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Saxophones Posting or Shipping a Sax?

Originally Posted by Steve John B
I know this has probably been done a zillion times, but can anyone recommend a good, inexpensive courier for sending a sax within the UK?


Now this is something I know a lot about as I work for a parcel-carrying company both as a driver and a trailer loader. In the past I have worked for other parcel carriers as a trunker driver and general dogsbody.

My advice? Unless you feel lucky, take it yourself! :devil::devil::devil:

More seriously. Parcel companies are much the same, only the price differs. No one is deliberately going to destroy your parcel (I suppose there are exceptions, but rarely). Most damage is caused accidentally at the depot or hub by occasional dodgy handling or by something heavier falling on a parcel (more likely).

Companies like ParceltoGo, 3B, Interparcel etc. have no transport of their own and use their bulk-buying power to get a decent rate from actual parcel companies, be they TNT, Tuffnells, Nightfreight et al.

There are a one or two things you can do to ensure your parcel has the best chance of getting through:

Don't bother writing FRAGILE on a parcel, it is the most over-used word in the parcel industry. Try writing 'PLEASE BE GENTLE, MUSICAL INSTRUMENT' or something like that (don't mention the nature of the instrument, there are light-fingered merchants in any company and if they think there is immense value in a package....well...). Trust me, it will help avoid callous handling. Really avoid writing 'Fragile, do not crush, do not throw, do not drop' on your package as this is like a red rag to a bull when being handled by minimum-wage employees at a huge distribution hub.

Pack it up properly! It's better to avoid using an anonymous brown box. Use plenty of bubble-wrap and I really mean plenty and don't then put it in a box but wrap in generously with sticky tape. It makes it easy to handle and the bubble-wrap can do it's job better in the event of a drop.

All the bubble-wrap in the world won't help if inside it the sax can shake around in the case so pack the sax so it cannot move in it's case using crushed newspaper(avoid applying pressure to any keys though).

Write the delivery address and a return address in indelible ink directly on the bubble wrap, include the information on paper inside the saxophone case too in case of obliteration of details outside. This maintains identity whatever happens to the parcel. The courier will attach their own label and these are almost indestructable unless ripped off but are meaningless until they actually get applied -- and there is a journey to be made before that happens at the sending depot. I have seen many parcels arrive at the local, sending, depot with no information on them because the sender has been remiss with their labelling.

I hope this has been helpful and that your sax gets through ok. Lastly though, pack your item and ask yourself if you would be comfortable dropping it from hip-height on to the floor as this will almost certainly happen in transit whatever company you use.

[EDIT] Updated with additions from milandro:

well, in all this many years, my wife and I got a certain amount of practice doing this with many different instruments, including a bassoon and we have developed our routine.

Yes, cushioning the instrument inside the case is important. If the instruments rattles around an hard case it will be damaged.

On the other hand one shouldn’t put too much in the manner of thick materials because by closing the case you might crush and bend the instrument.

any soft material around the case is good , we put some bubble wrap around the case, but we have found that a very good material are egg boxes ( 6 or 12).

We collect ours and keep them until we have to send something, if we don’t have egg boxes we recycle other things like all those nasty advertising and local papers all made into balls

An Egg box has a certain resistance (is made to carry eggs!) but is also light and not too messy and can easily be fitted between the case and the outside box in which one will place the protected case in.

We also “ make" this outer box because we don’t always have a box large enough by using smaller boxes fashioned together in a larger box.

We also use brown packing paper which we buy in rolls 1 meter wide, it makes things nice tight and tidy.

I also print a label in three languages Dutch German English to say that the content is fragile.

try using this label.jpg

I use Post.NL (formerly known as TNT post), in my experience this is the best and most affordable service, anything else has prohibitive costs and offers no better guarantee.
Last edited by a moderator:


Costa Blanca, Spain
Thanks, Martin...those are pretty much the assumptions I made, and precautions I took :)


Well-Known Member
Excellent advice from Martin. One additional thing. Never, ever forget to put the end bung in. Forget it and you're pretty much guarenteed to damage the octave key.

I've sent dozens and dozens of saxes, with never a problem. My routine is

1 Put in end bung
2 Wrap sax in bubble wrap
3 Put sax in its case
4 Wrap case in bubble wrap
5 Wrap bubble wrapped case in cardboard, using lots of parcel tape.
6 Label.


Alley Cat

My advice? Unless you feel lucky, take it yourself! >:)>:)>:)



Martin, your post was one of the best I've ever read on any subject on any saxophone forum ! Thank you.

If someone is sending a sax to me I always send them this link:

I sometimes wonder if writing "Please handle with care, medical equipment" would ensure more considerate handling. I mean, playing the sax can be very therapeutic, in a medical sense, for some people.


Well-Known Member
Costa Blanca Spain
Just done this from uk to spain. It arrived ok and no damage and in less than 5 working days. I guess most packages do, but it only takes for the damaged one to be your one.
I used Royal Mail and insured my second hand tenor for 900-00 quid. It cost 105-00. I first approached DHL and the same deal was 280-00.

That post from Moz was good stuff. Glad I hadnt read it before I sent mine.
Good luck

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