How to Ship Brass and Wind Instruments

Learn how to properly package brass and wind instruments, which shipping carrier will offer the best rates, and how to save the most money possible on postage costs
ship brass and wind instruments
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Brass and woodwinds such as trumpets, trombones, tubas, flutes, clarinets, and saxophones may be vestiges of a bygone era in music…but that doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. They still appear in popular songs from time to time, and as such, there’s still plenty of demand for online retailers to stock these kinds of instruments for potential customers all across the United States. If you’re in this boat and find yourself needing to ship a brass or woodwind, you’re in luck. This article offers a step-by-step guide on how to ship brass and wind instruments, including which carriers will offer the best rates, the proper way to package them, and how to save the most money possible on your shipping labels. Let’s boogie!

Table of Contents

USPS is the Cheapest Carrier for Shipping Small Brass and Wind Instruments

When shipping smaller brass and woodwinds, such as trumpets, flutes, clarinets, violas, and alto saxophones, look no further than USPS. USPS specializes in handling smaller shipments, and therefore, offers the best rates for these types of packages.

USPS offers a variety of different services, but the most affordable one for sending brass and woodwinds is USPS Ground Advantage. Ground Advantage is the cheapest service USPS offers, though it is the slowest. Delivery timeframes are estimated to take 2-5 business days, and each label comes with $100 of insurance. Since musical instruments don’t require time-sensitive delivery (unless your customer demands it), it makes sense to opt for the slowest USPS service to save the most money on these shipments.

On top of being the most affordable USPS service, Ground Advantage also features cubic pricing tiers when you purchase shipping labels through online shipping software companies. This means that you can take advantage of even deeper discounts based on your package’s dimensions…but it all comes down to where you purchase your postage. We’ll talk more about the benefits of shipping software in the last section of this article!

UPS May be More Affordable For Sending Larger Instruments

For larger brass and woodwinds you can’t necessarily send in a handheld box, UPS may be the more affordable option than USPS. This is because USPS imposes surcharges called non-standard fees for packages whose dimensions exceed certain limitations. For instance, USPS will charge you $4 if any length of your Ground Advantage package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches, and $8.40 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches. These costs get tacked onto your regular postage costs, and they can add up to make your total cost more expensive than shipping with UPS would be.

When choosing a UPS service for larger brass and woodwind shipments such as baritone saxophones, trombones, and tubas, we suggest opting for UPS Ground. Similar to USPS Ground Advantage, UPS Ground is the slowest and most affordable service that UPS offers. It’s slightly faster than Ground Advantage, though, with delivery estimates ranging between 1-5 business days. You also receive $100 of carrier liability per each UPS Ground label that you can claim if your package goes missing during transit or arrives damaged.

Always Pack Brass and Wind Instruments in Their Hardshell Cases

No matter which carrier you choose, packaging your shipment properly is an important aspect of shipping the correct way. When it comes to sending brass and wind instruments, you should always pack them in a hardshell case built for the specific instrument you’re sending.

Hardshell cases make for the perfect packaging because they protect your instrument from any damage whatsoever. The interior of these cases features custom inserts for each instrument, and most of them can lock once you close them. Once your instrument is packed in its hardshell case, the next (and final) packaging step is to find a corrugated cardboard box that will fit the case inside!

If you’d like to order larger cardboard boxes that will fit a variety of different-sized hardshell cases, a good place to start is the ULINE website. First, take measurements of the hardshell case you plan to place inside the box. The key to finding the right-sized cardboard box is to make sure the hardshell case fits comfortably, but also to leave as little room inside of the box as possible.

Protect Your Fragile Instruments with Shipping Insurance

USPS and UPS both include some insurance coverage when you purchase labels. For instance, both USPS Ground Advantage and UPS Ground labels come with $100 of coverage per shipment (USPS calls this “insurance,” while UPS refers to the protection as “carrier liability”). That said, brass and woodwinds can be some of the most expensive musical instruments around…and $100 of coverage may often not be enough to protect the full value of the instrument you’re sending.

The good news is that you can purchase additional shipping insurance on top of your postage, which we highly suggest for valuable items like brass and woodwind instruments. Shipping insurance typically only costs a bit more than $1 for every $100 of value that you declare. In our experience, paying for extra shipping insurance is undoubtedly worth it. If your package goes missing or if any part of your instrument is damaged by the time it reaches its destination, you’ll be able to file a claim for the full value you declare. Even if nothing happens, shelling out a few extra bucks for shipping insurance is worth it for the peace of mind, alone!

Save Money on USPS & UPS Labels With Online Shipping Software

When your package is ready to go, don’t go to your local Post Office or UPS Store to buy postage! Instead, use online shipping software to purchase discounted postage online. Shipping software companies partner with major carriers such as USPS and UPS to offer deeply discounted rates that the carriers typically reserve for major commercial shippers. In some cases, these discounts can save you up to 89% off of what you’d pay to ship the same package with Retail rates at the Post Office!

On top of the savings you enjoy, some shipping software companies also offer dimension-based pricing for USPS Ground Advantage service (as we mentioned at the beginning of this guide). With dimension-based pricing for Ground Advantage, you can access specially discounted rates that don’t change based on your package’s weight. In other words, how much your package weighs doesn’t determine the cost to ship it; the size of it does! As long as your box is under 1 cubic foot in volume and weighs less than 20 pounds, it will qualify for dimension-based rates for Ground Advantage. This will allow you to save even more money on your smaller brass and woodwind shipments (think trumpets, clarinets, violas, and flutes)!

Lastly, making use of online shipping software grants you the convenience of buying and printing shipping labels from your own home or office. You can also schedule pickups for your packages that are carried out by your local USPS or UPS worker. With all of these added benefits, you’ll never have to take your box to the Post Office or UPS Store and wait in those long lines again!

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