6 Guitarists Share How They Pack Their Guitars and All Their Gear

Traveling with musical instruments like guitars can be daunting and stressful. It’s something that requires proper packing, so you don’t risk ruining your instrument and disappoint your fans.

To improve how we pack our guitars, we have talked with 6 experienced guitar players and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the guitar players have years of experience, so they know what they are talking about!).

Male guitarist with his guitar

The 6 Experts

Rafael Atijas
I’m the founder and CEO of Loog Guitars. I’m in my hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay. When I was 13, I wanted to be in a band, but I didn’t know how to play an instrument and thought I was too old (!) to learn guitar; so I started playing bass. By the time I was 15, I guess, I was already teaching myself how to play chords and songs on guitar.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

My phone with my music; an iPad with movies… warm clothes (it can get chilly on planes), a pen, a paper book (if I’m reading one) and not a lot more. Oh, sometimes I try to bring a sandwich or something a bit more decent than what they serve you on planes.

How do you bring things with you?

I have an incase bag pack and sometimes I pack stuff on my guitar gig bag too. Even though, I try to travel light, I never feel I have enough room.

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

Tips for guitar players: Loosen the tension of the strings. Pack your guitar in a good quality guitar soft case; one that keeps your guitar safe but that’s allowed as a carry on.

Visit Loog Guitars’ website

Daniel Eriksen
I am a blues recording artist and slide guitarist from Norway. I travel around the world performing at blues and jazz festivals, clubs and venues. Mississippi, Moscow, Paris and everywhere in between.

Right now, I am at home in south east Norway packing to go to a blues festival in Germany.

A lot of blues artists came through my hometown and I grew up seeing people like Roy Rogers, B.B King, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and many more. The blues took hold and now it’s my job.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

In addition to the instruments and common accessories (picks, cables, slides, pedals, capos, etc.) I always bring a stompbox. I stomp on it with my foot and it keeps the rhythm going when playing solo. It has a microphone installed so you get a bass drum sound through the PA. A cheap drummer I guess.

I always keep water with me wherever I am. I guess I just hate being thirsty with nothing to drink. It’s not always a good idea to drink tap water in certain places.

Earplugs are a must! Tinnitus is a horrible thing…

How do you bring things with you?

I never bring more than I can carry. I don’t want to be dependent on finding a trolley, when in a hurry. I usually check one guitar in a very solid hard case , either SKB Injection (military grade and watertight) or a Hiscox case with a Climate Case cover. They are pretty big and look like large gun cases. I have been asked if I am carrying a BAZOOKA.

I also have a foldable guitar from Voyage-Air that I can bring as hand luggage. And I check my suitcase with clothes, accessories etc. Always two checked pieces.

Having studied guitar travelling the hard way for many years, I have become a ninja master in travelling with guitars. I even had a submarine factory build me a bullet proof case made out of Kevlar. See my article here.

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

A lot of guitar players travel with stock cases, and they are usually thin plywood or thin ABS cases. They can’t stand blows, rapid temperature changes, humidity, any weight. Get a real solid case and expect to pay at least 250 – 450 Euros/Dollars. Hiscox, Battle Cases, SKB Injection, Case Extreme, Calton (1000 USD), Hoffee Cases (1000 USD), Timber Cases are a few suggestions.

I recommend checking out Voyage-Air guitars as they are so easy to travel with. They fold up and you can bring them anywhere.

I also recommend guitar players to bring an extra set of important accessories on them. Sometimes your suitcase gets delayed or lost, and with an extra set you can still do the concert.

Visit Daniel Eriksen’s website

Russ Strobel
I am from Boca Raton, FL where we manufacture high end Strobel Travel Guitars that come apart to fit in a briefcase or computer bag.

I started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old; dinking around on my brother’s Harmony acoustic guitar. First song I learned to play was “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. Like a lot of teenage boys at the time, I was enthralled with the Beatles, will never forget watching them play on the Ed Sullivan show. I got a Kappa Continental Electric Guitar for Christmas, teamed up with some of the neighborhood kids and started a band playing “Gloria”, “Hang on Sloopy” , “Play with Fire”, etc. We had a great time playing for the fun of it at church dances and school (like 8th grade I think) sock hops.

