Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Safe Air Travel with an Acoustic Guitar – Part 2


Greets friends! I am writing here from Mexico City’s Four Seasons hotel. No, I’m not on tour, unfortunately – I am here for a family affair, but man it is nice to live like a king here for a few days.

So, with all the sites and magic of Mexico City what have I done all day? Shedded
guitar in my hotel room. πŸ™‚

Since my last post regarding my mini tour in PA, I have purchased 2 pieces of equipment for touring – Case Extreme road / flight case ( and a second Taylor 314-CE as a backup guitar.

Id like to tell you about this extrordinary case (guitar post coming).

Everyone will tell you something different about traveling with a guitar and airlines.
The truth of the matter is that it is anybody’s guess as to whether you’ll get the axe onto the flight or not. And many guitars have gotten destroyed or seriously messed up on flights.

Each airline has diffferent policies. Furthermore, the same airline can change policies depending on what side of the bed the gate person woke up on. The TSA issued a letter that instruments should be let on – but it is the wild west once it’s you, the gate person and the plane.

If you are traveling with a solidbody or small archtop, bring it in a SOFT case- it will fit in the overhead just fine.

Many people will tell you that gate checking is fine, and I have never done it. If you gate check, it will get handled more nicely (you hope) but if your flight is turbulent, who knows what will go on during the ride?

Also I keep hearing guitarists say “I get the axe on, no problem”. Great, I salute you – but it’s Russian roulette. The day will come where it will not go on. I’m such an optimist, aren’t I? πŸ™‚

The first 2 things I’d recommend with an acoustic are this – loosen the strings to take tension off the neck. Then, pack bubble wrap around the neck, especially where the neck and headstoock join, and the headstock itself.

Apparently a lot of damage happens if the neck and neckjoint are bouncing around inside the case. The tension of the strings would only help snap the headstock off even better, hence the loosening. You want to stabilize the guitar inside the case.

I called Taylor and they un-officially recommended It is a clamshell case made out of plastic – the same stuff used by the US postal service. Inside it are heavy foam rubber “C” shaped things that go around your guitars hardshell (or soft) case. The concept is that your axe iis floating – much the way when you buy a VCR or computer, styrofoam is suspending it,so if the box takes a hit, the thing inside doesn’t.

Well, go to their site and watch the video of the company owner attempting to beat up a guitar in one of these. He’s using the claw side of a hammer, and even jumps up and down on the axe. No prob -takes a Taylor out in a SOFT GIG BAG, and it’s just fine.

Even a heavy road case does not have much padding. Something heavy falling on the guitar could really crunch it . With the Casextreme, it would have to go through this super heavy plastic, squash this heavy foam rubber, and THEN pierce the hardshell case.

Go to the site and watch the vids!

Needless to say my axe got here in one piece, and I am a happy camper. I checked it as regular baggage.

They are big enough though that traveling with 2 (if I want to bing a backup guitar) willl be a formidable challenge!

More to come. I have more flights, and I hope that it all works out. Consider no news to be good news.

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

4 thoughts on “Safe Air Travel with an Acoustic Guitar – Part 2

  1. hey there!! im looking at getting the casextreme for my baby (my guitar, not a gift for someone-this is for me and my guitar!! haha) and wanted to check in with you to see if youre still loving yours?? looks like a great case and seems to be maybe one of the best options out there! anyway, thanks for your time…keep on keepin on!

    love your version of “aint no sunshine”!! πŸ™‚

    luck, love, and laughter…
    leslie πŸ™‚

    • Leslie

      Cons: big, hard to get in a regular car sometimes with it, you’ll eat your heart out when you see other guitarists prancing on the plane with their axes, wondering if you are overly cautious.

      Truth is, plane rides are russian roulette for guitar.

      Pros: Your guitar will arrive safely and not get damaged. I tune my strings down and bubble wrap the neck & headstock for extra protection.

      You’ll also find that there is room in the case for other stuff, outside the hardshell guitar case. It is way under the weight allowance for int’l flights – you’ll need to go to the oversize counter though.

      Go ahead & get it!


  2. thanks adam!! i am just wanting to have security for in flight – i think you and both know that you can never be too cautious when it comes to an instrument! πŸ™‚

    thanks alot for the quick repsonse!

    ill let ya know when i give the case a go!

    luck,love, and laughter…
    les πŸ™‚

  3. Hey man great tips thanks!

    I normally send it in at the gate when I fly ……But with the years I got less paranoid….Fortunately I never had a bad experience so far!

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