and weight limit. However, you’ll likely still incur some pretty hefty surcharges, such as pesky “Additional Handling” surcharges. You’ll get hit with these no matter which carrier you choose to ship with, though…so when it comes to shipping big packages like pieces of a drum set, you’re kind of stuck choosing the lesser of two evils.

Schedule a UPS Pickup to Save Yourself the Trip of Dropping Your Drums Off

Since drums are so heavy and bulky, it’s a major inconvenience to haul all of them to your local UPS Store or a drop-off point. Instead, schedule a UPS pickup for your packages! This way, UPS will come directly to you and load your drums into their truck…and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of back pain.

Use Shipping Software to Save the Most Money on Your Separated Packages

Since it’s going to cost an arm and a leg to ship out all of these packages at the same, it’s critical that you capture the biggest savings that you can on postage! That’s where online shipping software comes into play. Plain and simple, you don’t want to take your packages to your local UPS Store to purchase your labels there. Instead, use shipping software to buy discounted UPS postage online.

When you use shipping software, you get to access special discounts that carriers typically reserve for huge shippers sending out tens of thousands of packages per year. These discounts for UPS are known as the Digital Access Program. In some cases, these discounts can save you up to 76% off of what you’d pay to ship the same package with UPS Daily Rates. So, when you’re sending out lots of packages at one time (like when you’re shipping a drum kit), capturing these savings can end up keeping hundreds of dollars in your pocket!

Protect Each Package of Your Drum Kit with Shipping Insurance (Optional)

When packed inside of their hardshell cases, your drums and cymbals likely won’t incur any damage. Those cases are built for rigorous touring and transportation environments. So, the likelihood of any of the wooden drum shells or metal cymbals cracking inside them is pretty low. However, that doesn’t mean that one or more of the packages couldn’t get lost in transit (hey, it happens)—and that’s where purchasing shipping insurance can protect you.

Shipping insurance isn’t just about making sure you’ll receive compensation if your shipment arrives damaged; you’ll also be compensated up to your full declared value your package(s) disappears at any point during the journey. Since individual pieces of drum sets and their associated cases are fairly expensive, we think it’s worth it to spring for a little extra shipping insurance on top of the cost of your label. It may seem like a nuisance at first, but should any packages go missing, it’ll be well worth it if you need to replace any pieces of your kit!

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