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When working with a seller on eBay when buying a sax (or any other brass instrument) do you assume anything about his/her packaging techniques?
I did that for my first five purchases on eBay when I started to buy there over 10 years ago and soon I regretted about that. Once I received my first poorly packed horn that was banged up in transit beyond recognition I never assumed anything since then about seller's packing techniques. I started to get paranoid: 'Do this and that and confirm it!' Still didn't work all the time but I greatly improved my chances to receive an undamaged horn (In the past I bought only saxophones).

I now give you a concrete example. Today I won an alto(tenor) horn on eBay, not a sax but an instrument from the brass family.
The seller has 100% feedback and 2xxx successful feedback reports. He sells brass instruments often as I see.
I had no time to communicate with him before starting to bid but in this case I relied on his feedback score and buyers' comments about his good packing.

I've won a horn and write to him the followoing: "Please do the inside padding of the bell and back crook of the instrument inside the case because this is an older case, it's not molded and the instrument can be severely damaged in transit if postal services treat it roughly which they tend to do often. The inside padding should be done either with thick crumpled paper or with bubble wrap. It should be tight and snug. No movement inside the case should occure.".

- I get a reply from him: "I use ONLY styrofoam peanuts and instruments never get damaged, I've been selling for 11 years on eBay and shipped all over the World and never had a damage."

- I reply: "Styrofoam peanuts are good for padding a case inside the shipping box but not for the inside of the case because the peanuts will loosen up when getting inside of the bell."
(... As a side note: they could probably work for saxes but not for a horn like this.)

- The seller still won't agree with me and insist on only peanuts in the case.

I get tired because of this argument.

I also explain to him that once an instrument gets damaged all sellers blame postal services but not their poor packing techniques.

About myself: When I ship any sax or brass horn locally I make everything absolutely tight inside the case with proper materials especially for vintage cases. Then I use thorough padding of the case in a shipping box also. I often hear from people locally: 'Why have you overdone the packaging? No need to be so paranoid.'
I always get disappointed when people don't understand how rough postal services can be. For those who never received a damaged horn this kind of my attitude seems exsessive.

I expect my kind of attitude from any seller but when I hear from anyone: "I've been selling on eBay for XX years..." I get really frustrated.
I don't want to sit with my fingers crossed - I just want to know they do their best as I suggested but you see: it doesn't work all the time. Why are some sellers so stubborn? Why not to take just one extra step and make sure they don't rely on a chance?
 

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I buy and sell a lot of saxophones and I always use or ask for balled up newspaper or bubble wrap inside the case and I always tell them not to use stryrofoam peanuts instead.
 

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It's logical: To cushion a large heavy object, use resistant padding made of large structural units.

Styrofoam peanuts are too small for the job: they provide bulk, not resistance. On impact, they don't push back -- they only rearrange their positions relative to one another.

I'm no physicist, but I know that.
 

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I’ve had good success with corn peanuts 3/4x2”.They’re biodegradable. Small foam ones are not as good. Only used on outside and bottom. Air bags or bubble wrap to sides and top. Old cases inside use light cotton wrap(Old t shirt) if silver then small bubble wrap. Large bubble puts stress on parts. Rubber bands and newspaper should NEVER contact silver. Modern factory cases i cork down all the keys closed and plastic wrap to a snug fit. All get sent bow down. Altos about 15lbs @28x12x12 and tenors 22lbs @36x18x12. I photograph the packout process and send to recipient for approval then ship.

Goods received once... well some just try but don’t understand the instrument. Here’s one the person tried really hard. Inside everything was to sides or ontop of sax. Nothing around it.No end plug placed(one existed) and shipped neck down in carton. One post snapped off, got lucky. And that was all after I gave instructions!
 

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I assumed once. The seller was a well-known west-coast seller back in the early internet days named Jay Clark. I think he has gone to his reward - at least I hope so. Anyway it was a minty Martin baritone I had traded a Series II tenor for. That guy simply put it in its case (very loose fit), put the case in a large carton and kind of wedged it in with smaller cartons. Obviously that didn't last longer than the time it took to get it to UPS. When I got the box everything was obviously loose inside and I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I opened it - fortunately the sax only got some dents - I got lucky that time as far as shipping damage. The other thing was he had carefully avoided picturing old existing damage on the horn. Fortunately again, it actually played great and I used it for 15 years - sometimes you just get lucky.
 

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My 1952 Buescher 156 arrived like this:

Two strips of duct tape around the case, one on either side of the handle. Packing label taped directly on to the case.

Inside the case with the horn was about 5 single sheets of news print wadded into tight balls about the size of your fist.

