The cello is the second-largest string instrument in an orchestra (the double bass being the largest). Because of its sheer size and form, it is also one of the most cumbersome to pack and ship. Aside from its body, the cello’s neck and scroll must also be properly protected to prevent any damage. Here are some tips on how to properly pack and ship a cello to ensure that it arrives in its destination intact and in good condition.
Prepare the cello by tuning down the strings a half step and placing soft foam blocks under the strings on both sides of the bridge. The foam blocks should also go under the fingerboard and tailpiece. Also, remove the endpin and wrap it in bubble wrap. Do the same with the bow.
Place the cello in its hard travel case which will protect it from scratches, chipping, and the elements. Just make sure that empty spaces between the cello and the case are filled with a clean cotton cloth or foam blocks to eliminate movement. The scroll and neck should be well protected and cushioned. Avoid using bubble wrap or any material made from plastic to fill spaces inside the case. Plastic materials can react with the cello’s varnish upon contact and ruin its finish.
A soft case can also be used to protect the cello. Once inside its soft case, any materials, including plastic, can be used to protect and cushion the cello as they will not have direct contact with the instrument.
Get a big box that can snugly accommodate the cello with at least 2 inches of extra space for packing materials. Lay bubble wrap or foam pads at the bottom of the box. Place the cello inside the box and fill empty spaces on the sides and top with more bubble wrap. It should be well packed such that the cello does not have space to shift or move around. Don’t forget to place the bubble-wrapped endpiece and box on one side of the box.
Close the box and seal with packing tape. The bottom seams and flaps should also be reinforced with packing tape to prevent them from bursting open during transit.
Address the package and attach appropriate labels such as “Fragile” and “This Side Up”. Take the package to a reputable shipping company. Buy insurance especially if shipping an antique of a valuable item.