Not long after that, I discovered B. B. King and fell in love with the Blues. I wanted to make my guitar sing like “Lucille”… And then came Led Zepplin, Cream, etc. where I discovered all the old blues guys like Willie Dixon, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Freddy and Albert King, etc. and was just amazed that all of our Rock and Roll had come by way of these great guitar players.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

I always bring along a few song sheets of some of my favorite blues tunes in case I get to an open mic while out on the road. I also bring tab songs of things I am working on so I can practice them in the hotel, and I bring a little VOX headphone amp with some earphones. As Gary Marcus (one of our Strobel Guitar endorsers)says in his book “Guitar Zero”, you have to bring along a guitar when you are traveling if you are going to keep up your chops.

I invented the Strobel Rambler Professional Travel Guitar because I wanted a decent guitar I could take on trips and not have to bring any more luggage. It seemed obvious that we needed a portable guitar that could fit in my computer bag or roll aboard so I would not have to check a bag. Having such an easy guitar to travel with certainly has helped my guitar playing, but more importantly keeps me from suffering withdrawal pains from not having a guitar with me when traveling.

I am not sure what the most useless thing is that I see people bring, but I am sorry to see folks lugging around full size guitars when they could be carrying a Strobel in their computer bag…

How do you bring things with you?

My full scale Strobel Rambler travel guitar has an easily detachable neck removable with four thumb wheels. It has a four bolt neck (like a Strat) so is very stable when assembled. The guitar has a patented “StringKeeper” on top of the neck that comes off with another thumb wheel so the strings can wrap around the body. With the strings away from the neck it is very easy to remove it and pack it separately from the body; both pieces fit nicely in whatever carry on luggage you like to use. I always put the guitar body (about 8″ x 14″) in a pillow case and the neck (about 18″ long) in a sock to protect them when traveling. I always have plenty of room in my computer bag containing my guitar for my computer and other files I need when traveling.

The Rambler comes with a nicely padded custom gig bag so you can also bring it along and place it in an overhead bin if you prefer to bring it assembled. One thing that would be nice to have is a custom made briefcase that would have form fitted areas to stow the body and neck. Would also be kind of cool to have a briefcase with a little battery powered amp and built in speaker…

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

Kind of self serving, but my top tip would be to get your hands on a Strobel Rambler Professional Electric Travel Guitar. The Rambler Classic sells for $599 on our website and comes with a nice padded gig bag.

Please check out our YouTube video on how to pack a Rambler Guitar in your briefcase

Visit Russ Strobel’s website

Charles Vallena
I’m Charles, owner and chief editor at TheGuitarJunky.com. I’m currently working as an SEO for an international digital marketing company. You might begin asking, a digital marketer running a guitar-themed website? Well, music, particularly playing the guitar has always been my passion since I was a kid. It was just during high school where I’ve got to play the instrument when my older brother brought one. I never really went to a music school, nor was thought by a music teacher, but through reading resource materials and constant practice, I was able to learn to play the guitar myself. So whenever I get the chance to play with a band, I always grab it as it’s the only way I can express my passion.

Fast forward to finishing college, I got inclined in the digital marketing industry. As much as I want to follow my passion, I also need to pay the bills. So a few years later, I started my own site, www.theguitarjunky.com where I review acoustic guitars and give product recommendations for potential guitar buyers. Currently, I’m working on building another review site on electric guitars, Wired Guitar.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

A special guitar made for traveling (most important), a nano Bluetooth speaker, and sunglasses. Why these three items? Well, the nano Bluetooth speaker, just because. Sunglasses, very important specially during summer. Lastly, this guitar that I’m using. It’s made out of carbon fiber material, so I have no worries with regards to the guitar getting some scratch, or reacting to temperature changes.

How do you bring things with you?

As much as possible, I want to travel light. When travelling solo, I usually just carry my Jansport backpack with me. A few weeks back, we traveled as a family. To carry our things, we brought with us a Nike gym bag, and a Chantelle Paris weekend bag. With all of these things being said, I have to give all the credit to my wife for packing and organizing things.

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

Plan ahead, and bring only the most important things so you can reduce time on packing, and spend more time traveling. If a well-planned trip is not your thing, be spontaneous. Explored the unexplored. Step out of your comfort zone. You just need a guitar, and you’re good to go. Who knows? You might have the next inspiration for your music on your next trip.

Visit Charles Vallena’s website

Buzz Campbell
Born in Dallas, TX. Grew up in San Diego, CA. Started first band in early ’90s. (Hot Rod Lincoln). Became a big part of the rockabilly/swing revival. Tour all over the US. Joined Shanana (Woodstock/movie Grease/ TV show) from 2000-2004). Left Shanana to play with Lee Rocker (Bassist of the Stray Cats). Been playing with Lee Rocker from 2004 to present.