One of these was in the compartment with the mouthpiece and neck.

Period.

My shock at this reckless action was only surpassed by my wonder that the horn arrived in PERFECT shape.

I would never have suspected that anyone would mail a horn in this way.

Having done so, I would never have suspected that the horn could arrive without damage.

US mail, all the way across the US.
 

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Some years ago I had two Yani T-991's arrived the same week. The first was extremely well double boxed yet suffered a blow that knocked a couple of posts off. The second had a label slapped on the case, no box, no packing, and it arrived perfectly. Just to say that even with the best or worst of efforts sometimes it is luck of the draw, not that I'd ever do less than I'd appreciate receiving myself.
 

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My favorite experience: I won a Weltklang tenor on eFlay which included a decent gigbag. For like $180 shipped....

Box arrives, I could hear things moving around inside. I open box, there is the sax - neck still on...sitting NEXT to the gigbag...only other packing material inside was ONE long piece of crumpled-up newsprint, not wrapped around anything, just crumpled up and inserted in there. I need not describe the condition of the horn, y'all can use your imaginations.

I was gonna return it....except inside the gigbag was a vintage Link.

(Curious how they put the m'piece in the gigbag...but not the horn !?)

Anyways...so this thread doesn't just digress to a (very entertaining surely) thread about horrible packing experiences....in cases where I am gleaning the seller may not ship musical instrument stuff I always specify some details on how to pack. 75% of the time, they comply or give it the ol' college try....Nothing more you can do then communicate the info and hope they comply, IMHO. So yeah, you may not wanna sit with fingers crossed, but ultimately that's the position one is in.
Remember, you have the leverage to return as a buyer.
 

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Fair warning tho.

Some folk are simply clueless about even the most obvious things, and could use a heads-up.

Some folk will only do what they know they should do if they are given a heads-up in writing that can be used against them later.
 

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My favorite experience: I won a Weltklang tenor on eFlay which included a decent gigbag. For like $180 shipped....

Box arrives, I could hear things moving around inside. I open box, there is the sax - neck still on...sitting NEXT to the gigbag...only other packing material inside was ONE long piece of crumpled-up newsprint, not wrapped around anything, just crumpled up and inserted in there. I need not describe the condition of the horn, y'all can use your imaginations.

I was gonna return it....except inside the gigbag was a vintage Link.

(Curious how they put the m'piece in the gigbag...but not the horn !?)

Anyways...so this thread doesn't just digress to a (very entertaining surely) thread about horrible packing experiences....in cases where I am gleaning the seller may not ship musical instrument stuff I always specify some details on how to pack. 75% of the time, they comply or give it the ol' college try....Nothing more you can do then communicate the info and hope they comply, IMHO. So yeah, you may not wanna sit with fingers crossed, but ultimately that's the position one is in.
Remember, you have the leverage to return as a buyer.
I recently purchased a horn from George, and it was the most conscientiously packed sax you could ever imagine. Keys wedged, and all. It actually took me a little while to figure out why keys were "stuck" shut that should've been open. Major kudos to a seller that cares.
 

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I put very specific instructions on my websites on how to pack an instrument for safe shipping and I always tell customers to follow the instructions when sending their instruments to me for repair. Sometimes they will not follow the instructions even when it is their own instrument that they are shipping. Sometimes that can increase their repair bill considerably.
 

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I recently purchased a horn from George, and it was the most conscientiously packed sax you could ever imagine. Keys wedged, and all. It actually took me a little while to figure out why keys were "stuck" shut that should've been open. Major kudos to a seller that cares.
I'll second what Darrell said about George's shipping methods. I bought an alto from him that was packed just as Darrell's, wedged keys and all. I was so impressed I bought a tenor from him and even had a bari I bought on EFlay sent directly to him to be worked up. George was not so impressed with how the bari was packed, but, says he, "I've seen worse."
I've bought way too many saxes on the Bay and some were barely packed and some were very well packed. The best packed sax (apart from the one I got from George) had the neck well wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed inside the bell, then the whole sax was wrapped very thoroughly in bubble wrap, so much so that the keys were well wedged and the sax absolutely could not moved inside the case. It was a thing of beauty when I finally got it unwrapped. Worst was a C-mel stuck inside (for lack of a better term) a suitcase. Very little if any wrapping or dunnage inside the case. Fortunately I didn't pay much for it and miraculously there was no damage. On the other hand, I've gotten a couple of otherwise well packed saxes that arrived with the octave actuator bent because the neck wasn't supported in the case.
 

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Yeah I have biught and sold a bunch on the Bay.
Mostly lucky. But not always.

You do have to expect some of that.

dsm
 
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