How to best pack your gear the right way
Whether it be a rack compressor, recording interface, keyboard/synth, guitar amp, or speaker… there’s the way that I’ve seen most people do it (quick and dirty with little or no thought), and then there’s the right way to do it.
My 10 years of working at Black Lion Audio I've learned the do’s and do not’s of how to package gear.
This is only for those shipping gear who do not have the original boxes or packaging materials. Shipping with the original stuff is best. Although taping that thick brown packing paper around the outside of the box will keep it so that you don’t declare to the whole block that “Hey, my neighbor just got an expensive pc of gear on their doorstep. Think I’ll go check it out.”
If you have the box, but not the shipping materials then just scroll down to the shipping materials section.
Start by getting the perfect box. Don’t just use a box you’ve had laying around. Get the right box for the job. By the way, not following these tips will more often than not end up with that gear arriving damaged which means that you’ll be pulling out that money you just deposited from paypal to your bank, so that you can pay the money back (in case of a Reverb.com sale or Ebay or the like).
So back to the box, measure your device. Lets say we have a 1U full rack space effects unit. That makes it at least 1 3/4 inches tall, and 19 inches wide. Lets say this unit is 10 inches deep. If the unit has rack ears, you need to measure the width between the two side of the rack ears, not the chassis/enclosure.
Now, to each dimension add another 4 inches, and you have the minimal requirement of your box. Your box must NOT be any smaller on any of these obtained dimensions. Make your box fit the device. Do not make the device fit the box. If you don’t have the right box, go out and get one. If you cheap out on the box… the unit will arrive damaged.
So here we are left with a box that is at least 5 & 3/4 inches tall (or taller), 23 inches wide (or wider), and 14 inches deep or deeper. If you are paying attention, you’ll notice that you have a buffer of 2 inches on all sides of the device.
The Packaging Material:
First, lets get some shipping etiquette out of the way regarding packaging material.
If you are one of those people who have wrapped cardboard around the unit, or you just dropped it in a box with NO packaging material. You are the scum of the earth. Seriously… Were you raised in a barn? Of course its going to arrive damaged!!!
OK… list of packaging materials to stay away from. Don’t use blankets. We don’t know if you washed it! Don’t use dirty rags, droll stained pillow covers… when I worked at Black Lion Audio I witnessed incoming boxes with packaging material of all kinds… all these I have listed here. So damn gross…
Really don’t F around with crumpled newspaper. Its not really the best.
How to do it right. Wrap the entire unit with professional grade bubble wrap. Keep layering it so that there is one inch of bubble wrap that protrudes from all the important dimensions of the unit (including rack ears if there are any).
Next, lay a bed of about 2 inches of professional grade packing peanuts on the bottom of the box. The packaging material between the bottom of the box and the bottom the of unit is MOST crucial. I’ve seen it done hundreds of times when the USPS, FED EX, UPS person will instead of carefully placing the box on the ground, they DROP it on the floor/ground. You need to make damn sure that you have plenty of packaging material to act as shock absorbers for that inevitable moment.
Now, place the device upon that bed of packing peanuts. Moving the device around while pressing it into the bed of peanuts, you want to make the device sink about an inch into the bed of peanuts. Packing peanuts actually link together in interesting ways when you do this and it makes packing peanuts work so much better.
Fill the rest of the box with packing peanuts, and make sure that the peanuts are in there tight, and filled to the very top.
If the cones and surround rubber or what ever suspension material are recessed behind the face of the enclosure, when you wrap the speaker in bubble wrap, cut out a piece of card board that fits the dimensions of the front of the speaker enclosure. Wrap the bubble wrap so that this piece of cardboard is held firmly against the face of the enclosure.
If the cones and surrounds protrude at all from the face of the enclosure, then you'll need to find a way to furnish a pc of cardboard, and use foam cutout pieces to raise the cardboard about a 1/2 inch away from the cone's furthest point of protrusion.
Don't place the speaker in the box face down! Shouldn't have to explain why. That should be pretty obvious.
It isn't recommended that you lay them with the backplate resting against the bottom. The backplate generally has pcb's mounted off of it inside, and even with my prescribed packaging method, a box dropped by a careless delivery person can send bad vibrations up through the back plate and damage the PCB's.
Just use common sense. Know that you cannot trust the delivery companies to treat your box with kindness. They really don’t give a rat’s ass. They already took your money!! Imagine if they got paid only once the recipient has gotten it in their hands? Bet they’d treat your package well in that case. But that isn’t the case. They are going to toss the box on the ground. They’re gonna throw it across the room into the truck and they’ll laugh while doing it. So pack it right.