JAFSP Tips for Flying with a Guitar

Traveling with a guitar is easy, but there are a few things you should know…

If you are bringing a guitar to Jamaica, remember to bring lots of extra strings and picks. You will not be able to buy these items in Jamaica.

The humidity can be very hard on your strings, and they will die quickly. You may want to consider re-stringing your guitar with "coated strings" before the trip. They are a little bit more expensive, but hold up much better when playing outdoors and in high humidity.

In addition, it is a good idea to check your guitar for "wobble" in the case. If the headstock, tuning pegs, or top of your neck can wobble back and forth in the case when shaken, you may wish to wrap something (like a t-shirt) around the top of the neck, to prevent the guitar from banging around inside the case.

Your guitar is your large carry-on item. Bring it with you on the plane and stash it in the overhead bin. If it won't fit, ask the flight attendant to store it in a closet or other storage space. If there is no additional storage space on the plane, you will typically be asked to to "gate check" the guitar - handing it off to someone at the doorway of the plane, to be stashed below. If you do end up having to gate check your guitar, remember to pick it back up at your connection. Any luggage fee for a guitar (or any luggage) that has to be checked is the responsibility of the student.

Do not attempt to fly with a guitar unless you have a hard case. Only students with hard cases have been assigned to carry a guitar. Typically about half of the (music therapy) students on a trip are assigned to bring their guitars, sharing the guitars with the other MT students. If you are purchasing a new hard case for your guitar, try to get one that is TSA approved.

If you own a tuner, make sure you bring it, as well as a fresh set of batteries. Guitars go out of tune quickly in such a hot and humid environment. For those of you with iPhones - If you don't own a guitar tuner, you can get an iPhone tuner app that does a great job.

Also make sure you have a good guitar strap, as you will be playing while standing and walking around. Make sure your guitar strap locks securely to your guitar. If it seems like it could come off while you are moving around, you may want to consider the purchase of a "strap-lock" for your guitar.