Shipping a drum set can be pretty expensive and inconvenient, but it’s something that you may just have to do at some point in your life. If you’ve hit that stage, you may be wondering just how much it costs to get to your selected destination.
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about the fees and what the best shipping companies are. I’ll also give you some packing tips that will keep your drums as safe as possible. They may even cut down on the shipping costs a bit.
How to Ship a Drum Kit
If you need to get a drum kit from one place to another without being able to do it yourself, you essentially need to sort out transportation with a shipping company.
You could do it via a local post office, or you could go to the company’s headquarters to work it all out with a salesperson.
Drum kits have multiple components, so shipping one of them is far more complicated than shipping a piano or guitar. So, you or the shipping company needs to pack the drum kit into a set of boxes that will keep it as protected as possible.
Drum Shipping Companies
There are three shipping companies that I would strongly suggest using. When learning how to ship a drum set for the first time, you may be tempted to use other companies that are already familiar to you. However, you’ll end up spending more money on those.
The companies I’m talking about are UPS, DHL Express, and FedEx. These companies charge you by the weight of your boxes, whereas other companies may charge you with different parameters, such as the number of boxes.
When you’re charged by weight, you essentially have a good amount of control over what the costs are, and you can pack your drum kit accordingly.
Cost to Ship a Drum Kit
The general rule of thumb is to keep around $100 to $200 to cover the costs of shipping. It’s unlikely that you’ll pay more than that unless you have a mega drum set with dozens of toms and cymbals. However, it may cost more if you want to add insurance in case of any damages.
The lighter your boxes are, the lower the cost will be. So, drummers that are shipping compact kits will pay less than ones that are shipping regular-sized kits. That’s why I strongly suggest going with companies that charge by weight.
There will be more standard prices from other companies. While you’ll pay a bit more with those, it’s sometimes nice to know the exact price to pay before getting all your boxes weighed.
Cheapest Way to Ship a Drum Set
There are two big ways that you can save on shipping costs. Firstly, you need to keep your packages as light as possible. The smarter you pack your drum kit, the lower the costs will be.
There are a few tips and tricks that people and drum companies like to follow, and I’ll touch on a few of them in a bit.
The second way of saving on costs is to ship to a business address. Shipping companies love to add on charges when they ship items to home addresses, so you’ll pay a bit less if you ship your kit to a business.
If you don’t have your own business premise to ship the kit to, ask a friend if you can ship it to theirs. Most companies are usually cool with this sort of thing as long as you or someone else can collect the drum kit as soon as possible once it gets there.
Shipping Drums Safely
Packing a drum set into boxes is all about safety and security. You don’t know how or when your drum kit is moving from one place to another, so you need to prepare it as best you can for the drive, flight, or boat ride.
Things are likely to shift around, and boxes are likely to smash into each other. You also get people loading and unloading boxes that aren’t careful with them.
So, the biggest packing tip is to make sure that all your drums, cymbals, and hardware are bulletproof in their boxes. That’s a bit of a high bar to set, but aiming for it is always the best path.
Strip Everything Down
The less you have, the less likely you are to pay a big fee. A clever idea is to reverse engineer how drum companies pack their drum kits when you buy them new.
Watch a few YouTube videos of drummers doing unboxings of new drum kits. The goal should be to pack your drum set in the same way.
A great strategy is to fit different drum shells into each other. Your bass drum shell is the largest one, so take your other shells and put them inside. You’ll need to remove the drumheads, rims, and tension rods to be able to do this.
You can then put your drum heads in a separate box, and that box should be the size of your bass drum head.
Use Multiple Boxes
You shouldn’t use a box for each individual drum shell, but it will help with organization if you use different boxes for sets of things.
For example, you can use one small box to keep all the tension rods inside, and then you can place that box inside a larger box. This will make sure that all those tension rods are safe.
You should then use one main box for the kick drum and toms, and then you may need to use a separate box for your snare drum. Snare drums don’t fit nicely with the tom shells.
You can then use a box for your cymbals and another box for all your hardware. Make sure to include your floor tom legs in that hardware box.
Protect Your Bearing Edges and Drumheads
Your bearing edges on the drum shells will be exposed when you take the rims and drumheads off. If those get damaged, it will affect the tones of all your drums.
So, it’s a good idea to cover them with something so that they can’t get scratched. Some people like to use cardboard pieces to fill the shape of every drum shell. Other people like to use bubble wrap. Both work quite well!
You should also wrap all your loose drumheads in some bubble wrap so that they can’t get damaged, either.
Fill the Corners
When you place a circular drum shell inside a rectangular box, you’re going to see empty spaces at every corner. Those empty spaces offer a bit of space for the drum shell to move, which is a bad thing.
Once all your shells are packed, make sure to fill every corner of every box with something so that the shells can’t move around. If your toms are all packed inside your bass drum, you’ll only need to do it for that box and the one your snare drum is in.
Use a Cymbal Hard Case
Make sure your cymbals are all in a protective bag before putting them in a box. If you want them to be as safe as they can possibly be, you should get one of those hard flight cases. These are pretty much impenetrable, and they’ll keep your cymbals safer than a soft case will when being shipped.
Shipping a drum set is always daunting the first time you do it. Once you realize that it’s actually quite affordable and that there are very clever ways of packing boxes, you’ll find that it’s not too much of a stressful thing the next time you do it.
Remember to use FedEx, DHL Express, or UPS, as you’ll save costs when packing your boxes cleverly.