Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Leigh Marcos
Anyone who has had the pleasure of embarking on a road trip across South Africa either as a musician, or accompanying one, will know that a gorgeous Taylor acoustic guitar (or any guitar for that matter) needs to be kept safe at all costs. Cape Town is known as the arts capital of South Africa and often forms the starting and finishing point of musician’s tours. Leaving Cape Town, you can basically head in two directions, along the coastline that is known as the Garden Route or inland, through the small Karoo, which will take you northwards towards Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.
Despite some initial language barriers, you will soon discover one that everyone can understand – music. Most South African artists perform predominantly in either English or Afrikaans but that is of no importance to the countless Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho speaking individualsyou are bound to meet along the way. The best way to traverse across South Africa is to ‘live like the locals do’ as much as possible. Yes, there will be days when you indulge in burgers and fries from the nearest fast-food joint and sleep in rather luxurious establishments, but it is important to also interact with the locals at a ground-root level at every opportunity you have. Your journey will more than likely be as exciting as it is tiring and as different as each day is from the previous, only one constant will remain – you have to keep your guitar safe at all times.
Tips to keep your guitar safe while traveling
Spending three weeks on the road can be somewhat trying, especially if you are traveling with a much-loved piece of musical equipment which someone’s livelihood relies upon. It must be said though that after approximately 3 days on the road, anyone will become pros at keeping a guitar safe.
The following guidelines can help you keep your guitar safe while traveling:
Invest in a good case
It may seem like common knowledge but it is worth reiterating the importance of having a sturdy, hard guitar case (or heavily-padded bag) to transport your stringed beauty in safely while traversing the country. In fact, your choice in guitar case is almost as vital as your choice in acoustic guitar. Too many musicians have been forced to part with severely battered and bruised instruments that were transported unprotected in the trunk of a car. If you don’t have a guitar case available you can use the box it came in or, as a last resort, wrap it firmly in a blanket. Ensure that all clips or straps on the case are secure, especially when traveling by plane or bus. This is one instance where the ‘less is more’ frame of mind does not apply. Secure your guitar with additional straps if you can and make full use of the plastic-wrap facility at the airport or bus depot. These precautions may seem a bit over the top but it beats having a guitar that is suffering from a broken neck amongst other things.
Avoid trunks and checked luggage where possible
If you can avoid transporting your guitar in the cargo hold of a plane or the trunk of a car, do so. The tiniest jolt from bouncing around in the trunk of your car can result in the truss rod being thrown off. As mentioned previously, if you have no other choice but to check your guitar in at the airport, ensure that is wrapped as securely as possible. Airport personnel is known to manhandle luggage, tossing it around like bags of potatoes. Another downside to trunks and cargo holds is the fact that they both lack climate control which can damage your intonation, cause a curve in your neck and result in a cracked finish. If possible, place your guitar on the passenger or back seat of your car and insist on carrying it as hand luggage during your flight.
The extra effort of keeping your guitar safe and secure will be well worth it when you arrive at your destination with it completely intact, ready to be played to an adoring crowd. Where ever your journeys may take you and regardless of who you may, or may not, meet along the way remember to keep yourself and your possessions safe and treasure the most precious of all gifts you will receive while traveling – the memories that will stay with you for all eternity.
Have you ever traveled with an instrument? Was it tough or did things go smoothly? Share a comment!