Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Package and Ship a Ukulele

So...you're an awesome gift giver and you found a sweet vintage ukulele at a flea market or an antique store?  Or maybe you just sold a ukulele on ebay?  And now you need to package and ship that ukulele across the country or across the world, right?  What's the best way to pack and ship a ukulele so that it arrives promptly and without injury?  Anyone can throw something in a box with some packing peanuts and write an address on it, but with these special little guys extra special care and precautions need to be taken!  Here's a few tips that will hopefully help you sleep a little easier at night after you drop your package off.

Note:  I've not had too much experience with UPS or Fedex, so I can't speak intelligently on their shipping methods.  I almost always ship with USPS for the convenience...and probably a little bit because I'm a creature of habit.  With the other guys, just use your best judgment.

What delivery service and add ons should I select?

If you're willing to foot the bill or if you have the foresight to include it in your shipping cost (if you sold it), go with Express mail.  It will get there in a day.  One shipping tenant that I live by is "the less time it's in the hands of those overseeing it's delivery, the better".  Of course, I don't subscribe to the idea that any of these companies are trying to destroy your merchandise and make your life miserable.  This is how they make money and I'm sure they want happy customers.  But let's face it - they're moving a lot of packages every single day and they don't care nearly as much about your specific package as you do. 
If you don't want to pony up the dough for Express mail, then you should at least be shipping Priority mail.

As far as add ons go, I can't stress this enough - PAY THE EXTRA MONEY AND GET DELIVERY CONFIRMATION AND INSURANCE!!!!  It's just a few bucks extra to be able to track your package from the beginning to the end of it's journey, so just do it!  Insurance isn't that much more expensive and you'll be glad that you have it if something should happen...either your package mysteriously vanishes or gets torn to bits by a pack of ravenous wolves.  Seriously, get the insurance.

Case in point, I have a friend in the t-shirt biz.  He sends off dozens (if not hundreds) of orders some days.  He usually leaves them on the front porch for the mail carrier to pick up.  One day, he left his orders on the porch just like always, the carrier picked them up and a couple weeks later he started receiving e-mails from angry customers that hadn't received their shirts.  Every single package from that shipment had vanished into thin air never to be found again.  No refund would be issued to him because there wasn't any insurance purchased.  He had to eat that entire amount (shirts and shipping costs) and reorder and reship all the shirts.

How should I package my ukulele?

When I order from a dealer, they usually show up double boxed.  This seems to be standard procedure and makes a lot of sense - two boxes are better than one and that outside box helps to reinforce the structural integrity of the inner box.  If you don't have a couple boxes that fit your uke, your friendly neighborhood grocery store or Walmart is a good place to look...just call ahead before you go to collect them.  They'll usually set some different size boxes aside for me if I call ahead.  Ideally, you want one box to be just a bit bigger than the size of the uke and the other box just a bit bigger than the first box.

As far as packaging materials are concerned, I'm not a big fan of packing peanuts.  I prefer crumpled up newspaper.  I mostly feel that way because peanuts are messy.  I hate having to clean up packing peanuts for the next few days...I swear, they just get everywhere and they are never completely gone!  If you want to use peanuts, that's cool, but be thinking about the person on the other side of the delivery and the mess that is waiting to happen.  Here's a solution....

Ziploc bags!  Put the packing peanuts in the bags, seal them shut, and the mess is gone!  Plus, if the person on the other side is smart, they will save these bags and use them next time they ship something.
Whether you crumple dem newspapaz like me, or you use this method, pack your ukulele snugly.  Tight, but not too tight. 

Another thing to think about when you are preparing your boxes is to write the return address on the inside of the outer box.  I think that USPS recommends doing this.  This way, if something happens to the shipping label, they'll at least know where the package came from.
Lastly, I like to bubble wrap the ukulele itself to give it just a little more protection.  If you're shipping a uke in a hard case, you might not have to worry about this so much.

Hope that these shipping tips will help you get that uke to it's destination safely and into the hands of the person waiting to play it! 


  1. so we thought...why not let others ship packages to our house in Blaine, Washington. חבילות לחו"ל

  2. My heartiest congratulations to the writer on writing this.
    OMC cobra parts

  3. Hey! Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I will keep this in mind next time I pack it. I also have to look for good Delivery services Dallas as I have just shifted here and need to get some of the parcels delivered to my friends and relatives. Let me know if you know any.