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Traveling With Your Saxophone
Q.  Thanks for all the advice on the pads and resos. I will look around my local area to see if I can come up with some Conn Res-O-Pads, and if I can’t I’ll send you the keys. My question now is something else though.  I have to fly to Reno on Thursday with my college jazz ensemble for the Reno Jazz Festival, and my chances of carrying my tenor on the plane look to be very slim.  I have a good case, a hard shell SKB that fits the horn very snugly and I have a set of key clamps, but I’m still worried about the lack of pressure and extreme temperature of the cargo hold. What might these two factors do to a horn subjected to them? I’m still going to do whatever I can to carry it on, but I would like to know what the risks are if I can’t. Thanks for all your help. Regards, Aaron …

A. Sounds like a cool trip, man. You might try to get down to Tahoe for some Spring skiing if you all have any time on your own. I assume the SKB case is flight rated, so you should be fine checking the horn on a plane. You sure might want to consider some sort of fabric cover over the case to protect it from scuffs & gouges though. The covers that golfers use for their bags & clubs come to mind. A surplus duffle bag would probably do the deed quite well. You could also box the case as if you were going to ship the horn for protection to the outside of your case – but that would be harder to carry.

In general, approach the preparation just as if you were shipping your sax: wrap all accessories separately and leave nothing loose inside the case to act as a damaging projectile when the inevitable momentum shifts of travel occur. If the case you have isn’t flight rated I’d pack the sax for shipment just like we show on the CyberSax Packing Page.

While it’s conceivable that extreme temperatures could affect the glue that holds pads, corks & felts in place, the probability of reaching such critical extremes (and heat would be the more likely culprit) is quite remote, baring the unthinkable. Saxophones cross expanses of steaming desert & frozen wasteland on trucks moving about North America all the time. There are typically no ill affects from anything but rough handling – and you can pack to safeguard against that risk. Instruments that get shipped air freight regularly experience the exact temperature & pressure conditions you describe with no problems, both on commercial and common carrier planes. The USPS contracts with commercial flights exclusively for air express service & we use them all the time for our overseas saxophone deliveries. Again, rough handling is the chief concern.

There is nothing about a saxophone that air pressure fluctuations should affect, though the trumpet players might get a surprising pop or two from their valves. If you have anything in spray bottles or atomizers you might want to carry that on. Pressure variations can cause those devices to expulse their contents – cologne & hair spray everywhere is a rude greeting
at unpacking time. Have a great trip … send pix if you can ….

Additional Comments
Professionals travel the world with their instruments all the time. With proper safeguards there are no difficulties at all. We have placed saxophones on on six continents and regularly fly horns on transcontinental flights. Oddly, the express carriers are much more careful with packages than the ground carriers, and we always ship bass saxophones air express for just that reason. I’ve seen 40 below in Calgary & we’ve shipped saxes by truck farther North than that. You know the truckers take their rest breaks in all conditions with the horns in the trailer where temps probably reach well over 100 degrees in Summer or well below zero in Winter. If you ever have doubts whether your case is safe just pack the sax as shown on our packing page, including the boxing, and let ‘er rip. Of course keep in mind the new security guidelines, and watch what you keep in your case. Razor blades for trimming reeds and some of the instrument screwdrivers might not pass muster when you get to the airport.

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