Have you recently sold a tube amp? Are you looking to get one from here to there without lugging it all the way yourself? Knowing how to ship a tube amp, the right way, is essential to making sure that your tube amp gets to its intended destination in best possible shape.
Before You Ship
A tube amp is not something that you should just toss into a “sorta fits” sized box and tape it shut. A tube amp needs to be shipped with a great deal of care, and that’s why you need to go through all the steps to make sure you are going to get it to its destination in the best shape possible.
Although tube amps can be shipped with tubes installed, if your amp is going a particularly long distance, you might consider having the tubes taken out and wrapped up securely, then ship them in a second box where they can be padded substantially. Labeling the tubes before their removal will allow the recipent to put them back in their place with no fuss.
Now, whether you ship with the tubes in or out, you also need to think about the box you are going to put the amp in. This box should fit with just 2” to 4” on all sides. This small gap allows you to pack in the padding without giving the amp too much room to shift around. You should measure the amp and then go online to buy the right size box. The box should be sturdy, stable, and preferably have handles if the amp weighs more than 10 pounds.
Padding The Amp
Once in the box, you need to pad the amp so it doesn’t have the chance to shift. Coating a thick styrofoam board to fit alongside all sides of the amp will be your best bet in keeping the amp snug and secure within the box. Packing peanuts can be used, but they can easily get squished and they shift around, which means they don’t provide as much stability or protection as a thick foam would.
You might also be able to use folded blankets or even towels to pad the amp. Try to get something thick and soft. Avoid lightweight padding, such as newspapers, which won’t really offer much padding or protection at all (especially if the box were to be flipped on its side during transport).
Labelling The Box
Hopefully you have picked up a very thick, sturdy, and stable box for this usage. Ideally, this box is rated for a high crush force (meaning it won’t be easily damaged) and also has a high carrying rating, so the amp won’t be at risk for falling out of the box. Handles are a must for an amp head or any large amp that weighs 10-15 pounds or more. Otherwise, the amp is more likely to be mishandled during transport.
Especially if your amp is going a long way, it’s important that you take the time to pick out a box that will keep it in the best condition, even if the carrier decides to put it on the bottom of a pile of boxes. That’s why crush force is very important. Even if your amp doesn’t weigh a lot, that doesn’t mean other people won’t stack a lot on top of it. Typically, being that the amp will be heavier than a lot of other items in transit, it’s going to end up on the bottom of the pile. The box needs to be able to withstand the weight of other items on top of it.
Finally, although you should keep in mind that these labels are often ignored, you should label the box with the obligatory “Fragile” and “This Side Up” labels. It’s best to grab some of these stickers from the internet or at your local shipping store so that they are full-color red in big, bold font. Simply writing these labels with a market probably won’t earn the box the same due respect. But, writing them is better than foregoing these labels all together.
Shipping The Amp
Finally, when it comes to learning how to ship a tube amp, you need to note the importance of choosing the right shipping method. Generally, choosing a quicker shipping method will lower the risk of damage or loss since it will be expedited to its destination. Of course, this can cost a lot of money, especially if the box is large and/or weighs a lot.
If the amp is worth more than $50, you should most certainly ship it insured for the value of the contents. You should also try to order the quickest shipping option you can that fits within your budget. By doing so, you can help ensure your amp arrives safely.
Check out my review of the Yaqin MC-13S, my vote for one of the best tube amps under a grand!