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Shipping Your Gear

Shipping Your Gear

Shipping Address
Aviator Audio, Inc.
23311 Highway 99
Edmonds, WA 98026

Phone# 425-778-3409

Preparation and General Guidelines

Please pack your equipment well! There's nothing worse than sending your gear in to get it repaired, and then having to deal with shipping damage added to the equation. Here are a few tips...

Shipping/Packing Services... Nothing wrong with using one, and many times the best way to ship if you're not experienced at packing a particular item properly. However, a word of advise... assume nothing! Ask questions and don't assume that your local shipping store knows what they are doing. Most are usually independent franchises, some are true experts at their craft and some are not, your results may vary. We receive packages all the time packed at what you would think would be a safe place to get things done... only to open the box, find totally insufficient packing, and someone's '59 Bassman is now in pieces. If it's not packed right, the shipping company in many cases will deny a damage claim. 

Ask the person at the counter precisely how they are going to pack your pristine vintage Marshall JTM45 for example. If they say "with a new box using packing peanuts", ask if they would use foam sheet, or blown-in foam using a professional machine. Also ask if they would pack the tubes individually, or do it yourself before coming in there (see below for details). If the answer is: "Oh don't worry, we ship things like this all the time in packing peanuts and they get there fine."... you should run away, far away, go elsewhere! So you ran away, can't find another place to deal with it, for you and the rest of the do-it-yourself crowd...

Pull the tubes and prepare the item!... We highly suggest not shipping gear with tubes in the sockets, it's just asking at minimum to get the guide pins busted off the power or rectifier tubes, or worse having your prized set of vintage KT66's for example busted in pieces all over the inside of your amp. Some amps will hold tubes securely, others won't, sometimes it doesn't really matter if there are high enough shock loads in transport. Even preamp tubes held under springs in full tube shields can break, we've seen it many times. Tubes are expensive, why take the chance?  Number them left to right from the rear of the amp (or by designation V1, V2, etc. if available) with a felt pen on the top usually where there are no letters/numbers and work them out of the sockets. The numbering part helps us return the tubes to their original locations, so we can more rapidly diagnose the problems you reported, and look for failures that may be associated with a particular tube and it's circuitry.

Wrap them in bubble wrap individually, and place them inside the rear of the amp. You can also put them in a box in the back of the amp after bubble wrapping each one. Box or not, stuff newspaper or bubble wrap to fill the void in the back of the amp so your nicely wrapped tubes don't move around. Once you have all the tubes pulled and packed away safely, simply use a kitchen trash bag to surround the amp and tape the bag closed tight, or use shrink wrap (the food wrap at the store works fine if you don't have access to the real stuff, just go around several times)... the idea here is to surround the equipment, keep out packing debris, as well as minimize scuffing marks against the packing materials in transit.

Select a suitable box... Your box should be double walled for heavy items and not beat up, using a new box is highly recommended especially for heavy items. It should be sufficiently bigger than the item you are shipping to accommodate the packing materials - just assume a person or a conveyor system will drop it and take the "squish" area carefully into consideration. Consult your intended shippers' website for their packing guidelines. If they say 4" for example between your item and the box they are probably not kidding... that's what it takes to absorb a hit on a heavy item, and hey that's generally the distance it takes for a forklift operator to bring the thing to a stop while it penetrates your box... just kidding (or maybe not...). Just use common sense as it will get beat up a bit. If it's really heavy consider double boxing or crating it.

Use suitable packing materials... Packing peanuts by themselves are not suitable at all for heavy items, anything larger than an effect box should not be packed with packing peanuts alone. The problem is larger items shipped only in peanuts tend to migrate to one side of the box - the peanuts will settle, and further compress when the box is hit which accelerates the migration. Once your item has nothing between it and the outside world but the thin cardboard of a box, it will get damaged, count on it. Bubble wrap can work for smaller items but might be expensive on larger items, and the bubbles can be popped given enough shock load which is common on heavy items. We've seen some cheap bubble wrap that has just plain deflated in transit, so only use high quality bubble wrap if you go that route. Anything with sharp corners, forget the bubble wrap. Professional blown-in foam in bags using a machine is another great option, this is the method many companies use to pack their gear new from the factory. An experiencedshipping agent with a foam machine, that charges a reasonable packing fee, is sometimes the best way to go if you can find one.

In general if you are doing it yourself, we suggest using sheet and/or block styrofoam on most items, surrounding the item, and only using peanuts to fill in the voids (secures the foam sheet/blocks in place). Just pay attention to delicate knobs/switches, grill cloth, etc. - leave voids or use something soft in those areas like peanuts. If you don't like using peanuts at all, to fill voids use craft paper or newspaper to fill the voids. Never pack anything heavy with just craft paper or newspaper alone, it will compress as well... you are only using it here to keep the foam pieces in place. Nothing wrong with double boxing, but don't use peanuts to fill the void between the two boxes... double boxing will not eliminate migration and compression of peanuts on heavy items regardless of what anyone tells you.

Use good packing tape... Can't stress this enough! Many times we get in packages either coming apart or completely open and damaged, because someone used cheapo tape, didn't use enough or didn't secure it. Don't go bargain basement on packing tape, cover all the edges in addition to the center, rub it down after applying to completely bond it.

Insurance... Don't skimp here! Declare that thing for the true replacement value! That couple extra bucks for insurance is well worth it and not to be taken lightly; packages are lost all the time and damaged even with the best packing job. Keep in mind that most carriers will not reimburse you for hidden damage... e.g. unless the box is damaged on the outside it's a real pain to successfully get reimbursed. Precisely why you have to pack very well and don't cut corners. You may want to seek out supplemental insurance if it's a really rare or pricey item.

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