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Traveling With Your Cello: A Guide for Musicians

A Cello

As you become more accomplished at playing your cello, you may invest in a quality instrument that will see you through the intermediate and advanced stages of musical training. Part of expanding your talent with your instrument is traveling for concerts, gigs, and lessons. 

Traveling with your instrument can result in damage, which is why it's important you know how to pack, care for, and move your cello through each stage of travel. Here's what every budding cellist needs to know about traveling with a large string instrument. 

Traveling by Car or Bus

If you are heading to a concert or festival just a few hours away from where you live, you'll be moving your instrument by car. When preparing your cello for transport, be sure to loosen the strings and bow to avoid any damage to the body of your instrument. 

Never transport your cello in the trunk of your car or taxi. If riding the bus, the cello should not go in the baggage storage below the passenger deck. These areas are not climate controlled, and in extreme cold, heat, or humidity, the case can warp, and the wood can shrink, crack, or swell. 

Instead, keep your cello inside the car with you. This means that you'll need an additional bus ticket for your cello to "sit" next to you during travel. 

When stopped for an extended rest, a stay at a hotel, or to get a bite to eat, bring your cello in with you. Without the heat running, your instrument is better off indoors to avoid any sudden changes in temperature. 

Flying by Plane

Because cellos are so large, many new musicians hope that their instrument can be checked as baggage. However, baggage can be erratically handled, lost, or exposed to extreme cold and varying pressure, especially when flying at 30,000 feet. Your cello is better off boarding the plane with you.

Some airlines will not allow such a large instrument on board, so you'll need to check with representatives before purchasing any ticket. In other cases, some airlines may require a second ticket purchase for your cello. Others might accommodate your instrument on flights that are not fully booked without a second ticket to "reserve" the cello's spot on board. 

It's always best to call ahead of time to make sure you and your cello are able to travel together. Also, you should always use a hard case for cello travel.

Special Precautions

There are some additional precautions you should take when traveling with your cello, no matter the travel method. These include:

  • Purchasing insurance for your instrument if you don't yet have any. If you're forced to check your instrument, for example, this can help pay for damage or needed repairs. You might want to review policy coverage to make sure to include travel damage if you already have insurance in place.
  • Padding your case. Your cello needs all the stability and cushioning it can get. You might want to wrap the neck in a layer of packing foam around the next and place a layer of bubble wrap over the instrument and down the sides to minimize any in-case wiggling. 
  • Researching repair shops at your destination. Even with the most strenuous precautions, accidents can happen and things can get broken. Have even slight issues checked right away. Warping, cracks, and swelling can get much worse and much more expensive to repair if not addressed as soon as possible.  

If you properly prepare, you can safely travel with your cello without fear of injuring it. 

For more information, contact us at Musicians' Repair & Sales.