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How to ship a horn well:
Using the following method, I have a near 100% success rate shipping horns safely. It is EXPENSIVE, both in terms of time and money. You can do it more cheaply, but it will not be as safe and secure. I estimate that I use about $25 worth of materials alone to ship a horn. If you take your horn to a packing service, insist that they follow these guidelines as closely as possible. Some services are great, others are not. If you are paying a high premium (before shipping costs - I know, I've shipped horns using these services) to have your horn packaged, you deserve a great job.
Be sure to read everything below carefully before shipping your instruments.
This advice is designed to help ship a French horn, but can easily be applied to
almost any other instrument.
I have a lot of success with the U-Haul Dish Barrel box for both fixed and cut bell horns. It is true double wall corrugated construction, whereas the boxes mentioned below are single wall. They work fine, but the Dish Barrel is much sturdier overall. Some cases may not fit, so check dimensions carefully.
Also recommended: (1) for a fixed bell horn, a U-Haul TV/Microwave box (not the 27" one), (2) for a cut bell horn in a flat case, a U-Haul Lay Down Wardrobe, or (3) for a cut bell horn in a Marcus Bonna-style case, a U-Haul Large box or larger depending on the shape of the case. For a case alone, a U-Haul Electronics Box, Medium Box, or Large Box will do based on the shape of the case.
ANOTHER NOTE: Almost all of the above boxes will ship at higher than
their actual weight, no matter what the weight. Most shipping services use "dimensional weight" or actual
weight, whichever is greater.
(*) NOTE, IF SHIPPING BY USPS REGISTERED MAIL, you must use PAPER tape for all the edges, not plastic tape. Paper tape is available in rolls as reinforced, adhesive backed paper. The adhesive must be moistened before applying to the box. Use a sponge to do this, getting it completely wet and then letting it dry just a bit before sticking it down. If an edge comes up, rub it down with the moistened sponge. Let the tape dry completely before shipping, which usually only takes 15 minutes or so.
3b. Using packing peanuts (known also as pelaspan) fill the bottom of the box about 2 inches or so. Get foam peanuts, not recyclable/biodegradable ones. Used peanuts are
fine. (The recyclable/biodegradable kind are made of corn starch and do not have the
resilience of the foam kind. The foam peanuts are infinitely re-usable, as well,
and don't attract bugs.) You can use crumpled newsprint, but it is very heavy
compared with the packing peanuts, and may increase your shipping costs
needlessly. I highly recommend the packing peanuts
over any other void fill.
IF YOU USE A U-HAUL DISH BARREL BOX - be sure that the tape on top goes over the edge far enough to seal the die cut handles in the sides of the box.
The PHILOSOPHY of shipping a horn: the horn should "float" in a box of packing
peanuts. If the box should get damaged and the peanuts start to seep out, the
horn should have sufficient protection (case or bubble wrap) around it to help
it survive further abuse. Once the peanuts seep out, the item is likely to
settle to the bottom of the box, risking damage.
If you use Registered Mail, be sure to check the
USPS web site before shipping, to make sure they will accept the dimension of
the box. Registered, Insured Mail is among the most secure methods of
shipping, and is comparable in price to other ground shipping methods.