Shipping your hammered dulcimer sometimes is necessary. You may want to return it to me for repairs, alteration or installing a pickup. You may want to ship it to a destination where it can be waiting for you. Doing this will avoid the hassles of bringing the dulcimer on a plane. Unfortunately shipping a dulcimer is risky. UPS now refuses to honor damage claims if the dulcimer is shipped in a recycled box.
As a result, you will need to follow these instructions closely!
I have developed the following method of packing which seems to work well. You'll need to find a box big enough to accomodate your dulcimer with some extra room on both ends, top and bottom and in between the bridge face of the dulcimer and the side of the box. I have found that recycled bicycle boxes are plentiful and work very well. Contact your local bike retailer. Make sure that the dimensions of the box don't exceed the overall size for packages shipped normally. The box needs to be less than 135" when you total up the length and the girth. If the box is exceeds that size, you will get charged a $120 surcharge for an oversized package. You can check your dimensions by visiting the UPS site and entering the dimensions into the shipping estimate page. Round your dimensions up to nearest inch. I often, out of necessity, carefully score and cut a bicycle box so it fits below 135" You'll be better off if you can find a box which already falls below that threshold.
Your instrument should be in either a soft case or wrapped in bubble wrap to begin with. Please do do not use plastic peanuts unless you bag them up creating flexible packing blankets. Loose they are horrible to deal with on both ends and often don't provide the necessary protection plus they definitely aren't green. The two most vulnerable areas are the bridge face and the two ends of the dulcimer. I recommend loosening the bottom couple of courses on the bass end of dulcimer before putting it in the case. You don't need to loosen all the strings.
Lay the bottom 1" thick block in first, placing the dulcimer in the box on top of that block,. I then wedge the two styrofoam or rolled bubble wrap end blocks in place. These are critical. Tape them in place so they continue to protect the ends of the dulcimer even if the box is dropped. Next place the material which protects the bridge face and finally add the topmost block of 1" styrofoam or rolled bubble wrap. I then fill the rest of the space with wadded up newspaper, smaller boxes or whatever. Egg cartons work well. Seal up the box with plenty of tape and you are ready to take it to your favorite carrier. If you are using a recycled box, don't bother purchasing insurance. New UPS policies make it nearly impossible to get a claim of damage approved if you've used a recycled box. This makes it all the more important that you take extra care in packaging.
Note: If you are shipping an instrument to me, please don't require a signature.
I currently ship most of my instruments via UPS ground. Again make sure your package isn't oversized! Once you have your instrument boxed go to UPS online as a guest. There you can pay for the shipping via a credit card, print the label out and either indicate you'd like UPS to pick it up (extra $) or just drop it off at any UPS Store®, a UPS Customer Center, any Office Depot®, CVS, Staples® , or any UPS Authorized Shipping Outlet. There is no charge to drop off a labeled prepaid package. You can take your dulcimer to a UPS Store®, and pay to have them package it up but it will be expensive. You can also do similar things with Fed Ex Ground.