Became a guitarist after being hugely moved by 1950’s rock and roll, rockabilly, and early country. First influences were Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Elvis, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Beach Boys, Beatles, Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Price.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

Compressor, Delay, Drive Pedal.

Whether these are common or not, they are the most important things to achieve the sound I am going for. I mostly do “fly-in’s” which means, my amplifier is backlined. Never sure what I am going to get. That is why the compressor is so important to my sound. I am able to make the amp “sing and sustain” at low volumes and be manageable for the FOH engineer. This is the #1 problem that guitarists can’t seem to understand. You have to be quite enough to be put in the mix in order to sound best.

The drive helps to “dirty” the sound up if needed without having to turn the amp up to loud.

Delay is the key to the rockabilly sound.

How do you bring things with you?

Best travel case I have ever had is the one I am currently using. As far as fly-in gigs go, it doesn’t get any better.

iSeries Waterproof Jumbo Acoustic Guitar Case

I spent years dragging my hollowbody in a soft case on planes. Not having enough room for it in the overhead. Getting “stink eye” from other passengers and crew, etc. This case allows me to check in my guitar and store pedals in case as well. Plenty of room inside for everything. Just keep it under 50 lbs. and the airlines won’t charge you extra.

For me, there is no substitute.

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

I bring a small, overhead bag for my personal items. I roll all my shirts and other stuff to create as much space as possible. Pack light with a carry-on and check music gear makes my travel much easier.

Visit Buzz Campbell’s website

Adam Harkus
I was born and live in North Shields, Near Newcastle in the North East of England.

I was first inspired to play the guitar when my uncle handed me a cassette entitled, “Queen’s Greatest Hits” in my early teens. I fell in love with the rich, orchestrated guitar tones of Brian May.

A few years later, as a beginning guitarist, I spent my Saturday afternoons at a friend’s house, where his Dad had regular songwriting/recording/drinking sessions with another musician. This was such a creative and fun environment to be in.

From then on I had the playing, songwriting, gigging bug, which has never left me.

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all guitar musicians bring?

Tough one. A cloth and a set of spanners/Allen keys, sweating is a major hindrance at gigs, and once it gets onto your arms, down to your hands and guitar strings, you have a problem with damped notes, etc. A towel or cloth sorts this.

I always carry the tools I need to carry out any guitar adjustments at a gig. Be it a screwdriver in case I have a strap-pin loosen, or an Allen key to tweak action, etc.

Also, strap locks take care of the worry of your guitar hitting the deck. I go for the Dunlop plastic ring style. Never let me down once.

How do you bring things with you?

I travel VERY lightly. In recent years, I’ve gone for less expensive equipment that can be thrown around without too much concern.

  • Basically, I have a guitar in a padded gig-bag as opposed to a case
  • A very light amplifier (BOSS Katana 50) + power lead
  • A multi FX (BOSS ME-80) + power supply
  • Two guitar leads
  • A foldable guitar stand

The Multi-Fx, leads (power + guitar), tools, cloth and stand all go into a standard sports/walking rucksack. This and the guitar gigbag both go over my shoulders. This leaves me with 2 hands free (one for the amp of course).

What are your top tips for other guitar musicians?

Travel light and use shoulder straps wherever you can. Use padded gigbags in favour of hardshell cases (lighter and have shoulder straps).

For gigging (guitar-wise), go for durable, reliable and stable. Fenders are good for this. With Gibsons you have that weak headstock to worry about.

For amps. Leave your valve amps at home and go for a decent solid-state alternative (e.g. the Boss Katana Series). Lighter, smaller, more reliable, but still with great tone.

Go for Multi-Fx over pedals. After an initial learning curve, they are also smaller, lighter and more reliable. You’ll also cut down on the number of leads, power cables etc.

Get a decent quality, spacious backpack. It’s surprising how much equipment they can handle. They free up your hands for other uses!

Always look for ways to simplify even more, no matter how small. A series of small changes equate to a big change!

Recommendations for other musicians?

Make a start!

Use criticism to your advantage E.g. if you can criticism to improve, don’t ignore it. Take it on and get better. If someone points out a playing flaw, correct it! Never stop learning and don’t EVER be complacent.

One of my biggest bugbears is artists who won’t go through that journey. They think they know it all. That they don’t need to learn. Being a guitarist is all about improving.

On the other hand, you may receive unjust criticism, maybe someone just isn’t a fan of your music. Don’t let that get to you, don’t let it blow you off-course. Stay true to yourself.

Visit Adam Harkus’ website

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