Should SG stay or should SG go…
That is the question. Well in my case, as soon as I booked my 5+ week vacation in Brazil (to visit family and friends), I asked myself if I should take my guitar or borrow one.
I do have quite a few friends and relatives who play music and playing with them with my own guitar would be a joy.
On shorter trips, I’ve used my Lapaxe travel guitar and it does the job. But for a longer stay and/or playing in a studio set-up, that guitar is quite limited. Smaller scale, high action, OK-ish sound.
Nuts and Bolts
So I then initiated my quest to be able to bring my Gibson SG. The general steps and things I’ve considered are listed below, and should help fellow travelling guitar players in their own experience:
1) It appears that in the US, some airlines allow musicians to take guitars as carry-ons. My journey from Australia to Brazil is via Chile with LATAM airlines, who were very specific in their website: anything above 115 linear cm is a check in. The SG in a hard case is 150+.
2) Some people put their guitars in a soft case and hope they can sweet talk the airline into letting them carry it on. While in Chile I saw a guy with what looked like an acoustic guitar in a soft case, going through security (so taking it as carry on). The risk is not only overhead space, but the fact that if you rock up with a soft case and they force you to check it in (this could happen at the gate at a connecting flight) you just painted yourself into a corner.
3) LATAM stated that if the hard case is below 158 linear cm you don’t pay extra for the aforementioned journey.
4) My Gibson branded hard case looks fancy but it’s hardly plane ready. I then sourced a Gator TSA case built specifically for SG guitars:
5) Through various websites and forums I found out that detuning is a bit of a myth, but humidity is not. So I bought some satchels of D’Addario humidifiers to put inside the case.
6) My travel insurance talks specifically about music instrument coverage, with a depreciation of around 1% per month since the purchase date – which in my case would amount to 15%.
No problems checking in, in Melbourne they labelled the case as a normal piece of luggage but directed me to the oversize baggage check in as it’s allegedly too long to go through the normal conveyor belt system – probably a good thing.
The case was tagged to go directly to Brazil so no need to claim it in Chile.
When I arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I could find my guitar safely waiting for me on the oversized luggage section. I then took the pictures that can be seen below: the case had very few noticeable scratches, and the guitar was in perfect condition and plays well !
This was therefore a relatively good experience and I hope some of my notes will help others who also want to travel overseas with their beloved guitars.